As someone who is unemployed, you may be considering your next move.
While you may not currently be in the workforce for reasons like staying at home with your kids or retirement, your unemployment status may instead be due to layoffs or downsizing - creating a stressful situation that’s making you reconsider what you want the rest of your career to look like.
In fact, while big tech has dominated recent headlines with its mass layoffs, other industries are projected to be at risk as well. According to The Conference Board, a think tank and business membership organization, industries like information services, transportation and warehousing, and construction top a list of layoff at-risks.
For many, unemployment can lead to new beginnings, and that may include a new position that offers fulfillment and a promising future.
In Texas, there is a significant need for teachers offering an opportunity to start fresh while making a difference in young students’ lives. Yet you may be wondering how to become a teacher if unemployed and what the first step you should take is in starting this new career.
The good news is, if you have a bachelor’s degree, you’ve already begun.
In Texas, nearly 50% of all teachers earn their certification through an educator preparation program (EPP). This type of program is an alternative pathway to earn a teaching license if you already have a bachelor’s degree that’s not in education.
This type of teacher certification program is a great option for individuals changing careers, returning to the workforce after retirement or after being a stay-at-home parent, retiring from the military, or re-evaluating their career paths after a period of unemployment.
The certification process can take just four to six months if you have a bachelor’s degree.
To qualify for an alternative teacher certification program, your degree must be from an accredited institution of higher learning. According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), you must also:
If you do not meet these above requirements but have a bachelor’s degree, you can still qualify for a teacher preparation program. You must first pass a TxPACT exam, which is used for program admission. Only those who do not pass the above requirements must take the TxPACT.
If you’re currently completing your last semester toward a bachelor’s degree, you can still qualify for an alternative teacher certification program. You must provide a copy of your final semester schedule of classes letter from an academic adviser or registrar indicating you are eligible for graduation.
If you do not have a bachelor’s degree but have an associate’s degree, you can qualify for an EPP if you have:
If you don’t 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.
Once you are accepted into an EPP, your training begins.
Part of your training will consist of courses (online, in-person or a combination of both, depending on the program you choose) as well as field experience. In Texas, you must complete:
It’s important to note that the 30 hours of observation by a teacher advisor is a very important part of your certification process. These certified teachers send a recommendation to your Texas teaching credential program that you are ready or not ready to teach in the classroom.
Here is where the program you choose makes a difference. ECAP has former principals, vice principals and teachers who have extensive experience to help you through this process. 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.
To become a teacher in Texas, you must also pass a series of exams. Which exams you must take depends on the subject and grade level you want to teach.
While every intern must take at least one content exam, not every individual will take the same exam.
For example, if you want to be an elementary school teacher, you will take the “Core Subjects with Science of Teaching Reading (EC-Grade 6). If you want to be a high school science teacher, you may choose the Chemistry (Grades 7-12) exam or the Life Science (Grades 7-12) exam.
When you take one content exam, you will earn a single-subject teaching credential. However, you may have an interest in multiple areas or may want to make yourself more marketable to school districts as you look for the right job. You would instead earn a multiple-subject teaching credential by taking more than one content exam.
For example, taking the “Special Education” exam or the “American Sign Language” exam would allow you the option of working in a general classroom or working in a specialized classroom with more one-on-one interaction with students.
Important note about the timing of taking your content exams: 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.
It is best to work with your program to ensure you are taking the right content exams and so you know how to prepare for them. Which content tests you take will depend on which subject areas and grades you wish to teach.
You may need to take the Science of Teaching Reading as well. This teaching reading exam is required if you plan to get certified 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.
All aspiring teachers must take the PPR 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.
The Texas State Board of Education has weighed removing the PPR from the state’s list of requirements and replacing it with another exam. If you’re considering becoming a teacher, now is the time to act while current certification requirements remain in place. If you wait too long to begin your program, you may face more difficult barriers to earning certification.
Once you have finished the required training to become a teacher, your final steps include submitting your teaching license application. To accomplish this, you will use your Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) account, which gives you access to your profile located in the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS). It’s important to use the first and last name that matches your Texas driver’s license or state identification card.
You’ll also need to complete a fingerprinting process as part of a national criminal background check. Applicants must submit fingerprints electronically by using an approved vendor.
Whether you chose to step away from the workforce temporarily or found yourself unexpectedly unemployed, pursuing a different career path can lead to new and exciting opportunities. There is currently a great need for teachers in Texas, and as an educator, you can have a meaningful impact on the futures of students in your classroom.
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.