There is perhaps no more noble profession than teaching.

It is so important, that any other contenders for the crown of most noble profession, be they doctors, scientists or firemen, are only able to ply their trade because someone TAUGHT them how to do so.

In fact, teachers are integral to preparing the next generation of doctors, engineers, and scientists, as well as the next generation of teachers to teach the generation after that to be doctors, engineers, scientists, etc…

Despite this, the United States, and indeed the world, is experiencing an enormous teacher shortage. This has left numerous states and countries to embrace alternative teacher certification programs as a way to address the problem.

These alternative teaching programs are meant to widen the potential teacher pool by allowing those without degrees in education to become licensed to teach. This is great for those with expertise in a specific subject experiencing a teacher shortage, those with valuable life experience, or those recently returned from teaching English abroad armed with a non-education related bachelor’s degree and a newfound interest in teaching and shaping young minds.

So if you would like to join the noblest profession, and don’t have the time, money or inclination to get a Bachelor’s of Education in order to do so, then read on, for this is your alternative teacher certification guide.

Where would you like to start?

What is an alternative teacher certification? How do you earn a teaching credential? Who are Alternative Teaching Programs for? Can you get a teacher certification online? How much does it cost to get a teacher certification? How long are teacher preparation programs? Requirements for Alternative Routes to Certification What kind of school can I teach at with an alternative teacher certification? Advantages and disadvantages of Teacher Certificate program Alternative Certification Requirements by State Alternative Teacher Certification – Top Programs Alternative teacher certification jobs

What is an alternative teacher certification?

Alternative teaching certification was introduced in the United States as a response to a critical nationwide teacher shortage. Though university and college enrollment is up over the last few decades, it turns out those university and college students are simply not majoring in education at the rate they used to. Despite fewer people studying to be teachers, there are still young minds that need to be molded. Though the number of education majors is declining, there are more university and college graduates than ever, many with degrees in subjects experiencing teacher shortages like math, science or foreign languages.

Alternative teaching certification was created as a way to give these graduates without a degree in education the opportunity to bring their education, career experience and expertise to the teaching profession in a way that circumvents traditional education degrees for shorter, more intensive teacher certification program that gets them in the classroom quicker.

How do you earn a teaching credential?

A teaching credential is what you need in order to legally teach in a jurisdiction. In the United States, all 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, require teachers to have a teaching certification in order to teach at public schools, just to give you an idea how important they are and how limited your options will be without them. However, the rising popularity of the alternative teaching certification means there are now different ways to obtain this credential.

Traditional path versus alternative route to becoming a teacher

The traditional path to teaching was to obtain a bachelor’s of education, which is a multiple (usually 4 or 5) year post-secondary degree that prepared a teacher for the classroom and was a direct route to teacher certification.

Though this is still great, the degree is no longer as popular as it used to be.

Back in 1975, 22 percent of college students majored in education, more than any other major, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2015, fewer than one in ten American college students were pursuing a degree in education.

It was with these numbers in mind that alternative teacher certification was created as a way to get some of these college graduates from other programs into teaching while recognizing they may not want to go back to school for years in order to do so.

That’s why in most states the minimum requirement for alternative teacher certification is a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a subject that you wish to teach. Prospective teachers who have already completed a bachelor’s degree are usually then required to complete an accelerated university program, usually of a year or two, and then pass the same state licensing tests as someone with the traditional education degree.

Can you be a teacher without a teaching degree?

One important thing to remember is that there will be a lot of red tape and bureaucracy involved in becoming certified to teach, and the rules and requirements will vary depending on the jurisdiction, so it will be important to research the exact specifics of your situation. As a rule of thumb, having a teaching degree will increase your job prospects, but the teacher shortage means that in many cases alternative teaching degrees can be just as valuable. However, in regions with the direst teacher shortages (looking at Hawai’i, Arizona and Colorado) you might be able to teach without either with a temporary or provisional teacher’s license.

Alternative teaching degrees can be obtained by those with bachelor’s degrees through an intensive university program. Some places allow you to teach while you work towards getting a teaching certification or license.

In Hawai’i, for example, graduates of state-approved, AAQEP-accredited education programs (like TCP) will receive either a provisional or standard teaching license upon graduation (depending on teaching experience), which enables them to legally teach in the state. During certification, program candidates may be able to secure a teaching position that meets clinical placement requirements while they work towards certification.

The teacher shortage is particularly acute in urban and low-income areas. Teach for America is an organization that recruits promising leaders to commit to two years teaching in low-income neighborhoods. Prospective teachers must pass state exams to earn a temporary teaching license, and are then required to do the coursework leading to full certification while they are teaching, a process that usually takes 1 or 2 years.

New York City Teaching Fellows prepare recent graduates and career changers to work in the nation’s largest school district. Teachers are trained in teaching techniques and then put to work teaching in the city’s highest-need schools. While teaching full time, teachers work toward a heavily subsidized master’s degree at a partner University on the way to achieving a full New York State teacher certification in 2 to 3 years.

What’s the Purpose of Alternative Teaching Programs?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2017, 50.7 million students were attending public schools in America. That number is expected to grow to 51.4 million students by 2025. However, university and college students are no longer majoring in education at the same rate that they used to. Thanks to all of your math teachers, you know that an increasing number of students, when paired with the decreasing number of college students majoring in education and studying to be teachers equals a big problem. Alternative teaching programs were created in an attempt to address this teacher shortage.

The global teacher shortage and where there is high demand for licensed teachers:

There are a few key things to note:

The teacher shortage is not confined to within one country’s borders. It is indeed a global problem. In fact, Unesco has said that the UN’s ambitious goal of universal education will fail without 69 million new teachers worldwide.

24.4 million primary school teachers and 44.4 million secondary school teachers are needed to teach the estimated 265 million children worldwide who are not in school.

The issue is not confined to the developing world. In Europe, Germany is short 40,000 teachers while it is estimated that England will need 47,000 more secondary school teachers by 2024 to meet the increasing number of pupils.

In the U.S. increasing elementary and high school enrollment coupled with a plunge in the number of college students pursuing a degree in education has led to a teacher shortage in the majority of states. It’s estimated that New York State alone will need 180,000 new teachers in the next decade.

The demand for teachers extends into the Middle East, with foreign, English speaking teachers in high demand in places such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Alternative teaching program subject areas

The demand for teachers is real across the board, but some subjects are in even greater need of teachers than others.

The Department of Education says that math teacher shortages are being experienced in 48 states and in the District of Columbia. Because of your fine geography teachers, you know that is almost everywhere. With science, technology, engineering and math (also known as STEM) playing an increasing role in our lives, educating a generation without a solid base in mathematics will rob children of the opportunity to succeed in tomorrow’s world.

As many as 46 states (again, that’s most of them) have reported a need for special education teachers. These teachers work with students with a variety of needs ranging from mild learning disorders to more challenging disabilities.

Of those 46 states, 43 have reported shortages in science teachers. Much like math teachers, science teachers help prepare students for the jobs and opportunities of tomorrow and a generation growing up without a proper science background should be a concern to all of us.

Habla Espanol? Parlez vous Francais? In an increasingly globalized world, the ability to speak a foreign language will undoubtedly be a great benefit to anybody lucky enough to be able to do it. Plus, how cool would it be to watch Japanese anime or Mexican telenovelas without the subtitles? Despite this, 41 states have reported a shortage of foreign language teachers. Obviously, you’ll need to be able to speak the language yourself before even considering teaching it, but if you happen to speak an in-demand language (think Spanish, French, Mandarin, etc.) then this can be a great route to take.

There is also no shortage of people in the U.S. looking to improve their English. These people are most likely immigrants or the children of immigrants and learning English is needed to ensure that they can take advantage of future opportunities to forge their own version of the American dream. Still, 31 states have reported a shortage in teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL). Perhaps you, like many others, taught English abroad right after college as a way to see the world. Chances are, you needed a bachelor’s degree, not necessarily in education, and TEFL certification in order to do that. This means you probably qualify for an alternative teaching program should you wish to continue your ESL teaching career once you return home.

Who are Alternative Teaching Programs for?


Aspiring Teachers

From a soon-to-be-graduating student to a few years out of college, you may have thought about your future life plans once or twice. Having already spent four-years and some serious cash completing your undergrad, alternative certification is an accelerated path to your chosen career at a fraction of the cost and time.


Career Changers

Whether it was a long-time goal you never fulfilled or a new-found passion, career professionals outside of education that are aspiring educators can take advantage of the flexibility that an alternative certification program offers so they can slowly transition from their current 9-5 grind to life in the classroom.


Experienced Educators

It’s not uncommon that educators discover their passion for teaching in the ESL classroom abroad. Coming home and getting back into a full-time traditional certification program is not always appealing, alternative certification lets experienced educators start their course work form anywhere in the world before coming back home to gain employment as a certified teacher.

Can you get a teacher certification online?

Pretty much everything can be found online these days. Too lazy to go outside? Have that avocado toast delivered to your door! Need a ride? Drop your location and your chariot will await you.

However, since you’re trying to get certified to shape the minds of tomorrow, not trying to obtain food from your favorite restaurant without moving an inch, this is a bit more complicated. Though some schools offer degrees that allow you to do much of the coursework online, most jurisdictions are going to want you to have a semester or two of in-classroom student teaching at a brick and mortar school under your belt before granting you a teaching license. Though an online coursework component can allow certain flexibility for the busy or the voluntarily couch-bound, the in-classroom component will necessitate going outside… sorry.

How can I get a teaching license online?

With that being said, options abound when it comes to doing the coursework component online. Info about getting a teaching degree online can be found… well, online. Here are a few to get your research started.

Teach Away Teacher Certification Program (TCP) is state-approved and AAQEP-accredited in Hawai’i and gives prospective educators the opportunity to earn their teaching certification through a flexible online core curriculum and in-class clinical placement. The program was designed to provide students with an affordable alternative teacher certification program without compromising on the quality of learning or student experience.

It is important to note that not all online certifications will be valid in every state, so be sure to do your research thoroughly.

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How much does it cost to get a teacher certification?

Ah yes, the money. Seeing as how you likely already have a bachelor’s degree that you may or may not still be paying off, you’re a bit older than you were the first go-round in college, perhaps with different financial responsibilities and a newly acquired aversion to eating ramen noodles for months at a time to make ends meet (ah, to be 19 again), no doubt cost will be important to you. So let’s get into the money side of it, using a few of the above programs as examples.

As a general rule, all certification programs will not include additional state examinations and certification costs such as edTPAPraxis I and II and licensure issuing costs.

Applying to Teach Away TCP is completely free. Once students are enrolled the full cost of the program is $5,499 which includes core curriculum, mentor support and clinical placement. Not able to pay the full amount upfront? Payment plans are available to students so students can get started on their certification right away while paying program costs in installments.

Teachers of Tomorrow has an enrollment fee of $295. This fee provides access to all of the training, study and job resources needed for you to become eligible for employment as a teacher. A deferred cost of $4,350 is then paid in monthly installments over the course of a year once you begin your paid in-classroom teaching internship.

Western Governors University offers a unique fee structure, in that they charge by the term, and not the course. A six-month term costs $3,240, plus $445 in fees and covers all coursework completed at that time. That means the more courses you complete each term, the cheaper your degree becomes.

The University of Texas Permian Basin offers its accelerated teacher certification certificate for $1,800, which includes tuition and fees but not course materials or state fees for testing and certification so be prepared for some additional costs.

You can see right away from the four examples that it can cost anywhere from $1,800 to $5,499 to achieve the online component of your certification. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is true of most things, so make sure you do your research to make sure whatever program you choose offers not only a quality teacher preparation program but will offer a certification that will be valid in your home state. After all, a fantastic deal on a program that leads to teacher certification in Texas won’t do you a lick of good if you live in Delaware.

How long are teacher preparation programs?

The great benefit of an alternative teaching program is that they can be finished much quicker than your typical 4 or 5 year Bachelor of Education degree, provided you have already achieved a bachelor’s degree in another subject. Although all alternative teacher certification programs will be much quicker than obtaining a bachelor’s of education (they had better be, considering that is pretty much the point of them), how long they actually take can vary.

Different states will have different requirements of what courses you must take, and if you choose to do the courses online, they might be able to be done at your own pace, meaning how long it takes, in the end, is really up to you. Generally speaking though, someone putting in reasonable time and effort should be able to get through the preparation portion in a year or less.

How much practical teaching experience will I get in an alternative certification program?

After the coursework portion of your alternative teacher certification is complete, it’s on to the in-classroom teaching portion of your certification. The amount of practical teaching experience you will get will vary depending on your program as well as the jurisdiction you want to get your teaching license in. Check with your home state’s board of education to see if they have any minimum requirements regarding in-classroom experience when it comes to certification.

TCP requires teacher candidates to complete 450 hours (12 weeks) of clinical placement. Teach Away TCP connects students with schools throughout the state to complete the practical teaching component of the program, in addition to Field Experiences in the core coursework which help candidates gain deeper insights into the complexities of the pedagogy, the school system and the workings of the classroom.

If enrolled in the Arizona TCP, candidates are able to complete their clinical placement in their home state.

Again, the result will vary depending on your program and where you live, so make sure you do your research accordingly!

How long does it take to get an alternative teaching certificate?

The length of time it takes to actually get your alternative teaching certificate is going to be the combination of your coursework and preparation time, online or otherwise, combined with the in-classroom teaching time in a brick and mortar school.

The time it takes to do the coursework section can vary depending on the state, the program, or as is often the case with online courses that can be done at your own pace, your own schedule and desire to complete the coursework quickly. As a general rule of thumb, count on a year or less. But again, if you choose to do an online course that allows you to go at your own pace, this part is really up to you.

After completing the coursework section of your alternative teaching certification, it’s on to the in-classroom teaching portion. This part is likely to consist of an entire academic year or less, during which you might be paid, but also supervised and mentored on your way to becoming a more effective teacher.

In Hawai’i, for example, the core curriculum is typically 360 hours (12 weeks) of content, followed by a 450 hour (12 weeks) clinical placement, Hawaiian History, Culture and Language training (10 hours online) and any required Praxis and edTPA assessments. While it is possible for students to complete TCP in as little as 6 months, 9 months is the norm. In line with state standards, a new teacher can then apply for a provisional or standard license.

So, despite variables like differences in state certification policies and the time one’s personal schedule allows one to put into the coursework component, in most scenarios you’ll be looking at full certification in 2 years or less.

Requirements for Alternative Routes to Certification

The bare minimum you’re going to need before considering an alternative route to certification is a bachelor’s degree, preferably in the subject that you want to teach. The purpose of alternative certification is to prepare and enable those with bachelor’s degrees in subjects other than education to become teachers. This means that if you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree, alternative certification is probably not for you.

In that case, the best and most direct route to teacher certification would be the traditional route. That means, go get yourself a Bachelor of Education, and be thankful you know what profession you want to get into at the start of your post-secondary experience, as many of the people reading this undoubtedly weren’t so lucky.

How do I become a teacher if I already have a bachelor’s degree?

So you put all that time, money and work into getting a bachelor’s degree, but now maybe you’ve decided that field is no longer for you. Hey, it happens. Or perhaps you love the subject you studied so much that you now want to enrich young minds with your knowledge of the topic. Either way, if you already have a bachelor’s degree in something other than education, and want to get the proper certification to enter the teaching field, then you are the very person that an alternative teaching certification was created for.

First thing you’re going to need to do is look up the specific requirements of where you live, or where you want to teach. Rules that apply in Missouri might not apply in Ohio, and a teaching certification valid in Georgia might not be worth its weight in cheese in Wisconsin. Rules and regulations will vary by state with regards to what classes you must take, what coursework you must complete, how much in-classroom teaching experience will be required, and even what subjects you might be allowed to teach. So do your research based on your own circumstances.

Once you’ve figured out the requirements for alternative teaching certification in your home state, it’s time to start researching schools.

The thing is, this is the age of the internet, so going to school no longer necessarily means going to an actual building. If you’re after the classroom learning experience, that is certainly an option. Hey, you do you. But for those looking for a more flexible schedule, it’s possible to do the coursework component of alternative teacher certification online.

The internet. It’s not just for cat videos anymore!

Again, if you go the online route, make sure the certification offered will be valid in your home state. But it should include the following:

Intensive core pedagogical modules and field experiences

In-person clinical placement

Evaluation and assessment

How do I become a private school teacher?

Private schools often have a bit more leeway as to who they can hire, as they can often set their own hiring policy. This means you could likely, in theory, become a private school teacher without the certifications needed to teach at a public school IF the private school agrees to hire you. That is, however, a big if.

Remember, people pay money for their children to go to a private school on the assumption that it will provide a better education than provided at a public school. If you don’t have the proper teacher certifications, then you had better have a bunch of other qualifications that will make a private school want to hire you. This can consist of a higher level degree like a master’s or Ph.D., or extensive work experience in the field you want to teach.

Still, your chances WILL be better with the proper teaching certifications, which means going to the traditional route or obtaining an alternative teaching certification.

How do you get certified to teach without a degree?

Occam’s razor is a principle in philosophy that suggests that the simplest explanation is the most likely. In this case, the best explanation as to how to become a teacher without a degree is… get a degree. Teaching is an important job, and anybody in charge of hiring is going to want to make sure you have the right education, qualifications and certifications in order to do it.

If you don’t have a degree already, the quickest way towards teacher certification will be the traditional route, which will be to go to university or college for a few years to get a Bachelor of Education. This will be quicker (and cheaper) than the alternative teacher certification route if you are starting from post-secondary ground zero, as the alternative path would require getting a degree in something else FIRST, and is really only for people who decide that teaching is for them AFTER getting their degree.

That being said, in some circumstances extensive life experience can be substituted for a bachelor’s degree if one wants to teach at a private school or to teach career and technical education (CTE), often also referred to as vocational or occupational training.

Private schools often don’t have to follow the same certification rule as public schools when deciding who to hire. They are still going to want you to be qualified, as in this case, people are actually paying money on the assumption the education will be superior to that at a public school, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be teaching math, science or English without a degree. However, an actor with an impressive resume and portfolio could, in theory, be hired as a drama teacher at a private school.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers teach practical courses that are designed to prepare students for a specific career. So, think about cooking, computer programming, auto repair, etc. In many cases, prospective teachers can obtain an alternative teacher certification to teach CTE through either online or in-person coursework, with practical life experience acting as a substitute for a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite. So great news if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree but have worked in your family’s auto repair shop for the last 20 years!

Like most things related to teaching, rules vary from state to state, so it’s always best to do your research!

How do I become a teacher if I have a master’s degree?

A master’s degree, especially in an in-demand subject such as math or science, might be impressive enough that a private school will hire you, overlooking any lack of teacher certification. However, if you’re looking at teaching at a public school, or VASTLY increasing your chances of getting hired at a private school, you’re going to want that sweet sweet certification.

Since you already obtained a bachelor’s en route to that master’s degree, you are exactly the kind of person that alternative teacher certification was designed for. The fact you have a master’s might not let you skip any steps in most states, but surely it will look good on a resume when you’re done, setting you apart from those simple bachelor’s degree folk when it’s job hunting time.

What kind of school can I teach at with an alternative teacher certification?

Alternative teaching certifications were created to widen the potential teacher pool in order to address teacher shortages. In many jurisdictions, an alternative teacher certification will allow you to teach in any and all places that a teacher who has gone the traditional route of obtaining a Bachelor of Education. In other jurisdictions, the primary goal of alternative certification is to address teacher shortages in a specific subject and geographic areas, so where and what you can teach will be dependant on the subject your bachelor’s degree is in. In this instance, graduates with certain degrees are in higher demand than others, and having the right degree can be a golden ticket towards a teaching job.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and refers to any and all subjects falling under those four disciplines. Because nobody can agree on anything these days, with even a color of a dress being contentious (it’s clearly black and blue you nutters!), you might see similar acronyms such as STEAM (stem plus an “A” for arts), STREAM (let’s throw reading in there too) and METALS (STEM plus logic, and then let’s move the letters all around, because why not?).

STEM is the most widely used acronym however and refers to the subjects that schools and governments have prioritized in order to address the lack of qualified graduates to work in the high-tech sector.

A wide variety of subjects fall under STEM including physics, computer science, statistics, and engineering.

An increasing emphasis on STEM subjects has led to a teacher shortage in many core STEM areas.

How does all this relate to alternative teacher certification?

Alternative teacher certification is designed to get those with bachelor’s degrees in subjects other than education into the teaching profession in order to address often dire teacher shortages. With the greatest teacher shortages occurring in STEM subjects, it means those whose initial bachelor’s degrees were in core STEM areas like math, engineering or science are in particularly high demand.

Again, check your own state’s rules and regulations. A bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, when paired with an alternative teaching certification, may not qualify you to be a high school drama teacher, but a degree in an in-demand area, (particularly STEM) will likely qualify you to teach in that specific subject with an alternative teaching certification. With a teaching certification and a bachelor’s degree in an in-demand subject, you are unlikely to ever be out of work. Math majors rejoice!

Can you teach at a private school without a teaching certification?

Perhaps surprisingly, in many jurisdictions you can teach at a private school without being certified as a teacher. However, just because somebody can hire you doesn’t mean they will. Remember, parents pay good money for their children to receive a private school education usually on the assumption that it will provide a better quality education than a public one. That means someone without a teaching certificate will need to have their hiring justified by having a variety of other impressive credentials. A bachelor’s degree in a subject alone probably won’t make the school overlook your lack of teaching credentials, but a master’s or a doctorate might, as would several years working professionally in a relevant field.

Prospective ESL and foreign language teachers might be able to teach at private language academies armed with only a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, or even just the ability to speak a foreign language.

How do I become a primary school teacher if I already have a degree?

Primary school teachers are responsible for guiding students through what is arguably the most important stage of their education. Typically they are less specialized than teachers at higher levels as they are required to teach lessons on a broad range of topics from math, English, music or physical education.

If you’re hoping to land a position as a primary school teacher, don’t forget you’ll also be responsible for preparing lesson plans, providing feedback and encouragement to young students, and teaching in a manner so as to engage a classroom full of kids who probably care more about the new Spiderman movie than learning multiplication tables. It’s your job to MAKE them care!

The lack of specialization means the subject of your existing bachelor’s degree is probably not as important as it would be at higher levels where there is greater specialization (in some jurisdictions they may want someone with a bachelor’s in math to teach high school math for example). It may however mean you might need to take an extra course or two in subjects like child psychology or early childhood development.

Still, chances are you’re still going to need a teacher certification. The good news is that already having a degree will shave both years and dollars off the process. An alternative teaching certification is specifically geared toward somebody looking to become a teacher who already has a degree in something other than education. In less time than it would take to return to school get a 4 or 5 year Bachelor of Education you can be certified, in the classroom, and trying to teach the minds of the future that multiplication tables are cooler than Spiderman in no time!

How do I become an art teacher without a degree?

Art teachers can spark imagination in students and help them understand artistic concepts and history of a variety of artistic mediums such as drawing, painting and ceramics. So, what are the chances of you becoming an art teacher without a degree?

Private schools generally have greater autonomy in setting their own hiring policies than public schools, so in that case a great reputation or impressive portfolio might be enough for a private school to overlook any gaps you may have in formal education. Of course, getting the proper certifications will undoubtedly increase your job prospects (and make you a better teacher as well).

In most states art will fall under career and technical education (CTE). In most states you will still need to be certified to teach a CTE subject, but extensive work experience in a field can be used in place of a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite for the teacher certification course.

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Advantages and disadvantages of Teacher Certificate program

An alternative teacher certification is not for everyone. First of all, it’s designed to get those with bachelor’s degrees, in subjects other than education, certified and into the classroom quickly. Whereas the traditional route to teaching involves spending 4 or 5 years obtaining a Bachelor of Education, an alternative teacher certification program will get eligible candidates certified and teaching in a year or two. However, if you’re starting from square one, perhaps fresh out of high school, just beginning your post-secondary journey, and you’re pretty sure teaching is for you, then the traditional path of obtaining a bachelor’s of education will still be the way to go. It will undoubtedly be quicker and less costly than getting a bachelor’s degree in something else first.

That being said, life happens. Not everyone is fortunate enough to know what they want to do early in life and start working towards it. People change, industries change, and sometimes in turns out that degree you worked so hard for leads to a career you no longer want. It happens. Career changes later in life are now happening much more frequently.

If that’s you, then alternative teaching certification might be for you. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, an alternative teaching certification will be cheaper than a 4 or 5 year education degree and will get you in the classroom and beginning your new career a whole lot sooner.

Alternative teacher certification, a state-by-state analysis.

50 states means 50 different sets of rules regarding alternative teacher certification. 51 if you count the District of Columbia. 52 if you count Puerto Rico, 54 if you count U.S Virgin Islands and American Samoa…point is there’s a lot of different rules and they’re all going to be different.

Alternative teacher certification in Alabama

Prospective teachers with a bachelor’s degree who pass the Alabama basic skills assessment are eligible for the Alternative Baccalaureate-Level Certificate route to licensure.
Candidates must first receive an employment offer from an Alabama school district. They must then complete an approved educator preparation program before teaching full time under a teacher-mentoring program.

Alternative teacher certification in Alaska

Alaska does not issue emergency teaching certificates nor does it allow anyone to work as a teacher who is not properly certified.
A type M limited teaching certificate may be issued to someone with expertise in a native Alaskan language or in a vocational or technical area, and Alaska participates in the Troops to Teachers program, which helps service members transition into the classroom.
Other than that, Alaska is one of the few states that doesn’t really offer alternative teacher certification programs!

Alternative teacher certification in Arizona

Arizonans with a bachelor’s degree can teach with a temporary license known as a Teaching Intern Certificate (Alternative Teaching Certificate). Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and pass an exam in the subject they wish to teach or hold a master’s degree in the subject. Teachers must then complete a Department of Education approved teacher preparation program while teaching with their temporary license in order to achieve regular certification.

Alternative teacher certification in Arkansas

The state of Bill Clinton and Johnny Cash offers an alternative route called the Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL). APPEL allows individuals to teach in the classroom while completing the requirements to obtain full certification. APPEL participants must have a bachelor’s degree and have passed the appropriate state exams and will be mentored by a professional teacher and take part in online instruction while a part of the program.

Alternative teaching certification in California

The most populous state in the nation has a severe teacher shortage that the state government is trying to address. California uses what it calls internship programs as its alternative route to certification. These intern programs are the pathway to a preliminary teaching credential. After 120 hours of intern preparation, candidates are then allowed to complete the remaining coursework needed for certification during their first year or two in a paid teaching position.
These intern programs are available through colleges, universities and county offices of education, and online options exist. To qualify, candidates need to have a bachelor’s degree, satisfy basic skills requirements and, oddly, satisfy a US Constitution requirement where knowledge of the Constitution must be demonstrated by completing a college-level course or examination on the subject. (Quick, what’s the fourth amendment? Go!)
Upon completion of the intern program, the teacher receives the same teaching credential as would be earned through the traditional route of a Bachelor of Education program.
In certain cases, previous experience can be substituted for various components of the internship program. Teaching at a private school is possible without the teacher having the proper state certifications. Those with at least three years of experience teaching at a private school may be able to forgo the student teaching component of the internship program, and candidates with six or more years of private school experience may be able to apply for certification outright, skipping the teacher preparation program entirely.
Prospective teachers may also be able to have certain requirements of the internship program waived if they have prior teaching experience through the Peace Corps.

Alternative teacher certification Colorado

Colorado offers alternative teacher certification to candidates who have a bachelor’s degree, pass a background check, and can demonstrate competency in the subject area they wish to teach. Candidates must then obtain a classroom teaching position and an agreement with a state-approved designated agency that offers an approved alternative teacher preparation program.

Alternative teacher certification in Connecticut

Those with bachelor’s degrees in selected subject areas and who have passed the required state exams are eligible to apply to Connecticut’s Alternate Route to Teacher Certification. Additional requirements are not far from programs in other states, including a bachelor’s degree, at least a 3.0GPA and Praxis core and subject area exams.

Alternative teacher certification in Delaware

Delaware has several state-approved alternative routes to licensure. These include the Alternative Routes to Certification Program, Transition to Teaching Partnership, Masters Plus Certification Plan and more. The varying approach to certification programs caters to individuals with varying backgrounds and school district needs are Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in these subjects are able to teach provided they enroll in an Alternative Route to Certification Program to complete certification requirements while they are teaching.
The Delaware Transition to Teaching Partnership is for those with a bachelor’s degree in science, math, technology or English. Candidates agree to teach in a high-need secondary school for four years and attend a three-week seminar before beginning their first teaching position. Four additional courses are taken at the University of Delaware over the next two years en route to teacher certification.

Alternative teaching certification in Florida

Anyone in the Sunshine State with a bachelor’s degree is eligible for the state’s Alternative Teacher Certification Program. The program prepares future educators through on-the-job training and an online curriculum. One must obtain a temporary teaching certificate and secure employment with a school district before being eligible for the program.
Many communities and state colleges in Florida also offer Educator Preparation Institutes (EPIs), an accelerated teacher certification program for those with bachelor’s degrees for a fraction of the time and cost of a bachelor’s of education.

Alternative teaching certification in Georgia

Like many other states, Georgia has been suffering from a teacher shortage for years. With teachers often becoming harder to find in Georgia than an Atlanta Thrashers fan, the Peach State has embraced alternative teaching certification as a way to alleviate the shortage.
All teaching candidates in Georgia must hold at least a bachelor’s degree. To become fully certified prospective teachers must pass the same required exams as teachers with an education degree in addition to completing an alternative teacher preparation program. These programs can take 18 months to two years and result in a post-graduate certificate or a master’s degree.

Alternative teacher certification Hawai’i

Hawaiians (or anyone wanting to move there, which might be everyone) who already has a bachelor’s degree are eligible to enroll in several post-graduate programs such as a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate or a Master’s degree.
However, the most popular route requires candidates with a bachelor’s degree to apply to a State-Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP). Candidates must then be admitted to the program and take the Praxis II content area assessment and once all program requirements are met, candidates are eligible for initial teacher licensure in Hawaii.
On August 9-10, 2021, Teach Away (Hawai’i program) hosted an accreditation visit by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP). In preparation for the visit, the AAQEP Quality Review Team solicited public comments about the quality of educator preparation provided by the Teach Away certification program in Hawai’i.
On October 8, 2021, Teach Away received AAQEP-accreditation for the Teacher Certification Program. Teach Away’s Teacher Certification Program officially becomes state-approved and AAQEP-accredited.On October 8, 2021, Teach Away received AAQEP-accreditation for the Teacher Certification Program. Teach Away’s Teacher Certification Program officially becomes state-approved and AAQEP-accredited.
As a SATEP, Teach Away’s Teacher Certification Program provides prospective teachers with a part-time online core curriculum with clinical placement in Hawai’i. Download 2019-2020 AAQEP Report.

Alternative teacher certification in Idaho

Idaho offers what they call an alternative route to teaching for individuals with a bachelor’s degree who are able to demonstrate competency in a subject area through higher education or experience. This license is to be requested by the hiring school district and once received, teachers can teach full-time while completing an accelerated teacher preparation program.

Alternative teaching certification in Illinois

Illinois offers alternative teacher certification to those who already have a bachelor’s degree. These are two-year programs where candidates teach full-time under the guidance and mentorship of an experienced teacher while completing the necessary coursework.
Those looking to teach career and technical education (CTE) related subjects can achieve a CTE teaching license with 20-hours of coursework and proof of 8,000-hours of relevant work experience within the last 10 years.

Alternative teacher certification in Indiana

Indiana offers a transition to teaching program for those with bachelor’s degrees. These are two-semester programs that allow prospective teachers with degrees in specific subjects to become licensed to teach through their choice of approved program.
Transition to teach programs lead to licensure at the middle or high school level. For elementary school certification, one must follow the traditional pathway or work towards a master’s in early childhood education.
The state will also issue emergency teaching permits when schools are unable to fill vacancies with licensed teachers. These are temporary and the recipient must demonstrate he or she is moving forward with the coursework necessary for full certification.

Alternative teacher certification in Iowa

Iowa offers non-traditional licensure in the form of a Teacher Intern Program. The program is open to those who hold at least a baccalaureate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5.
Prospective teachers must complete an introductory teacher intern program at a college or university approved by the State Board of Education. Upon completion of the introductory program, individuals can apply for the teacher intern license, which allows he or she to teach for one year. Teachers then must complete a teacher intern seminar and all course requirements of the teacher intern program in that year in order to obtain an initial teaching license.

Alternative teacher certification in Kansas

Kansas offers several routes into the classroom but a restricted teaching license is the primary alternative path to certification. To be eligible candidates must have a degree in a major they wish to teach and have at least a 2.75 GPA.
They then must enroll in an alternative route program at an approved Kansas college or university and become employed at a Kansas school district. Candidates are then eligible to teach full-time with their restrictive license while completing the alternative route program.

Alternative teacher certification in Kentucky

Kentucky has several nontraditional pathways to teacher certification. Most notably is the acknowledgment of career experience in specific fields or subject areas, allowing applicants to use a portfolio evaluation or extensive work experience to skip certain steps toward licensure.
The most common alternative pathway is a university-based alternative route to certification. Candidates must enroll in an approved program and receive a job offer from a school district, at which point they will be eligible for a temporary provisional teaching certificate. They then have three years to complete the program before receiving a professional certification.

Alternative teacher certification in Louisiana

Louisianians with a bachelor’s degree who are able to pass the appropriate state exams can become certified to teach through the Practitioner Teacher Alternative Certification Program.
Candidates must enroll in an approved teacher preparation program, and are then issued a practitioner license which allows them to teach full time while completing the program. Successful completion of the program leads to a professional teacher’s license.

Alternative teacher certification in Maine

College and university graduates who did not major in education have several options for certification in Maine. However, all require a bachelor’s degree, Praxis I exam, and eventually the Praxis II exam associated with the intended classroom position.
Amongst the approved alternative paths to certification are a 12-month in-person master’s program offered by the University of Maine. While candidates favoring a predominantly online delivery can enroll in the Special Ed Alternate Route to Certification (SPARC) program.
Also, those with bachelor’s degrees in in-demand subjects may be eligible for a conditional teaching certificate, which allows one to teach in Maine while completing education courses that will eventually lead to full certification.

Alternative teacher certification in Maryland

Maryland’s alternative teacher certification programs vary between regions within the state, but all aim to address the state’s staffing needs.
Candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, pass the required state exams and pass a structured interview.
Successful candidates then undergo pre-employment training before beginning a teaching internship under the supervision of an experienced teacher while completing any necessary coursework.

Alternative teacher certification in Massachusetts

Massachusetts offers prospective teachers with a bachelor’s degree the chance to start teaching right away with a preliminary teaching license, providing they pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). This license is valid for up to five years, during which time one must complete an approved teacher preparation program in order to upgrade to a renewable initial teaching license.
Those not wanting to jump right in the deep end can obtain teacher certification by completing a teacher preparation program prior to stepping into the classroom. Some of these programs can be completed in as little as one year.

Alternative teacher certification in Michigan

Candidates for Michigan’s alternative route to certification must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA, have a CPR/First Aid certification, pass a background check and pass a state test for teacher certification.
Prospective teachers are then granted an interim teaching certificate, which is valid for five years, during which time the teacher must complete 12 credit hours of training in a variety of areas such as child development, child psychology and instructional strategies. Teachers can then upgrade their interim teaching certificate to a standard teaching certificate.

Alternative teacher certification in Minnesota

Minnesota offers several post-graduate teacher preparation programs for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in something other than education.
The state also offers licensure via portfolio for those with a bachelor’s degree and extensive professional experience in a subject area.
Candidates will have their portfolio evaluated by the Department of Education and must pass the requisite skills exams and if successful may be issued a standard professional teaching license.

Alternative teacher certification in Mississippi

Mississippi offers several approved alternate route programs open to those with bachelor’s degrees in something other than education. The specific route that is right for you is dependant on the subject and age level you wish to teach, but all involve both a training program or coursework and a one-year teaching internship.
All participants must complete three core elements, no matter the program they take, which are testing, training programs or coursework and a one-year teaching internship.
Upon completion of the internship, teachers will be eligible for the five-year standard teaching license.

Alternative teacher certification in Missouri

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers an alternative certification route that allows an individual with a bachelor’s degree to obtain a provisional teaching certificate through an approved program.
The state has upwards of 8 approved programs which all vary is program length, format and delivery. However, all must meet the state set standards.

Alternative teacher certification in Montana

Montana’s alternative licensure program requires candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in an area for which Montana offers an endorsement. Prospective teachers must also complete at least six semester hours of a professional teacher preparation program and then apply for a Class 5 Provisional Licence.
As part of applying for this provisional license, teachers sign a plan of professional intent that affirms the teacher’s commitment to completing the requirements for full teacher licensure within three years.

Alternative teacher certification in Nebraska

Candidates for alternative teacher certification in Nebraska must have a bachelor’s degree and pass the same exams as those who take the traditional path to certification.
Prospective teachers will be required to complete coursework from a teacher preparation program but will be able to teach in the meantime with either an Alternative Teaching Permit, a Transitional Teaching Permit or a Provisional Teaching Permit depending on how far along they are in the process.

Alternative teacher certification in Nevada

Prospective teachers are eligible to enter Nevada’s Alternative Route to Licensure if they have a bachelor’s degree with a major or minor in the subject area they wish to teach, in addition to passing the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators test.
Upon meeting the requirements, teachers can be issued a conditional license that will allow them to teach while completing the Alternative Route to Licensure program. After completion of the program, teachers will be eligible for the state’s standard teaching license.

Alternative teacher certification in New Hampshire

New Hampshire has several pathways to alternative certification depending on the prospective teacher’s prior experience and what they want to teach.
The New Hampshire State Board of Education has a list of five alternatives, each of which has different requirements based primarily on experience and regional hiring needs.
For example, a school district can employ an uncertified teacher in a subject area experiencing extreme teacher shortages. However, the superintendent of schools must then develop an Individualized Professional Development Plan that will eventually lead to full certification.

Alternative teacher certification in New Jersey

Land of Sinatra, the Sopranos and Springsteen. The Garden State offers what is called the Alternate Route Program for individuals who have not completed a formal teacher preparation program but want to obtain the necessary training to become a certified teacher. So if you’ve got a hungry heart to be the boss of your own classroom, then that might be the path for you.
Candidates must apply for a certificate of eligibility and then accept employment at a New Jersey public school. They must then enter the provisional teacher program where they will receive mentorship and formal instruction in teaching on the way towards a standard teaching certificate.

Alternative teacher certification in New Mexico

There are several ways to alternative teacher licensure in New Mexico, all involving a teacher preparation program.
The fast-track Alternative Licensure Program is an accelerated curriculum for those who already have a bachelor’s degree. Prospective teachers can apply for an intern license to teach while taking the program.
In addition, several New Mexico universities offer master’s programs that lead to teaching licensure.

Alternative teacher certification in New York

The state of New York is home to the country’s largest city and its largest school district. It has decided to address its teacher shortage by approving alternative teacher certification programs designed for candidates already possessing at least a bachelor’s degree (or an associate’s degree if looking to teach a career and technical education subject). These programs resemble traditional teacher programs in content but are accelerated and designed to get candidates into the classroom sooner rather than later.
Alternative teaching certification in New York state is overseen by the Office of Teaching Initiatives in Albany.
There are three main alternative teaching certificates in New York: the Transitional Certificates A, B and C.
The Transitional A Certificate is for prospective teachers looking to teach career and technical education (CTE) subjects but do not yet meet the certification requirements. A Transitional A Certificate would allow an individual to teach while requirements for certification are being met. Prerequisites for the Transitional A Certificate include two years of relevant work experience, an associate’s degree and the ability to pass a background check.
The Transitional B Certificate is for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in the subject they intend to teach. Prospective teachers must complete teacher preparation through a New York State registered alternative program and then teach in a classroom while working towards fulfilling the other requirements for teaching certification. Candidates have three years to complete these requirements before applying for their initial teacher certification.
Those with a graduate degree in the subject they wish to teach can follow the Transitional C program. Like the Transitional B Certificate, candidates enroll in a New York State registered program to complete the requisite coursework. However, after completing the Transitional C program, teachers will be issued a professional certificate rather than an initial one.

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Alternative teacher certification in North Carolina

North Carolina’s alternative pathway to certification is called Lateral Entry, and is available to those with a bachelor’s degree who pass the North Carolina State Board of Education’s pathway to licensure exam.
After obtaining employment and the lateral entry license, the teacher has three years to complete a teacher education program in order to obtain a standard professional educator’s license.

Alternative teacher certification in North Dakota

North Dakota’s Transition to Teaching is a one-year alternative teacher preparation program for teachers with degrees in subjects experiencing teacher shortages, or who are transitioning into teaching from the military or the workforce with specific technical skills.
Teachers enrolled in the Transition to Teaching program will be mentored for a year, and must participate in seminars and online courses as a prerequisite for full certification.

Alternative teacher certification in Ohio

The Buckeye state requires at bare minimum a bachelor’s degree for acceptance into an alternative teacher certification program. Similar to those who follow the traditional route to teaching by obtaining a Bachelor of Education, candidates for an Ohio teaching license must complete both a teacher preparation program as well as the state certification exam.
One teacher preparation program for those already with a bachelor’s degree is called the Intensive Pedagogical Training Institute (ITPI). ITPI is a series of online modules that one can do at their own pace that covers topics such as student development, student assessment, curriculum development and classroom management.
Upon completion, participants will be issued an Alternative Resident Educator License Statement of Eligibility, which will allow them to seek employment as a full time teacher. After several years of teaching experience, and passing the state certification exam, this can then be upgraded to a regular professional teacher’s license.

Alternative teacher certification in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s Alternative Placement Program is a pathway for those with non-teaching degrees to teach in Oklahoma schools. Candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a field of study that corresponds to a state certification area to enter the program.
The state also has an approved Troops to Teachers program to assist transitioning service members and veterans in beginning new careers in public, charter and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools.
All prospective teachers are required to pass an accelerated professional education component, and pass the Oklahoma Professional Teaching Exam to obtain a state teaching certification.

Alternative teacher certification in Oregon

Oregon offers several paths to teacher certification for those with a bachelor’s degree in something other than education.
A limited license can be issued to someone possessing a skill in a highly specialized area such as computer programming or a language. Those applying for a limited license must prove special expertise, have at minimum an associate’s degree and be sponsored by a school district.
Oregon also offers a restricted transitional license for those looking to make a career transition to teaching. Candidates for this license must have a bachelor’s degree and be sponsored by a school district. While teaching with this license, teachers must complete an approved teacher preparation program.

Alternative teacher certification in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Teacher Intern Certification Program is an alternative pathway to teacher certification. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in the subject area they wish to teach and a GPA of 3.0 must pass the appropriate state exams to be granted an intern certificate. This allows them to teach full time while completing the coursework associated with intern program on the way to full certification.
In the most dire of circumstances where a teaching position has been advertised and no suitable candidate has been found, an emergency teaching permit can be issued by the Department of Education, at the request of the school, to someone with a bachelor’s degree but without the proper teaching licence. This emergency permit is valid for one year.

Alternative teacher certification in Rhode Island

Those with a bachelor’s degree in something other than education are eligible for Rhode Island’s Alternate Route Preliminary Certificate. Qualified candidates attend an approved alternate educator program before teaching for at least one year. Upon completion of the program and passing the necessary state exams, teachers will qualify for full certification.

Alternative teacher certification in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Education recognizes several alternative certification programs. These include national programs like Teach for America and Teachers of Tomorrow, as well as more local programs like Teach Charleston and the Greenville Alternate Teacher Education Program.
Teach Charleston is offered by the Charleston County School District and offers the opportunity for individuals to obtain South Carolina teacher certification in math, science, or English. The three year program provides training and ongoing support to successful applicants while they teach in Charleston County classrooms.
The Greenville Alternative Teacher Education program allows one to be employed and paid as a teacher in Greenville while being supported by on-site mentors and coaches.
A bachelor’s degree is required for acceptance into most programs, as is the ability to pass a background check

Alternative teacher certification in South Dakota

An individual with a bachelor’s degree in the subject he or she plans to teach and an offer of employment from a school in South Dakota is eligible to apply for that state’s alternative teacher certification program.
Alternative certifications are available to prospective teachers in general, CTE and special education. Successful applicants will be able to teach, but must complete an online teacher preparation program through an approved South Dakota program provider and received the approval of their teaching mentor to qualify for full teacher certification.

Alternative teacher certification in Tennessee

Prospective teachers in Tennessee who already have a bachelor’s degree must complete an educator preparation program prior to achieving licensure. Many of these will lead to a master’s degree in education.
Tennessee has recently phased out it’s transitional teaching license, meaning prospective teachers taking the route of alternative certification will have to complete course work in full prior to entering the classroom rather than in conjunction with it.

Alternative teaching certification in Texas

Prospective teachers looking to qualify for an alternative teacher certification in Texas will first need to hold a bachelor’s degree. These alternative teaching certification programs offer an accelerated route into teaching for qualified candidates, and include training on how to be an effective teacher and sometimes additional courses necessary for the subject area a candidate wishes to teach.
The exact certification needed and the route to get there will vary depending on the subject and grade levels you wish to teach.
The good news is that Texas seems to have fully embraced the idea of online teacher certification, and there are numerous online options including iteachTexas and Texas Teachers of Tomorrow.

Alternative teacher certification in Utah

Utah’s alternative licensure program is open to candidates with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Those seeking certification as a secondary school teacher specifically must have majored in the subject they wish to teach.
After being hired by a school district, candidates will be presented with a professional growth plan and enter a mentorship program with an experienced teacher. After completing all the professional growth plan requirements and teaching for at least a year a teacher will achieve a Utah educator license.

Alternative teacher certification in Vermont

In order to obtain a teacher’s license in Vermont one must complete a state approved educator preparation program at a college or university and receive a recommendation for licensure from that school. Those already with a bachelor’s degree can apply for a master’s degree program.
Vermont’s alternate route to licensure for those who have not completed an educator preparation program is done by peer review.
Each peer review candidate must submit Praxis score and complete a portfolio documenting their education, skills and experience and have it reviewed by experienced teachers, a process which culminates in an interview and ultimately teacher certification.

Alternative teacher certification in Virginia

Prospective teachers with a bachelor’s degree may be eligible for the Career Switcher Alternative Route to Licensure Program. After passing the appropriate state tests on the subject area to be taught, candidates complete a teacher preparation program, which includes 1 year of coursework and one year of mentored in-classroom teaching.
In cases where a person without a Bachelor of Education can find a school district willing to hire him or her, the school district can apply for a provisional license on behalf of the teacher. While teaching under a provisional license, the teacher has three years to complete the coursework associated with teacher certification in order to achieve a standard teaching license.

Alternative teacher certification in Washington

Washington State offers a route to certification for career changers with a bachelor’s degree not currently employed by a school district. Candidates must attend an intensive teacher preparation program followed by a year as a mentored teacher within a school district while completing the necessary coursework.

Alternative teacher certification in West Virginia

West Virginia has several approved alternative teacher certification programs across general and special education to increase the number of teachers entering the classroom and to alleviate that state’s teacher shortage.
Different school districts have different approved programs, and applicants must receive an offer of employment before enrolling.

Alternative teacher certification in Wisconsin

Wisconsin offers an alternate route pathway to teaching for those with a bachelor’s degree in a high need subject area such as math, science, special education, world languages or business.
Prospective teachers must enroll in a teacher preparation program from a state approved alternative route program provider, during which time they may be able to be employed on an emergency teaching permit.
After completing the alternate route program, which can be done online, teachers can apply for a Wisconsin Initial Educator’s License.

Alternative teacher certification in Wyoming

Wyoming’s Professional Teaching Standards Board requires all teachers to have completed an approved teacher preparation program. Alternative routes only exist for those who already have teaching experience and are already licensed to teach in another state.
However, in an emergency situation, an exception authorization can be issued when a school is having trouble filling a specific vacancy. It is valid for one year and allows the applicant to teach while the requirements of full licensure are completed.

Common Alternative Teaching Certification Options

Alternative Teacher Preparation Programs

Alternative teacher preparation programs prepare and certify teachers to get them in the classroom as quickly as possible. They are typically available to candidates who already possess a bachelor’s degree in a non-education related subject. While different states and programs vary, most consist of both a coursework component (which can be done either in-classroom or online) and an in-classroom teaching component where you are put in front of a class and supervised and assessed by an experienced teacher. There are however other pathways to alternative teacher certification, including a transition to teaching programs and emergency teaching certificates.


Transition to Teaching Programs

Though most alternative teacher certification programs will involve doing coursework, online or otherwise, through a college or university, there are many other regional and national programs designed to transition people from other careers or with different educational backgrounds into teaching.
Some of these exist to serve a specific purpose, such as recruiting teachers for low income and inner city schools, so might come with caveats regarding where you have to teach and for how long. They therefore don’t always come with the same flexibility or freedom that comes with getting certified through a college or university, but they can often cost much less or even offer the opportunity to get paid as a working teacher while you work toward certification.
One of the earliest programs established was Teach for America, since then there have been an increasing number of national and regional programs such as Teach Away’s Teacher Certification ProgramAmerican Board for the Certification of Teacher ExcellenceTNTP Teaching FellowsMississippi Teachers CorpsNew York City Teaching Fellows and more.
A quick internet search should reveal if similar programs are available in your area.


National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification was designed to train, recognize and retain exceptional teachers and to improve schools nationwide. It is among the most respected professional certifications in K-12 education. It is a voluntary system that certifies teachers that meet their high and rigorous standards.
To be eligible for a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification, eligible candidates are required to possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, have completed three years of teaching in early childhood, elementary, middle or secondary school, and hold a valid state teaching license.
This certification goes beyond simple teaching licensure (the certification a teacher needs in order to teach) and is more akin to professional development, making existing teachers better and recognizing exceptional teachers with an advanced certification. Having a National Board Certification will undoubtedly open many doors and provide opportunities for advancement for certified teachers, but it is a different animal than alternative teacher certification, which is designed to recruit and certify teachers to get them into the classroom in the first place.


Alternative Certification in Career and Technical Education

Career and technical education (CTE), often also referred to as vocational or occupational training, are highly focused practical courses meant to prepare students for a specific career. Examples of career and technical education fields of study are auto repair, cosmetology, computer technology, cooking, the list is almost endless.
Becoming a CTE teacher will require expert level knowledge in a specific field of study (meaning, if you’re teaching auto repair, you better damn sure know something about auto repair).
The process of being certified as a career and technical education teacher varies by state. Unlike most forms of alternative teacher certification, where a bachelor’s degree is pretty much the bare minimum you will need before even thinking about teacher certification, with CTE often significant work or life experience can be used as a prerequisite for the teacher certification program. This is great news if you have spent 20 years as a car mechanic but lack a bachelor’s degree!
You’re still likely going to need certification in order to teach, but like other forms of certification, you can do the coursework online or even work with an emergency or provisional certificate while you complete the coursework.


Emergency and Provisional Teaching Certificates

Emergency and provisional teaching certificates may be available in jurisdictions with the most dire of teacher shortages. They may be issued to prospective teachers who have not completed all of the requirements for certification but have still been able to secure a teaching position at a public school. Recipients are often required to be working toward teacher certification in order to qualify for a provisional certificate.
In Georgia for example, provisional certificates allow schools to hire non-certified teachers with the basic qualifications for a teaching career. Examples of this could include a retired teacher who let his or her certification expire, or someone with a college degree in a field he or she wants to teach who doesn’t have an education degree. Candidates must still pass Georgia Professional Standards Commission’s certification test, at which time a three-year provisional and non-renewable certificate will be issued.
Teachers are then required to divide their time between teaching and working toward fulfilling certification requirements. Upon completion of the requisite coursework, teachers may acquire a renewable, five-year teaching certificate.
This is one example in one state, but is an example as to how a person with a bachelor’s degree in a high demand subject area experiencing a teacher shortage can often get hired and work as a teacher while working toward full certification.


Teaching Equivalency and Portfolio Evaluations

Obtaining teacher certification based on a portfolio evaluation or previous teaching experience is not common, but is available in some states.
California, for example, uses an internship program as its alternative route to certification, with previous experience substituted for various components of the internship program.
Private schools, for example, are sometimes able to hire teachers that don’t have the proper state certifications. In California, those with at least three years of experience teaching at a private school might be able to forgo the student teaching component of the internship program, and candidates with six or more years of private school experience may be able to apply for state certification, skipping the internship program entirely.
In California, prospective teachers may also have certain requirements of the internship program waived if they have prior teaching experience through the peace corps.
So it might be worth checking if you’re state has a teacher equivalency or portfolio evaluation process that can be substituted for certain parts of the teacher certification process.

Alternative Teacher Certification – Top Programs

There are lots of great alternative teacher certification programs. They do however differ not only in what they offer but what states the certification might be valid in. So be sure to do your research to assess what program is best for your own situation. If in doubt, email the board of education in your home state or the state you’d like to teach in, or even the schools themselves, they will no doubt have academic advisors who will tell you what the best route to teacher certification might be given your particular set of circumstances. That being said, here are some of our favourites.

An AAQEP-accredited program approved by the Hawai’i State Department of Education gives prospective teachers the career preparation and pathway they need, in a flexible and affordable delivery.

Founded in 2003, iteachTexas was the first fully-online teacher certification program in Texas. It offers a flexible payment plan and is nationally accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Ohio State University offers several pathways toward an Ohio Alternative Resident Educator License. For those not wanting to head to Columbus, they offer the Intensive Pedagogical Training Institute (IPTI), an online program that the prospective teacher completes at his or her own pace that covers topics related to student development, assessment processes, curriculum development and classroom management.

Western Governors University offers a pathway to alternative teacher certification comprised of an online coursework component followed by supervised teaching in an actual classroom setting.

The University of Texas Permian Basin offers a fast track pathway towards teacher certification in the state of Texas for those who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in a non-education related field. Courses are done 100 percent online, and then followed by one year fully paid internship as an in-classroom teacher.

The University of South Dakota offers a graduate certificate in alternative teacher certification that is designed to meet the state’s requirements for teaching licensure. The certificate covers topics like classroom management, teaching methods, student assessment and adolescent psychology.

The Teach Mississippi Institute is an online alternative certification program for college and university graduates seeking certification to teach in Mississippi.

Is alternative teacher certification tax deductible?

For Americans, the IRS allows deductions for the cost of certifications used to maintain or improve skills for your current job. So, assuming you are not yet a teacher and are obtaining alternative teacher certification in order to become one, then Uncle Sam is still going to want his cut. Death and taxes are I right? This will obviously vary in other jurisdictions, so if you’re not American and Sam is not your Uncle, check with your own country’s tax authority.

Grants/scholarships for alternative teacher certification

Perhaps the only thing better than joining the noblest of professions is doing so on somebody else’s dime, so let’s take a look at grant and scholarship opportunities.

There are a great number of scholarship opportunities available for prospective teachers. They are awarded based on a wide range of variables including geography (meaning, where you live), need, the subject you wish to teach and sometimes your background and personal circumstances.

Are you a current or former member of the armed forces? Troops to Teachers helps service members and veterans transition to new careers as teachers in an attempt to reduce both veteran unemployment teacher shortages. Eligible participants may be eligible for stipends of up to $5,000 as well as a bonus payment of up to $10,000 as an incentive to teach at high need schools.

The TEACH Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 a year to students completing coursework needed to begin a teaching career. Grant recipients must sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve and fulfill a variety of requirements after graduation such as teaching in a high-need field or at school that serves students from low-income families to keep the grant from turning into a loan.

There are a variety of both state and national scholarships meant to promote diversity and provide educational opportunities to minority groups. A variety of scholarships are offered by the NAACP, the Hispanic Scholarship fund, the United Negro College Fund and many more. At the state level, the Missouri Department of Higher Education has a minority teaching scholarship that offers up to $3,000 to minority residents enrolled in a full-time teacher education program, so check to see if your state offers something similar.

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Alternative teacher certification jobs

So, you’re now a fully-licensed teacher, and thanks to alternative teacher certification, you’ve become so at a fraction of the time and cost it would take to return to school for 4 or 5 years via a traditional route to teacher certification.

So what’s next? Chances are you didn’t get a certificate just to frame it and put it up on your wall for all to admire. No, you got it to get a teaching job.

Searching for a job, at home or abroad, can feel like a daunting task. That’s why we partner with individual schools, school groups and districts in the US and around the world.

Your (free) Teach Away account will give you the ability to browse job postings from around the world, apply with just a click, connect with hiring schools and land the job you’ve been searching for!

Check out our job board here.

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