The requirements for teacher certification vary by state, and the differences can affect both new teachers and those who are re-certifying. It can also impact teachers who move to a new state if they want to continue teaching. Here’s what you need to know about teacher certifications across the states.
Certification Requirements for Elementary School Teachers Vary Widely by State
While the traditional route to teaching requires a teaching degree, passing certain tests, and even student teaching for a set number of semesters, this is not a hard and fast rule anymore. Because of teacher shortages, and people switching careers after already having a degree in a different field, many states have chosen to make accommodations for individuals who want to teach.
These states may only require a year of training and a couple of courses for these individuals to become teachers. Basically, some states are offering alternative routes to teacher certification including internships and prior experience as evidence of their ability to teach.
Length of Certification
Each state has its own rules about how long a teacher’s license lasts. Most state teacher licenses are good for 3-5 years in the state in which they are issued. However, an Arizona teaching certification lasts 12 years when you qualify and renew. This goes to show one of the many ways that teaching certifications vary by state. You must renew it by taking more classes or taking a test, depending on your state requirements. Some states allow teachers to attend conferences as part of the licensing renewal process.
Critical Components of Teacher Certification
The first thing to understand is that teacher certification requirements vary by state. The reason for this is that certification requirements are based on the minimum standards established by each state’s department of education. These standards can be found in your state’s education code, or you can look them up directly on your state’s website.
Certification requirements are usually determined at the state level, and sometimes those requirements are the same as another state, and sometimes they are not. For example, if you’re applying for a teaching job in Massachusetts, you’ll need to complete certain exams in addition to your bachelor’s degree. However, in states like Iowa, you don’t need to take a Praxis exam to prove your subject competency.
Education for Teachers
To teach in the United States, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and have completed a teacher preparation program. This includes a student teaching component, which is typically comprised of multiple phases that culminate with a final practicum. Another seasoned teacher observes you in the classroom while you teach and grades you on your effectiveness and offers feedback throughout the process. In addition to education courses, many schools offer courses on child psychology and classroom management strategies as well as methods for teaching reading comprehension. Some states will require a Master’s degree or even a Ph.D. in teaching as well if teachers want to advance or earn a higher salary.
Continuing Education for Teachers
Teachers need to keep up with the latest developments in their field. Some states require teachers to take courses, others require teachers to attend conferences or workshops, while some may require a combination of all three. Teachers may also be required to earn continuing education credits in order to renew their certification. In these cases, you can expect that your state will specify how many hours of credit you need and what kinds of activities will count towards your total. It’s important to stay on top of these requirements if you want to renew or maintain your teaching licensure.
Student Teaching Requirement
The student teaching requirement is the most important part of teacher certification. The student teaching requirement gives you a chance to put into practice what you’ve learned in the classroom and also gives you an opportunity to learn from an experienced teacher. Most states have some level of student teaching required to qualify to teach solo in a classroom. Although the required length of time to student teach will vary. The feedback you receive from the observing teacher will be invaluable for you moving forward in your teaching career.
Many states require teachers to take an additional licensing exam in order to receive a teaching license. These exams may be given by the state department of education or other designated agencies and typically include questions about the content taught in your program, state laws and regulations, and classroom management techniques. But because of the differences between states, some do not require this as long as you have completed an approved educational program.
Qualifications for Substitute Teachers
This may come as a surprise, but most states don’t require substitute teachers to have a teaching certificate or teaching credentials. This means that people with a bachelor’s degree—and in some cases, only an associate degree—can teach in classrooms as substitute teachers.