What are the requirements to teach in a public elementary school or public high school?
All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed. A license is frequently referred to as a certification. Those who teach in private schools are generally not required to be licensed.
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are typically certified to teach early childhood grades, which are usually preschool through third grade, or elementary school grades, which are usually first through sixth grades or first through eighth grades.
Requirements for certification vary by state. However, all states require at least a bachelor’s degree. They also require completing a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, typically gained through student teaching. Some states require a minimum grade point average. States often require candidates to pass a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach. Although kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically do not teach only a single subject, they may still be required to pass a content area test to earn their certification.
Teachers are frequently required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license. Most states require teachers to pass a background check. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification.
All states offer an alternative route to certification for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification.
Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately after graduation, under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification.
Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either of these programs. For information about alternative certification programs, contact the National Center for Alternative Certification.