If it’s your dream to be an educator and work with youths, your teaching certificate could be just a few steps away.In fact, no matter where you are in your life, there is a path for you to get your teaching certificate in the state of Texas.
Texas requires individuals to go through a series of steps to obtain their teaching license. There are four paths that allow you to participate in a teacher certification program:
You’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in an alternative field, and meet the requirements for an alternative certification program.
You have an associate’s degree, hold a license in a particular field and have the required number of years of relevant work experience to enter into an alternative certification program.
You have no degree, but meet the required number of years of relevant work experience to enter into an alternative certification program.
If your career or education experience sounds like one of the above scenarios, you can earn a teaching certificate in Texas.
Here are 6 steps that will get you on your path to educating America’s next generation.
The Texas Education Agency requires you to have certification in order to teach certain subjects or kids who fall within a specific set of grades. This is important because each certification area has its own set of exams that you must pass in order to teach in the state.
Depending on which grades you wish to teach, you may have a few different certification options from which to choose. For example, if you want to apply for teaching jobs that involve working with kids in fourth grade, you could get a certification for Pre-K through 6th grade, or a certification for 4th through 8th grade.
Which one you choose will be based on whether you prefer to teach kids of elementary age or more so of middle school age.
Also, keep in mind, you can continue your education and obtain more endorsement certifications throughout your career. Start with the certification that addresses the grade levels you wish to teach right away, along with subject areas, if applicable.
The next step is to choose your path to certification. There are four paths you can take:
If you are just beginning your education path and are enrolling in a college or university, many institutes offer degrees in elementary or secondary education.
For those pursuing an undergraduate degree in education, teacher preparation programs typically are blended with bachelor’s degree programs. In other words, if you are majoring in elementary, secondary or special education at a college or university, your college coursework and fieldwork also incorporate the state teacher credential requirements.
Bachelor’s degree programs also include student teaching opportunities where you can work with a mentor teacher to create and implement lessons.
Not everyone who wants to pursue a career in education has a bachelor’s degree in education. Some have degrees in other majors and choose to change careers completely. Others opt for a teaching career after serving in the military, staying at home to raise children or deciding to come out of retirement for a new challenge.
An accredited alternative teacher certification program provides you with a great way to earn a teaching certificate. Depending on the program, you can get your certification online, receiving an online teacher certification, or you can do in person training to receive your teacher certification. In fact, almost 50 percent of all new teachers to the Texas education system come from alternative education programs.
The Texas Education Agency allows individuals to qualify for an alternative teacher certification through the following ways:
A bachelor’s degree: Students with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning must meet the following criteria:
Minimum 2.5 GPA - You must have earned either a 2.5 GPA on an official transcript from an accredited institution, or in the last 60 semester hours of courses attempted.
Passed a content test - You must pass at least one TExES Content Test. Consult with the alternative certification program to ensure you take the best test for your teaching goal.
At least in final semester - Students about to earn a bachelor’s degree and who are in their final semester of school still can apply for a teacher certification program. These students must provide:
A copy of your final semester schedule of classes
A letter from an academic advisor or registrar indicating you are in your final semester and eligible for graduation
An official transcript through the previous semester
Proof of a passed content test
If you are a student who graduated from a university located outside the United States or U.S. territories, you must provide:
Foreign transcripts that have been equivocated by a recognized transcript evaluation service
Proof of oral English language proficiency by passing the oral proficiency portion of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
An associate’s degree: Even if you don’t hold a 4-year degree, you can qualify for an alternative certification program with your associate’s degree. You must provide the following:
Proof of your degree from an accredited institution of higher learning or one that is recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB)
At least two years of full-time, wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field you plan to teach
A current license in the fields of Health Science Technology, Criminal Justice or Cosmetology
No degree: Even without a degree of any kind, you can still qualify for an alternative certification program. To do so, you must have five years of full-time, wage-earning experience within the past 10 year in the field you plan to teach. You also may be required to pass an appropriate certification test.
You can read more about what types of higher education courses students can explore in our article, Types of Teaching Credential Programs.
As mentioned above, you’ll need to pass the appropriate teacher content exams. It’s best to work with your program to ensure you take the correct certification exams and know how to prepare for them.
Also, depending on which path you take toward certification, you’ll need to know when to take this exam. Almost all alternative certification programs require students take a certification exam as a requirement to the program.
If you have a college degree already and are not enrolled in a certification program, you must take a Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT) before you can enroll. You must have permission to take a content test from the program you are applying to.
Often, people are confused about which test to take or are planning on taking tests that they don’t need to take, so it is important to discuss this with your prospective program when getting permission to take the test. The PACT allows you to register and take a content test before enrolling in a certification program.
Most of the certification exams are administered through vendors. Even after you hold a valid teaching certificate in the state of Texas, you can register for additional tests in other classroom certification areas.
While just over a third of Texas teachers earn certification while completing their undergraduate degrees in education, the remaining two-thirds turn to alternative programs, out-of-state programs and post baccalaureate education.
If you are prepared through alternative teaching programs, completing this next step will put you among the 49 percent of all new teachers who choose this path.
Alternative certification programs provide you with an opportunity to start your career in the classroom through online coursework, in-classroom training and mentorships. Each program is different, which is why it’s important to determine which style of learning and environment is best for you.
Our article, What Should You Look For In A Texas Teacher Training Program, further explains some things to consider when researching alternative certification programs.
After you have met the requirements outlined above, next you’ll apply for a Texas teaching certificate. It’s a good idea to work with your preparation program to ensure all eligibility requirements have been met before applying.
To apply, you’ll need to set up a Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) account. This will give you access to your profile that is located in the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS).
Important note: Make sure your first and last names match your Texas Driver’s License/State ID card exactly. To register for a test with a vendor, your name on your identification must match the name on your educator certification profile.
More information about creating an account and applying for your Texas teaching certificate can be found on the TEA’s Educator Certification Online System page.
The last step you must accomplish before earning a teaching certificate is to complete the fingerprinting process. All educators are required to get fingerprinted as part of a national criminal background check. The TEA evaluates any criminal history on a case-by-case basis, taking into account several factors.
Certificate applicants must submit fingerprints electronically using an approved vendor by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Teaching is a rewarding career that allows you to have a direct impact on a student’s life. Yet many districts across the state report teacher shortages each year and are in need of educators who have a passion for working with students.
If you’re considering pursuing a teaching certificate, the state of Texas offers four paths that get you on your journey - whether you have a bachelor’s degree or not.
Combined with the steps outlined above, becoming a teacher is possible no matter where you are in your career and life.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank. In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.