Wynonna Judd and Teasi Cannon

5-time GRAMMY Award winning artist Wynonna Judd admires long time friend and teacher, Teasi Cannon, for giving the gift of encouragement. "By building her students' roots and wings they can explore the world in and out of the classroom."

Behind Every Famous Person is a Fabulous Teacher.

I Want To Teach FAQ




What do I need to do to become a teacher?

The steps to teacher certification vary by state, so first you should check with your state’s board of education. The requirements usually encompass the same three basic steps:

1) You must hold a bachelor's degree, and, in some states, a post-baccalaureate or master's degree. For elementary education, you will usually need either a major or minor in education for a bachelor’s degree or a master’s in education.

2) For secondary subjects, you will usually need a degree in the area that you wish to teach. You will need to complete an approved, accredited education program that fulfills student teaching and practicum requirements.

3) In addition to your major, you may be required to show proof of a strong liberal arts foundation. You will very likely need to pass a state test or exam. Some states also require proof that you have taken a variety of college courses in basic subject areas such as English, math, science, social studies, and language. This is especially true for obtaining a license in elementary education.

I am thinking of a career change. Can my work experience count towards my subject area requirements to become a certified teacher?

The Wall Street Journal has a great article on career changing that suggests individuals should test the waters before committing to a new profession. You can find the article here. To “try out” teaching, you may want to consider substitute teaching or tutoring. Both are good ways to figure out if the day-to-day functions of a teacher are the right fit for you. Additionally, as a substitute teacher you can begin to establish a relationship with a school district, which is helpful in seeking long-term employment.

Your previous coursework and professional experience may meet some subject area requirements, but you will probably need to take courses in an approved teacher preparation program before you can be certified. You will also need to take state exams and complete any state supervised teaching or student teaching requirements. To find out what the requirements for certification are in your state visit here for their listing of all departments of education. If you are attempting to enroll in a degree program you can also check with your university to see how your experience can work within your degree.

If you would like to start teaching sooner please check out our information on alternative education: http://www.teacherscount.org/wannateach/how/pathways.shtml

I was educated in a different country. Will my education count towards an American teaching degree?

If you are from another country, you can have your college transcript evaluated to determine United States equivalency. With the equivalent of a bachelor's degree and completion of a teacher preparation program, you should qualify for a Residency Certificate.

Transcript Evaluation Services can be found at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions officers (www.aacrao.org) and at World Education Services (www.wes.org).

Can I become a teacher without a bachelor’s degree?

Public schools require fully certified teachers to have a bachelor’s degree. This is in accordance with the federal statutes under No Child Left Behind, which requires a minimum of bachelor’s degree for all public school teachers.

You can also always look into teaching at a private school. Private and independent schools are not bound by state certification requirements, so they may be good options to consider. For more information on conducting your job search in the private and independent school sector, you should visit the National Association of Independent School's website at www.nais.org. The site has a useful job bank. The Council for American Private Education also has a great website with a full listing of private school job banks here.

You might also want to consider working as a paraprofessional. A teacher's aide, known as a paraprofessional, is a non-certified instructional staff person whose duties may include providing one-on-one or small group tutoring for students, assisting with classroom management, providing instructional assistance in a computer lab, conducting parental involvement activities, providing instructional support in the library or media center, acting as a translator, and providing instructional support to a student under the direct supervision of a teacher.

I have a bachelor’s degree, but it is not in education. How can I become a teacher?

Since you already have a bachelor’s degree you have a number of options available to you. Keeping in mind that the requirements and procedures for obtaining a teaching certificate slightly differ according to the state, it seems you have two distinct ways to earn a teaching certificate, depending on how soon you want to start your classroom teaching. You can enroll in a master’s in education program (ranging from eleven months to two years) and earn your teaching credentials, student teaching while you complete work for your master’s degree. You can also start in a classroom sooner through an “Alternative Certification” model. These programs can assist you in earning your permanent credentials and some may even have relationships with local colleges and universities so that you can pursue your master’s while you teach.

In recent years, a number of states, cities, and universities have begun offering alternative routes to certification as a way of attracting career changers and non-certified individuals interested in teaching. Typically, these programs consist of intensive teacher training and graduate school courses combined with an intensive teaching and/or internship experience in a school. While most post-baccalaureate teacher-education programs can take two years to complete, alternative certification programs usually allow you to begin teaching in a short amount of time (though you still have to take classes to obtain your alternative certification). Most programs offer students the option of obtaining their masters degree in education at a subsidized rate. For a summary of programs by state, as well as more information on alternative certification, you can visit www.teach-now.org.

What pathways can I follow to become a teacher?

The traditional route to teaching is to major in education (or education and the subject area that you want to teach) and to complete coursework for a bachelor’s degree with a teaching certificate as an undergraduate.

Some schools have education programs you can apply to when you begin college, while other programs offer education majors that begin sophomore or junior year. Most programs include a student teaching component and some may require extra courses towards state certification.

It is also possible to major in something unrelated to education as an undergraduate and then do a year of teacher preparation courses in what is called a post-baccalaureate program.

Where can I find a teaching job?

Here are some useful websites for conducting your job search. You may need to register with some of the sites to review their postings.

Education World: Education Employment Center
Private School Employment Network
Jobs in Schools

Additionally, there is always the option of teaching in private schools. Private and independent schools are not bound to state certification requirements so they may be a more flexible option to consider. You can find out more about independent schools at the National Association for Independent School’s website, www.nais.org. The Council for American Private Education also has a great website with a full listing of private and parochial school jobs here.

Three final resources worth mentioning are the websites for HigherEd Jobs, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the TeachersCount web bank of teaching positions.

www.higheredjobs.com has a comprehensive job database focused exclusively on college and university positions. You may want to browse their listings or register with them to look for positions in your areas of interest. There are also some good tools for job seekers at The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website, http://chronicle.com/jobs/. Finally, TeachersCount is proud to offer a page with links to various teaching positions. Check us out at www.teacherscount.org/wannateach/how/jobsearch.shtml!

How can I pay for my teaching degree?

You can look for scholarships for teachers and prospective teachers at the following sites:


There are loan forgiveness and repayment deferment options available for teachers in high need schools through federal student aid. For more information on these programs visit here.