Alternative Teacher Certification Program Overviews

Alternative teacher certification programs provide teacher training to individuals with bachelor's degrees in areas outside of education. Learn about prerequisites for each kind of program, along with expected courses, certification information, and career data.

Essential Information

In alternative teacher certification programs, students participate in a student teaching experience, and completion of these programs enables graduates to complete certification exams and become licensed as teachers. Most non-degree programs only last about 12 to 14 weeks at a time.


Non-Degree Programs in Alternative Teacher Certification

Many programs are offered to individuals with a bachelors' degree who are interested in obtaining teacher certification and not advanced degrees. These programs help students develop the skills necessary to pass state licensing exams. Programs also provide mandatory student teaching experiences. Topics of study include:

  • Developing and implementing curricula
  • Teaching strategies
  • Child psychology
  • Human growth and development
  • Classroom practices
  • Educational law and ethics

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Master's Degree Programs in Alternative Teacher Certification

Master's degree programs in alternative teacher certification provide students with the training they would receive during an undergraduate program in education along with graduate-level coursework in education. Students learn the methods and theories necessary to become licensed teachers. Like most master's programs, students should have a bachelor's degree prior to enrolling.

The curriculum may include both undergraduate- and graduate-level coursework in education theory and teaching skills. Some programs allow students to focus on age groups or grade levels, such as early childhood or secondary education. Courses cover such topics as:

  • Educational psychology
  • Child and adolescent development
  • Teaching methods
  • Classroom dynamics
  • Curriculum development
  • Assessment techniques

Popular Career Choices

Once you have received your state teacher's license, graduates are able to teach general education. Some states have additional licensing requirements to teach specific areas, such as secondary math or science. Some career options within teaching include these:

  • Early childhood teacher
  • Elementary teacher
  • Math teacher
  • Science teacher
  • English teacher

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The employment of elementary school teachers is expected to grow at an average rate (6%) during the 2014-2024 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that high school teachers will see employment growth of 6%, as well, during the same time frame. Teachers who earn certification to teach in specialty subjects, such as science, math or bilingual education may find themselves in higher demand. In May 2015, the average salary among kindergarten teachers was $51,640, and elementary school teachers was $54,890. Middle school teachers earned an average of $55,860, and high school teachers earned an average of $57,200.

Licensing, Certification and Continuing Education

Completing an alternative teacher certification program enables graduates to take the state exam and obtain a teaching license. Most states and school districts require teachers to complete continuing education credits in order to maintain their license. In addition, teachers may choose to pursue board certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Alternative teacher certification is offered to those with bachelor's degrees, either as a non-degree certificate or master's degree program. These programs build upon a student's existing knowledge of teaching techniques to offer them options for specialization and prepare them for licensing exams.


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