When you go onto Google and type “get teaching certificate online” into the search box, you’re almost certainly going to have a large number and variety of results returned. Looking for an online course has never been more challenging. There are so many offered that you can’t be blamed for being confused.
Well, don’t be. Plenty of online teacher certification programs exist – you just have to know how to separate the quality ones out. Moreover, you have to understand the latest state requirements to ensure you don’t end up following outdated advice, and thereby not qualifying for a program or for your license.
We’re here to help you through every stage of applying for teaching certification programs, so let’s get started.
Requirements for Applying to a Program
You already know the road to a teaching license isn’t paved with roses, but that doesn’t mean it has to be too difficult. In fact, according to the Texas Education Agency, many alternative certificate programs “can be completed in one year, during which time you may be able to teach as a paid intern with supervision and mentoring. Some programs offer an unpaid clinical experience similar to student teaching in lieu of a paid internship.”
To complete your program, you will need to:
Complete all teacher training requirements, including:
Before we dive into each section of requirements for a program, let’s briefly cover a few key things to look for in a program.
What to Look for in an Online Teaching Certificate Program
First, let’s talk about the difference between a teaching certificate and a teaching license. The certificate is the program you must complete in order to be eligible for the license. Once you complete your certificate, you can fill out the paperwork and take the applicable licensing tests.
When looking for a certified teacher program, keep the following things in mind:
The program must be state approved.
It must contain an in-classroom student teaching element
Any program that contains in-person instruction for you, as opposed to online, will prove more valuable in the end. While the ability to complete online instruction is very convenient, it lacks some of the career-building potential of facetime with a professor and other students.
Programs that include test prep at no extra cost are also more valuable because they prepare you for your licensing exam.
The program should support your timeline and needs.
Texas allows applicants of many different backgrounds to apply to programs.
Some certificates are rolled in with a bachelor’s degree, while others are separate programs that you complete on a post-baccalaureate level. In other words, after you graduate with a bachelor’s. Be aware that while master’s-level programs do exist, they are not necessary to teach in Texas. However, if you wish to become a principal or other administrator, you will need one.
Those with a bachelor’s degree must have a 2.5 minimum GPA. Those graduating outside the United States or Territories must provide transcripts confirmed by a recognized transcript evaluation service and must pass the oral proficiency portion of the TOEFL.
You don’t necessarily have to have a four-year degree, though. If you have an associate’s degree from an accredited institution, the state will allow you to enroll in a program as long as you have two years’ of full-time wage-earning experience in the field. You may also apply without a degree at all, provided at least five out of the last ten years have been spent in full-time wage-earning work in the field. However, this applies if you want to teach in the fields of criminal justice, automotive, cosmetology and culinary arts.
Texas makes additional provisions for the following groups:
Those who have completed coursework or training outside the state
Members of the armed forces
Teachers with licenses from other states or territories
In some cases, before you can enroll in a teaching certification program, you will need to take a Pre-Admission Content Test (TxPACT). According to TEA, this applies to:
Applicants with a GPA lower than 2.5
Those who have insufficient instruction in the area in which they want to teach
Most students, however, will not need to pass this test for entrance into a program. The real focus with testing is what happens at the end of the certification program, when you must pass TExES exams to complete certification and apply for a license. These differ depending on the age of the students and the subject level, but there are two worth noting:
The Pedagogy and Professional Responsibility (PPR)
This test assesses whether the teaching candidate has the requisite skills to teach and is properly prepared to make good decisions in the educational environment.
The Science of Teaching Reading (STR)
This is one of the new changes to teaching programs in Texas. Not everyone has to take it, but you do if you plan to get certified in these areas:
Early Childhood: EC - Grade 3
Core Subjects with Science of Teaching Reading: Early Childhood - Grade 6 or Grades 4-8
English Language Arts and Reading with Science of Teaching Reading - Grades 4-8
English Language Arts and Reading/Social Studies with Science of Teaching Reading - Grades 4-8
Once you’ve figured out what tests you need to take, be sure to ask your program administrators or professors about the appropriate TExES practice tests.
Finish Other Requirements
Once you’ve completed your online certificate program and taken the appropriate tests, you can apply. Follow the rules provided by your program to do so.
Fingerprinting is also an important part of the process. All educators, administrators and anyone else in the educational field must have a record on file. To get fingerprinted, you simply follow the instructions your program gives you, or find the appropriate venue yourself.
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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