However, one small mistake can derail your goals quickly and make getting your license more difficult. Texas Education Agency (TEA) rules are very clear for the certification application process, yet some still make common mistakes that can lengthen the license approval process.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid as you apply for teacher certification in Texas.
Don’t Apply Without Making Sure You Have Met All Requirements
Before you submit a state application, double check that you’ve met all requirements needed in order for you to earn your teaching license.
In order to become a teacher in Texas, the state requires that you:
Must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, unless you are seeking a Health Science Technology certificate or an Industrial Education certificate. In this case, you are still required to meet a certain number of years of experience in these fields, but you are exempt from the bachelor’s degree requirement.
Complete an Educator Preparation Program. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, you must first complete a university program (with the exception of the trades certifications outlined above). If you already have a degree, you can complete an alternative teacher certification program and enroll in a Post Baccalaureate program.
Pass your certification exams. Texas mandates that you must pass the appropriate content exams for the subject/grades you wish to teach. You must get approval from your Educator Preparation Program to take your content exams.
After you have met these requirements, you can apply for a Texas teaching certificate. However, it’s always a good idea to work with your alternative certification program to ensure all eligibility requirements have been met before applying.
Don’t Wait To Set Up Your TEAL Account
Before you even apply, you’ll need to set up a Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) account. This will give you access to your profile that is located in the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS).
It may seem like an obvious step to take, since you need a TEAL account to even apply, but setting up this account in advance, before you apply for certification, can help you make sure you have everything in order.
You may have to take additional steps as well to set up your account, including downloading the correct browser. According to the TEA website, the TEAL and ECOS sites only support using Microsoft Internet Explorer. So if you use another browser choice, you should download Internet Explorer to ensure the pages function properly.
Don’t Mismatch Your Information
When registering your TEAL account and filling out the fields for your certification application, it is critical to make sure your first and last names match your Texas Driver’s License/State ID card exactly.
This is also true when you register for a test with a vendor. The name of your identification must match the name on your educator certification profile.
That means avoid using only part of your name, like “Tom” instead of “Thomas.” Only use your legal name. Otherwise, your certification application may be delayed or rejected altogether.
Don’t Overlook Fingerprinting
Once you have submitted your application for teacher certification, it’s important not to forget you must also be fingerprinted as part of the application process.
According to the TEA, all first-time applicants must be fingerprinted. This process is part of the national criminal background check requirement.
It’s important to note that the TEA evaluates any criminal history on a case-by-case basis. Certificate applicants must submit their fingerprints electronically using an approved vendor by the Texas Department of Safety.
Don’t Forget To Follow-Up After You Submit Your Application
If there is a problem with your application for certification, you will want to know right away. By registering for a TEAL account, you can check the status of your certification.
Once your application has been approved and your certification issued, you can print your certificate from the “View Certificates” tab. Again, you will need to make sure you use Internet Explorer to do this.
Keep in mind that TEA no longer mails paper certificates. So if you need proof of certification when applying for a job with a school district, make sure you have a printed copy of it available.
Following these tips, along with staying on top of the status of your application, will help ensure the process of applying for your teacher certificate is as painless, efficient and quick as possible.
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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