How To Become A Teacher

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. ~Albert Einstein


Becoming a teacher is more than just attaining a degree. Choosing a career as a teacher is a dedication to the ideals of teaching. It involves a personal commitment to continual learning and education, and sharing your own joy for creative expression and knowledge with young minds. If you have ever wanted to know how to become a teacher, this guide will help you, but keep in mind that there is a difference between becoming a teacher, and becoming a great teacher.

Requirements | Education | Salary | State Guide

How to Become a Teacher in 8 Steps

Step 1: Start work on a bachelors degree in education. If you already have a bachelors degree, look at alternative methods for teacher certification within your state, or consider getting your masters degree in education

Step 2: Once you've taken some of your core classes, decide which type of teacher you want to be and choose an area of study to match it: early childhood, elementary, secondary, special ed, ESL.

Step 3: Complete your bachelors degree along with a student teacher internship

Step 4: Apply for your teaching licensure through the state where you wish to teach

Step 5: As part of your application for licensure, you'll likely need to complete a fingerprint clearance card and background check

Step 6: Take and pass any skill assessments in reading, writing and mathematics required

Step 7: Take and pass the Praxis II subject area assessment. This is for the grade level you wish to teach: early childhood, elementary, middle school, secondary, special education, technical, as well as if you want to teach in a particular area of study, like English, Biology, History, P.E., etc.

Step 8: Receive your teacher license and start looking for a teaching job!

Teacher Requirements

Although there are general requirements to become a teacher, each state has its own processes for teacher certification. We have listed those by state below. Be sure to click on your state to determine the specific requirements needed. General requirements include:

  • A bachelor's degree in education
  • Student teaching experience
  • A teaching certificate
3rd grade classroom: woodleywonderworks, under CC license
3rd Grade Classroom

Education Requirements

Having the right degree is a huge part of becoming a teacher. Even having a bachelors degree isn't enough to become a teacher in most instances. You'll need to complete an undergraduate teacher preparation program, along with student teaching internship. Most states require this as part of the certification process, although there are alternatives if you have your bachelors degree already. Those are discussed on the specific state pages below. So go ahead and skip to that if you want, or keep reading.

Starting With an Associates

For some, starting with an associate degree in education may be the best way to start working toward becoming a teacher. Many community colleges offer 2-year degrees. An associates degree will also qualify you to work as a teacher assistant, which allows you to gain valuable experience in the classroom while you continue your education. For example, teachers who wish to work in a preschool or daycare might consider getting an associates degree in early childhood education.

Because most states won't certify you as a teacher with only an associate degree, make sure you continue working toward your bachelors degree in education in order to attain licensing as a teacher.

Bachelors Degree Option: Undergraduate Teacher Preparation Programs

In order to attain the necessary degree to become a teacher, you'll want to select an undergraduate teacher preparation program. Almost every college or university offers a degree in education. However, if time is a factor, , there are many online education degree programs that will allow you to work while attaining your ultimate goal of becoming a teacher.

Choosing an Education Degree Program

When you are selecting a program of study, its important to consider the major areas of study related to education. Education degree programs include specializations in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, ESL, and special education. In order to specialize in an area of teaching, you'll want to choose a degree that corresponds to your intended area of study. These might include:

How to Become a Teacher With a Master's Degree

If you already have a bachelors degree, but it's not in education, (perhaps it's in engineering, accounting, sociology, or something else), you may want to consider getting your masters in education. In many states, having your masters degree in education will qualify you to become a teacher. There are also many alternative paths to teacher certification, along with programs like Teach for America and Americorps, which make it easier to transition into teaching as a second career.

If you already have a bachelors degree in education, there's a valid concern around getting your masters in education too soon. The difficulty could arise in the fact that you may be over-educated with not enough experience. It may be wise to get your bachelors degree first, get your first job as a teacher, then start working on your masters. This way, you don't run the risks associated with having a masters degree and no teaching experience.

If you're a teacher considering getting your masters degree, take a look at the difference between a masters in education vs a masters in teaching before you make any decisions. If you decide you want to work while getting your masters, consider that there are many online colleges and universities that will allow you to earn your masters in education online. These programs offer the flexibility working students need to further their career without sacrificing a paycheck.

Teacher Salary

Teacher salaries vary by district. We've compiled some information on teacher salaries, but one of the best things you can do is do a Google search for "teacher salary schedule" in the district where you want to teach. This will likely provide you with a certified pay schedule that will help you determine how much you'll make as a teacher starting out, and as you gain experience and addition education.

Becoming a Teacher - State Guide

In order to make sure you're following the correct education path to become a teacher, click on one of the links below to find out how to become a teacher in your state, or a state where you're interested in teaching.

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas
California Colorado Connecticut Delaware
Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho
Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas
Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi
Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada
New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York
North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma
Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah
Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia
Wisconsin Wyoming

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About the Author

Hi. My name's Ralph Miller and I'm the author of this content. If you found it valuable, please share it by clicking on the social icons at the top of this page. It's my sincere hope that this content helps you in your quest for higher education. If you have comments or questions, you may contact me at ralph.miller at or connect with me on Google Plus.