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7 Steps To Get Your STEM Teacher Certification

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on July 20, 2021

STEM teachers are in high demand across Texas. That’s good news for those who want to pursue a career in education and have an interest in science, technology, engineering and math. 

If you’re interested in getting one of the STEM teacher jobs, there are seven steps you need to take to obtain your STEM teacher certification: 

  1. Enroll in an educator preparation program
  2. Establish an account with the TEA
  3. Complete background checks and begin your training
  4. Take certification exams
  5. Apply for an intern certificate and complete an internship
  6. Finish training and take the PPR
  7. Apply for your standard certification


Enroll In An Educator Preparation Program


stem teacher certificationAlternative teacher certification programs offer a great opportunity for individuals who have bachelor’s degree or career experience in the area they wish to teach. Almost 50% of all new teachers to the Texas education system choose this route, because it offers many benefits like course availability, flexible scheduling and extensive networking opportunities.

To qualify for this type of educator preparation program (EPP), the Texas Education Agency requires that applicants meet eligibility. 

If you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education, you must: 

  • Have a minimum 2.5 GPA on an official transcript, or in the last 60 semester hours of courses attempted
  • Be at least in the final semester of your bachelor’s degree program in which you must provide documentation that includes a copy of your final semester schedule of classes, a letter from an academic advisor indicating you are eligible for graduation and an official transcript through the previous semester

If you have an associate’s degree, you must:

  • Have 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 order to teach Health Science Technology, Criminal Justice and Cosmetology 

If you do not have a degree, you must:

  • Have five years of full-time wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field to be taught

To enroll in an EPP, you also must have completed 12 semester credit hours in the certification subject. For math or science in 7th grade or above, you must have completed 15 semester credit hours. If you do not meet this requirement or the GPA requirement, you must take a TxPACT exam as part of program admission requirements.

Establish An Account With The TEA


The Texas Education Agency is the state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education. To become certified, you must set up a TEA Login (TEAL) account. This will give you access to your profile located in the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS). 

When setting up your account, make sure you use the first and last name that matches your Texas driver’s license or state identification.

Because the TEA no longer mails paper certificates, the TEAL online portal allows you to access any future certification information. 

You can read more about TEAL and how to access important credentialing information in our article, Texas Teacher Certification Lookup Directions.

Complete Background Checks And Begin Your Training 


STEM teacher certificationAs part of a national criminal background check, you will need to complete a fingerprinting process. Applicants must submit fingerprints electronically by using an approved vendor. 

Once you complete all required background checks, you can begin your training. To get your STEM teacher certification, you must complete training that will consist of courses online, in-person or a combination of the two depending on the program you choose. You’ll also need to complete field experience. 

In Texas, you must complete:

  • A minimum of 300 hours of training to receive a standard teaching certificate
  • Of these 300 hours, 30 must be dedicated to observation of a certified teacher in a classroom environment

The best alternative teacher certification programs will work with you to develop a plan that completes these requirements using a full circle approach. ECAP’s certification process includes training, testing and teaching. All three components are essential for success, and all individuals enrolled in our program work on these components simultaneously. 

A full circle design takes a comprehensive approach to learning and allows interns to complete the program more quickly.

You can read more about this full circle approach in our article, Learn What The Best Teacher Training Courses Should Include.

Take Certification Exams


Your certification program should work with you to determine which certification exams you must take and when you should take them. 

At ECAP, you must first complete 40 hours of training before taking a practice content exam. We tell our interns to aim for a score of 270 and concentrate on areas your practice exam results indicate you need further training in. Once you score a 270, ECAP will give you permission to take your content exams. 

TExES content exams qualify teachers for certification in more than 60 specialties. They are divided by grade levels or special certification areas such as computer science, health, mathematics and physical science. 

You must take and pass one content exam to earn your intern or probationary certificate, although you can take more than one. This allows you to choose different tests that complement your skill sets and may make you more marketable to potential employers.  

These tests measure teaching readiness and skills, as well as the expertise in the STEM area you wish to teach.

Apply For An Intern Certificate And Complete An Internship


CertificateOnce you pass your content exam, you will receive a statement of eligibility from your educator preparation program. You can then apply for an intern certificate. You will do this using the TEAL account you created in the step above. 

Once you have an intern certificate, you can begin looking for a teaching internship. Internships provide invaluable experience in the classroom and offer the work experience needed to see your training in action. 

Yet finding that first teaching job can feel challenging. Here are five tips to help you achieve success:

  1. Be prepared for your interview: Develop a strong resume, prepare for interview questions and scenarios, and do some research on the school district where you applied. 
  2. Place the focus on your students: Be prepared to teach students, not content. Administrators want to know you will provide a safe space for students and that you can earn the respect of your students.
  3. Prepare a lesson in advance: Demonstrate right away that you know how to teach by developing a creative lesson plan before sitting for an interview. Lean toward student participation and away from lecture-based lessons.
  4. Be prepared to demonstrate your ability to manage students: Understand how procedures manage classrooms - not rules. Have tricks up your sleeve to redirect off-task behavior that you can share with the interviewer. This will help build your confidence leading into an interview.
  5. Be a team player: Demonstrate during your interview that you have a good attitude and that you want to help your teammates.

You can read more about each of these tips in our article, 5 Tips To Land Your First Job As A Texas Teacher.

Finish Training And Take The PPR


Once you finish your 300 hours of training to obtain your standard certificate, you must take the PPR. 

The Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities “is designed to assess whether a test taker has the requisite knowledge and skills that an entry-level educator in this field in Texas public schools must possess,” according to the TEA.

While your intern certificate allows you to complete your required internship, you MUST pass the PPR to earn your standard certification to teach STEM. The test focuses on whether you know how to:

  • Design instruction that promotes student learning
  • Create a positive, productive classroom environment
  • Implement effective, responsive instruction and assessment
  • Fulfill professional roles and responsibilities

Preparation is key to successfully passing the PPR. The best training programs will prepare you for the PPR by offering test preparation as part of their curriculum and not as costly add-ons. Training should include areas such as:

  • Questions that appear on the PPR
  • Common mistakes made when taking the PPR, including the competencies where many interns struggle
  • An overview of best practices and techniques
  • A full-length practice exam with on-site grading

Apply For Your Standard Certification


Once you complete the requirements above, you can apply for your standard certification. It’s important to note that even though you have completed the requirements above, you must apply for a standard certification. You will not automatically receive it.

Again, you will use the TEAL site to do this. You will also use the TEAL site to renew your standard certificate, which you must do every five years. Completion of continuing professional education courses or opportunities are required to renew a standard certificate in Texas.

If you’re interested in teaching the next generation of scientists, engineers, doctors and mathematicians in the state of Texas, the path above will ultimately lead you to your standard certification and a career in STEM education.

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Written by Micah Fikes

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.

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