Why Alternative Teaching Certificates are Becoming More Popular
Reviewed by Jon Konen, District Superintendent
In today’s economy, and with the generational changes shifting the personality of the traditional workforce, it is easy to see why alternative teaching certificates are attractive to college graduates. Many older professionals, with years of experience in their field, are choosing to enter teaching as a second career.
In fact, every state, including D.C. now offers alternative teacher certification programs. The requirements and opportunities for those who want to follow this path into the classroom may vary slightly, but the fact remains that you can become a teacher, even if you don’t currently have a teaching degree.
Let’s talk about why these teacher alternative certification programs are so popular, who can benefit, and why this path makes sense in today’s employment and education landscape.
In most states, to get alternative certification as a teacher, all you need is a bachelor’s level education and a passing score on a set of state-specific teaching requirements. This most commonly includes a background check, in-person interviews, and a knowledge assessment. Other requirements to earn your certification may apply, but these are the basics.
You’ll want to check with your state to learn more, as well as to find the opportunities available for you.
With a growing track record of success and a relatively simple process, alternative teacher certification has become a common way for teachers to enter the field.
In the past, there have been times when alternative teaching certificates were offered in response to emergency conditions, such as teacher shortages. Nowadays, with teacher shortages nationwide, alternative certification helps fill positions quickly with qualified applicants.
Alternative ways to become a teacher are also increasing in popularity because of the fact that they may fit into a flexible lifestyle, as many certification programs are offered online. You can find programs in your area by searching for schools on our site.
Finally, it may be that more people are finding that teaching fills a need to perform a social good. People who go into teaching often do so with a feeling of higher purpose. As an educator, you have the opportunity to help mold minds while they are in the most rapid stages of development. It’s a big task, but it’s also a significant chance to make a lasting impression on students, which can empower them for years to come.
With the millennial generation becoming the largest segment of the population, we are moving towards a culture in which social responsibility is no longer optional when it comes to business. The majority of today’s consumers and workers want to feel like they are contributing to social and environmental good. Teaching can fulfill those roles in many ways.
In understanding why graduates are returning to school to get alternative teacher certification, it also helps to look back. The most famous alternative teaching certificate program, Teach for America, started as an undergraduate thesis by a Princeton student in 1989. It remains a solid example of how alternative teaching programs can be designed to fulfill a desire to contribute to the ‘greater good,’ so to speak.
Since implementation, this program has expanded education in low-income areas where schools are in dire need of quality, inspired teachers. In 2015, they reportedly had over 20,000 members and alumni who have taught over 5 million students since the program began.
Finally, degree holders who want to expand their employment opportunities or who become burnt out with their current work situation can earn a teaching certificate while still at work.
Many long time professionals find that they enjoy the teaching aspects of their current positions, and want to continue making a difference in people’s lives in a similar way. These professionals may realize that they have life experience to share with today’s learners. For this segment of the population, going into teaching allows them a venue to share knowledge in their specialty area while finding fresh motivation in a new career field.
Earning your alternative teaching certification can also allow you to substitute teach in some districts. This allows professionals and retirees to earn supplemental income, with potential for full-time income in some cases.
When it comes down to it, the single most obvious reason alternative teaching programs are popular, is because the remove the need for degree holders to go back to school and earn an education related degree. It can essentially save time and money for those who are looking to enter teaching with a non-teaching degree.