Determining whether an online alternative teacher certification program is right for you is a personal decision you’ll need to make based on your circumstances, goals and what you want to gain from the program.
If flexibility and reducing your commute are important to you, there’s a good possibility that the answer is yes.
Alternative teacher certification programs are gaining in popularity in the state of Texas - not only for their flexibility but because they help fill an important need for teachers in school districts across the state. Many districts are currently experiencing teacher shortages in several key areas that are severely in demand.
You know you want to be a teacher, but how do you know whether this type of program is right for you?
Your Career Goals Are Changing
One of the best aspects about an alternative teacher certification program is that it provides a path to teaching for those whose career goals are changing.
Whether you have your bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree or no degree, there is a path for you. Some of the most popular circumstances we see include:
Individuals who want to change careers
Stay-at-home moms and dads who want to go back to work after taking time off to stay at home with kids
Emergency services and nursing professionals who want to change careers but continue to help others
Unemployed individuals who are looking for a new direction
Those with coaching skills who want a full-time position at a school
Retired individuals who are looking for a second rewarding career
Members of the military who don’t want to end their service once they take their uniforms off
Whether you have educational, work or life experience, principals are looking for individuals who now have the career goal of making a difference in students’ lives.
You Have A Bachelor’s Degree Or Work Experience
To qualify for an alternative teacher certification program, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Administration Code (TAC) require you to meet certain qualifications.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in any major from an accredited institution of higher learning, you can qualify for this type of program as long as you meet a couple other requirements:
Held a minimum of 2.5 GPA or during the last 60 semester hours of courses attempted
Passed at least one TExES Content Test
Even if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you can still meet the program requirements.
If you are in your final semester toward earning your bachelor’s degree, you can also qualify by providing a letter from an academic advisor or registrar indicating you are in your final semester and meet the GPA requirements.
If you have an associate’s degree, you must also have two years of full-time wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field to be taught and meet relevant license requirements.
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 and meet relevant license requirements.
The above requirements can be especially beneficial for those who want to teach but have experience in a career that did not require a 4-year degree, including some nursing professions, emergency services and a variety of trade jobs.
If you work, have a family or have other obligations, flexibility is a must for you. Another great benefit of online programs is their flexibility that allows you to complete coursework around your schedule.
Whether you prefer studying early in the morning or late at night, online courses make that possible.
There are other ways alternative teacher certification programs provide flexibility, however. Because little to no commuting is required, you can enroll in a course offered at a location hundreds of miles away across the state.
You can also save precious time avoiding what would be a very long commute. And in Texas, even the shortest distances can result in a time-consuming commute. If you live in Houston or North Texas, especially, your average commutemay be as long as nearly 30 minutes. That’s time that could be spent doing coursework or studying.
With alternative teacher certification programs, unlike a traditional classroom, it’s perfectly okay to take courses in your pajamas.
You Want The Best Of Both Worlds
There are some drawbacks of choosing an alternative teacher certification program that is 100% online. These are important to consider when looking at whether a program is right for you.
When programs are fully online, you’ll likely have fewer:
Face-to-face interactions, limiting the opportunity to make connections
Opportunities to ask questions or get an answer immediately
Networking moments, whether unscripted or at planned events
Personalized help from staff who know you as a person rather than a number
Teamwork assignments or opportunities to collaborate
You also should have the capability to work on your own and have a good grasp of technology if you’re considering a strictly online program.
If you like some of the benefits of an online program, but worry you’ll miss out on the opportunities outlined above, it’s important to look for an alternative teacher certification program that offers the best of both worlds - online and in-person components.
You’ll receive every benefit above, but will also have more:
Opportunities for professional relationships with faculty and program staff, which will benefit you when they are approached by a school district looking for students to fill current teacher openings
Hands-on learning experiences that you simply can’t get from course materials
Face-to-face interaction with peers, allowing you to network and collaborate on projects
Continuous support from the moment you begin the program through your coursework, internship, applying for an educator certificate and ultimately landing a teaching assignment
Opportunities to get in front of a classroom quickly thanks to connections you develop the ability to teach while simultaneously taking classes
You Have Concerns
The overall benefits of enrolling in a program like outlined above may sound like a perfect fit based on your current circumstances. However, not all online alternative teacher certification programs in Texas are the same.
If you have concerns, you want to know they will be addressed.
For example, costs are a significant concern for many students who are considering enrolling in any type of educational program. It’s important to look for a program that doesn’t think of you as a number and instead knows you have a lot on your plate.
At ECAP, we defer over 94% of fees until you start teaching. Fees are then split up into manageable monthly payments. There is also no cost to apply to ECAP.
It’s also imperative that you not feel pressured to sign with an alternative teacher certification program. A program should never pressure you to enroll and should always prioritize making sure your enrollment is a fit for both the program and you.
While it’s critical to determine whether the benefits that come with enrolling in an online alternative teacher certification program fit your current and future needs, it’s also important to understand that not every program is the same.
Finding the right program is just as important so that you can quickly get on your chosen path toward a teaching career and experience a successful and rewarding outcome.
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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7166 Baker Blvd., Suite B · Richland Hills, Texas 76118 Phone 817-284-7731 | Fax 817-284-3396