Attention all veterans! If you’re leaving the military, consider teaching as your next impactful mission, because education wants you!
With a rapidly growing population and an increasing demand for quality education, Texas has a pressing need for dedicated and passionate teachers. Your skills in leadership, discipline and adaptability you gained during your military service make you an invaluable asset in the classroom.
By becoming a teacher, you can continue to make a profound impact on the lives of young learners while forging a rewarding and purposeful second career in your civilian life in the field of education.
As an active duty service member or veteran, you may be able to have your fees waived for several of the steps you must take to earn your teacher certification if you meet eligibility requirements. The Texas Education Agency, the state organization that oversees public education in Texas, will waive certain fees for eligible military service members, military veterans and military spouses.
Waived fees include:
For active duty service members and veterans:
For military spouses:
Educator preparation programs allow individuals wanting to experience a career change to earn their Texas teaching credential. Whether you’re retiring from the military, changing careers or returning to the workforce after raising a child or serving as a caregiver, educator preparation programs (EPPs) offer a path to certification for many who have fulfilled their military duty.
In fact, nearly 50% of all teachers in Texas earn their certification through an educator preparation program. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited program, you can enroll in an EPP where you’ll receive the training needed to become an educator, whether your goal is to be an elementary school teacher, middle school teacher or high school teacher.
TEA now issues a standard Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) teaching certificate as well. Many instructors in this program are retired Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard officers, who help prepare high school students for leadership roles. This teaching certificate requires completion of an approved EPP and a bachelor’s degree.
With a four-year degree, the certification process can take just four to six months.
If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, you can still take advantage of an educator preparation program through Health Science or Trade and Industrial Education (TIE) certification. Eligible military experience may be used to meet the experience and license requirements for this type of certification, according to the TEA. Although completion of an EPP is required to become certified, military members may be able to use their military experience during a period of active duty to fulfill these certification requirements.
To qualify for an EPP, also known as an alternative teacher certification program, your degree must be from an accredited institution of higher learning. 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.
As we mentioned above, if you do not have a bachelor’s degree, your work history can qualify you for an EPP if your goal is to earn a Health Science or Trade or Industrial Education (TIE) certification. It’s important to work with the Texas Education Agency and your education preparation program to determine what military experience you hold that is eligible to meet this work requirement.
Once you have enrolled in an EPP, the next step is to meet your training requirements.
Educator preparation programs may offer courses online, in-person or a combination of both. They all require completion of field experience as well. 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 that begin with your TExES content exams. Which content exams you take will depend on what grade level or subject area you want to teach. For example, if you want to teach younger students, you should take the “Core Subjects with Science of Teaching Reading (EC-Grade 6).
Taking one content exam will earn you a single-subject teaching credential, though you can earn a multiple-subject teaching credential by taking more than one content exam. Many aspiring teachers do this not only to make themselves more marketable as a job candidate to employers, but also so they have options once they begin searching for a permanent position in the job market.
For example, some teachers may opt to take the “Special Education” content exam since this field is one of the most in-demand teaching jobs currently and can provide helpful information no matter which subject or grade level you decide to teach.
You may also need to take the Science of Teaching Reading, which focuses on standards that address the practice of teaching early reading. This teaching reading exam is required if you plan to get certified in one of the following areas:
One of the final exams you will take is 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 TEA.
The Texas State Board of Education has considered removing the PPR from the state’s list of testing requirements and replacing it with another more difficult exam. If you’re considering becoming a teacher, now is the time to act while current certification requirements remain in place this year. If you wait too long to begin your program, you may face more difficult barriers to earning certification.
Once you have finished your training, you must submit a teaching license application using your Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) account. This 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 for employment. Applicants must submit fingerprints electronically by using an approved vendor.
Although your career in the military might be coming to a close, your career in leadership can continue during this transition process. Teaching allows you to take your leadership skills you mastered in the military and apply them in order to inspire and shape the minds of future generations.
As a full-time educator, you can foster a positive learning environment and cultivate a sense of teamwork among your students. Your ability to strategize, communicate effectively and lead by example will undoubtedly make a significant impact on the lives of young learners, preparing them for success of their own.
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.