Teaching Certificate: Overview of Certificate Programs

Many college and university education departments offer teaching certificate programs for individuals wanting to work in the education field. Graduates can pursue certification specific to their level and area of focus.

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Essential Information

College graduates who hold bachelor's degrees may attend post-baccalaureate, graduate or ESL teaching certificate programs to attain licensing in specific subjects or grade levels. Some of the certificate fields include kindergarten and elementary school, middle school, high school, special education and ESL. Program specializations may include teaching methods, skill development, special education, language, assessment, curriculum development and age-appropriate learning. To get into these programs students must have completed a bachelor's degree with prerequisite courses, passed the Praxis exam and meet certain GPA requirements.

These programs take one to two years to complete and consist of a few courses, followed by student teaching/internships in real schools. Some schools offer the classes in the late afternoon or evening to accommodate working students. There are multiple online options for teaching certificates as well. Graduates might be eligible for state licensing, which generally requires passing competency exams, in addition to other stipulations.


Post-Baccalaureate Teaching Certificate

Post-baccalaureate certificate programs may help aspiring teachers who have already completed a degree program become certified in their state. These programs may be beneficial to those seeking a career change or who are employed as substitute, emergency or temporary teachers. Certificate programs are offered for specific grade levels, such as elementary and secondary education, as well as subject areas. Certificate programs could instruct students on a variety of areas and subjects. Courses typically focus on teaching and developmental strategies. Additionally, field experience in a school setting is usually required. Program coursework may include the following:

  • Teaching methods
  • Reading in content areas
  • Special education fundamentals
  • Adolescent learning
  • Skill development

ESL Teaching Certificate

English as a Second Language (ESL) certificate programs prepare students to become teachers who work with students and adults who are not native English speakers. In addition to working in schools, ESL teachers may work in foreign countries or give lessons to immigrants and refugees. Similar to other education-based certificate programs, ESL certificates teach students how to design curriculums and assess their students. ESL teaching certificate courses could focus on linguistics, language methodology and evaluation skills. Some programs include field experience. Coursework may include the following topics:

  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Language evaluation
  • Language structure
  • Pronunciation
  • Language acquisition

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
  • Teaching, Adults
  • Teaching, Elementary
  • Teaching, High School
  • Teaching, Junior High
  • Teaching, Kindergarten and Preschool
  • Teaching, Waldorf and Steiner Education
  • Teaching, Young Children

Graduate Teaching Certificate

Graduate teaching certificates give students a competitive edge by offering advanced educational coursework, as well as seminars, workshops and internships. Similar to post-baccalaureate certificates, these programs may be offered by grade level or subject matter. These programs can be completed in a single year and often lead to state-eligibility for a teaching position. Graduate certificate curricula reinforce the teaching skills developed at the undergraduate-level. Possible coursework options may include the following:

  • Course and curriculum design
  • Assessment
  • Teaching methods
  • Evaluation
  • Student backgrounds

Employment Outlook and Salary

Nationally, teachers of all grade levels are expected to see an employment increase. The U.S. Bureau of labor statistics (BLS) indicated that employment opportunities from 2014-2024 would increase 6% for kindergarten and elementary teachers, 6% for middle school teachers and 6% for high school teachers (www.bls.gov). Employment opportunities are expected to vary by grade level and subject matter. In May 2015, the BLS indicated that secondary school teachers had the highest median annual wage, earning $57,200.

The BLS indicates that ESL teachers will be needed due to the growing number of non-English speaking students. Individuals with this degree may also work as adult literacy teachers. The BLS predicts that employment opportunities for adult literacy and GED teachers were expected to grow 7% from 2014-2024. In January 2016, PayScale.com stated that most ESL teachers earned a median annual salary of $39,956.

Continuing Education

Once an individual has earned teaching experience, they may consider becoming board certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). This organization requires individuals to be teaching for three years before they are eligible (www.nbpts.org). NBPTS certifications are available in different subjects and age levels.

Along with students with a bachelor's degree in education or related field, teachers looking to advance their careers or specialize in specific area can get the training they need in a teaching certificate program. These programs can be geared toward various educational levels, special education, or ESL.

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