There is no doubt that teachers are in high demand these days. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teacher employment is expected to grow 12% for kindergarten, elementary school and middle school teachers, and 6% for high school teachers. Requirements to become a teacher in the United States vary by state, but most states have basic requirements, which include:
- A four-year bachelor's degree (or higher)
- Completion of a teacher certification program
- Obtaining state or national certification as mandated by your state
Public schools usually require teachers to have certification, while some private schools do not. In general, obtaining teacher certification is an important step in a teaching career, and there now are convenient online programs available to obtain that certification. Some programs even offer a bachelor's degree as part of the certification, while other programs focus solely on the certification. These online programs are ideal for substitute teachers who do not yet have the necessary credentials for their state or for aspiring teachers who want to complete their studies and their certificate as well. All of these programs also have an in-classroom teaching component.
How do I get a Teaching License?
Oftentimes the terms license and certification are synonymous. Keep in mind that every state has different requirements for its teachers. Here are two examples of teaching license requirements for California and Texas.
California Teacher Requirements (K-12)
Source: The State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
- Complete a baccalaureate degree or higher
- Satisfy the basic skills requirement
- Complete an approved teacher preparation program
- A passing score on a subject-matter examination
- Completion of an approved subject-matter program
- Satisfy the Developing English Language skills requirement
- Complete a course about the U.S. constitution (two semester units or three quarter units)
- Completion of foundational computer technology course work
- Obtain a Clear Credential one of three ways:
- Complete an approved General Education Induction Program
- Complete a General Education Clear Credential Program (available to holders of preliminary credentials)
- Teachers who are certified through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) after obtaining the California Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential will receive a California Clear Teaching Credential for the subject in which they are nationally certified.
Texas Teacher Requirements (K-12)
Source: The Texas Education Agency
- Completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited university
- Completion of an Educator Preparation Program. Those who already have a degree may contact an Alternative Certification Program. Those who do not have a degree must finish their bachelor's degree to be eligible.
- Passing score on the state certification exam.
- Application and fingerprinting.
Where do I get Licensed?
There are several ways to go through teaching license programs, and of course every state is different. Here are two organizations that offer it:
- National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification: This voluntary certification goes above and beyond what is usually required by most states, and it sets teachers apart from their colleagues, setting them up for a promising career. Board certification is available in 25 subject areas, and the NBCT certification consists of four components: written assessment, reflection on student work samples, analysis of teaching practice, and documentation of teaching accomplishments.
- American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence: Also known as the American Board, this non-profit organization works to train qualified professionals by having them attend an alternative teacher certification program, which is offered entirely online. The online program takes an average of 7 to 10 months from enrolment to certification, and it is accepted as an approved route for full teacher certification in 11 states: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and private schools.
How Much do Teachers Make?
Although teachers are notoriously underpaid, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows strong growth for K-12 teachers, and their average wages aren't too bad either. Many teachers will tell you that they don't do it for the money, but one cannot live on altruism and teacher apples alone. Let's have a look at some of the earnings outlook for teachers, as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Profession||Total employment in the U.S. (2014)||Mean annual wage in the U.S. (2014)||Expected growth (2012-2022)|
|Kindergarten teachers (except special education)||158,240||$53,480||12%|
|Elementary school teachers (except special education)||1,353,020||$56,530||12%|
|Secondary school teachers (except special/vocational)||1,041,940||$59,330||6%|
Aspiring teachers can also look forward to many career opportunities as they gain more experience. It also helps to earn a master's degree, if you're interested in moving up the ranks of the school administration. Those who hold master's or higher degrees can also find very decent pay and job opportunities in higher education.
- About Certification, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, http://boardcertifiedteachers.org/about-certification
- American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence, http://abcte.org/
- Becoming a classroom teacher in Texas, Texas Education Agency, http://tea.texas.gov/interiorpage.aspx?id=25769812519
- May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, United States, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
- National Board Certification of Teachers, http://www.nea.org/home/31738.htm
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, High School Teachers, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, Middle School Teachers, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm
- Single Subject Teaching Credential, State of California, Commission on Teacher Credentialing, http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl560c.pdf
- Understanding Certification, Teach.org, https://www.teach.org/teaching-certification