Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow

It takes a special person to be a teacher. They educate in the classroom, mediate on the playground, and even mentor after school. Learn how to become a teacher and make a difference.

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Schools with Teaching Programs

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An online associate’s teaching degree will prepare you to take one of two teaching career paths. Those with associate teaching degrees are qualified to work as childcare providers, Head Start teachers, teacher’s aides, and pre-school teachers. Most teaching jobs in the public school system, however, mandate teachers to be certified by the state. State certification requires, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Students who wish to become teachers, can also use their associate’s degree as a starting point to obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

Online Associate Teaching Degree Concentrations

Associate teaching degree concentrations revolve around caring for and teaching younger children, from birth through elementary school, and include:

  • Early childhood education
  • Early childhood development
  • Paraprofessional education
  • Elementary education

Curriculums will vary, depending on the concentration, but most online associate teaching degree programs will include courses in:

  • Early childhood curriculum
  • Infant and toddler care
  • How children play
  • Child development
  • Child psychology
  • Diversity in the classroom
  • Technology in education

A good associate’s teaching degree program will include an internship or field experience that allows the students to observe and participate in classroom teaching. Obviously, this requirement cannot be fulfilled online, but most schools will work with students to place them in a classroom setting that is convenient to where they live.

Teachers impact lives on a daily basis. While challenging, many feel no job is more rewarding. The path to becoming a teacher begins, appropriately, with education. At a minimum, teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in education, as well as proficiency in the particular subject they wish to teach. In-classroom experience is also a requirement for earning a bachelor’s degree and obtaining state certification or licensure, so an online teaching degree cannot be fully earned online. Students will need to earn hundreds of hours of supervised field experience. Teachers are certified by the state in which they teach, and may have to fulfill other requirements, such as passing special tests to earn certification.

A reputable online bachelor’s teaching degree should prepare students on all these fronts, so ask the following questions when evaluating programs:

  • Does the program meet your education needs?
  • Will the program help you meet your career goals?
  • Is the online program accredited by a reputable institution?
  • Does the program offer classroom experience in the field?
  • How is the field experience arranged and supervised?
  • Does the program lead to state certification or licensure?

Online Teaching Bachelor’s Degree Concentrations

A typical online bachelor’s teaching degree program will require a combination of general education courses and degree-specific classes. Most online bachelor’s teaching degree students focus on a specific grade range, as outlined below.

Early Childhood Education teachers focus on birth through third grade, including preschool and kindergarten. A student majoring in Early Childhood Education will take courses in instructional strategies and methodologies, child development, and assessment techniques.

Elementary Education teachers work with students through eighth grade. Because this is a broad span of grades, many teachers will also specialize in a particular subject, such as math, social studies, English, or art. Elementary Education majors typically take courses in subjects like educational foundations, elementary curriculum and methods, language arts, technology in the classroom, child and adolescent behavior, student assessment, and classroom management.

Secondary Education teachers work with high school students. Secondary Education degree courses generally focus on subjects such as secondary teaching methods, classroom management, curriculum planning, adolescent psychology, student assessment techniques, and educational technology. In addition, most students enrolled in a secondary education program will concentrate in a particular subject, such as science, history, or math.

Online Teaching Bachelor’s Degree Concentrations

In addition to specializing by grade level, online teaching degree candidates can choose to concentrate on a variety of areas, including:

  • Special Education
  • Language Arts/Reading
  • Library Science
  • Health Education
  • Social Studies Education
  • Mathematics Education
  • Science Education
  • Social Studies/Geography Education
  • Art/Music Education
  • Physical Education

Online master’s teaching degrees offer convenience for teachers who seek to advance in their profession. While usually not needed at the entry point, some school districts require that their teachers earn a master’s within five years of entering the profession. Teachers with master’s degrees also earn higher salaries than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees.

Online master’s teaching programs allow teachers to continue to earn an income while working toward an advanced degree. As teachers learn new methods, they can apply their new knowledge immediately in their classrooms. It’s not necessary to already be a teacher, however, to earn a master’s teaching degree. People with undergraduate degrees in a particular subject can enroll in a master’s teaching degree program that leads to teacher certification in that subject.

Master’s of Arts/Science in Teaching

The master’s in teaching curriculum emphasizes advanced coursework in a specific academic discipline to enhance the student’s knowledge in that subject area. Classes about teaching methodology and approaches will focus on practical teaching skills for use in the classroom. Some teaching master’s are designed for experienced teachers and others are for people who hold bachelor’s degrees and want to become first-time teachers. First-time teachers should look for a master’s that offers opportunity to work as a student teacher and earn hands-on experience in a classroom.

Those pursuing an online master’s in teaching can choose from many different concentrations at the elementary middle school and secondary school level, such as:

  • Mathematics
  • Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science)
  • English
  • English as a Second Language
  • Reading
  • Social Science
  • Economics
  • History
  • Geography
  • Government
  • Bi-Lingual Education
  • Foreign Languages (French, Spanish, German)
  • Speech Communication
  • Learning Technologies
  • Special Education
  • Art
  • Physical Education
  • Theater

Becoming a Highly Qualified Teacher

Many teachers decide to pursue a master’s degree because they want to become better at their job. Graduate school also offers an opportunity to gain expertise in a particular subject or teaching specialty. This is a benefit for those who wish to become highly qualified teachers, as outlined by the No Child Left Behind Act. To be deemed a highly qualified, one must have:

  • At least a bachelor's degree
  • Full state certification or licensure
  • Proof of knowledge in each subject taught

Middle and high school teachers can provide evidence of subject expertise if they have achieved any of the following:

  • Have majored in the subject
  • Earned credits equivalent to a major in the subject
  • Passed a state-developed test
  • Passed a High, Objective, Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE) as outlined by the state, which might include a combination of teaching experience, professional development, and knowledge in the subject garnered over time in the profession.
  • Earned advanced state certification
  • Earned a graduate degree

Teachers who wish to become school administrators should pursue a master’s of education. To learn more about the master’s of education degree, click on the link below.

In the 1980s, to help alleviate teacher shortages, education policymakers developed ways for qualified and talented individuals to become teachers without earning a teaching degree. Called alternative certification programs, the programs recruited persons with a bachelor’s in a subject taught in school who had graduated with a strong grade point average. Candidates would have to pass a subject test before they were placed in a classroom, where they would undergo rigorous mentoring.

Today, the process is generally a bit more rigorous, and colleges and universities are offering what are called accelerated teaching programs aimed at recent graduates with bachelor’s degrees or mid-career professionals who wish to become teachers. Most schools, however, offer accelerated teaching degrees only in areas that are in high demand in their state, such as middle school and high school science and math.

Accelerated Teaching Program Requirements

Accelerated teaching programs typically take between nine and 18 months to complete. Schools look for candidates who earned a 3.0 or higher grade point average on previously completed college-level work. Recommendations from former professors or professional colleagues are usually also required. Some schools also ask candidates to undergo a background check.

Most accelerated teaching programs require students to pass the Praxis I exam before they can be admitted to the program. This test measures basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics and is designed to evaluate whether a person has the academic skills needed to prepare for a career in education. Accelerated teaching programs prepare students to take the Praxis II exam, which measures knowledge of specific K-12 subjects, as well as teaching skills and knowledge. The Praxis II test is required in most states as part of the teacher licensing and certification process.

Accelerated Teaching Program Curriculums

There are two main types of accelerated teaching programs, those where students earn an advanced degree and those that are non-degree granting where students earn a certificate. Both types of programs prepare candidates for teacher licensing and certification. States do have different requirements when it comes to alternative certification, so it’s important to research the pre-requisites specific to an area.

Accelerated Teaching Degree Programs

Some colleges offer dual degree programs where students can earn a bachelor’s in a specific subject and a master’s in teaching just five years. These programs combine the benefits of a broad liberal arts education at the undergraduate level with a professional education at the graduate level, while allowing students to complete both degrees in less time and for less cost.

Accelerated teaching master’s degrees are also available as stand-alone options. These intensive programs prepare students to begin teaching in the classroom in as little as seven months.

Accelerated Teaching Certificates

The majority of accelerated teaching programs are offered in the form of certificate programs at the graduate level of study. They generally prepare students for initial teacher certification. Most accelerated teaching certificate programs require a combination of classwork related to teaching methods and in-classroom student teaching experience. Some colleges allow students to utilize their certificate credits toward earning a master’s degree in teaching.

Students earning teaching certificates can also choose a concentration and grade level, such as:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Special Education
  • Middle and High School Subjects (English, Math, Science)

Earning Your Teaching Degree Online

Online teaching degrees enable those wishing to become teachers to earn a degree from anywhere and whenever it’s most convenient. Both online teaching bachelor’s and master’s degrees are available. When earned at reputable and accredited institutions, online teaching degrees carry the same weight as those earned in the classroom.

Proponents of online learning cite advantages related to:

  • Flexibility

    Students can generally fit learning into their schedules without having to take time off work or family responsibilities. Learning can be done from anywhere, so everyone has the same access to earning a degree as those able to travel to the university.

  • Connectivity

    Online students can experience higher levels of engagement with their professors and peers.

  • Technology

    Teachers who earn their degrees online become knowledgeable and comfortable with technology and how it can be used in the classroom.

  • Cost Savings

    While online tuition is typically the same as that of classroom-based programs, students save money by not having to commute to class, pay for childcare, or eat out. Many students are also able to work while earning their degrees.

Online Teaching Degree Accreditation

Accreditation is important when evaluating any degree program, and even more so for those offered online. A college education is expensive and the college accreditation process weeds out fly-by-night schools and diploma mills that are focused on making a profit rather than on educating. An accredited college is one that’s been assessed by an independent agency and found to meet basic quality standards. Schools want teachers who’ve graduated from accredited programs. Accredited colleges will not accept credits from non-accredited institutions, an important consideration for those considering a master’s or who want to transfer to another school. And, very importantly, only accredited colleges and universities qualify for federal financial aid funds.

Colleges that offer online education degree programs are generally regionally accredited. Regional accreditation applies to all of a school’s programs, including those that are education-focused. In addition, schools have the option of having their education programs accredited by two specialized national boards, Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Montessori education programs have their own professional accrediting body, called the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). MACTE only accredits individual teaching programs, versus schools or institutions.

Online Teaching Degrees and State Certification

It’s also important to verify that the online teaching degree program leads to teacher certification in the state in which the student wishes to teach. Teacher certification is critical for those who plan to work in the public school system. State-approved teacher degree programs require hands-on experience, usually working as a student teacher in a classroom. Online teacher degree programs typically work with students to locate opportunities to teach in a classroom close to where they live. Students who continue to work while earning their degree will need to plan for this period of time when they’ll need to work in a classroom.

THE DISTANCE LEARNING DEBATE

Q:

Are online teaching degree programs accepted by employers?

A:

Online learning has come a long way since its early days. Major universities today are offering online degree programs where students earn the exact same diploma as those learning on campus. In fact, employers often have no way of knowing whether a degree was earned online or on campus. As long as the online teaching degree program is accredited, regionally and/or by a specialized teaching board, employers and state certification boards will accept the degree.

Q:

How can I tell if an online teaching degree program is reputable?

A:

Look for schools and teaching programs that are accredited. An accredited college has been assessed by an independent agency and found to meet basic quality standards. Colleges that offer online education degree programs are generally regionally accredited, meaning all the school’s programs have received a stamp of approval. In addition, schools have the option of having their education programs accredited by two specialized national boards, Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Q:

Is an online teaching degree easier to complete than a classroom-based program?

A:

Since accredited online teaching degrees are considered to be of the same quality as classroom-based degrees, they are certainly not any easier to complete. In fact, online courses can sometimes be even more rigorous than their classroom-based counterparts.

Q:

How much time should I expect to spend earning an online teaching degree?

A:

The length of time it takes to complete an online teaching degree varies greatly and depends on many factors, such as the type of degree, whether you pursue full- or part-time study, and the number of credits required. Students should expect to devote several hours per week to each course they take. Again, the actual time spent will vary, but schools can help students estimate their time allotment needs.

Q:

What are some advantages of earning an online teaching degree?

A:

Beyond the obvious advantage of offering flexibility to study when its most convenient, online teaching degrees can save you money and immerse you in a community of like-minded learners. In addition, teachers who earn their degrees online become knowledgeable and comfortable with technology and how it can be used in the classroom, which is a huge advantage nowadays.

Q:

How can I tell if opting for an online teaching degree is the right choice for me?

A:

Online students need to be motivated, self-disciplined, have good time management skills, and be comfortable with technology. They need to be proactive and access the course frequently to stay on top of the work. Students also need to be at ease communicating and interacting with other people without face-to-face contact. Those who remain unsure, should consider taking one course online before signing up for an entire degree program.

Q:

What types of online teaching degrees are available?

A:

There are online teaching degrees available at every level – associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral.

Q:

States generally require student teaching experience in a classroom before granting licensure. How do online programs handle this?

A:

Online teacher degree programs typically work with students to locate opportunities to teach in a classroom close to where they live. Some online programs have established relationships with school districts across the state, and sometimes the country, to facilitate student teacher placement.

Q:

Does earning a teaching degree online affect one's ability to obtain state certification?

A:

No, not as long as the online teaching degree program is accredited and fulfills the educational requirements for certification in that particular state.

Q:

Are there online options for earning continuing education credits?

A:

There are a slew of online options for earning continuing education credits offered by a variety of providers, from state governments to online schools to professional teacher associations.

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Teaching Degree IN...

The requirements to become a teacher vary from state to state. Interested in becoming a teacher? Select your state to learn more.

TEACHING CAREERS

There are many different types of teachers, to fit a range of interests and personality types – from technology to art, language, and more. Learn more about specific types of teaching careers below.

TEACHING CAREER SALARY TOOL

With any career, it's important to understand the expected salary range-in general, and in the city you want to live in. Try our salary tool below to see how much particular types of teachers make across the country.

  • Teaching Type:
  • Select a state:
  • Select City 1:
  • Select City 2:
Anniston 2012 MEDIAN PAY $17,610 per year
Auburn 2012 MEDIAN PAY $19,190 per year
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WANT TO BECOME A TEACHER?

Teachers come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. For example, an early childhood educator might have an extra dose of patience in her pocket, while a mathematics professor might possess an extraordinary amount of logic and organization. However, many educators share core skills, traits and interests that pulled them into the profession. See if a career in teaching is right for you.

PERSONALITY QUIZ

Many teachers have special skills, knowledge, and talents that help them teach, lead, and inspire. Do you have what it takes to be a teacher? Answer the following 10 questions to find out.

  • 1. Do you enjoy working in the community or collaborating with others?
  • 2. Do you actively learn new skills or explore new interests?
  • 3. Are you comfortable shifting gears in the middle of a project or presentation?
  • 4. Are you creative or take unique approaches to things?
  • 5. Can you communicate effectively verbally, visually and in writing?
  • 6. Do you exercise patience and tact when working with others?
  • 7. Are enthusiastic and positive good words to describe you?
  • 8. Are you organized?
  • 9. Do you like learning how and why just as much or more than who, what, where and when?
  • 10. Can you gauge how a person is feeling without them telling you?
  • It looks like a career in teaching may not be a great fit. However, you may possess the various attributes necessary to succeed in other education-related careers, including librarian, curriculum developer or administrative assistant.

    It looks like you possess some of the skills, traits and interests shared by today's most successful teachers. However, you may need to develop certain areas during your education or training to maximize your effectiveness in the classroom and with students. Every teacher needs to improve continuously, so you may have exactly what it takes to be a successful educator.

    It looks like you have many of the attributes found in today's top teachers. A formal degree program, combined with student teaching, can help you hone those skills and apply them to the classroom environment, subject matter, and grade level in which you choose to focus.

TEACHER TIMELINE

High school and college students who know they want to be teachers tend to follow a fairly traditional path into the profession. Others, however, may get the calling a bit later in life, and take other approaches to becoming teachers. Traditional and non-traditional paths will vary by specialty, state and institution. Yet nearly every aspiring teacher will encounter certain “decision points” and milestones along the way. The timelines below take a look at the two approaches to becoming a teacher, highlighting when certain key decisions need to be made. They will help you understand your choices and get you started in the right direction from the get-go.

Traditional Path to a Teaching Degree
COLLEGE SEARCH

Choose an accredited teaching program in the state in which you want to work or a school whose program is accepted in the state in which you want to work. This will facilitate earning your teaching credential upon graduation.

COLLEGE APPLICATION

If you are applying directly to a teaching program, the school may require you to complete the Praxis I test, which measures that measure basic skills in reading, math, and writing.

FRESHMAN YEAR

Depending on the school, you will most likely spend freshman and sophomore years fulfilling liberal arts core requirements and taking introductory teaching classes. This is the time to explore the different teaching careers so you can start honing down on which ones interest you the most.

SOPHOMORE YEAR

By the end of sophomore year, you should have determined what grade level you want to teach and whether you want to specialize in a specific subject. Most colleges will require you to declare a major or concentration by the end of your fourth semester. Students who have not completed the Praxis I test may also need to do so at this point. This is a good time to confirm that your program requirements are in line with teaching certification requirements in the state in which you want to teach.

JUNIOR YEAR

During your junior year most of your classes will be related to your teaching major. Some will explore general teaching subjects in more depth than the introductory classes, and others will focus on your intended area of specialization. Your teaching program will offer some type of in-classroom student teacher experience during your junior or senior years. This is an important requirement for certification. Note that most school systems will require student teachers to undergo a background check and be fingerprinted.

SENIOR YEAR

Specialized teaching courses continue throughout your senior year. If you haven’t done so already, you will need to fulfill the student teacher requirement. This generally entails observing and/or working in a real classroom for a period of eight to ten weeks, and is a requirement for certification in most states.

UPON GRADUATION

Teachers who wish to work in the public school system must be licensed. Candidates for initial teacher licensure or certification are usually required to have a bachelor’s degree, completed student teaching requirements, passed certain qualifying exams like the Praxis II, and undergone a criminal background check and fingerprinting. Know what your state requirements for teacher licensure are, and get your certification as soon as you graduate.

GRADUATE SCHOOL

You may want to consider a master’s degree in your teaching specialty, either to gain additional knowledge or for career advancement. Some states require teachers to earn a master’s degree in order to maintain certification. Master’s degree candidates can choose to attend college full-time or complete their degree on a part-time basis while still earning an income as a teacher. As with any undergraduate program, choose an accredited master’s teaching program that’s accepted in the state in which you want to work.

TWO NON-TRADITIONAL PATHS TO A TEACHING DEGREE
  • COLLEGE DEGREE

    Obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. The specific major does not matter.

  • SERVE IN ARMED FORCES

    If you’ve served in the military, you have much to offer students in the classroom. Decide whether you’re interested in becoming a teacher, and if so, what type. If you have a bachelor’s degree or are studying for a bachelor’s degree through the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Troops to Teachers Program (TTT) can help facilitate your way into the classroom.

  • PROFESSIONAL CAREER

    Many people have fulfilling careers and decide midway through life they’d like to give back by becoming teachers. They want to share their knowledge and experience and become role models for the next generation. Individuals with specific subject expertise in math, science, foreign languages, and technology are in high demand. Work is usually at the high school level.

  • TROOPS TO TEACHERS PROGRAM

    TTT does not train or certify teachers, but rather helps veterans find and enter the programs that do. Veterans usually need to complete a teacher preparation program. TTT also provides financial assistance for fulfilling any additional education requirements, in exchange for a three-year commitment to teach in a high needs area or school.

  • CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS

    While individuals who’ve had professional careers are experts in a particular subject, they still need to learn how to teach. Alternative certification programs are specifically designed for career changers who didn’t major in education when they went to college. Most colleges and even some state departments of education offer alternative certification programs.

  • BECOME CERTIFIED

    State certification requirements are generally different for veterans and career changers than they are for newly graduated teachers. In addition to having a bachelor’s degree and completing a teacher education program, candidates might need to pass certain tests to demonstrate subject knowledge. A criminal background check and fingerprinting are also required.

  • GET HIRED

    Some states allow veterans and career changers to begin teaching while they’re still in the process of becoming certified. While there is never a guarantee of getting a job, individuals with life experience and subject matter expertise will always be in demand as teachers.