How to Get Certified Through an Alternative Certification Program

To be a successful teacher, you will want to become certified.  Traditionally, one would have to obtain certification through a typical college program. Now, there are many alternative certification programs for individuals wishing to become certified as teachers.  From real-world and real-classroom experience to online teaching classes, there is truly something for everyone.

Work as a Teacher

As time moves on, and as our population grows, one thing will always be certain: teachers will be needed! In large, urban areas the demand for teachers is often great, and supply may not fit the demand.  In these areas, there are alternative certification programs that offer individuals the opportunity to become a teacher in an alternative arena.  These programs, such as Teach For America, recruit people, often with little to no educational background, to teach in high need areas.  They want those with a desire to teach, who are looking for an alternative way to reach that goal.  However, it is tough to be accepted to this program. Many selected are recent college graduates (with a GPA of at least 3.4), often from top notch universities.  Teach for America only accepts 15% of their applicants.  Those who do get a spot in this program will work for a minimum of two years, usually in a low-income, urban school, where a teacher shortage exists. Teachers in the program are typically used in high-need subjects, such as special education, math, or science.  While working, teachers attend a specialized program to earn their certification. 

Military men and women looking for a career after their service can turn to Troops to Teachers to help them become a teacher in an alternative setting. 

Teach For America and Troops to Teachers are just two examples.  There are many more similar programs, but the goals of all are these alternative certification teaching opportunities are the same: put talented professionals into the classroom to instruct the youth of America (often at-risk).  Whether from the corporate field to the military and beyond, the individuals who choose this path come into a school with a wealth of experience that cannot come from a typical classroom.

Online Courses

Going back to school to obtain your teacher certification may not be an option.  However, many colleges offer online teaching courses to assist prospective teachers in their quest for certification.  Online teaching schools can provide an alternative path to certification, allowing those with education backgrounds, and those without, to get their degrees so they can better teach our school-children.  The teaching courses vary by each institution and within each specific program, but generally, online courses are no different than the courses you would find in the traditional classroom setting. 

Not all programs come from a college, however.  Texas Teachers, which serves prospective teachers in Texas, is an example of a unique program that combines testing, training, and teaching as an alternative path to teacher certification.

Those in the alternative setting will most likely have to take the same teacher certification tests as those who go the traditional route.  However, no matter which path you choose, your schooling will prepare you to take and pass those exams.

Pros and Cons of Alternative Certification

Obtaining teacher certification through an alternative program may seem like a simple answer to some.  Although it is not the path many typically take, it does cost money just like any other college would.  Non-college programs will also require some form of payment.  In fact, many programs will deduct payment directly from your paycheck, usually in your first year of teaching.

Many alternative certification recipients are professionals who have worked in a non-education field.  Many school leaders not only recognize these individuals as potential great teachers, but encourage, or even prefer, them to work in their schools!  Teachers from outside areas tend to bring something different to the classroom.  Career-changers, second careers, even retirees can thrive in the classroom thanks to alternative certification programs.

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