It has been said that teaching is a calling. Some people experience this call at a young age and “teach” their stuffed animals or younger sibling in a make-believe classroom. Others find themselves wanting to get more out of their career later in life and decide to pursue a teaching certificate as a second career. However they get there, every teacher has a path to follow on the road to the classroom.
The typical undergrad will complete the required classes for a bachelor’s degree which will include general knowledge as well as a specialized curriculum. After completing the correct number of credits, student teaching will be the next step. This is a great opportunity to gain professional knowledge and learn best practices from a master teacher. It will also give you a chance to ask questions and practice your skills in a real-life setting. There are alternative paths to certification depending on your state. You would want to research and talk with a career counselor about your options if considering a non-traditional route to certification.
As you finish up your bachelor’s degree, background/fingerprint check and student teaching, you will then be eligible to become certified. But first, you must pass exams that will prove that you are ready to be in the classroom. These will include three exams: Academic Skills for Educators, Subject Assessments, and Content Knowledge for Teaching. Often, studying is necessary to pass these exams. For example, aspiring teachers typically take one or two Praxis Core writing practice tests to prepare for the real exam. This may ease some anxiety leading up to exam time. These practice tests can determine deficient areas to focus on when studying for the real exam.
Deciding where you want to teach and what age is an important first step in a job search. Some states have different requirements so if you are thinking about relocating, you may want to determine what the certification process is in that state before taking the test in your current state. Several states will accept certification from other states. If for some reason you do not pass one of the exams, there are opportunities to study and retake the exam. Additionally, teaching high school, very young students or specialized classes may require additional tests and certification.
After passing exams, potential teachers will apply for teacher certification in their preferred state. The state’s department of education is in charge of issuing this license. The application charge is usually between $20- $200. Once issued, a teaching certificate must be renewed every few years. To maintain a valid certificate, continuing education courses and possibly graduate-level work will need to be completed. Keeping track of your hours and coursework will make renewal easier. Many school districts offer professional development for their teachers which makes this process easier.
Teaching can be a rewarding career that provides a good living while influencing young lives. There are several steps necessary to achieve this goal. Undergraduate work, student teaching, background checks, testing, and certification all pave the way for the ultimate result- a teaching job. The road to get there may be challenging at times, but every profession has its requirements and few are as important as guiding young people through their education.