Embarking on a new career path is like stepping into uncharted territory … a thrilling yet daunting journey of self-discovery and reinvention.
Maybe you’ve made the decision to change careers because you want to make a difference, or perhaps you seek a more fulfilling way to utilize your skills and expertise. Or maybe you’re thinking about a new career for practical reasons, like aligning your schedule with your children’s school schedules or because you crave better work-life balance.
For these reasons and more, the prospect of teaching may have emerged as a possibility. Teaching as a second career not only aligns with a desire for meaningful work, but also offers the opportunity to impact the lives of young minds while pursuing a job that is in high demand.
If teaching is on your list of second career possibilities, here are three things you need to know.
There is a significant teacher shortage across the United States, and Texas is no exception. School districts are still experiencing difficulties filling open positions due to the number of teachers who leave the profession each year.
Since the 2011-12 school year, nearly 10% of teachers in the state have left the field each year, according to the Texas Education Agency, the organization that oversees public education in the state. While that number dipped to about 9% during the 2020-21 school year, it rose again to 12% during the 2021-22 school year.
Some subject areas in particular have been especially difficult to fill, which is why each year, the TEA releases its list of teacher shortage areas. For the 2023-24 school year, the declared areas were:
Of these, the TEA also named three critical shortage areas. They were:
Before you earn your teacher certification, knowing which subject areas and grade levels are in the most demand can provide an advantage for aspiring teachers. Choosing one of these areas to teach can possibly offer you several benefits, such as increased job opportunities, higher demand for your expertise, potential incentives or bonuses, and a greater chance of making a significant impact in addressing critical educational needs. You may also qualify for student loan forgiveness if you meet certain qualifications, according to the TEA.
Choosing to teach in one of the critical shortage areas outlined above can also allow you to apply for TEACH Grants and/or Public Service Loan Forgiveness, according to the TEA.
If you’re considering teaching as a second career in Texas, exploring these shortage areas can offer a smoother transition, providing potential pathways to leverage your skills while potentially benefiting from programs designed to address these teacher shortage areas.
It takes just 4 to 6 months to complete an educator preparation program, depending on a few factors like when you complete your testing requirements. If you’re considering your options for a second career, teaching is one of the fastest paths you can take even if you’re coming from a completely different profession with no teaching background.
The key to this quick transition is to have your bachelor’s degree (no matter the area your bachelor’s degree is in). You are eligible for an educator preparation program if you have a bachelor’s degree and meet a few other requirements.
Also known as an alternative teacher certification program, an educator preparation program (EPP) is designed to prepare individuals for a career in education as teachers. These programs aim to equip aspiring teachers with the necessary knowledge, skills and experiences required to become effective educators in Texas.
EPPs typically include coursework, field experiences and training tailored to meet the state’s standards for teacher certification, and may be held in-person, online or a combination of both. Training covers areas like teaching methodologies, classroom management, educational psychology, subject-specific content knowledge and practical teaching experience through internships or student teaching placements.
HOW quick you earn your Texas teaching credential can depend on a number of factors, but if you have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, it typically takes 4 to 6 months. In that time period, you’ll complete the set amount of training that the Texas Education Agency requires:
Within that training, you must also complete 150 hours in a classroom. The 30 hours of teacher advisor observation are 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.
You’ll also need to take the required exams for certification, including content exams. If your goal is to become an elementary school teacher, you may take the “Core Subjects with Science of Teaching Reading (EC-Grade 6)” exam. However, you may want to broaden your appeal and knowledge as an educator and earn a multiple-subject teaching credential rather than a single-subject teaching credential.
You also 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.
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.
Once you successfully complete the requirements of an approved educator preparation program, you become eligible to apply for teacher certification in Texas, allowing you to teach in public schools and be at the head of the classroom - perhaps more quickly than you realized was possible.
You may be surprised to know that you don’t need a college degree to teach in Texas. However, there are some caveats to keep in mind, primarily that you must have the professional experience that equates to that degree.
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.
In fact, there are several professional backgrounds that naturally lend themselves to a transition into the teaching realm, and often individuals in these professions don’t have bachelor’s degrees. Teaching is often one of the top jobs for retired cops, one of the top career changes for nurses and even a second career for members of the military.
In fact, if you’re leaving the military, but don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you can still take advantage of an educator preparation program through a 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.
Whether inspired by a passion to make a difference, seeking greater work-life balance or transitioning from a diverse range of professions, the teaching profession stands as an accessible avenue for career changers.
The significance of teacher demand, particularly in critical shortage areas outlined by the Texas Education Agency, underscores the value of choosing an educator preparation program tailored to address these pressing needs. By leveraging existing skills and expertise while fulfilling the necessary training and examination requirements, you can swiftly navigate the route to a teaching certification.
The realization that a college degree isn't an absolute prerequisite for teaching may open the door for you as well, paving the way for professionals, including retirees from law enforcement, healthcare practitioners, military veterans and individuals from diverse occupational backgrounds, to channel their expertise into the dynamic career of education.
Navigating this transition into teaching takes consideration, but with an experienced educator preparation program by your side, you can be well on your way to a fulfilling second career.
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.