What You Should Know If You Want to Teach in Texas

What You Should Know If You Want to Teach in Texas
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Nedda Gilbert February 8, 2018

So you've decided you want to teach. That means you'll need to become certified and pass state licensure exams. Because there's no national or standardized route to certification - each state operates independently - the path can be both confusing and time-consuming.

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How do you navigate the complicated maze of coursework and certification requirements?

We’re here to make things as simple as possible. We’ll give you the key information to help you understand each option that is available to you, and figure out what the right path is for you.

Remember, every state has its own requirements and process. So if you’re thinking about moving – or just not sure where you want to teach – you’ll need to check out each state.

Here’s what any prospective teacher should know:

  • Although the requirements for becoming a teacher are controlled by each state, every state requires a bachelor’s degree. Many require a Master’s degree as well. In some states the Masters is required for specific subjects like counseling and education leadership.
  • Beyond state certification requirements, individual school districts may establish their own teaching standards. This can impact the training you pursue, and level of education you need to attain.
  • Even if a state doesn’t require a Master’s degree for certification, it may be worthwhile to pursue a Master’s in Education anyway. 96 percent of the 112 Major U.S. school districts pay teachers with a Master’s Degree far more than those with BA degrees.

If, at some point, you plan on moving across state lines – and want to teach in a new state – you’ll need to understand something called reciprocity. Teacher licensure reciprocity is how the new state treats the teaching license you’ve received in your original state. Reciprocity works state-by-state. Some states accept the teaching credential of other states. Which state they accept really depends on that state’s standards. The point is, don’t assume there is reciprocity between your.particular states; check out each teacher licensing website which lists the states it has reciprocity agreements with.

The United States Department of Education has identified Teacher Shortage Areas (TSA). A TSA is defined as a subject matter or grade level within a state with a shortage of elementary or secondary teachers. For a nationwide list of TSAs visit this PDF from the U.S. Department of Education. TSAs may offer unique opportunities to teach and relaxed or alternative certification guidelines.


“I'm Interested in Teacher Education!”

Graduate degrees for teachers fall into two categories: the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and the Master of Education (MEd). Many resources indicate that the MAT is the best master’s degree for teachers, while MEd programs are primarily for aspiring educational administrators, policymakers, and other current education professionals who aspire to work outside the classroom. In reality, it’s not quite that simple.

Both MAT and MEd programs tend to be concentration-based, and while there are more part-time and full-time Master of Arts in Teaching programs focused on advanced pedagogic theories and skills, there are also plenty of Master of Education programs with grade-level, subject-area, and student-population concentrations.

In some areas of the US, a teacher with a master’s degree at the top of the salary schedule can earn close to $40,000 more than a teacher with a bachelor’s degree. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that going to graduate school will lead to a substantially bigger paycheck. The only way to know how much you’ll earn after graduating with a master’s in teaching or master’s in education is to look at the salary schedule in your district. You should be able to see at a glance how your education and experience will translate into dollars. (source)

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How to Become a Teacher in Texas

There are three main paths to becoming a classroom teacher in Texas.

Enroll in a University Based Program:

If you’re in a teacher preparation program or pursuing an undergraduate major in education at a university, you’re off to a good start. The more traditional path in Texas is to become a certified teacher by a college or university as part of an undergraduate degree program which offers teacher training. Upon completion of that program you become certified to teach in Texas.

Pursue a Post Baccalaureate (PB) Program at a College or University

If you hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, but did not pursue a traditional teacher training program or education major at that institution, you may want to pursue a PB and complete a formal accredited teacher certification program. Candidates to this program hold a BA in a discipline other than teaching. Courses you take for the PB do not led to a degree, but qualifies students to take the state licensing exams.

Alternative/Accelerated Teaching Programs in Texas:

Texas also offers a non-traditional route to certification. A bonus to this path is that students may teach while they compete the program. There are a multitude of alterative certification program options to choose from at colleges, schools districts, education service centers, community colleges and private entities. For those aspiring to work in the teaching profession, this path may offer convenience and flexibility.

Candidates to this program already have a BA in another discipline and may be career changers or later in life teachers. Following the path of alternative certification involves these steps:

  • Determining the grade level and subject areas you want to teach. This profile will determine the path you take including coursework and certification tests.
  • Enrolling in an Approved Texas Alternative Certification Program. The majority of these programs can be completed within a year. During this time you may also be able to teach as a paid intern.
  • Meet Screening criteria. Some programs have minimum requirements for GPA, prior coursework and content knowledge.
  • Establish an Individualized Certification Plan with Program Staff.
  • Getting a Teaching Job. If the program you select determines you are eligible for teaching positions, you will receive an eligibility stated for pursing a teaching potions. The program may help you find a job; toy reaching spittoon us be at the grade level and in the subject area you are pursuing.
  • Applying for a Probationary Certificate. Applicants who have secured a teaching potions must then apply for an intern or probationary certificate which is valid for one year.
  • Apply for the Standard Certificate. Once you have competed all of your established requirements, your program will recommend you for the standard certificate. You will also need to pass a criminal backgrounds check at this time. Once your application is approved, you are license to teach in Texas.

No matter the pathway you pursue, all candidates for teacher certification must pass appropriate state teacher exams known as TeXes – Texas Examination of Educator Standards. These exams match up with a teacher’s academic focus and the grade level they want to teach.

Candidates must also submit their fingerprint and pass a national criminal background check.

If all these conditions are met: a candidate has completed an approved teacher education program, passed the appropriate certification test and also cleared a criminal background check, the teaching application is approved and a license to teach is granted.

There are three types of Texas teaching certification licenses:

  • an Initial Certification for first-time teachers
  • Standard Certification for teachers with in-state teaching experience, and
  • out of State Certification for teachers with credential from other states

A Recap: No matter which path you choose any aspiring teachers must:

  1. Obtain an Undergraduate Degree.
  2. Enroll in and complete an approved, state teacher training program.

Fortunately, aspiring Texas teachers can complete their program requirements while they are earning their bachelor’s degree. Or they may choose to enroll in a dedicated training program after on an alternative path.

  1. Complete a student teaching experiences.
  2. Pass appropriate state teaching exams
  3. Pass a criminal background check complete with fingerprinting.
  4. Submit an application to the Texas Agency of Education

To learn more about the process and find state approved educator programs you can visit the Texas Education Agency website which governs teacher certification in Texas.

You can also contact the Texas Education Agency at their customer service number: 512- 936 – 8400. Office hours are from M-F, 8:00m – 5:00pm. They also offer fingerprinting support and a walk-in test center.

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Author

Ms. Nedda Gilbert is a seasoned clinical social worker, author, and educational consultant with 25 years of experience helping college-bound and graduate students find their ideal schools. She is a prolific author, including The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and Essays that Made a Difference. Ms. Gilbert has been a guest writer for Forbes and a sought-after keynote speaker on college admissions. Previously, she played a crucial role at the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company and was Chairman of the Board of Graduate Philadelphia. Ms. Gilbert holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University and is a certified interdisciplinary collaborative family law professional in New Jersey.

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


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