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How to Be a Teacher in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

Degree Finder
BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Everyone has a favorite teacher. Perhaps it was a teacher who made a significant change in our lives by teaching us how to read and write, one we always looked up to during our middle school days, or the high school teacher who helped identify and nurture our talent. Maybe that teacher inspired you to complete a teacher education program and become a certified teacher. The field of education welcomes individuals who have a passion for students. Teachers typically hold a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. 

The teaching profession ranges from teaching kindergarteners about shapes and colors to those who teach high schoolers complex subjects like maths and sciences. As the demand for education increases, so does the demand for teachers. There are two learning paths to becoming a certified teacher. The traditional route requires aspiring teachers to complete a teacher preparation program and a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree and an alternative path that allows prospective teachers to do things a little differently while ending up in the same destination.

The teacher preparation program helps teachers obtain their teaching credentials which is always a requirement before beginning student teaching. But how does one earn a teaching certificate and obtain licensure? If you are interested in being a teacher, this article will help you learn how to become a teacher and all the important information on teaching and the best schools for teachers. 

 This article explores: 

  1. Steps to becoming a teacher 
  2. Education needed to become a teacher 
  3. Accreditation and certification for teachers 
  4. Alternative routes to teacher certification

Steps to Becoming a Teacher 

The teaching profession is one of the most fascinating and challenging careers in the world. Student teaching is geared towards impacting the lives of students and pupils right from their early education levels. For instance, kindergarten teachers will teach children how to read, write, and differentiate colors and shapes. Student teaching also helps students identify and nature their talents at early life stages. Teaching is suitable for individuals who love working with children and adolescents of different age groups.

 Student teaching requires the right mindset, personality, and temperament to help shape students’ minds. Therefore, before beginning the journey to obtaining your teaching license, consider if your personal and professional goals align with the teaching career. The route to becoming teaching begins with completing a teaching degree and a teacher preparation program. Are you looking forward to entering the teaching profession? You are in the right place. This article explores the steps into gaining your teacher certification. Keep reading. 

Teachers work in various settings, including private and public childcare centers, while those at advanced levels teach in elementary and high schools. Others might opt to work remotely through online education programs. Irrespective of their work setting, all teachers have a common pathway to earning their teaching certification and becoming teachers. The teacher preparation programs help prepare teachers for the task ahead. Aspiring teachers should ensure they fulfill all the educational requirements needed to begin teaching practice. If you seek to become a teacher, this article is best for you as it explores the popular pathway to becoming a teacher. 

  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree 

The first step to becoming a teacher is by earning a bachelor’s degree, preferably a teaching degree from a recognized learning institution, since most education employers require this degree in addition to state teacher certification. Colleges and universities offer various teacher preparation programs that provide aspiring teachers with the knowledge and skills needed for the teaching profession. 

You need to ensure that your school of choice has accreditation for teacher preparation from the state education department. This accreditation demonstrates that the school is authorized to offer the program, and it meets the standards set by the state’s education department.  In addition to state accreditation, schools offering teaching degrees should hold an accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the regionally recognized accreditation body. Those seeking to change their careers might opt to pursue a master’s degree

  • Undergo Relevant Training 

Upon completing their bachelor’s degree programs, graduate teachers should enroll in teacher training programs to gain hands-on experience in student teaching. The student teaching program entails a combination of field experience and classroom work. Teachers must deploy the knowledge learned in their coursework to manage classrooms, prepare teaching plans, and identify the societal and cultural influences on education. 

  • Complete Work Experience 

Graduates are assigned mentor teachers to help them gain more teaching experience. The teachers are required to observe the mentor teacher, after which they take the helm. They will be directly involved in implementing teaching plans, managing student behaviors, and tracking student progress. Most universities collaborate with elementary schools and high schools to provide the student teachers with teaching mentorship. Therefore, you need not worry about where to complete your work experience. 

  • Getting Licensed 

If you are contemplating teaching in any part of the United States, you will need to get a license, often referred to as teaching certification. Teaching certification varies from state to state. Ensure you gain certification from a state in which you will practice. To get certified, you will need to take various licensure exams, depending on your state. However, most states prefer the Praxis series exams. You will be required to submit a licensing fee, certificates of good conduct, among other standard procedures. Besides, you will have to pass the state certification exams to gain the teaching certification. 

What Should You Consider When Determining Whether a Teaching Career Is Right for You?

A teaching career can be satisfying and challenging at the same time. Teachers who have undergone a good teacher preparation program make positive impacts on students daily. They not only teach academic skills but also mold the behaviors of young people. Therefore, the profession is suitable for individuals who desire to make a real difference in the world. But how do you know if the teaching profession is right for you? You are meant to be a teacher if: 

  • If You Want to Impact Lives: The teaching profession offers priceless joy as it allows teachers to make a difference in society and the world. Teaching helps build a better tomorrow by molding students to adopt better behaviors and impart knowledge. If you desire to impact lives and make a difference, you should consider a teaching career. 
  • If You Love Sharing Knowledge: Generally, teachers influence the minds and lives of future thinkers, innovators, and leaders by transmitting knowledge to young ones. Hence, if you enjoy instilling knowledge in others, teaching is right for you. 
  • If You Enjoy Learning Daily: The teaching profession enables teachers to learn new experiences every day. Teachers meet students with varying ideas and personalities, prompting them to adjust to new teaching styles regularly. Also, the profession allows teachers to learn about the world around them. Only consider the profession when you are ready to learn new ideas daily. 

What Are the Most Challenging Steps to Becoming a Teacher?

Becoming a teacher might not be easy as most of us think. There are several hurdles aspiring teachers face during their quest to become certified teachers. It is important to be informed about these challenges. Some of the most challenging steps include: 

  • Choosing the Right Teaching Path: The are two pathways to becoming a teacher: the traditional pathway, which involves earning a bachelor’s degree, and the alternative pathways, which requires teachers to complete various teaching preparation programs. Teachers always have the dilemma of choosing the most suitable path to enter the teaching profession. 
  • Choosing Teaching Degree:  There are several teaching degrees that an individual might opt to pursue. With this, teachers have many options on which degree to pursue.
  • Choosing a Major: Some teachers must major in specific subjects. The choice depends on the teacher’s personal and professional interests, making it challenging to choose the most suitable subject combination.

Education Needed to Become a Teacher

Elementary school teachers, high school teachers, and post-secondary school teachers guide intellectual, emotional, and social development. The teaching profession helps turn children into lifelong learners. Besides, the career prepares the students to become productive members of society in the future. Teachers must possess certain personality traits and have the knowledge and skills to handle children and young adults with different ideologies and personalities. Aspiring teachers must meet educational requirements and undergo teacher preparation programs. 

The teacher preparation program provides teachers with the foundational knowledge and skills needed for the teaching profession. The teaching degrees available to teachers include bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. Various learning institutions across the country offer these programs, with each state having its educational standards for teachers. On this page, we explore the education requirements for teachers, including an analysis of the best degree programs for teaching. 

What Should All Prospective Teachers Study in School?

Although prospective teachers specialize in different areas, there are specific courses that all the students must complete before gaining their teaching certification. The coursework for the teacher preparation program differs depending on the state and the teaching degree. Nonetheless, there is a foundational curriculum that all prospective teachers must study while in school. The foundational curriculum entails general courses such as English, math, and science. Other common courses include curriculum development, classroom management, and using instructional technology. Let’s explore these courses in detail. 

  • Math: Like any other profession, teachers must complete a math course during their bachelor’s degree program. Teaching requires teachers to have good numerical skills, as there is a lot of numerical involved, including calculating GPAs. Besides, mathematics helps teachers develop vital intellectual skills in deductive and inductive reasoning, problem-solving, and creative thinking. 
  • English: English aspects such as grammar play a critical role in how a teacher conveys his lessons. Also, it enables teachers to learn vital communication skills needed to transmit knowledge, especially to young minds, effectively. It is vital that every prospective teacher, including those in early childhood education programs. To this effect, every bachelor’s degree program requires teachers to complete several credits in an English course. 
  • Psychology: Dealing with young students with different personalities and ideas can be quite challenging. Teachers need to learn and appreciate every student’s attributes. Learning psychology in school can help teachers design and develop instructional methods that will help share knowledge with all learners equally. Additionally, psychology helps teachers assess each student and monitor their learning process. This will help identify the weak students. 
  • Science: Typically, science helps us understand and appreciate the world. Children and young adults have fascinating questions concerning the universe. Every prospective teacher needs to have common knowledge of the earth and its surrounding. An approved teacher preparation program will have science in its curriculum. 

What Should You Consider Studying If You Want to Teach a Specific Population or Subject?

Teaching degrees allow student teachers to pursue various specializations of their choice, especially those who want to concentrate on specific subjects or populations. Such aspiring teachers should pursue academic minors to complement the general degree requirements. For instance, special education teachers can study academic minors that focus on a specific disability such as autism, blindness, or deafness. 

On the other hand, teachers might also consider learning other languages to help teach students who speak English as their second language. This is highly recommended, particularly at a time when the teaching profession has become quite competitive. Those aspiring media specialists should study additional courses such as management of collections, information organization, and information technology. Unlike public librarians who must pursue a master’s degree in library services, licensed teachers seeking to become school librarians might pursue various endorsement programs offered by each state. 

What Are the Best Degree Programs for Teaching?

If you have a passion for changing the world and enjoying working with children and young adults, pursue a teaching degree. Teachers do more than teaching content. They help shape children’s behaviors and mold them to become important personalities in the future. Pursuing a teaching degree program helps aspiring teachers learn various skills needed to address the diverse needs of learners, assess student’s learning progress, and manage a classroom. Additionally, in a teaching degree program, teachers learn how to use technology to enhance student learning. 

The high demand for teachers has lessened the teacher shortage in the country. This has led to an increased number of institutions offering education programs. Nearly all schools in the United States offer various degree programs. All a student needs to graduate with a high school diploma, earn an average GPA of 2.5 and seek admission to any program. The increased number of teaching degrees makes it challenging to choose the right program. You can either choose to pursue your degree through online education or traditional learning. 

Are you looking forward to pursuing a teaching degree, but you spoiled the choice on the best degree program? Well, we got you covered. We have identified some of the best teaching degree programs that might interest you. Keep reading. 

  • University of Wisconsin: The university’s bachelor of science in education studies is one of the best teaching degrees offered in the country. The degree is suitable for aspiring teachers seeking leadership roles in education. However, the program doesn’t lead to teacher certification. 
  • Arizona State University: The institution’s BS in Mathematics provides teachers with foundational knowledge on mathematics, including classroom management. The program exposes graduate students to an array of career options other than the teaching profession. 
  • Purdue University West Lafayette: The school’s Elementary Education, BA exposes graduates to state-certified teaching jobs. The school has collaborated with 43 different states making it easier for graduate teachers to work anywhere. Students are required to complete an academic minor focusing on foreign languages. 
  • Fort Hays State University: If you seek teacher certification, pursue Fort Hays State University’s bachelor of science in elementary education. The degree unlocks a variety of job opportunities in diverse educational settings. The curriculum requires students to complete courses such as mathematics, science, and social science. 
  • Western Governors University: The school offers a bachelor of arts in elementary education. The program is offered both online and on-campus, allowing students to learn at their convenience. The course talks approximately four years to complete and prepares students to teach in more than 50 states upon earning their teaching certification. 

Accreditation and Certifications for Teachers

When seeking admission in any teaching degree program, research to determine whether a U.S. Department of Education-approved agency accredits the degree program. The approved agencies ensure that the schools offering the programs comply with the federal and state laws governing education standards to ensure educational excellence. The accreditations and certifications vary considerably based on the state laws. However, despite the variations, all the accreditations and certifications have a common goal of meeting quality education standards. Choosing a teaching degree with the right accreditation is an important step in becoming a teacher. In this regard, we seek to explore the various accreditation and certifications for teachers. 

What Does It Mean to Get Accreditation and Certification for Teaching?

Accreditations are forms of certification in which federal-approved agencies vary whether the teaching program has met all the set academic standards. Accreditation ensures that the teaching credentials obtained by a graduate teacher are substantial and will be recognized by employers and graduate-level institutions. Teachers’ education is quite costly. Hence, students must always ensure the school and the program they are seeking admission into are accredited. But how do you determine whether a school or teaching program is accredited?  

Approved accreditation agencies provide lists of approved schools and programs on their websites. Research the school and the program to determine whether the school’s accreditation is authentic. Schools that provide online programs should obtain national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) to ensure online programs provide students with the same learning experience as on-campus students. Other teaching degrees obtain their accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. 

Before landing any teaching job in the U.S., you must first be certified in the state you intend to teach. The qualification is referred to as a teaching credential, teaching license, or teaching certificate. To gain your teaching certification, such as education technology certification, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree and complete a teacher preparation program to qualify for licensure. A certified teacher has all the required teaching credentials. Traditionally, colleges award teaching degrees upon completion of the four-year degree program. Alternative teacher certifications are offered to aspiring education without a teaching license. The certifications enable them to earn a credential from an accelerated teaching course. They must pass certification exams offered by the national board. 

How Does Accreditation and Certification Vary by Locality?

There are two main types of accreditation. That is the regional and national accreditation, which vary in various forms. For instance, regional accrediting organizations provide accreditations to schools, colleges, and universities within a specific region within the country. This is always an indication that the schools have met the standards set out by the regional accrediting agencies. In most cases, regionally accredited institutions are always reluctant to transfer credits earned from nationally accredited institutions. The national boards provide national accreditations to various schools across the country. 

Teaching certifications exist in two types; those provided by the state and those by the national board. Teachers with state certifications are only allowed to take up jobs within their states. This means their certifications limit them from working in other states around the country other than their states. On the other hand, national board certifications are for individuals who want to go beyond state licensure, allowing them to work in multiple states. Besides, the certification process differs due to the certification examinations that should be taken. 

How Do You Become Accredited and Certified to Teach?

If you are interested in teaching in a particular state and you have decided to take the traditional route to teach, here are the basic steps that will make you become accredited and certified to teach: 

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree and complete a teacher preparation program. 
  • Complete the student teaching requirement as per the standards of your state 
  • Apply for and pass your state’s required exam, particularly the Praxis exam 
  • Apply for the state-specific certification by submitting all the required credentials.

Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification

The traditional route to becoming a teacher isn’t the only pathway to becoming a certified teacher. The other option is the alternative pathways suitable for individuals who have at least a bachelor’s degree and consider changing their careers. 

What Are Alternative Teacher Preparation Programs?

Are you having a bachelor’s degree and seek to enter the teaching profession? Here are some of the alternative pathways that might help you become a teacher: 

  • Accelerated Certification Programs: This is the quickest route to earning your teaching license when you already have a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. The program allows prospective teachers to earn their teaching credentials while they are actively involved in teaching. However, the accelerated programs are quite intensive compared to other teacher preparation programs. Those committed to this alternate route will obtain their license in less time. 
  • Charter Schools:  Charter schools have full authority to hire teachers based on the standards regardless of the teaching certification requirements. 
  • Emergency Teaching Credentials: Due to the teacher shortage menace, most states provide alternative certification programs to individuals with bachelor’s degrees. They are mainly granted to teachers who teach high-need secondary education subjects such as science, bilingual education, and mathematics. 

What Should Midcareer Professionals Consider If They Would Like to Change Careers to Teaching?

It is important to consider various factors before jumping ship to teaching. For instance, you need to identify the factors that draw you teaching, including a passion for children and the need to learn new things. Also, consider the cost and whether there is financial aid to fund the teacher preparation program. Also, consider the career implications of beginning a new career journey. You also need to determine the pathway to gaining your teaching credential. 

What Are the Benefits of an Alternative Route to Teaching?

Are you considering entering an alternate route to teaching? Here are some of the benefits: 

  • The programs bring a fresh perspective to teaching processes. 
  • Graduates from these programs are more effective in classroom management 
  • Alternate routes allow teachers to learn better pedagogical skills 
  • Adequate preparation for the teaching profession. 

Conclusion 

The teacher shortage experienced in the country has led to increased demand for certified teachers in the country. Teachers play a crucial role in teaching and shaping young adults to become responsible individuals in the future. The profession is quite satisfying and challenging at the same time, hence suitable for individuals who love working with children and have enjoyed learning new experiences. 

To become a certified teacher, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree program and complete a teacher prep program. The teaching program typically takes four years to complete. Upon completing your degree, you will be required to undertake relevant training that provides you with hands-on experience in student teaching, after which you apply for a state-specific license that permits you to land any teaching job within the state.

 Remember, the state certifications only permit an individual to work within their localities. Those seeking to work in various states should consider obtaining national board certification. The second pathway to becoming a teacher is through alternative teacher preparation programs. The alternate programs allow you to get a teaching certification faster, and in some cases, temporarily. Some of the alternative paths include accelerated certification programs and emergency teaching credentials.

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BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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