Why Teacher Certification is Critical for Careers in Education
Earning your teacher certification is part of the entry-level process to working full-time at all state accredited learning institutions. Even private schools who may not have to adhere to standards for state funding want the best teachers on staff, whether they have to follow particular guidelines or not. If you are just thinking about the best direction to take to start a career in education, you should keep certification in mind. Many programs include certification completion as part of the academic process for completing a degree.
If you want to work as a full-time certified teacher, the first thing you should do is start comparing bachelor’s programs in traditional and online institutions. With the availability of credible online programs from reputable schools, your choices and options for receiving certification have never been better.
- With over 10 different 100% Online Master of Education programs, Lamar University is an excellent option for current teachers looking for their Master's degree. Lamar University’s College of Education and Human Development is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Lamar University’s online programs are recognized as among the best in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs rankings.
- Arkansas State University offers numerous Online M.Ed. degrees, with nationally recognized and accredited educational degrees at all levels (The College of Education & Behavioral Science is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)) – as well as bachelor completion and professional certifications.
Should You Get Certified?
While you consider the steps to certification based on the information we provide, you should also think about other factors that will play into your decision to move forward.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What age level do I want to teach?
- What types of courses would I be good at teaching?
- Do I want to work at public or private institutions?
- How far do I want to go in my education career?
- If I want to earn a master’s or doctoral degree after my bachelor’s, which schools would give me the best options for continuing my education?
The Steps to Teacher Certification
Of course you will need to speak with each school about your state’s specific requirements for certification. You should also understand if your school is operating as a for-profit or non-profit as that might have an affect on the various requirements.
Basic requirements of teacher certification
When you apply for certification, you will have to pass some basic criteria, such as proof of citizenship, criminal background check, and citizenship. There are some state’s that have different tests for certification, such as the Praxis test (website).
You will also need a bachelors level education to apply for most positions. You can better position yourself to be competitive for teaching jobs if you have a focus on education or the subject that you want to teach.
The Praxis test is a good guide for learning what to expect on your teacher certification exam, whether your state requires this particular test or not. In fact, it is currently required by 46 states plus the District of Columbia. Search for your state by visiting their official website.
Many states can require student teaching or some kind of new teacher introduction with a seasoned/experienced teacher. This allows the new teacher to have an introduction to what the everyday classroom experience will be.
You can expect a background check to likely be conducted to see if you pass the requirements. There is also a possibility of them needing to require your citizenship status.
If you do not have an education focused degree, you should definitely consider taking practice tests before scheduling the real date and time of your official test. You should also contact your state’s Department of Education and discuss what preparation methods will serve you best.
Study Guides Can Be Your Key to Success
Some students want to be sure they pass the Praxis and other certification tests, even though they aced their way through earning their degree. Fortunately, students can access over 90 practice and preparation tests from the Praxis website that focus on every area you can think of.
The format of each test is interactive and timed so you can know what to expect on the day of your test. It’s not just knowing the answers, but being able to think quickly under the pressure of the moment. That’s why purchasing practice tests, which are about $19.95 can be the next best investment, next to your formal education.
If you struggle with test taking, you should think about doing some research into bettering those skills. Whether it is struggling with timed tests or dealing with the anxiety of the test, you will will need to address those before taking the test.
Unique Teacher Certification Requirements by State
Although most states require passage of the Praxis exam, the additional requirements can vary greatly. In California, you have different sets of requirements depending on whether you want to teach elementary, secondary or special needs students. You can also test for single vs. multiple subject level certificates.
In Ohio, another populous state with a diverse population, has a different criteria. In addition to the Praxis exam, graduates must take the Ohio Assessments for Educators (OAE) exam as well as tests in World Languages that covers oral and written proficiency to be sure teachers are effective communicators in the classroom. Texas also has a list of approved teacher preparation programs that they will accept for a bachelor’s degree requirement. You might see this list of programs be required by many states so you will need to understand if your current degree is approved.
In New York, teachers will need to consult the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE) for a full list of the different requirements for teachers in the state. Virginia will exempt certain individuals that have completed three years of accredited public school teaching and have the right out-of-state license. This is only exemption from the the licensure test and won’t include substitute teaching or a teacher’s aide role as acceptable.
These are just two examples of states that have unique criteria for certifying teachers. If the certification process seems daunting at first, then you should speak with local and online colleges about degree programs that prep for your state’s certification while you earn an education focused degree. For instance, if you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-education related area, you may be able to design a quicker path to earning a relevant degree than associate’s students. Or you may want to discuss the possibility of substitute teaching while you start earning your bachelor’s degree in education. This can give you direct relevant experience. However, many states still require completion of a teacher preparation course before stepping into the classroom.
Opportunities for Certified Teachers
With a population that continues to increase in size, the need for quality teachers is not going away any time soon. Here are the career outlook statistics for elementary and secondary teachers:
Elementary school teachers are estimated to earn an average median salary of $55,490 per year between 2014-2024. Growth is expected to pace 6%, which is on par with the national job average. (Source).
Secondary School teachers can be expected to earn an average of $58,030 per year, depending on the state they teach in. The job outlook for secondary teachers is 6% for 2014-2024. (Source).
Teacher Certification Resources for Aspiring Educators
If you are going for your degree in education and want to become a certified teacher, you should start seeking the advice, mentorship and resources for teachers on the national and state level. Even though your state and college counselor will be your direct resource for certification information, you should consider the benefits of tapping into education based organizations no matter what stage of your career you’re in.
Organizations that can help prospective and current teachers include:
Association of American Educators | Website
This group helps teachers stay informed on the latest research, resources and policy that affect and enhance their careers. This association is one of the top ones that you should consider joining.
National Education Association | Website
This is also considered a “must join” among education organizations. Not only is this a great resource for keeping up-to-date with the world of education, but the resources and networking potential with this organization is wide-reaching.
U.S. Department of Education | Website
You can’t go wrong by starting your search for resources and organizations for teachers by visiting the official site of the Department of Education. Here you will find all you need ot discover across the spectrum of education.
To map the best path for your teacher certification, contact the traditional schools in your area today and compare them to online programs that offer certification as part of your degree completion.