The distinction between teaching and teaching certification may be unclear to some aspiring educators. A teaching certificate is given after an academic degree’s successful completion, whereas teacher certification refers to the license needed to teach in public schools. Questions like “can you be a teacher without a degree?” or “can you be a substitute or preschool teacher without a degree?” might come up when thinking about pursuing teaching as a career.
To find the answer to these questions, continue reading this article, where we will explain more about certificate programs and teacher certification.
Teacher Certificate: What Is It?
The qualification that allows educators to teach students at elementary, middle, and high school levels is called a teacher certification, often known as a teaching license. All states require teachers to receive this certificate to be able to work in public schools. Even some private institutions also favor hiring qualified teachers.
To get certified, you must go through a few steps (which we will discuss later in this article). After completing the necessary requirements, aspiring educators become certified to teach in a specific subject area. You can obtain state-level certification in the state where you want to teach before earning a national credential recognized in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Unlike state-mandated certification, a certificate is awarded to graduates of educational programs that colleges and universities offer. You may earn a graduate-level certificate to qualify for alternative teacher licensure. Or you might pursue a certificate to supplement a bachelor’s degree or gain formal training in a specialty of the field. These may include:
- Graduate-Level Certificate
- Early Childhood Education Certificate
- Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate
Do You Need a Degree to Earn a Teacher Certificate?
If you are someone who is interested in teaching but does not intend to pursue an education degree, you might be wondering if you can be a teacher without a degree in education.
You can earn a teacher certification as a post-baccalaureate credential. This means you need a bachelor’s degree related to the field you intend to teach, but your degree does not require a bachelor’s in education. Moreover, there are part-time programs available for those who must coordinate the completion of their bachelor’s degree and teacher certification.
Requirements for Receiving a Teacher Certificate
If you already know what state you would like to teach in and have committed to earning your degree and seeking the traditional path to the classroom, here are the basic steps to get you there.
You first need to earn a bachelor’s degree and complete a teacher prep program. You’ll need four years for a bachelor’s program, followed by your teacher’s preparation to ensure you’re ready for your first day in the classroom. Secondly, you have to fulfill the student teaching requirement. Make sure you check the requirements for the state you want to teach in since each has different prerequisites.
Additionally, some specialized teaching areas and educational administration paths require a master’s degree. As a result, you will also need to earn your master’s degree if your specialization requires one. And finally, you must pass your state’s required exam for teachers and apply for state teacher certification.
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How Long Does It Take to Complete the Program?
The time it takes to get your teaching certificate will combine your coursework and preparation time, online or otherwise, with the in-classroom teaching time in a brick-and-mortar school.
The duration can also vary depending on the state, the program, or, as is often the case with online courses that can be done on your own schedule, your desire to complete the coursework quickly. As a general rule of thumb, count on a year or less.
There are also other ways to gain teacher certification. Alternative certification is available to aspiring educators who did not complete teacher-training programs but hold bachelor’s degrees in the subjects they wish to teach.
To gain licensure, you may be required to take additional coursework in education while earning one to two years of experience in classroom instruction under temporary licensure. Some states only require you to complete one to two years of graduate-level coursework to gain licensure.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, becoming a teacher requires you to obtain a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. To earn your license or certification, you must complete teaching coursework and testing, and then you can apply to the state where you want to teach. Remember, each state sets its own teacher training requirements, so the rules can vary depending on where you live.