How Does Alternative Teacher Certification Work?

Amanda Martin
Amanda Martin
Elementary school music teacher; M.A.Ed. In Curriculum and Instruction
A wooden cut-out of a person stands on a laptop wearing a graduation cap.

What is Alternative Teacher Certification?

An alternative teacher certification provides individuals with a pathway to become certified to teach. It is specifically aimed toward allowing individuals who do not have a background in education an opportunity to become a teacher and change careers.

These individuals have specialized in various career fields within the business world, the arts, mathematics, engineering, writing, and more, but they now wish to share their knowledge with students through gaining certification to teach.

How is it Different from Traditional Teacher Certification?

There are some slight differences between the alternative teacher certification and the traditional teacher certification.

Traditional Teacher Certification

With a traditional teacher certification, an individual is generally required to complete at least a bachelor’s degree in education. This degree almost always includes a series of courses in education and specific content areas in which the individual desires to teach.

Additionally, most colleges and universities send prospective teachers to visit a school within the local community for mentorship from an established, successful teacher and student teaching or practicum experience inside the classroom. Toward the end of the bachelor’s degree program, prospective teachers must pass a set of exams in education and their specific content areas to receive teacher certification.

Alternative Teacher Certification

When looking to gain an alternative teacher certification, acquiring such accreditation is somewhat different. Many of the individuals looking to become a teacher may already hold a degree within their chosen career field; however, their degrees probably did not include a set of courses geared toward education specifically.

That being said, to receive certification, an individual must first complete teacher preparation courses as deemed appropriate by their prospective state. This does not mean that the individual would need to complete an additional bachelor’s degree, as that would deter many from pursuing the alternative teacher certificate, and many of those individuals already have at least a bachelor’s degree in their specializations.

Instead, most states require the completion of some introductory courses in education and/or the addition of a master’s degree in education (which takes less time to complete when compared to that of a bachelor’s degree.) In addition to the teacher preparation courses, individuals seeking certification must pass the same set of exams as traditional teachers in order to gain certification for classroom teaching.

Each state has its own set of criteria and requirements for acquiring an alternative teacher certification, so it is crucial that an individual follow those guidelines when beginning their journey into education.

Why are Alternative Teacher Certification Programs Becoming More Prevalent?

Many school districts across the United States have experienced teacher shortages for quite some time. It is also true that many school districts are experiencing shortages in finding teachers who are qualified to teach key subject areas (math, science, etc.) and unique subject areas that are offered to mainly middle and high school students (business, home economics, theater, programming, and so on.)

Those entering these types of career fields do not typically set out with the intention of teaching. Still, with time and life experience, the idea of bringing their knowledge into the classroom becomes more prevalent. Alternative teacher certification programs help those who want a change in their career continue to do what they love by sharing it with students.

What are the Benefits of Alternative Teacher Certification?

Multiple benefits of alternative teacher certification are provided to both the prospective teacher and the school in which they would be teaching.

Let us take a look at some of the most important benefits:

Sharing a Passion

For prospective teachers receiving an alternative teacher certification, they would have the opportunity to share something they are passionate about with their students each and every day.

They would be given a chance to mentor students with potential within their specific content area, grow and mature skills within the content area, and help students succeed inside the classroom and pursue a future career if desired. Additionally, if an individual loves what they do, the overall enjoyment of a job dramatically increases and outweighs any of the stresses that may be associated with it!

Quality of Knowledge and Teaching

School administrators find great comfort in knowing that students receive quality instruction from skilled and knowledgeable teachers. Teachers who come into the classroom with an alternative teacher certification typically bring years of real-world experience within their specializations.

Those individuals understand the ins and outs of their chosen career field, and they can translate that knowledge to students to provide top-notch and relevant learning experiences. Additionally, these learning experiences give the teacher a sense of achievement by successfully helping the students gain access to new knowledge.

Successful Staffing

As mentioned previously, school districts sometimes have trouble filling teaching positions and retaining teacher positions within certain content areas. Those seeking alternative teacher certification would “step in the gap” and occupy a much-needed teaching position with a school. This, in turn, makes the load lighter on administrators and fellow teachers.

Enhanced School Morale

If a school is successfully staffed, every teacher can be focused on their respective classes and only those classes, rather than being pulled in multiple directions to cover classes and teach additional content areas. Unfortunately, many school districts and teachers find themselves overwhelmed with unreasonable workloads due to a lack of staffing and resources.

When alternative teacher certifications are employed, schools and their teachers can shift the focus back to their classrooms to continue providing students with quality instructional practices.

Interested in the field of education and following the alternative teacher certification path? Check out our teaching graduate programs that will qualify you for in-person and online alternative teacher certification and get started today!

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