How to Become a Teacher in Texas
If you are considering becoming a teacher in Texas, a good first step is to decide what kind of teacher you'd like to be. Are you interested in working with young children or teenagers? Do you want to teach a specific subject or work with special needs students? In any case, before you become a Texas teacher, you must first become qualified to earn professional certification from the Texas Education Agency.
Texas Teacher Qualifications
Before becoming certified, you must satisfy several teaching requirements in Texas to ensure that you are qualified for the job. These requirements generally include a combination of a bachelor's degree, specialized pedagogical education and field experience, plus passing scores on Texas teacher certification exams. All prospective teachers must also clear a background check.
The Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Texas
For most first-time educators, satisfying initial Texas teacher certification requirements involves four major steps:
- Obtain a bachelor's degree
- Complete an educator preparation program (EPP)
- Pass Texas teacher certification exams
- Complete a final application and background check
Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree
One of the most important Texas teacher qualifications is a bachelor's degree. The state requires that all teaching candidates must already have or must be on track to receive a bachelor's degree before entering a state-approved Education Preparation Program (EPP).
Texas does not require a specific teaching degree, though it might be helpful to study something related to pedagogy, the subject you intend to teach, or a specific educational field, like special education. Some state universities will even offer undergraduate degree programs designed to help aspiring educators satisfy Texas teacher requirements. These degrees come in a range of majors and bundle a core curriculum with additional pedagogical courses and fieldwork, to be completed upon admission to that school's EPP.
Students may also find online bachelor's degree programs for educators, but make sure that the institution has been accredited by a regional accreditation agency recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, especially if it is based in another state.
Step 2: Complete an Educator Preparation Program (EPP)
A traditional EPP might be tailored towards the grade bracket one intends to teach, usually from grades EC (early childhood) to grade 6, grades 4 to 8, or grades 7 to 12. In general, the program will include courses in instruction and classroom management, psychology and child development, and professional issues and ethics. These programs also include field-based research and observation, and they often culminate with a supervised, unpaid clinical teaching component (a Texas teacher requirement). Students on the traditional route to Texas teacher certification will usually apply for admission into an EPP towards the end of their undergraduate studies.
A post-baccalaureate EPP is like a traditional program but is especially geared towards candidates who have already earned a bachelor's degree (in any major). Students in these programs might be eligible to complete a one-year paid internship in lieu of the unpaid clinical experience.
An Alternative Certification Program (ACP) can also allow non-traditional candidates to fulfill Texas teacher certification requirements. Many of these programs are offered online and can be completed on a flexible schedule but require a bachelor's degree and can be competitive. Other entry requirements will vary from program to program.
Step 3: Pass Texas Teacher Certification Exams
After completing the EPP, the next step to becoming a teacher in Texas is to pass any required Texas Examinations of Educator Standards (TExES) tests. These tests are computer-based, and registration is handled online through the official TExES website (tx.nesinc.com). Only authorized candidates may register for a TExES test.
The tests required will vary depending on the grade bracket and/or subjects the candidate intends to teach. In general, however, teaching candidates will have to pass the following TExES tests:
- Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities EC-12: Most first-time candidates must pass this exam, which covers the teaching profession in accordance with Texas standards and laws. It includes content in classroom instruction and management, assessment, legal requirements, ethical guidelines, and professionalism.
- Core Subjects EC-6 or 4-8: These TExES tests are for elementary and middle grade teachers respectively and consist of four different subtests: English Language Arts and Reading, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science. Candidates must pass all four subtests to pass this TExES test.
- Content Tests These are TExES tests for candidates who intend to teach a specific subject at the secondary (grades 7 to 12) level. These include many different subjects in math, science, foreign languages, arts, humanities and more. There are also TExES tests for K-12 art, health, physical education, and music.
The Texas Education Agency and your academic advisor can help you determine which TExES tests you need to pass to earn the certifications that align with your career goals.
Step 4: Complete a Final Application and Background Check
After all other Texas teacher certification requirements have been satisfied (including passing scores on your TExES tests), you will be recommended to apply for standard certification. You may apply for a certificate online, through the Texas Education Agency's Educator Certification Online System (ECOS).
Before certification may be granted, however, you must pass the final steps to becoming a teacher in Texas: submitting to a background check and being fingerprinted. After everything is cleared and approved, the Texas Education Agency will post your certificate in the website database and notify you by email. You are now officially certified and qualified to teach in Texas schools!