How Long Does It Take to Get a Teaching Certificate?

  • A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification for teachers in the US.
  • Teachers can choose from different types of certificates.
  • It takes 4 to 7 years to become a teacher.
  • For teachers who move from one state to another, there is a possibility of transferring certifications.

Having a teacher certificate is a must for everyone with the ambition to become a teacher. The process for acquiring this certificate depends on the state and its regulations, and it involves a college degree in teaching or a major in the chosen subject, internship and various teacher training programs.

So if you’re wondering, “How long does it take to become a teacher?” we have the answer in the following article.

The Basics of Obtaining a Teaching Certificate

The teacher certification process isn’t very complicated if you consider the importance of the teaching profession. A person can become a teacher either by obtaining a university degree in teaching or by enrolling in a teacher preparation program.

The teacher certificate confirms that a person possesses the essential skills and qualities to perform a teaching job. The time it takes to get a teaching certificate depends on the candidate’s education and motivation, i.e., the wish to become a teacher is what fuels the whole process.

Education and Degree Requirements

Math teacher

As we mentioned, the certification process depends on the state and its educational regulations, with each state having its teacher certification procedures. You need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as a basic qualification requirement for teachers in the US. It takes about 4 years to become a teacher before you can start your career in teaching.

In some areas, high school graduates are allowed to finish the Bachelor’s degree program and the teacher preparation program simultaneously. High school and elementary school teachers in some states may be required to major in one of the subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, history, etc.

Different Types of Teaching Certificates

The type of teaching certificate depends on what the teacher plans to teach and at what grade. If a scholar decides to get an elementary school certificate, they can only teach in elementary schools. So if, after some time, they realize that teaching high school is what they want, they will have to go through the whole certification process again.

Another important aspect of deciding is the teaching subject. Future teachers need to choose which subject they want to teach. Is it going to be English, French, mathematics or history?

They need to think about it carefully, and only once they know should they start the certification process. Hence, answering the question, “How long does teacher certification take?” would depend on several things, including the certificate and the subject.

How to Prepare for a Teacher Certification?

Before everything else, as we pointed out, the future teacher needs to decide which certification path to take. This highly impacts the question, “How long does it take to get a teacher certificate?”

Every future teacher has to go through theoretical preparation and, after that, some in-class teaching experience. It is a challenging and expensive process. There will be books, tuition and a lot of exams, but children deserve highly educated and skilled professionals to guide them.

So if you know the subject you want to teach and the certification, you can start preparing by reading some materials, trying some online preparatory courses or similar activities. This will give you the first push toward getting the wanted teaching position.

The Certification Process

a teacher discussing her lessons

The certification process covers the following stages:

  1. Bachelor’s degree program or other teacher training
  2. In-class teacher experience with a teacher mentor
  3. Exams and tests

The first two years of the educational program focus on general education and theoretical knowledge. In addition to the general subjects, students are required to complete some lower-level courses in education during the first two years at university.

The senior year is the time when students gain their teaching experience and prepare for real teaching in the classroom. The first semester during the final year is when students are placed in the classroom with a teacher mentor as part-time teachers. They start teaching full-time during their second semester in their final year of studies.

Timeframe for Obtaining a Teaching Certificate

As we mentioned, it will take at least 4 years to become a teacher. Getting a Bachelor’s degree in teaching usually takes about that long.

But if you choose the alternative path, know that it can take 6 or 7 years—4 years to earn a Bachelor’s degree, then 1 to 2 years of work experience and 1 year of teacher preparation before you can become a certified teacher.

Alternative Routes to Certification

Asian graduate woman

Earning a Bachelor’s degree is one way to obtain a teaching certificate and be eligible to teach in schools across the US. As we previously said, students acquire general knowledge, and in the last year of their studies, they start teaching in the classroom supervised by a teacher mentor.

The other way for college graduates to acquire a teacher certificate is with one year of professional experience and a one-year teacher preparation certificate program. This second route is a good choice for professionals who have prior work experience in a different field but want to pursue a career in teaching.

Reciprocity and Transferring Certifications

Certification reciprocity is the process of transferring teaching certifications from one state to another. Teachers decide to move for different reasons, and this is where certification reciprocity helps them.

Some states sign interstate contracts for teacher certification. According to these agreements, comparable certification requirements, such as a Bachelor’s degree or passing certification tests, are verifiable for transfer. Sometimes, educators will need to pass some additional tests before they are eligible to teach in their new state.

Advantages of Obtaining a Teaching Certificate

Obtaining a teaching certificate can be the first step to a teacher’s career advancement. The main advantage is that the certificate helps teachers increase their earning potential. Also, it opens a lot of doors and work opportunities for the teacher by making them a more competitive candidate.

What’s more, throughout the whole certification process, teachers may learn something new that they previously didn’t know. Finally, a teaching certificate doesn’t have a due date, meaning that you can change a career, and if that doesn’t suit you, you can always go back to teaching.

Final Words

How long does it take to get a teacher certification? The most precise answer to this question would be 4 to 7 years. For those choosing the traditional path of getting a Bachelor’s degree in teaching, it will take 4 years to become a teacher. But if you choose the alternative path, then get ready to spend 6 to 7 years in the teacher certification process.

Whichever option you choose, remember that determination and motivation are the most important ingredients for success in getting a teaching certificate.

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