Interested in making a career change to teaching? If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education, alternative teacher certification may be your ticket to the classroom.
What is Alternative Teacher Certification?
Alternative certification was created to provide qualified professionals with a way to get into the classroom quickly, speeding past a state’s traditional education certification route. Traditional certification typically requires teachers to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education, pass standardized tests, and fulfill additional state requirements. Professionals bypass these obligations by completing an alternative certification program before or in the midst of full-time teaching. Teacher certification requirements do vary by state.
When choosing a Bachelor’s degree program, people can sometimes choose something that may not be the best option later on down the line. This can be a very discouraging decision that can leave graduates feeling negative about the degree that they worked so hard to earn.
Universities Adding Alternative Certification for Teachers
In response to the lack of adequate numbers of teachers across the country, universities have developed a transfer path for Bachelor’s degree earners that assists them with obtaining certification as teachers in various fields of education.
Alternative teaching certification is a method for non-teaching Bachelor’s degree earners to get certified as teachers within their state, regardless of what type of undergraduate degree they hold. This certification program was designed to assist those seeking a career in teaching with reaching their goals, without having to re-enroll in a teaching Bachelor’s degree program. The focus of these programs is the primary aspects of education in regards to target age groups or grade level. Most of these programs require that applicants hold a Bachelor’s degree in any subject and perform well throughout the certification program.
Specific Teaching Exams
Completion of the Praxis Education exams may also be required, to ensure universities that learners are prepared for a fast-track in the field of education. Most alternative programs allow students to transition their career to teaching with innovative online programs alongside mentoring from teachers within the field.
Online Masters in Alternative Teaching Certification
The online Masters in Alternative Teaching Certification program is a great option if you want to pursue a career in education, but have a Bachelor’s degree in another discipline. Most online Masters programs require that you provide proof of an earned Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, have a minimum GPA of 2.5 or higher, and passing scores on the Praxis Education exam. The specific exam requirements can vary depending on the university, so it is important to review a school’s requirements prior to enrolling.
Alternative Teaching Certification degree programs have various lengths, depending on where they are completed, but a large majority of programs state that they can be completed in 1-2 years. Although the majority of the coursework is completed via online classrooms, most programs require that students engage in internships towards the end of their program, to get some experience in the educational field. These experiences are to be set up by the students, so you should have a school in mind prior to enrolling.
Sample Classes / Curriculum
Below are just a few courses that students take in a Masters in Alternative Teacher Certification program at numerous universities across the US and online.
- Research in Curriculum and Instruction
- Education Philosophy and Leadership
- A Study of Individuals with Disabilities
- Educational Psychology Applied in Teaching
- Instructional Design and Methodology
- Reading Strategies for Teaching
- Complete a recognized alternative certification program
- Pass a state licensing test
- Go through a rigorous screening process, including interviews
- Provisional Certification gives candidates with a bachelor’s degree who meet minimum requirements the chance to begin teaching immediately. To earn a standard teaching certification, they must complete education coursework and assessments within a predefined time (typically one to three years).
- Alternative Route to Standard Certification programs are designed for candidates who wish to continue working in their jobs while taking education courses and completing other certification requirements. Upon completion of the program, they can begin teaching.
Schools with Alternate Teacher Certification Programs
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
This university currently offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching for individuals that want an alternative teaching path for their education. This program in particular offers students the option to choose from several different specialties, including Early Childhood Education, Elementary and Middle School Education, Postsecondary Education, and Special Education. Students are permitted to continue full-time employment until the final two semesters, when an internship is required for graduation. The entire program can be completed in about a year, and requires that students have an internship arranged prior to the beginning of the last two semesters. The end result of this degree program is a teaching licensure and a Masters of Art in Teaching degree.
The University of West Alabama
UWA has a great alternative teaching program offered to students that wish to pursue a career in teaching, but do not have the right undergraduate degree. This university requires that students have a minimum of a 2.75 GPA and a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. This degree program allows students to choose from either a Master of Arts in Teaching or a Master of Education, with the curriculum designed to suit either degree path. Specialties include Early Education, Elementary Education, and Special Education. Students can also choose to specialize in specific subjects such as Math, Science, English, and History. The whole program can be completed in 1-2 years, and does require an internship towards the end of the experience. Students are responsible for setting up their own observations and internships throughout the program.
Western State Colorado University
The alternative teaching certification as WSCU requires that students have an already secured teaching position prior to enrolling. This can be set up through local schools that are willing to accept interns while they attend high-level educational programs. Students are expected to complete 27 credit hours of online coursework, alongside 1 hour per week supervision in a professional setting. After the first licensure year, teachers can complete the remaining 16 credit hours required to complete the Masters degree in Education. Applicants for this program can choose a generalized K-12 focus, Elementary, Secondary, or Special Education endorsements for their degree program. This program does require a mandatory orientation, which takes place at the university.
Am I Eligible for Alternative Teacher Certification?
Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education from an accredited school are prime candidates for alternative teacher certification. They follow what is sometimes referred to as the “Class A” route. Certain professionals who are interested in teaching at the K-12 level—for example, college professors and Teach for America candidates—should check with their state’s department of education about eligibility requirements and the appropriate steps to take.
How Do I Become a Teacher with Alternative Certification?
Alternative certification requirements are different in every state, but for the Class A route, most states demand that you:
In the classroom, you will be paired with a trained mentor, typically a teacher who has a traditional education degree. You may also be required to achieve certain performance standards.
Can I Teach Immediately with Alternative Teacher Certification?
Alternative certification is often split into two categories:
Which Alternative Teaching Certification Program Should I Choose?
Many schools, universities, and private institutions offer alternative teacher certification programs, including on-campus and online options. Above all, it’s important to find a program that meets your state’s specific accreditation requirements, especially if you are considering an online route. Visit your state’s department of education website and contact the appropriate licensing authority if you are in any doubt about how to pursue an alternative certification program.
Career Options for Teachers with Alternative Teacher Certification
Teachers that have obtained Alternative Teacher Certification have the same career options as teachers that pursued the traditional route to licensure. Completion of an Alternative Teacher Certification path provides graduates with both licensure in teaching as well as an applicable Masters in Education degree. The license in education allows teachers to find jobs in the K-12 range, depending on the specialty that was chosen during the alternative program. Most online programs requires the students choose a specific teaching range when applying, so that the educational path is relevant to the age group that students seek to teach. Special education endorsements are also available through these programs, adding to the career potential for graduates.
In addition to standard teaching positions, a Masters degree can allow for graduates to pursue careers in other sectors of education. There are many different agencies state-by-state that seek Masters level learners in education to help with curriculum development, corporate training, and even educational policy. With a Masters in Education, there are many different options for careers upon graduation. Changing paths from non-educational degree programs to an alternative teaching certification and degree can be a great option for individuals that want to get into careers dealing with education without having to obtain a second Bachelor’s degree.