Teaching Certifications: Types and Recommendations

Private and public school teachers who want to meet state criteria and advance their careers obtain teaching certifications. A teaching certification, student teaching hours, and passing a test prescribed by the state education administration are typically required for teaching certification. You can better prepare for your teaching profession by becoming more informed about the various certification pathways and the many teaching certification specialties accessible to instructors.

In this post, we outline the process of becoming a certified teacher, discuss the value of doing so, and outline nine teaching certification specialties that prospective teachers might choose from.

What are teaching certifications?

Teachers who want to work in public schools must receive a teaching certification or license, which is a requirement of the majority of state education authorities. Some private schools only hire qualified teachers, even though licensing is normally not a prerequisite for private-school teachers. The Department of Education in each state has different teaching certification specializations and requirements.

There are various routes an aspirant teacher can take to become licensed. The conventional route entails obtaining an educational degree and passing the test required by the applicable state.

To become certified, candidates with degrees in other disciplines must pass the state exam, complete a program leading to a teaching certificate, or hold a master’s degree in education. Together with filling out application forms, registering requires you to provide background investigation information.

Why is a teaching certification necessary?

All public educators must be certified to uphold the educational requirements set forth by the state’s education authority. Courses for teaching certification promote effective methods for instructing students of any age. The teaching certification procedure establishes guidelines for the educational setting.

Teachers can advance their careers by earning credentials. It guarantees that kids attending public schools can anticipate receiving instruction of the same caliber no matter which school they attend in a given state.

Different categories of teaching certifications.

Even though the specialties that are accessible for teaching certification vary according to the state, some teaching certification specialties are available everywhere. A teacher can opt for the following standard teaching certification specializations and additional specialized areas:

Popular teaching certifications

Upon obtaining an education degree and applying for teaching certification, teachers select a particular area. The alternatives for typical teaching certifications are as follows:

1. Elementary education

There are many different subject specialties among elementary school instructors. They are experts in all four of the core disciplines taught in elementary schools—English, science, math, and social studies—and are generalists. Elementary teachers often teach all topics, therefore teaching certification exams for them places a strong emphasis on general knowledge as well as lesson preparation and classroom management techniques.

A solid understanding of the most recent innovations and procedures in preschool education is also guaranteed by elementary education teaching certification.

2. Early childhood education

Standards and procedures for teaching children aged three to eight are covered in coursework and exams for certification in the field of early childhood education. This teaching certification confirms that teachers serving in this role are aware of the important experiences and early childhood experiences that children go through both inside and outside of the classroom. The value of play in a student’s education is also recognized by an early childhood certification.

3. Special education

Teachers who have completed special education teaching certification programs are qualified to work with children who have behavioral or emotional disorders, speech or hearing impairments, and a variety of learning difficulties, including autism. Instructors who follow this path might learn about teaching strategies that help these remarkable children succeed despite their learning challenges. A master’s degree in the field of special education is often required for this certification in certain states.

4. Secondary education

Secondary teaching certification is required for educators who work with middle- and high-school pupils. Secondary education instructors, in contrast to early childhood educators, are subject-matter experts (SMEs) who are certified in their majors. A teaching license endorsement can be added if the applicant is qualified to instruct a second subject.

Secondary school teachers can focus on a range of other disciplines in addition to the traditional ones like math and English, like:

  • Technology
  • Music
  • Art
  • Theater
  • Languages
  • Journalism
  • Health and Fitness
  • Agriculture

Further recommendations

Specializations can be added to a teacher’s teaching license. An endorsement can help a teacher grow in their career and open up new chances because it shows that they have additional skills and knowledge. Further details regarding these credentials are provided below:

5. Reading specialist certification

Teachers can specialize in reading with the help of this qualification. These experts assist kids in developing their ability to read and write. They work with kids in group settings and also provide one-on-one instruction for students who need more help with their reading. Moreover, reading experts may offer literacy coaching to educators who want to advance in this field.

Many courses concentrating on reading skills, reading development, and reading issues may be required for teaching certification. Typically, teachers who want to become reading specialists earn a master’s degree.

6. Education for the gifted and talented

Supplementary expertise that instructors can add to their teaching license is gifted and talented education (GATE). States have different requirements for GATE certification. In certain states, instructors just need to finish the GATE course, but in others, passing an extra exam may be necessary. Classes on teaching methods, curriculum differentiation, and program creation for gifted students are frequently found in GATE programs.

7. American sign language (ASL) teaching certification

American Sign Language (ASL) is taught in schools by ASL instructors. Deaf Education programs are available for educators who want to work with deaf or hearing-impaired students. State-specific criteria vary but often involve earning a bachelor’s degree with a certain number of ASL credits, completing a teacher preparation course, and taking a test.

Moreover, the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) certification is accepted in several states.

Alternate routes for obtaining a teaching certification

If they are unable to do so or would choose not, teachers may also pursue other teaching certification paths. Here are some alternatives:

8. A different teaching certification

Applicants can finish courses at a college or some other academic establishment if they already have a degree in another field and want to become certified teachers. These courses cover best practices, classroom organization, educational standards, and educational philosophy and methodology. They frequently have a hands-on element where trainee teachers can gain useful classroom experience.

The teaching certification tests taken by candidates who choose this route to certification are the same tests taken by candidates with degrees in education. Governments and test preparation companies provide resources to aid future teachers in preparing for these extensive exams.

9. National Board certification

Public school teachers can demonstrate their proficiency by obtaining an optional National Board Certification. Due to the demanding process required to get this teaching certification, education professionals and parents appreciate National Board Certification as a sign of expertise.

A teacher’s capacity to effectively manage a classroom, understand pedagogical principles, and mentor and evaluate pupils is demonstrated through the teaching certification process’ four components. The four key parts of this certification are listed below:

  • Content expertise
  • Differentiation
  • Environment for learning and teaching
  • Effective and thoughtful practitioner

How Much Does a Teacher Make?

Teachers are important workers who are employed in a range of places, such as schools that are both public and private, and at various educational levels, such as high school and primary school. The location, subject, and age group that a teacher teaches are only a few of the variables that affect their pay. It’s critical to be knowledgeable about the pay ranges available at the most typical sites where instructors work if you’re thinking about a career in education.

What is the typical teacher’s salary?

According to the Indeed salaries website, the average yearly wage for a teacher employed in the United States is $26,193. The number of years of expertise, where they work, and geographic location all have an impact on the yearly salary of instructors. For instance, teachers in New York City reported earning an average of $54,084 per year, whereas those in Illinois, and Chicago, reported earning a similar amount ($31,650 annually).

Several teachers also earn benefits in addition to their yearly wage. The following are typical teacher benefits, though they may differ depending on where they work:

  • Referral programs
  • Childcare
  • Life insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Professional development assistance
  • Health insurance
  • 401(k) matching plans
  • Vision insurance
  • Maternity leave
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Paid time off
  • Work-from-home options
  • Paid sick time

Average teacher pay per year by state

The average annual earnings of teachers, according to the state in which they reside, are listed below. The salaries listed below were generated using Indeed data specific to states:

  • Alabama: $23,479 annually
  • Alaska: $33,383 annually
  • Arizona: $46 350 annually
  • Arkansas – $22,355 annually
  • California: $36,343 annually
  • Colorado: $30,232 annually
  • New York: $32,517 annually
  • Delmarva: $25,229 annually
  • Florida: $23,869 annually
  • Georgia: $22,383 annually
  • Hawaii – $28,582 annually
  • Idaho: $24,351 annually.
  • Illinois: $31,343 annually
  • Indiana: $21,486 annually
  • Iowa: $22,844 annually
  • Kansas: $24,303 annually
  • Kentucky: $21,289 annually
  • Louisiana: $17,813 annually
  • Maine: $26,229 annually
  • Maryland: $30,260 annually
  • Massachusetts: $32,594 annually
  • Michigan: $25,433 annually
  • Minnesota: $28,824 annually
  • Mississippi: $19,281 annually
  • Missouri: $21,130 annually
  • Montana: $26,883 annually
  • Nebraska: $20,932 annually
  • Oregon: $29378 annually
  • Pennsylvania: $26,536 annually
  • Rhode Island: $30,342 annually
  • Carolina: $20,929 annually
  • South Dakota: $22,721 annually
  • Tennessee: $19,154 annually
  • Texas: $21,854 annually
  • Utah: $26,338 annually
  • Vermont: $27,707 annually
  • Virginia: $26,778 annually
  • Washington: $29638 annually
  • West Virginia: $19,945 annually
  • Wis.: $24,133 annually
  • Wyoming – $20,738 annually
  • Nevada: $26,541 annually.
  • New Hampshire: $35,055 annually
  • New Jersey: $28,892 annually
  • New Mexico: $52,636 annually
  • New York: $36,245 annually
  • North Carolina: $23,099 annually
  • North Dakota: $50,952 annually
  • Ohio: $22,582 annually
  • Okla: $18,730 annually

Private schools pay their teachers more per year than public schools.

Together with the state in which they work, a teacher’s salary may differ depending on whether they are employed in a public or private school system. The following are some significant variations in pay between instructors in private and public educational institutions:

Working conditions

It is helpful to have more knowledge about the two work settings to comprehend the pay disparity between teachers in public and private schools. An establishment that is owned by a charitable organization is a private school. Private schools provide instruction at all grade levels, including primary, middle, and high school. Private schools can provide education at all three levels, while others only offer one level.

Institutions financed by the government include public schools. Since the public education system provides schooling for all ages, students can probably enroll in one from kindergarten to high school. Depending on the institution and the teacher’s qualifications and experience, public school teachers may instruct at any educational level or even at multiple levels.

Salary evaluation

The average remuneration for teachers in public school systems is typically higher than that of teachers in private schools. The necessity of employment and the prerequisites for a license are just two of the many elements that affect this salary difference. For employment, public school teachers must hold a current teaching license, while private schools are not required to do so.

Comparing the annual teacher salaries for primary and secondary levels

Whether a teacher works in an elementary school or a high school affects their pay as well. Another name for elementary school is primary school. Many schools use the term “elementary school” to describe first through fifth grade. Some institutions offer kindergarten, while others offer primary school levels that cover grades six through eight. High school is sometimes referred to as secondary school. The ninth through twelfth grades are frequently referred to as high school.

The average salary for primary or elementary school teachers in the US is $48,094. The majority of teachers at primary schools rotate across several courses with their students each day. Students are introduced to a variety of abilities and expertise in these grades, laying the groundwork for the more advanced instruction they will get in high school. In the US, high school teachers make an annual salary of $51,363. Most teachers in high school focus on one subject, like science or Language.

Four Steps to Becoming a Teacher

Teaching may be a fulfilling and exciting profession. If you want to work with young people or kids, you probably have a lot of compassion and empathy in addition to your desire to become a teacher.

What do teachers do?

The main responsibility of a teacher is to instruct students in one or more disciplines, frequently using well-structured lesson plans. To achieve this, teachers must carry out any or all of the daily responsibilities listed below:

  • Develop and present efficient lesson plans
  • Assess student work and provide parents and students with recommendations.
  • Control the supply of the classroom
  • Establish and enforce rules in the classroom
  • Educate kids in preparation for mandatory exams
  • Organize activities with administration, employees, and other educators.
  • Discover several teaching strategies to improve effectiveness.

How to enter the teaching profession

Good teachers go above and beyond the call of duty to instruct their charges. They not only motivate and inspire pupils in the classroom but also other facets of their lives.

If you want to make a profession out of teaching, you should think about taking these four steps:

1. Get a bachelor’s degree

For a teaching job, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree at the very least. You have the option of majoring in the subject you want to teach, educational studies, or both.

Those who want to become teachers frequently choose one of the following undergraduate majors:

Early childhood development

Teachers in early childhood education gain experience working with children up to the age of eight while studying theories of child development. You can use this degree to get ready to teach elementary or primary school. Also, you can be qualified for non-teaching jobs like education administration.

Secondary school

Teachers who hold a secondary education degree are qualified to work with pupils in middle and high school in both public and private institutions. Depending on the state where you teach, further teaching certification can be needed.

Specialty instruction

A special education degree is necessary if you wish to work with kids who have special needs. This program offers teachers specialized training that equips them to meet the needs of pupils who have developmental or learning disabilities.

Physical education

This degree emphasis is required for teaching positions that involve physical education (PE), including coaching athletic activities in a school context. This group includes school dietitians, sports managers, and physical education teachers.

Education administration

Educators who have administrative degrees in education frequently take on research or administrative positions. You can major in school administration and start along that professional route if you know this is what you want to do.

2. Get some classroom experience

In the realm of education, practical experience is crucial. Typically, college students gain classroom experience through an internship at a school or after graduation. Before completing their teaching certification exam, teachers must complete a predetermined amount of hours in the classroom as a supervisor in a learning environment.

Once you’ve had some experience teaching, think about your interests and skills and look into state criteria to assist you to determine where you want to work as a teacher. The grade level, subject, and location of a teacher’s classroom, as well as the kind of school they teach in, are all determined by their professional path.

3. Get a teaching certificate.

To start the process of getting a teaching license, study your state’s standards for teaching certification. The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core), the Praxis Subject Assessments, and the Praxis Curriculum Knowledge for Teaching Assessments are the three Praxis examinations that most states want candidates for teaching positions to complete to obtain a license. Some states additionally mandate the Praxis Principles of Teaching and Learning, which must be taken about halfway through your academic career.

Graduation-based teaching certification is typical, with distinct certificates being issued for the following categories:

  • Kindergarten to third grade
  • First to sixth grade (or first through eighth)
  • Grades seven to twelve

The majority of states provide alternate licensure alternatives if you hold a university degree in an area other than teaching. These programs enable aspiring educators to get started teaching right away while being closely supervised by an established educator. A full certification will be granted to the individual following the satisfactory conclusion of the alternative course.

To obtain your state license, you might need to apply to the state Department of Education, pass tests, or complete extra classes.

4. Continue your schooling.

After gaining classroom experience, teachers frequently want to advance their education to increase their compensation. To keep their state certification, all teachers in public schools must fulfill a set number of hours in continuing education courses. As instructional strategies and content continue to advance, career development courses are becoming widely available.


Obtaining a bachelor’s degree and completing certification examinations typically requires four years of experience to become a teacher. Depending on whether you already hold a degree when you decide to pursue teaching, the amount of time will differ.

Frequently Asked Questions about teaching certifications

  • How do you become a certified teacher?

Since the Department of Education in each state oversees the certification procedure for teachers, the processes may differ. For the most part, education majors begin their careers with the undergraduate study. Students complete student teaching tasks in various classes and grade levels connected to their chosen field of study.

Students who are almost ready to graduate sign up with the state to get a temporary teaching certification while they await the outcomes of certification exams that cover basic knowledge, subject matter knowledge, and professional educational standards. Those who want to get an alternative certification usually enroll with the state, then attend alternative certification workshops and state exams.

  • Is obtaining a teaching license the same as receiving a teacher certification?

Teachers obtaining the qualifications to be employed by public schools and maybe some private institutions must go through the same process, which applies to both certification and licensing. It’s helpful to become acquainted with the phrases used in your state to define the procedure for teachers to obtain the necessary credentials.

  • Is it possible to teach without the need for a certification?

Without obtaining a state-issued or another type of certification, you could earn a living teaching. While charter and private schools might not adhere to comparable standards, teachers in public schools must get state certificates in their field of study or grade level. It’s important to know that the majority of schools demand that teachers hold the necessary licenses.

Those who have been in their area for a long time and want to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of learners frequently elect to transition into teaching, gaining alternative credentials or teaching in charter or private schools without the need for certification.