Teacher Training Programs by State

Are you interested in becoming a teacher? If so, your route to becoming one may differ based on the program you choose and the state your selected program is located in, as requirements vary.

On this page, you'll learn about the differences in degree and licensure/certification requirements between states, the different degrees you can earn to become a teacher, and what factors to consider as you pick a program. Keep in mind that cost, method of learning, and time to completion also vary by program and location. If you already know what state you're going to be teaching in, you can navigate to that state page to learn more.

I Want To Be a Teacher, Where Do I Start?

If you're ready to begin the process of finding a teaching degree, your steps should include: 

  • Research schools. Get a feel for what's out there and start figuring out what factors are most important to you as you narrow down your options.
  • Next, explore the teacher certification requirements in your state by reviewing your state's department of education site.
  • Start connecting with the schools that appeal to you by clicking any of the links on this site or by contacting their admissions departments directly. 

Keep in mind that all teacher degree programs require college coursework, classroom observations and student teaching. State licensure programs also require passing various tests and a background check. Because of teacher shortages, almost all fifty states offer alternative routes to teacher certification and many schools are adding online coursework and remote classroom observations to programs.

Best Colleges For Education Majors: What to Consider

There are a few factors to keep in mind when searching for the right program for you. The first is grade level and content. What age of children do you wish to teach – elementary (K-grade 4), middle (grades 5-8), or secondary (grades 9-12)? If you wish to teach middle or secondary (high school) students, what subject do you want to teach?

You should also consider location. Are you comfortable with distance learning through online coursework or will you need to attend a college close by? During the planning stage, think about the cost of the program, the types of financial aid available, the time required to complete the program and how many students graduate each year.

There may be other factors to consider depending on your preferences. For example, maybe it is important to you to use the most innovative education technologies in your future classroom. If that's the case, you should try to find education degree programs that offer classes and training in education technology. Some factors that may be important to you might even not be about teaching programs; for example, if you are certain you want to study abroad while you're in college, ensure the program you select offers the option to complete a semester or year abroad.

To find the right teaching program for you, compare these factors from multiple programs. Create a short list of potential schools, making sure their programs are accredited through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Use any of the links on this page to easily connect with these schools or go through the school's admissions office to get in contact.

Though the courses you take will vary depending on which school you choose, a typical teaching degree program includes courses that provide knowledge about teaching (pedagogy), knowledge about your subject (content) if you will be teaching a subject such as social studies or math, and field experience. In these courses, you can expect to learn about topics such as American education policies, diversity in the classroom, technology in the classroom, reading strategies and child or adolescent behavior. Again, all of these requirements vary by degree level and school so you will need to speak directly to your selected colleges to understand their requirements.

State Requirements for Teaching

While the U.S. Department of Education oversees national education initiatives, each state maintains their own board of education that retains control of teaching licenses. Certification requirements vary the most in the areas  of required hours of classroom experience and coursework, tests, fees and professional development. This section provides an overview of how these requirements may vary depending on your state.

  • Required hours: Each state requires a certain number of course hours for completion of a teaching degree. While most programs still require 16 weeks of immersive student teaching, rural and high-poverty districts in some states offer other ways to complete this requirement.
  • Tests: Since 1987 the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has promoted standardized tests for teacher candidates. The tests required for a teaching degree generally include:
  • Basic Skills: To be admitted to a an education degree program, applicants must pass a basic skills test. This tests your skills in reading comprehension, writing skills, basic math, science and social science.

    Content Exam (if applicable): The content exam is generally taken toward the end of your degree, after completing your content courses (if you will be teaching a particular subject). For example, a student majoring in secondary social studies will take courses in history, geography, and social sciences, which should help them pass the content exam. These exams vary widely by state and are frequently revised as states review and upgrade them to reflect current practices.

    Performance Assessment: Known in most states as the EdTPA, this test is performance- based and writing intensive. It is usually completed during your student teaching experience.

  • Fees: The cost of completing your program varies by state, college, and type of program. Many states offer incentives to students who complete the program if they agree to teach in high need districts for a certain number of years. Federal programs such as Teach for America offer similar incentives. You may find it more cost effective to complete courses at a local community college and then have those courses transferred to a university.
  • Professional Development: Earning your teaching degree is just the first step in your career as a teacher. Teachers are required to remain up-to-date on pedagogy and content knowledge throughout their careers by completing a certain number of professional development (otherwise known as continuing education) hours each year. Opportunities for PD/CE are generally provided through the school district. Again, the requirements vary by state.

Licensing Requirements: State by State Guide

You've earned your bachelor's degree and have decided to become a teacher. What's next? Most states/schools will require you to be licensed to teach (though some charter schools may not require certification). But, how do you become licensed, and what if you want teach in a new state or have the option of teaching in multiple states? Or, what if you haven't been through a traditional teaching program, but are still interested in leading a classroom? The answers to these questions - it depends. Teacher certification can be a confusing process as requirements vary from state to state. We've made the information hunt easier - just select the state you'd like to teach in and find out more about what the requirements for licensing in that state are and where to go to find out more.

Types of Education Degrees

Choosing the right college is only one of the many choices you will have to make before you enroll in an education degree program. One decision that should be fairly simple is determining which level of degree you're ready to pursue, whether it's an associate, bachelor's, master's or doctorate level degree program. In the following sections, we will take a look at the different types of degrees in education.

  • Associate Degree in Education: While an associate degree does not lead to full teacher licensure, it can lead to support staff positions such as classroom aid or supervisor. Community colleges offer associate degrees and usually require the completion of 60 credit hours. Some community colleges offer an Associate in Teaching degree, with the idea that these courses will transfer to a compatible state university. Be aware that while the community college may require classroom observations (field work), those hours may not transfer to university. Be sure to ask an advisor what will transfer if this is your plan.
  • Bachelor's in Education: This is the most common degree for licensed teachers. It generally requires the completion of a minimum of 120 semester hours. Most courses are three semester hours, or 45 contact hours over a semester. These programs will contain a range of pedagogy, content, and field work.
  • Master's in Education: The M.A.Ed. or M.A.T. degrees are a good match for students with a Bachelor's degree in a field other than education. These are commonly two year, (30 semester hour) programs and many colleges are offering completely online options.
  • Ed.D. in education: The Ed.D. is an appropriate choice for an experienced teacher interested in moving in to an administrative role. Common occupations for holders of the Ed.D. degree include building principal, district superintendent, and college professors.

Most In Demand Teaching Subjects

The most popular specialties that aspiring teachers pursue include:

  • Early childhood education: Early childhood educators introduce basic social skills, simple concepts and learning through play. Successful graduates might be employed in a daycare, preschool, or elementary school. If you are considering this degree, you should enjoy working with young children from birth to age five.
  • Exceptional child education: Exceptional child educators are certified to teach students with exceptional learning needs in K - 12 classrooms. Many exceptional child educators choose to earn a standard B.S.Ed. and add a certificate such as an Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate or a Reading Specialist Certificate.
  • Adult Education: As an adult educator, you may work in a large classroom of adult students in a community college, smaller groups of adults in a corporate setting or even working one-on-one with students to improve basic skills like reading and writing to earn their GED. Teaching adults can also take place online, in postsecondary schools such as vocational schools (technical colleges) or universities.
  • Secondary Social Studies Education: As a high school social studies teacher, you will be qualified to teach history, geography, economics, civics, psychology, sociology, anthropology and world religions. There is a common perception that this is an overcrowded field, but in some parts of the country there is an active push to recruit social studies teachers.

Teacher Salary and Career Outlook by State

While all states require a bachelor's degree and state-issued certification, areas with teacher shortages, such as rural or high poverty districts, are trying out new ways to recruit teachers. For example, the Colorado State Board of Education started a rural teacher immersion experience in 2015, as reported by chalkbeat.org. Similar initiatives have begun in states such as Minnesota and Alaska. Be sure to check into whether any such initiatives exist in your state.

For salary teacher salary information you can use the Bureau of Labor Statistics/Occupational Outlook Handbook to find the median annual wage for teachers. You can find the average pay for high school teachers, middle school teachers, and elementary teachers through BLS site. This resource also provides job outlook and state and area data for teaching as an occupation.

Salary for High School Teachers by State

The median wage for high school teachers in 2017 was $59,170 per year. The states that paid the highest for high school teachers were:

  • Alaska: $85,420
  • New York: $83,360
  • Connecticut: $78,810
  • California: $77,390
  • New Jersey: $76,430 

To find the wage for high school teachers in your state, click here (BLS, 2018).

Salary for Middle School Teachers by State

The median wage for middle school teachers in 2017 was $57,720. The states that paid middle school teachers the highest were:

  • New York: $80,940
  • Alaska: $79,430
  • Connecticut: $78,990
  • District of Columbia: $74,540
  • Massachusetts: $74,400 

If you want to know the median wage in your state, click here (BLS, 2018).

Salary for Elementary Teachers by State

The median salary for elementary school teachers in 2017 was $56,900.

The five states that paid elementary school teachers the highest were:

  • New York: $80,540
  • California: $77,990
  • Connecticut: $77,900
  • Alaska: $77,030
  • District of Columbia: $76,950 

To find out the average wage in your state, click here (BLS, 2018).

Find a Teacher Program Now

No matter the age or content of your future pupils, the most important characteristic of an effective teacher is a dedication to working with young people. It is a very rewarding career if you dedicate yourself to this goal.

If you're ready to start connecting with programs, click any of the links or use the search box.

Featured Online Programs:

Online programs may not be available in all states