How to Get Certified as a Teacher

How to Get Certified as a Teacher

The teacher certification process varies slightly in all 50 states, but there are some similarities. Without certification, you cannot teach in a public school! Even some private schools are beginning to require teacher certification.


You'll want to find the website for the Board of Education in your state to see what the requirements are for your particular state. Use:

Requirements vary a bit from state to state, but all will require a Bachelor's degree in Education and student teaching experience. Thankfully, many states offer certification reciprocity. If you're certified in one state, you can transfer it easily to any other state. On this list are:

Alabama- Arkansas- Arizona- California- Colorado- Connecticut- Delaware- Washington DC- Florida- Georgia- Hawaii- Idaho- Illinois- Indiana- Kentucky- Louisiana- Maine- Maryland- Massachusetts- Michigan- Mississippi- Montana- Nevada- New Hampshire- New Jersey- New Mexico- New York- North Carolina- Ohio- Oklahoma- Pennsylvania- Rhode Island - South Carolina- Tennessee- Texas- Utah- Vermont- Virginia- Washington- West Virginia

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Certification is the only way to have a certification that is accepted in all 50 states.

College Program

In order to get certified, most people choose a college program. Many undergraduate institutions offer an education major and those who have a bachelor's degree in another subject can go on to get a Master's degree in Education in graduate school.

When choosing a college program in education, think about what type of setting you want to teach in - urban? rural? or suburbs? Your student teaching experience will be in schools near your university, so it's best to attend a school in a similar area so you can really experience what teaching will be like in your target area.

You'll also want to consider:

  • Size of the institution
    • Do you want to be one of 50 education majors at a liberal arts school, or one of 500 at a big university?
  • Faculty-to-student ratio
  • Access to professors who specialize in your subject area
  • Job placement rate of graduates

Coursework during your education major will consist of:

  • Child psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • Professional education methods
  • Philosophy of education
  • Classes specific to your chosen subject

Choose Your Certification

At some point, you'll have to decide which grade level you want to teach: early grades, middle, or high school. This choice will determine what certification you ultimately receive, so choose wisely.

In general, certification is through your state Board of Education. You can be certified for early grades (K-8) or secondary (6-12).

In some subjects like art and music, teachers are certified to teach any grade K-12. Special education teachers are generally certified in a specific specialty area and are also given K-12 certification.

Alternative Licensure

Some districts offer lateral entry or alternative certification programs, which grant an emergency teaching license and give new teachers a certain amount of time to complete night courses and pass their certification tests.

For example, if you have a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry, you'l be granted a temporary license to teach Chemistry, generally for three years. If your bachelor's degree is in a subject that doesn't easily match to a subject, the closest match is made. This sometimes leads to business majors teaching Typing, or philosophy majors teaching World History.

Teaching is an adventure and the first step is getting your certification. While the most straightforward route is completing your college degree in education, there are other ways for those interested in touching the lives of children to get into this rewarding career.

Schools Offering General Teaching Courses: