The most common path to becoming a teacher is to enroll in an elementary or secondary education bachelor's program at a 4-year college or university. However, teaching credential programs are available for those with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field. These programs are offered in general education and can be geared toward the preferences of the individual. For example, some wish to teach several subjects, while others only want to teach single subjects, or a particular subject such as math or English.
Each state has its own requirements for teaching credential programs, but most require at least two years of full-time study and attendance at classroom lectures, in addition to the completion of a supervised internship at a local school.
Teaching Credential Program
In addition to a baccalaureate degree, some programs also require background checks and completion of state-administered aptitude tests. Teacher credentialing programs, offered by colleges, universities, and credentialing organizations, are designed to provide educated individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage a classroom, organize lessons, and impart knowledge to school-age children. Some courses that might be offered in a teacher credential program are:
- Educational foundations and teaching seminar
- Student teaching
- Literacy and language
- Multiple subject fieldwork
- Math and science
- Single subject content teaching and literacy
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Individuals who earn teacher credentials generally go on to teach elementary, middle, or secondary school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for teachers (kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school) was expected to grow about 6% in the 2014-2024 decade. In May 2015, median annual wages were $54,890 for elementary school teachers, $55,860 for middle school teachers, and $57,200 for secondary school teachers, the BLS reported.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of teaching credential programs must apply for certification or licensure through their state boards of education. In addition to meeting educational and student teaching requirements, applicants for licensure generally must complete one or more Praxis exams. Once licensed, teachers typically must meet continuing education requirements to maintain licensure, and some school systems mandate that teachers earn a minimum of a master's degree to achieve tenure.
Teaching credentials are state-mandated, and can be obtained along with or in addition to a bachelor's degree.