Virginia Alternative Teaching Certification Programs

The New York Times called Virginia's alternative certification program one of the country's "most streamlined programs for career-switchers" in a 2009 article by Elizabeth Olson.

Called the Career Switchers program, it has helped over 500 people earn teaching certificates since its inception in 2004, according to the same article. The state authorized the program to attract skilled professionals to the field thereby improving the quality and diversity of the teaching pool. The Career Switchers program is available at all grades levels from preK through 12 and costs $3900.

Virginia expects critical teaching shortages in 10 areas for the 2011-2012 school year indicating plentiful job prospects for alternate route teachers.

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Online programs may not be available in all states

Interested candidates must have a bachelor's degree and five years of professional work experience. They are also required to pass an Education Testing Service exam in the subject they want to teach.

Participants then proceed to level-one training, which involves 180 clock hours of training, including field experience.

Once participants have completed level one, they may seek full-time employment. During their first year of teaching, they complete level-two training, which includes five seminars and a mentoring program.

A number of Virginia colleges and universities are currently accepting candidates into their approved Career Switchers programs including George Mason University, Old Dominion University, Regent University, Shenandoah University and Virginia Community College System.

Another option is Virginia's Troops to Teachers program. It offers a stipend to eligible military personnel who wish to transition to a second career in teaching and are willing to commit to three years in a low income school district.

Schools in Virginia:

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