Online Teacher Certification

Why earn online teacher certification?

If you have the desire to educate, inspire, and guide others to realize their full potential, you could have what it takes to succeed in the teaching field. In addition to job security and ongoing self-development, this career choice offers the personal rewards and fulfillment that come from helping students achieve their own goals.

So, how to get started? The first step is choosing the grade level in which you'd like to teach: elementary, middle school, or high school. Next, you'll need to determine the steps required to become the teacher you want to be. That's where we come in. The widespread prevalence of the Internet has streamlined many career paths, and that includes the teaching field. Thousands of teachers have discovered the ease and convenience of obtaining an online teacher certification.

On this site, we'll discuss the three main requirements for becoming a teacher:

  • Obtaining a teaching degree
  • Passing a teaching exam
  • Applying for and receiving teaching certification

Ultimately, to become a teacher, you will need to obtain online teacher certification. Prerequisites for certification include a bachelor's degree and a passing score on a designated teaching exam.

Obtaining a Degree in Education

All certifying bodies require at least a college degree, completion of specific education courses, and student teaching experience. These days, it's becoming more common for teachers to obtain their online teacher certification, with many reputable universities offering web-based programs. However, the school from which you decide to pursue your online degree can still have a significant impact on your marketability as a teaching candidate.

When trying to obtain online teacher certification, not all education degrees are sufficient. The degree must be from an accredited college or university. When researching schools, be sure to ask if they are accredited before beginning the enrollment process.

Also keep in mind that the degree is not completed entirely online. Although a majority of the course work will be conducted on the Internet, you'll still need to participate in hands-on, in-classroom experience, such as student teaching. The college you select will have specific guidelines and requirements for completion. This information is usually available on the school's website or upon request, helping you get a clear picture of what will be expected of you.

Although there are numerous online teacher certification programs, a select few have received widespread acclaim:

  • Nova Southeastern University: Offers advanced educational degrees for all levels, from elementary through primary and beyond. Also participates in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
  • Kaplan University: Students can earn their Master's degree, an A.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies, or a certification as an Educational Paraprofessional.
  • Walden University: This fully accredited, internationally renowned university offers more than 40 online degree programs and more than 140 specializations for online teacher certification.
  • West Virginia University: WVU has been offering online teacher certification courses for more than 30 years. Students can earn a certificate, a Master's, or a Doctorate.
  • Capella University: Capella offers Master's and Doctoral programs for working educators in K-12 or higher education.
  • Grand Canyon University: This online university offers a wide range of educational programs, all of which can be completed 100% online at affordable prices. A great choice for online teacher certification.
  • A.T. Still University: Founded in 1892 as the first osteopathic college in the country, ATSU offers more than 20 Master's degrees in the healthcare arena.
  • Liberty University: This distance learning institution offers traditional teaching degrees as well as religious education.
  • St. Joseph's University: Students can earn a Master's degree in Instructional Technology or can enroll in accelerated online teacher certification courses.
  • Western Governors University: One of the most widely acclaimed online learning programs, Western Governors allows students to earn Bachelor's or Master's degrees through flexible, competency-based programs. A top choice for earning online teacher certification.

Teaching Exams

The next step to certification is the passage of an approved teaching exam, such as the Praxis. Each state sets its own requirements for the teaching exams and scores required for licensing. Because education positions vary by age group and subject matter, so can testing criteria. For example, requirements for an elementary teacher can vary greatly from those for a high school teacher, and even more so from those for a specialist, such as a school speech therapist. To minimize the difficulty of navigating through the dozens of teaching exam options, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) created the PRAXIS tests for potential teachers. Contact your local State Department of Education or search for your state on ETS's PRAXIS test website to see what tests your state requires After you've received your degree and have successfully passed your teaching exam, it's time to officially apply for certification.

Teaching Certification

The biggest requirement each state has is obtaining teacher certification. Teacher certification is the process by which a prospective teacher becomes licensed to teach in public schools within a given area after completing required coursework, degrees, tests and other specified criteria. Teaching certificate requirements vary by state, so before you check into your favorite school to see if they have a teaching degree available online, your first step should be to check with the Department of Education in the state in which you want to teach to see what the requirements are to acquire a teaching certificate.

There are several types of certifications, and the one you need depends on the level of teaching you decide to pursue. You can become certified by the state in which you wish to teach, or earn a national certification accepted in all 50 of the United States.

Teaching Credentials and Certifications

A teaching credential is the license conferred by a state agency to teachers who have completed certain state-mandated requirements, such as education courses and student teaching experience, and passed additional state-mandated teaching examinations. Each state sets its own requirements for certification. All states require certified teachers to hold a bachelor's degree, and more and more states now require candidates to hold a master's degree, or receive one within the first five years of teaching.

Teachers may earn a credential that allows them to teach either a specific grade level or a certain subject matter. The type of teaching credential you pursue will depend on your interests as well as the options and requirements set by your state's Department of Education.

Teaching Certificates by Grade Level

Elementary school teaching credentials are usually general, which means the teacher can teach a wide variety of subjects. Middle school teaching credentials can be general, or they can be specific to the subject the teacher plans to teach. The following list shows typical grade levels covered by different certifications:

  • Early childhood teacher certification (usually includes kindergarten through grade 3)
  • Elementary teacher certification (usually includes kindergarten through grade 6)
  • Middle grades teacher certification (usually includes grades 5 through 9)

Teaching Certificates and Endorsements for Secondary Education Teachers

Since the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted in 2006, teachers who are interested in teaching older students, such as high school, must prove that they are highly qualified to teach the subjects they teach. They do this by getting a teaching credential for secondary school and adding one or more subject area endorsements. Endorsements qualify middle and high school teachers to teach subjects that are not covered in their teaching credential. Generally an undergraduate major meets the requirement of a teaching endorsement. However, you can qualify for an endorsement by taking specific courses and exams. Endorsements may include math, science, history, art; the list goes on! For example a secondary teacher's certificate may read, "Secondary Education Certification with a Science Endorsement".

Teacher Certification for Specific Subject Areas

Some teaching careers are more subject-focused than age-focused. For instance, reading specialists, speech therapists, and school counselors can easily work with students from kindergarten to twelfth grade in a single week, depending on the structure of the school district. To meet the needs of these teachers, certification is also often available by subject area, without focus on a certain age group. Some of these certifications include special education (K - 12), reading specialist (K - 12), and school nurse (K - 12).

Nationally-Recognized Teaching Certificates

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers voluntary national certification for those who wish to teach kindergarten through grade twelve. The NBPTS currently offers 25 certificate options that cover multiple subject areas and grade levels. However, not everyone can apply to become nationally certified. Prior to applying, candidates must hold at least a bachelor's degree and a valid state teaching credential, and they must have completed three full years of teaching. You must compile a portfolio showing your work in the classroom and pass a written assessment and evaluation of your teaching knowledge. All states recognize national certification, and many states and school districts provide special benefits to teachers holding national certification, such as higher salaries.

Check with Your State's Department of Education

OK, so you've seen the phrase "check with your state's Department of Education website" many times in this article. Below are links to each state's requirements so you can see what steps are required by the state of your choice:

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