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How To Get Your Alternative Teaching Certificate

How Do I Know If Alternative Certification Is For Me?

With recent trends pushing for high school graduates to enter college and earn a degree, we are seeing an influx of college graduates with degrees who need further education, certification or job experience to actually obtain a job in their field. This is especially true when considering the tough competition that exists with so many degree holders entering the workforce.

graduation hat and diploma

This leaves some recent graduates rethinking their career path and goals, and looking for alternative career fields that can relate to their specific degree. If this sounds like familiar, you may already know about alternative teaching certificates. If not, it may be the right time to learn more.

States across the country are experiencing a shortage in teachers and most have developed an alternative path to obtaining a teaching certificate for degree holders. Obtaining this alternative teaching certificate can give you more options to enter a fulfilling, beneficial and lasting career in education.

Applying To An Alternative Teaching Certificate Program

Alternative teaching programs can be found in most states and are usually offered through community colleges and certificate schools. To be accepted into a program, you will typically need to have a bachelor's degree but it may not matter exactly what your degree is in. You may also need to meet a GPA requirement, provide references and pay a financial deposit.

As a candidate, you may interview with alternative teaching certificate program advisors to discuss what age groups and subjects you are interested in teaching. You will also be able to go over any additional requirements and program costs as well as ask any questions you might have.

After acceptance into an alternative teacher certificate program, you must take the state teaching exams and receive a passing score. These exams are typically required before you can move on in a program.

Alternative teaching programs usually average approximately $4,000 with options to pay the balance in increments throughout the program or pay in full at once. Of course, costs can and do vary between institutions, so it is important to research your options thoroughly.

Other costs to consider before applying for an alternative teaching program include the application fee, probationary certificate costs, the cost of state exams and the certification test and the cost of applying for your final certificate.

Fortunately, there are some grants available in certain states to cover the costs of your teaching certificate or to reimburse you after you successfully obtain your final alternative teaching certificate. There are also federally funded programs that may help. It is a great idea to start looking for financial assistance to help you become a teacher before you even start applying to programs.

Online Teaching Certification Curriculum

Since you already have a full college degree, you are likely only missing a couple of key classes covering lesson plan development and curriculum planning. With so many programs available to choose from, you should be able to find one that meets your specific needs. Requesting information from a variety of schools is your best route to finding the alternative certification program that can best meet your needs.

Some programs offer the required courses online, while others require you attend courses in person. You can also find hybrid programs that combine both online and on campus options.

Another encouraging aspect of teacher certification courses is that they are often tailored to meet the needs of a working graduate-- giving you many options to meet end program requirements. Some programs require all courses to be completed before you start teaching, or before the end of your probationary year while some allow completion of the courses during the summer after your probationary year.

Many of these programs accept a low number of applicants to ensure quality training, which makes them quite competitive. This also means that you may need to apply for a program as much as a year in advance.

After completing teacher certification courses, all candidates must teach for at least one year with a probationary teaching certificate and under the guidance of a mentor-teacher within the same school. This is where choosing a quality program can help with finding good mentors, learning about open positions in schools and providing probationary teaching certificates.

In this probationary position, you should still receive full teacher pay and benefits. Upon completion of the first year of teaching and successfully completing all course requirements, an alternative teaching certificate will be awarded.

Alternative teaching certificates are only valid in the issuing state, but many states do have a process in place to transfer this certification. Transfer requirements to other states may vary. You may find there are requirements for active teaching experience, a certification test or simply paying to transfer the information.

Teaching is a very rewarding career with many different opportunities for change and advancement. If you are ready to earn an alternative teaching certificate, start by contacting schools on our site to learn about specific entrance and completion requirements.