If you’re contemplating a career move that would mean enriching the education of Texas students, one of the first questions you’ve likely thought of involves exactly how long it will take to get to the head of the classroom.
So how long does it take to be a teacher in Texas? It depends. But we have good news for aspiring teachers with bachelor’s degrees: You can earn your teaching certification in as little as 4 to 6 months.
How you earn your Texas teacher certification will impact how long it will take for you to be a teacher in Texas. Aspiring teachers typically have two paths: Through a university (earning your bachelor’s degree or post-baccalaureate in education) or through an educator preparation program (if you already have your bachelor’s degree.)
If you choose the university path and are entering college for the first time to earn a bachelor’s degree in education, it will take approximately 4 years to meet the requirements to earn a teacher certification.
If you already have earned your bachelor’s degree in a different field, the time it takes to become a teacher is far less. About half of all new teachers in the state are trained through educator preparation programs (EPP). These programs provide an alternative route to teaching in a Texas classroom and are an attractive option for those who already have earned an undergraduate degree.
Aspiring teachers who take advantage of EPPs range from adults who are considering a career change to members of the U.S. military exiting the Armed Forces or individuals returning to the workforce after raising their children or caring for loved ones.
It takes approximately 4 to 6 months to complete an educator preparation program, depending on a few factors like when you complete your testing requirements.
EPP qualification note: It’s important to note that although in most circumstances you must have a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into an EPP, you can still enter an educator preparation program with an associate’s degree or no degree as long as you have professional experience.
With an associate’s degree, you must have at least 2 years of full-time wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field you plan to teach. If you have no degree, you must have 5 years of experience. For both, you must also have a current license in Health Science Technology, Criminal Justice or Cosmetology and plan to teach in one of these areas.
As we mentioned above, not everyone’s timeline to becoming a teacher in Texas will look exactly the same. There are several factors that can impact your timeline, which is why it’s crucial to work with the best teacher training programs that will help you determine what qualifications you need to meet and when in order to earn your teaching license.
Here are six factors that can impact your teacher certificate timeline:
The Texas Education Agency requires a set amount of training to earn a teaching license:
The required training can consist of online or in-person courses or a combination of both. However, you must have 150 hours of training completed to teach in a classroom. The 30 hours of teacher advisor observation are also an important part of your certification process. These certified teachers send a recommendation to your credential program that you are ready or not ready to teach in a school district.
The educator preparation program you choose can make a significant difference during this process. ECAP has former principals, vice principals and teachers who have extensive experience to help you through this certification requirement. Not all programs do this. Some simply send past teachers who are ex-students of their program to evaluate you, so it is important to contact the program you are considering to ensure that you are going to get the best advisor to help you.
The content exam you take will depend on the subject area or grade level you wish to teach.
For example, to become an elementary school teacher, you’ll likely take a content exam like “Core Subjects with Science of Teaching Reading (EC-Grade 6). However, you may want to broaden your appeal and knowledge as an educator and earn a multiple-subject teaching credential.
While a single-subject teaching credential focuses on becoming certified to teach in one area, a multiple-subject teaching credential allows you to have more options when it comes to what and who you teach. For example, you may want to consider a specialty like “American Sign Language” or even “Special Education” since you’ll likely work with a wide range of students and abilities in your classroom.
Our article, List of Texas Teacher Certification Tests: What You Must Take To Teach, provides a comprehensive list of the content exams available to you to take in Texas.
So how does the timing of your exams impact your overall teacher timeline? At ECAP, we ask our interns to immediately take a practice content test to establish a baseline of where your knowledge base is at. This way, each intern will have a good understanding of their current knowledge level in each subject area and know which areas they need further training in.
Then, we strongly encourage each intern to take 40 hours of online training before they take the actual exam. While the content test currently has a passing score of 240, we instruct our candidates to aim for a score of 270. Once you score a 270, ECAP will give you permission to take your content exams. Hitting a score of 270 gives you a buffer zone for your final content exam test. Just hitting the 240 score leaves you no room for error.
In addition to your content exams, you will need to complete any other testing requirements before earning your teacher certification. These testing requirements may include the Science of Teaching Reading exam if you plan to teach in one of the following areas:
This test focuses on standards that address the practice of teaching early reading. This includes areas like proper teaching techniques, strategies, theories of learning, understanding students and their needs, and incorporating the backgrounds and interests of students into teaching methods.
The exam also covers knowledge of Reading Development Components, including:
A Reading Pedagogy component will focus on having test takers demonstrate an understanding of the principles of reading instruction and assessment. Questions will focus on topics such as measuring student progress in early reading development, creating developmentally appropriate instruction and using background information to create more engagement among students.
All aspiring teachers will need to take the PPR test as well. The PPR, or 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.
However, this requirement could change in the near future as lawmakers are looking for ways to better demonstrate a readiness to teach. Any future changes could make it MORE difficult and longer to become a teacher, so if you are considering changing jobs for a teaching career, it’s important to begin your journey as soon as possible.
If you are already certified to teach in another state, any requirements you must meet to earn a Texas teaching certificate will likely vary based on the state where you taught.
You must submit your official transcripts from the college you attended along with your credentials to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for review. You can read more about this process in our article, Your Guide To Teaching In Texas With Out Of State Certification.
If you are a U.S. military member and are pursuing a career in education, the state requires all Educator Preparation Programs to allow credit for military service and training that is directly related to the certification area applicants seek.
This may cut down the amount of time it takes for you to complete the education requirements for certification. You may also be eligible for waived certification fees.
One final factor that can impact how long it takes to be a teacher in Texas is something you solely control: your personal work ethic.
If you are committed to the certification process and put your heart and soul into the preparation needed to succeed, you can move through your timeline in a more efficient and productive manner.
If you aren’t yet sure whether education is the right career choice for you, it’s best to take some time and determine whether you should move forward with earning your certification. Otherwise, this indecision can cause it to take longer to become certified because you may be less likely to fully prepare for important tests and training assignments along the way. In the end, you may decide teaching isn’t for you and you will have wasted this time and effort.
While teaching is a rewarding career, it requires hard work and dedication to fulfill your goals. Working with your high-quality alternative teacher certification program to complete each of the above steps will ensure that you not only meet all requirements needed, but do so in the most efficient way.
With a teacher shortage continuing to impact the state, the right teaching credential program can help you transition into a career in the education field quickly while fulfilling an important need.
Topics: Becoming A Teacher
Scott is the Deputy Executive Director and Program Consultant. Scott earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology from Texas Woman's University and a Master of Education from Texas Woman's University. Scott has extensive experience in both the classroom and as an administrator in districts in North Texas.