How To Become a Teacher in Alabama

by Ralph Miller

If you want to become a teacher in Alabama, the following information will guide you through the process. The education pathway you choose will be vital to your success in becoming a teacher in a particular area, so take a look at the types of certifications offered in Alabama, as well as the specific requirements necessary for that area. This will assure you success in attaining the position you desire. If you already have a bachelor's degree, Alabama offers many alternative paths to become a teacher, making it easy to continue your education while attaining the education necessary to qualify for your teacher certification.

Alabama Teacher Certification Roadmap

Types of Teacher Certifications

Certificate classes

Alabama has various classes of teaching certificates. These include Class B, Class A, or Class AA certificates for teaching. Class B requires a bachelor's degree, Class A a master's degree, and Class AA requires completion of a state-approved sixth-year program of at least 30 semester hours of graduate credit from a regionally accredited senior institution.

Professional Educator Certificate on the Bachelor’s Degree Level

Programs include:

  • Early childhood education
  • Elementary education
  • Specific teaching fields for middle-level
    • Secondary education
    • Career and technical
    • P-12
    • Special education

Professional Educator Certificate on the Master’s Degree Level

Teaching fields include:

  • Early childhood education
  • Elementary education
  • Early childhood special education
  • Collaborative special education teacher K-6 or 6-12
  • Middle-level or secondary single teaching fields
  • Comprehensive middle level or secondary teaching fields
    • English language arts
    • General science
    • General social science
    • Career and technical education teaching fields
  • P-12 programs
    • visual arts
    • dance
    • choral
    • instrumental music
    • languages other than English
    • physical education
    • theatre
    • special education except for early childhood special education and collaborative special education teacher K-6 or 6-12).

Class A Professional Educator Certificate on the Master’s Degree Level

Available for:

  • leadership (formerly educational administration)
  • library-media
  • school counseling
  • school psychometry
  • sport management

Alabama Professional Educator Certificate Requirements

Here are the requirements you'll need to become a teacher in Alabama.

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited senior institution
  • Completed application for Professional Educator Certification
  • Passing score on the Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program
  • Passing score on the Praxis II subject assessment
  • Fingerprinting and criminal background check

In addition, here are some checklists to help you determine the requirements for your particular area of teaching.

Education Requirements

Receiving an Alabama teaching certificate requires a bachelor's degree or more advanced degree. It is preferable that your degree is in education or a field relevant to your area of interest for teaching. If you do not meet these requirements, here are the best online education degree programs, which will allow you to work while attaining your ultimate goal of becoming a teacher in Alabama.

Basic Skills Assessment

In order to become a teacher in Alabama, you must take and pass the Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP). The APTTP consists of the three sections: reading, writing and mathematics. The assessments measure foundational skills necessary for effectively performing the critical tasks required of prospective teachers. There is also an Alabama basic skills assessment study guide, which is highly recommended.

Subject Knowledge Assessment

In order to demonstrate proficiency in a particular subject area, you must take and pass the Praxis II: Subject Assessment series. These assessments are administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and approved by the Alabama State Board of Education. These tests measure your subject-specific knowledge and will qualify you to teach in a specific area. Therefore, you will need to take the specific test related to the area in which you plan to teach. Refer to this list of teaching areas and their corresponding Praxis test for more information.

Highly Qualified Teachers

The Southern Regional Education Board has set specific requirements for becoming highly qualified teacher. This applies to anyone who wants to become a teacher in Alabama. You may wish to take a look at the highly qualified teacher requirements for Alabama or the Alabama highly qualified teachers guidance and forms page. This will guide you through the specific requirements necessary for you, depending on the specific area and grade you'll be teaching. You may wish to read this page if you wonder what it means to be a highly qualified teacher.

Fingerprinting and Background Check

To become a teacher in Alabama, you are required to be fingerprinted for a criminal history background check through the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This can be done online through Cogent Fingerprinting Services. You must register online before arriving to be fingerprinted. The fee is $54.15 for Alabama residents. Out-of-state residents must submit fingerprint cards directly to Cogent Systems and pay $62.15.

Alabama Certification Reciprocity

Reciprocity refers to the ability to use credentials issued in one state in other states. If you take an educator preparation program outside of Alabama, it will not be recognized reciprocally. Nor will you be able to attain an Alabama Professional Educator Certification. In order to receive Alabama certification reciprocally, you must hold a valid professional certificate issued by another state, a U.S. Territory, the District of Columbia, or the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).

In other words, if you receive your degree outside of Alabama, you must become certified to teach in another state (probably the one in which you graduated), and then apply for an Alabama Professional Educator Certificate, in order to become a teacher in Alabama.

Alabama Alternative Teacher Certification

Troops to Teachers is a program that helps former military personnel start a second career as a teacher.

In addition, Alabama offers the following alternative options for becoming a teacher.

Alternative Baccalaureate-level Certificate

If you hold a bachelor's degree with the appropriate coursework and experience, you may qualify for this alternative pathway to become a teacher in Alabama. You must attain the following requirements:

  • Obtain a recommendation from your employing superintendent or headmaster
  • Attained at least a bachelor's degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Documentation of two years professional experience in the field to be taught, or 48 semester hours of study in the field to be taught

If you teach for three consecutive years while holding an alternative baccalaureate-level certificate, you may attain professional certification if you also meet the following requirements:

  • 12 semester hours of coursework
  • Passing score on national exams
  • All requirements are met before the expiration of the alternative certificate, and application is made within 1 year of expiration

Alternative Fifth-Year Program

Alabama offers an Alternative Fifth Year Program, which is a graduate teacher education program designed for aspiring teachers who have a Bachelor’s degree in any field other than education, but do not yet hold a teaching certificate. This Alternative route allows some graduate students to earn a Master of Arts degree in education, while simultaneously completing their Teacher Preparation requirements for an Alabama Class A Teaching Certificate.

The intent of the Alabama fifth-year program is to offer a graduate teacher education program that allows prospective teachers who already have a Bachelor's degree in a field other than education to attain a Master of Arts in education while completing their teacher preparation requirements. Following a review by the Alabama State Board of Education, a Professional Teaching Certificate is granted once you have attained the following requirements:

  • Recommendation for certification by the College of Education
  • Completed a preplanned graduate program, approved by the state board of education, that includes a master's degree
  • Present to the Alabama Department of Education evidence of successful and appropriate teaching experience

Preliminary Certificate Approach

The employing superintendent or headmaster may request a preliminary certificate for the fields of school counseling, library-media, and speech and language impaired. To qualify, you must hold a degree in the particular field. For counseling, you must hold a masters degree and licensure is required. For library media, a masters degree is required. And for speech and language impaired a bachelor's degree is required.

The preliminary certificate is valid for two years, and after verification of two years full time experience, a professional educator certificate may be issued.

Emergency Certification

Emergency certification may be issued if you hold a bachelor's degree and your employing superintendent or administrator makes a request in cases of emergency when an individual with an Alabama teaching certificate is not available. It is valid only for the school year and cannot be renewed.

Become a Substitute Teacher

If you have a college degree but don't qualify for a teaching certificate, you may consider becoming a substitute teacher in Alabama. You may substitute teach while you attain your teaching credentials through an accredited online program.

Teaching Jobs in Alabama

Alabama is one of the few states that has a centralized website for you to find teaching positions in Alabama. It's called Teach in Alabama and it will allow you to:

  • Have a single electronic application that will be reviewed and evaluated by every school district in the State of Alabama
  • Search for teaching and administrative jobs within Alabama
  • Create a new online application
  • Update your electronic application at anytime or select to apply to new vacancies
  • Have a single application that will be seen by every school district in the State of Alabama

Other Information on Becoming a Teacher in Alabama

The Alabama State Board of Education recommends teachers join the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to help advance the quality of teaching and learning by developing professional standards for accomplished teaching.

Resources for Teacher Certification in Alabama

Alabama State Department of Education
Teacher Education and Certification Office
5201 Gordon Persons Building
Post Office Box 302101
Montgomery, AL. 36130-2101
Telephone: (334) 242-9977
Fax (334) 242-0498

Interested in how to become a teacher in another state? Return to the How to Become a Teacher main page, or click on one of these neighboring states below.