How to Be a Teacher

Methods to Get Certified to Teach

Portrait of a Professor. Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/ Photodisc/ Getty Images

So you want to be a teacher? This is a great profession when chosen wisely. In the United States, each state has a different method for teacher certification. In general, however, you will need to get a bachelor’s degree, typically in either education or in the subject matter which you are planning to teach. Most states require advanced training of some sort and in most cases a passing grade on a certification exam. In some cases when the need is extreme, a state will institute alternative means of gaining certification.

Following we will look at the requirements for two states to see the differences in how you can get certified depending on the state. This will also give you a general taste of what might be required before you become a teacher. The exact process will differ by state so please check with your state's certification information to learn more.

Becoming a Teacher in the State of Florida

The method of certification for teachers in the state of Florida depends on the credentials and experience of the person involved. There are different tracks depending on whether you graduated from an approved program, a non-approved program, an out-of-state program, or a program outside of the United States. Here is the track for someone who is a new teacher candidate graduating from a Florida college.

  1. Determine if your program was approved by the state through the Florida Teacher Education Website.
  2. If the program was approved, then you must take the Florida Teacher Certification Examination (FTCE) and pass all three portions.
  3. You will receive a Professional Florida Educator’s Certificate if you have graduated from an approved program and passed all three portions.
  4. If your program was not approved or you did not pass all three portions of the FTCE, you will be granted a 3-year temporary certificate giving you time to complete any additional required coursework and pass the three portions of the exam.
  5. Once this is determined, you must complete an application and pay a fee, which is currently $75.00.
  6. Once completed, you will be mailed an “Official Statement of Status of Eligibility.” This will either say that you are eligible or you are not eligible to be granted a temporary or professional certificate. However, you will not receive your certificate until you get a job teaching for the state. If your statement says you are not eligible, it will list steps you need to take to become eligible before being allowed to be employed as a teacher.
  1. You will need to find a job and get your fingerprints cleared.
  2. You are given your temporary or permanent teaching certificate.

Becoming a Teacher in the State of California

Certification in California is different from Florida in a number of ways in terms of certification. There are two types of certificates in California: preliminary and Professional Clear Credential. The first is only valid for 5 years. The second is renewable after five years. Following are the steps to getting a preliminary credential:

  1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university
  2. Complete a teacher preparation program including student teaching
  3. Meet basic skill requirements by passing either the CBEST or CSET examinations or a basic skills exam from another state.
  4. Either pass a subject matter competency test (CSET/SSAT or Praxis) or complete an approved single subject program to show subject matter competency.
  5. Complete courses in developing English Language skills, the U.S. Constitution, and computer technology.

Both of these states have a couple of things in common: they require a bachelor’s degree, they require a completion of some form of teacher preparation program, and they require the passage of specific exams. It is very important that you go to the website for the state teacher certification you wish to obtain and follow the steps closely before beginning your job search. There is nothing worse than going through the interview process and getting rewarded the job before realizing that you will not be eligible to teach until certain additional requirements are met.