May 27 / by The Learning Liaisons

What Is An Alternative Teacher Certification?

Becoming a teacher offers the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others by helping students develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to succeed in life. 

Teachers form meaningful connections with their students and become important figures in their lives, which is immensely gratifying. Seeing students grow, learn, and achieve their goals brings deep fulfilment and satisfaction. 

Additionally, teaching provides a variety of new experiences daily and opportunities to use your creativity to design engaging lesson plans.

Despite these rewards, the United States has faced a teacher shortage for several years. 

This has led to the development of alternative certification programs. These programs provide a pathway for individuals with a bachelor's degree in any field to enter the teaching profession, even if they don't have a traditional education degree.

Alternative certification programs aim to address the shortage by providing accelerated pathways into teaching.

In this article, we will look deeper into alternative teacher certification and explain the steps you can take to become a teacher if you don't currently have a teaching degree.

What Is Alternative Certification?

Alternative certification is an unconventional route to becoming a licensed teacher. It allows individuals without a traditional education background to become certified educators. 

These programs offer an alternative route to becoming a teacher through a condensed training program and hands-on experience in the classroom.

The primary purpose of alternative certification programs is to address teacher shortages by expanding the pool of qualified educators.  

Alternative certification programs also help promote diversity and inclusivity in the teaching profession by attracting candidates from underrepresented groups.

These programs help to meet the growing demand for qualified teachers in areas experiencing shortages by offering alternative pathways into teaching.

Alternative certification programs can benefit many groups, including:

  •    Subject matter experts: Those with expertise in a specific subject area who did not pursue a teaching degree but are interested in sharing their knowledge with students. For example, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) experts.
  •    Those with valuable life experience: People who have gained valuable life experience outside of the traditional education system, such as military veterans or professionals from other industries. They may bring unique perspectives and skills to the classroom and enrich the learning environment for students.
  •    Returnees from teaching abroad: Individuals who have been teachers abroad and have an interest in teaching as a career. These people have gained teaching experience and cultural competency abroad, making them well-suited for alternative certification programs.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

The requirements for alternative certification vary significantly from state to state. Each state's department of education sets its own guidelines and criteria for individuals seeking to pursue alternative routes into teaching.

Different states set different requirements regarding educational background, coursework, testing, and practical experience for candidates applying for alternative certification programs. 

For example, Alabama uses the Praxis exams, while Florida has its own state-specific certification exams.

Pro Tip: Before making any decisions about pursuing alternative certification,  we strongly recommend you research the specific requirements set by your state's Department of Education. 

You can find this information on the department's website. This will ensure you're on the right track and meeting all the necessary qualifications to earn your teaching license.

1. Having a Bachelor’s Degree

With alternative certification programs, you can pursue a career in teaching even if you don't have an education-related degree. These programs are designed for those with a bachelor's degree in any field.

Having a degree in the subject area you wish to teach gives you an extra advantage because it provides a strong foundation of knowledge in your chosen field.

Once you have obtained a bachelor's degree, you are required to complete an accelerated program designed specifically for alternative certification candidates. 

The alternative certification program provides the coursework and training to prepare you for the classroom.

2. Accelerated University Program

Accelerated university programs are intensive courses designed for individuals with a bachelor's degree who want to become teachers but lack a traditional educational background.  

These programs typically last 1-2 years, depending on the specific requirements of the state and the individual program.

Through coursework, mentorship, and field experiences, these programs equip prospective teachers with the essential skills to be effective educators. 

Here are some of the key learnings you can expect to gain from an accelerated university program:

Instructional methods: You'll learn how to create engaging lesson plans, implement effective teaching strategies, and differentiate instruction to cater to the needs of all learners in your classroom.

Classroom management: The program will cover techniques for establishing a positive and productive learning environment, encouraging student engagement, and maintaining classroom discipline.

Assessment: You'll develop the skills to design and administer assessments to accurately measure student learning and progress. This will allow you to monitor student understanding and tailor your instruction accordingly.

Curriculum development: The program will provide you with a solid understanding of how to align your instruction with state standards and curriculum frameworks, ensuring your lessons cover the essential knowledge and skills students need to master.

3. Pass State Certification Exams

Passing state certification exams is a crucial step in obtaining teacher certification through alternative routes. 

These exams vary from state to state and are designed to assess your knowledge and skills in your chosen subject area and pedagogy.

For example:

Nationwide exams such as the Praxis series and Pearson tests are also commonly accepted for teacher certification in many states. 

These exams cover various subject areas and pedagogical knowledge and skills necessary for effective teaching.

Quality preparation is crucial for passing the certification exam because it ensures that you are adequately equipped with the knowledge to teach effectively.

Many candidates choose to enroll in test preparation courses or utilize study materials to help them prepare effectively for the exam.

Choosing an Online Alternative Teacher Certification

Pursuing teaching certification online offers numerous benefits for individuals seeking to enter the teaching profession through alternative routes. 

Online certification programs provide flexibility, affordability, and accessibility, making them an attractive option for aspiring teachers who may have other commitments or prefer a more convenient learning environment.

Benefits of Pursuing Teaching Certification Online

  •    Flexibility: Online certification programs allow you to complete coursework and requirements at your own pace and on your own schedule. This is beneficial for those who may be working full-time or juggling other responsibilities while pursuing certification.
  •    Cost-effective: Online certification eliminates the need for commuting, campus fees, and other associated expenses making it a cost-effective option for those on a budget.
  •    Continued work experience: If you're currently working in another field, pursuing online certification allows you to transition into teaching without putting your current career on hold.

Ensure that the program you enroll on meets the following criteria to ensure quality and effectiveness:

  •    Accreditation: The program must be accredited by reputable accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Program accreditation guarantees it adheres to established criteria for excellence.  
  •    State approval: Verify that the online program is approved by the state education department in the state where you intend to become certified as a teacher. State approval ensures that the program aligns with the specific requirements for teacher certification in that state.
  •    Support and resources: Look for online programs that offer comprehensive support services, like access to experienced educators, mentorship opportunities, and resources to help you succeed in your teaching journey.

Teachers of Tomorrow is an example of an online alternative teacher certification program with a strong track record of successfully preparing individuals for teaching careers through their online certification programs. 

They have helped thousands of aspiring teachers achieve their goals and obtain certification. 

The program offers a personalized and flexible learning experience, allowing you to progress and tailor your coursework to your needs and goals.

Teachers of Tomorrow provides access to experienced educators, mentorship opportunities, and resources to help you navigate the certification process and succeed in the classroom.

Choosing the right alternative teacher certification program will ensure you receive quality training and support to embark on a rewarding career in education.

Become a Certified Teacher

Alternative certification programs offer an accelerated pathway for aspiring teachers to get certification without an education bachelor's degree.

These programs help school districts fill up vacant teaching positions and increase diversity in the pool of qualified teachers.

Different states have different requirements for teacher certification. Therefore, you need to thoroughly research your state's requirements and ensure you meet all necessary criteria for certification 

To be licensed, you need to pass teacher certification exams. Start preparing early and seek test preparation assistance to help you pass the tests.

The Learning Liaisons offers test preparation resources like online tutoring, study groups, practice tests, and premium video tutorials to help you face your teacher certification exams with confidence. 

We equip you with the knowledge and confidence to conquer your teacher certification exams and kickstart your rewarding teaching career. Sign up today and accelerate your alternative certification process.