STEM teachers are in high demand in the Lone Star state.
In fact, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers are among the most in-demand teaching jobs in Texas.
STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students using an interdisciplinary and applied approach by integrating these four areas into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.
Although STEM education fields are booming here in the United States and abroad, there is a significant shortage of qualified teachers to educate youth who want to pursue careers in STEM.
Because of this, the Texas Education Agency has designated career and technical education, technology applications and computer science, and mathematics at the high school level as teacher shortage areas for the 2019-2020 school year.
This is good news for those who want to earn their teaching certificate in one of these areas since teaching in a designated official teacher shortage area means you may qualify for teacher loan forgiveness.
Even if you don’t qualify for loan forgiveness, you are still likely to find several job openings across the state as districts scramble to find qualified candidates.
If you have career experience in STEM, or want to teach the next generation of scientists, engineers, doctors and mathematicians, here are the steps you need to take to earn your teaching certificate in STEM education.
Alternative teacher certification programs provide a path to certification for both those who have degrees and those who do not, but instead have career experience.
Almost 50% of all new teachers to the Texas education system come from these types of programs, which provide a host of benefits such as course availability, flexible scheduling and extensive networking opportunities.
To qualify for an online teacher certification program in Texas, the TEA requires applicants to either have a bachelor’s degree, career experience in the field they wish to teach, or a combination of both.
For those who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning, you must:
For those with an associate’s degree, you must:
It’s important to note that if you do not meet the above GPA requirement, or have not completed 12 semester credit hours in the certification subject (15 hours in math or science in 7th grade or above), you must take a TxPACT exam as part of program admission requirements.
For those with an associate’s degree, you must:
For those without a degree, you must:
You can read more about these requirements in our article, 6 Steps For Getting A Teaching Certificate In Texas.
To get your STEM teacher certification online, you must complete all the requirements of your alternative teacher certification program.
A portion of your training will consist of coursework and field experience. Depending on the program you choose, you may take online courses, in-person courses or a combination of both.
In Texas, you must complete:
It’s important to note that even if you choose an all-online training program, you must still complete in person the 30 hours that are dedicated to the observation of a certified teacher in a classroom environment.
Here is where the certificate 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 hone your skills and become the best teacher you can be.
Your preparation program will also work with you to develop a plan that completes these requirements, as well as assist you with securing a teaching assignment at the grade level and in the specialty area of your target certificate.
All student interns must take and pass at least one content exam in the subject area you want to teach. The TExES content exams are available in more than 60 specialties and are generally broken down by subject or grade level. You can explore the different STEM certificate exams in our article, List of Texas Teacher Certification Tests: What You Must Take To Teach. If your goal is to become a STEM teacher, you have a few options, such as Chemistry, Health Science or Mathematics.
However, you are not limited to one content exam. You may take more than one if your goal is to get a multiple subject teaching credential. Other content exams that can help you become a well-rounded teacher include American Sign Language or Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments. You may also want to take a couple content exams across multiple grade levels in case you are unsure of whether you want to teach at the middle school or high school level.
Keep in mind that the school districts you work for may have different certification requirements as far as the content exams you take. This is where the educator preparation program you choose is important. Working with an EPP that is familiar with the different requirements of public schools and private schools will help ensure you take the correct content exams that match your teaching goals.
Here is how the process of taking your content exams works 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.
There are additional certification exams you may or will need to pass as well. These include:
There may be some changes to certification exam requirements on the horizon that’s important for all prospective interns to know about. The Texas State Board of Education tried to replace the PPR with a new requirement called the edTPA, a more strenuous exam that would have made it more difficult and costly to become a teacher. The board ultimately rejected this testing requirement, but it’s important to know that there could be additional testing changes in the pipeline.
If you are considering becoming a science teacher, technology teacher, engineering teacher or math teacher, NOW is the time to act while current certification requirements remain. Just waiting another year or two may result in more difficult barriers to earning certification.
Once you take your content test, you can begin your certification program. In addition to taking online classes, the best online teacher certification programs will offer you in-person experiences as well.
Once you develop a certification plan with the help of program staff, you will begin your training courses and fulfill any other requirements. Then, you can obtain a teaching position for your internship requirement. You must secure a teaching assignment at the grade level and in the subject area of your target certificate.
The next step is to get a probationary certificate, valid for one calendar year, that allows you to teach. Once all requirements are completed, you can then apply for a standard certificate online.
The final step is to apply for a Texas teaching certificate. To apply, set up a Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) account, which will give you access to your profile located in the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS).
Make sure you use the first and last name that matches your Texas driver’s license or state identification.
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.
Even after you earn your certification, keep note of any professional development classes you must take to renew your certificate. You must renew your standard Texas teacher certification every five years.
Renewal requirements include:
Continuing education material should be related to your certification being renewed or the services that you provide.
If you are considering a teaching career in STEM, you already have an advantage. There is a significant shortage of teachers to instruct students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
By following the above steps, you can be well on your way to fulfilling your dream of becoming a teacher and fulfilling a critical need for STEM educators in Texas.
Topics: Teacher Training
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.