Post-Bachelor's Teaching Certification and Certificate Information

Get information on teacher training through a master's degree program in education or an alternative certification program (ACP). Learn about prerequisites, curriculum and certification requirements.

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Essential Information

People who hold a bachelor's degree that is not in education and are interested in becoming teachers can complete a master's degree program or enroll in an alternative certification program (ACP). Both options cover the ideas, methods and subject knowledge necessary to teach elementary or secondary school. Aspiring teachers must complete a student teaching internship in a classroom, which is required for state certification or licensing to teach. Public school teachers also must pass state certification examinations.

There are several types of master's degree programs available to individuals with bachelor's degrees who want to teach. These master's programs may cover an age group, such as elementary school, or a subject, such as high school English. If the student wishes to teach a certain subject, he or she should show sufficient undergraduate coursework in that area. Students learn about classroom management, child development, curriculum and lesson planning. They may take advanced courses in the subjects they wish to teach. These programs usually call for about 36-39 credit hours. A thesis may be required.

In an ACP, students focus on education courses, not on teaching a particular subject. These programs generally consist of about 30 credit hours, and many programs offer evening and weekend classes. Courses cover curriculum development, special education, teaching methods and pedagogy.


Master's Degree in Education

People looking to earn a master's degree in education have several options. Many schools offer Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree programs. Some programs cover broad topics like early childhood education or elementary education, while others emphasize instructing particular academic subjects to secondary school students. Those enrolled in one of these programs usually complete a student teaching internship as part of their coursework.

Education Prerequisites

Students need a bachelor's degree to qualify for any master's degree program in education. While the undergraduate degree doesn't need to be in education, it is beneficial if applicants' undergraduate major allows them to demonstrate their communication skills. Students interested in teaching a particular subject need to demonstrate aptitude for it in their previous coursework.

Program Coursework

The classes in education master's degree programs cover practical and theoretical concepts in classroom management, pedagogy, curricula design and academic assessment. Students wanting to specialize in a subject need to take advanced courses as part of their degree program. The topics in the following list are usually required:

  • Educational theory
  • Behavior control methods
  • Differentiated instruction
  • Lesson planning
  • Multicultural education theory

Popular Career Options

People who earn a master's degree in education qualify for many teaching and administrative positions. Graduates can work in public or private schools at the primary or secondary levels. The careers listed below are popular options:

  • Kindergarten teacher
  • High school math teacher
  • Private school teacher

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Students who graduate from one of these master's degree programs must pass state teacher certification tests. Private school teachers usually don't need to meet the same licensure standards as those who teach public school.

Alternative Certification Program

All states allow teachers to become certified through alternative certification programs (ACP). ACPs teach ideas and skills needed to instruct all student populations and don't usually discuss teaching particular academic subjects. Most ACPs offer courses in evenings and weekends, allowing people with full-time employment to participate. Programs typically require students to complete supervised teaching or observation internships prior to graduation. ACP graduates need to pass a state certification before they can teach.

Education Prerequisites

Admission to ACPs isn't competitive, and all qualified applicants are admitted. Generally, incoming students need to hold a bachelor's degree in any subject to qualify. Applicants must submit copies of their undergraduate transcripts before they can begin their coursework.

Program Coursework

ACPs cover most of the same topics as education degree programs in a few condensed sessions. The program themselves can take as little as 30 hours to complete. Students learn about the topics noted below:

  • Special education
  • Classroom management
  • Pedagogy
  • Educational assessment
  • Curricula design

Employment outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicted job growth of 17% for kindergarten and elementary school teachers between 2010 and 2020, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. High school teachers were expected to see slower-than-average growth, at seven percent, during the same decade.

As of May 2012, the BLS reported the median annual pay rate for kindergarten teachers was $50,120. Elementary school educators earned a median of $53,400 per year. Middle school teachers reportedly earned a median annual salary of $53,430, while the median for secondary school educators was $55,050 per year.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

ACP students aren't certified to teach after graduation, but they are prepared to take state teaching certification tests. Most states require ACP graduates to take a general pedagogy test, and those interested in teaching a certain subject must usually take a test in that subject.

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