How to Become a Teacher with a Bachelor's Degree

Learn the steps it takes to become a teacher after earning a bachelor's degree. Find out the different paths you can take depending on which degree you hold.

Steps with a Bachelor's Degree

Students generally have two options for becoming a teacher with a bachelor's degree: enroll in a teacher education program that is part of their bachelor's degree, or enroll in an alternative teaching certification program. Alternative programs are for students who already hold a bachelor's degree but have not completed a teacher education program.

With a bachelor's degree, students can teach at the elementary, middle and high school levels or can become special education teachers. The following steps outline the different paths to becoming a teacher for those beginning their education and those who have already finished their undergraduate work.

Get a High School Diploma or GED

Most colleges and universities require students to obtain a high school diploma or its equivalent prior to being admitted. However, all teacher education programs require applicants to hold a high school diploma or GED.

Decide What Type of Teacher You Want to Be

Many types of teachers exist, including elementary, middle, high school, and special education teachers. Teachers also work in various settings, including public, private and religious schools, as well as in the home. Before enrolling in a program, students should decide where and what to teach and let the answers direct their postsecondary studies.

Choose the Appropriate Educational Program

For students who do not yet have a bachelor's degree, the next steps are to enroll in a teacher education program and, upon completion, become licensed. For those who already hold a bachelor's degree, the next step is to enroll in an alternative certification or licensure program.

A student may enroll in a bachelor's program that leads to teacher licensure. The programs are generally 4-5 years long. For those who wish to teach at the elementary and middle school levels, a major in elementary education is the recommended choice, because teachers at those levels tend to teach all subjects, while secondary teachers focus on one or two subjects. Students begin their teacher training in the last or fifth year of their bachelor's program.

Students take courses such as teaching strategies, online learning, educational psychology, and social justice. They are also required to complete a student-teaching internship prior to seeking licensure.

All public school and special education teachers must be licensed in the United States, although licensure is generally not required for private school teachers. Public school and special education teachers are usually licensed by a state education board and are tested for competency in reading, writing, and other basic skills.

Licensure areas for special education teachers may include behavioral disorders and learning disabilities.

Students who have already completed their undergraduate studies but have not completed a teacher education program can take advantage of alternative certification programs. These programs allow students with a bachelor's degree and career experience to earn a teaching license in a non-traditional way. Individuals earning an alternative teaching certification usually teach in the subject area in which they earned their degree.

Students enrolled in an alternative program may sometimes be able to start teaching under supervision while taking education courses; other times, they must wait for graduation. A student may obtain licensure in 1-2 years.

After you earn a bachelor's degree, you may be ready for licensing if you majored in education or you may need to complete a teacher education program, and then become licensed.

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