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Leaving Law Enforcement For New Career? School Districts Need You

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on May 24, 2023

The law enforcement field has faced many unprecedented challenges over the last few years, and some dedicated officers who have protected and served are now considering alternate career paths. 


If you’re a current officer who is considering leaving law enforcement for new career aspirations where you can still make a difference, the field of education needs you … not only as a school resource officer, as a teacher as well. 



Vastly Different Careers? Not so fast



While police work and teaching may seem vastly different on the surface, they actually are more alike than you may think. The reason: Bothlaw enforcement as teachers career paths share some fundamental similarities that make a transition between the two professions more seamless than another career change may be.


For example, both fields have a commitment to public service and are driven by a common purpose … making a positive impact on society. 


Today, there is also an intense focus on safety and security in schools. While public safety officers tend to focus their efforts on a broader scale, teachers must also work to create a safe learning environment for their students. Both professions must be able to assess and manage potential risks, handle emergencies and implement preventive measures.


Both police officers and teachers work to build relationships and trust as well. Gaining cooperation and building confidence is important in both law enforcement careers and teaching careers since it can create a conducive learning environment where communication is effective and interpersonal skills are valued.


Another area where police departments and the classroom are strikingly similar is the need for problem-solving skills and adaptability. Thinking on your feet has to be second nature to both types of professionals, and there are always many situations that require adaptability, such as finding innovative ways to engage students in the classroom. Resourcefulness and resilience are a must.


Finally, law enforcement officers often assume leadership positions in the community, and in the classroom, educators not only lead their students but younger teachers who are building their skills as well. Both professions offer opportunities for personal growth and the chance to influence the lives of others.


The Growing Need For Teachers



School districts across the state of Texas are grappling with a severe shortage of qualified teachers. Since the 2011-2012 school year, nearly 10% of teachers have left the field each year. While that number dipped to 9% during the 2020-2021 school year, it rose to nearly 12% during the 2021-2022 school year.


In addition to the general teacher shortage, there are a handful of subject areas that face even higher levels of shortages. Some of the most in-demand teaching jobs in Texas include: 


  • Bilingual and English as a Second Language teachers
  • Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers
  • Special Education teachers


Many communities throughout the state are experiencing significant growth as well. From the 2011-2012 school year to the 2021-2022 school year, enrollment in Texas public schools increased by nearly 429,000 students, or by 8.6%.


Between the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years, enrollment increased in 14 regions. Among these, Region 6, which includes Huntsville, experienced the largest percentage increase at 5.7% (or 11,629 students).


How To Get Your Teacher’s License In Texas



By shifting your focus from the streets to the classrooms, you can continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of young people and the well-law enforcement as teachersbeing of your community. One of the most popular paths individuals take to earn their Texas teacher certification when switching careers is through an educator preparation program.


An educator preparation program provides you with the training needed to become a licensed teacher. Also known as an alternative teacher certification program, teaching credential programs provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to earn certification.


In Texas, an approved educator preparation program provides interns with 300 hours of training. Texas Administrative Code does allow prior degrees, military service, paid work experience and specific training to count toward these hours in some cases.


Of these 300 hours, 30 hours must take place in a mentor-observed classroom teaching time. The preparation program you choose is very important because a program’s teacher advisors will work closely with you to ensure you are ready to teach. ECAP has former principals, vice principals and teachers who have extensive experience to help you through this process. 


You will also need to pass the appropriate certification exams, including content exams and the PPR, or Texas Examinations of Educator Standards Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities, which “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 Texas Education Agency (TEA).


The content exams you choose are based on the subject areas and grade levels you wish to teach. You are only required to take one content exam, earning a single-subject teaching credential, but you can take more than one to earn a multiple-subject teaching credential.


You may also need to take the Science of Teaching Reading exam, which is required for those who want to teach subjects like early childhood education or English Language Arts.


Once you meet these requirements, you can submit your teaching license application.


Admission Requirements For Educator Preparation Programs



If you’re considering a career change from law enforcement to teaching, one of your most pressing questions is likely if there are any admission requirements for educator preparation programs in the state. 


The Texas Administrative Code mandates that in order to enroll in an EPP, an individual must:


  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Have a minimum 2.5 GPA on an official transcript or in the last 60 semester hours of courses completed
  • Be at least in the final semester of a bachelor’s degree program (in which you must provide a copy of your final semester schedule of classes, a letter from an academic advisor indicating you are eligible for graduation and an official transcript through the previous semester)


The Texas Administrative Code does allow for some exceptions to this enrollment rule. In fact, if you are currently working in the Criminal Justice, Automotive, Cosmetology or Culinary Arts areas, you do not need a degree. 


If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, you can qualify for a teaching credential program if you have an associate’s degree or no degree at all. With an associate’s degree, you must have at least two years of full-time wage-earning experience within the past 10 years in the field you plan to teach. If you do not have a degree, you must have five years of job experience within the past 10 years.


If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, you must also have a current license in order to teach Health Science Technology, Criminal Justice or Cosmetology.


If you’re contemplating a new chapter in your professional life, school districts across Texas are seeking individuals like you who are ready to bring your skills, passion and dedication to the world of education in order to make the community greater. 


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Written by Micah Fikes

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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