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What are the Different Types of Educator Certification?

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  • Written By: T. Webster
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2018
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Educator certification comes in a variety of levels or areas and pertains to either teachers or administrators. Teachers often are certified to teach a specific grade level or subject. Administrators typically are certified to perform a specific role, such as that of a school principal or of a superintendent who oversees an entire district or group of schools.

Certification provides a way to verify that teachers or administrators have the specific skills and knowledge needed to do their jobs. It also helps provide some uniformity in training and skill level. Certification can be done nationally or by locale.

Educator certification typically is earned through a degree or coursework, along with a written exam or series of exams. Skills tested and required for teachers include classroom management, current teaching techniques and a high level of competence and understanding in the subject that they are teaching. An administrative certification emphasizes leadership in instruction and managing the overall school and employees.

For some teachers, an emergency certification is available. An emergency certificate means that a teacher does not yet meet the requirements but plans to do so within a certain amount of time. Often, emergency certification is done in areas of high demand such as math, science or instructing students who have special educational needs. An emergency educator certification typically is not given if a school has a strong pool of candidates who already are certified.

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Teachers can be certified to teach early childhood classes or in an elementary school, middle school or high school. Generally, educator certification in the upper school levels is done by subject area. Additionally, teachers can be certified to teach gifted students or students with various learning or physical difficulties. Typically, teachers must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and a certification to continue working long-term in a school.

Administrator certifications include training to work as an assistant principal, principal or district superintendent. These positions generally require at least a master’s degree in addition to the certification. Superintendents oversee the general overall operations of the entire district, and they often have a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in addition to a certification.

Certification programs might require a certain grade point average, prior degrees and experience before entry into a program. Educator certification programs generally take place at colleges or universities. Some of the programs also are available through online schools. Some school systems will pay for part or all of an educator certification program.

Generally, a certification program must be accredited or otherwise demonstrate that it meets certain standards. Public schools often will not honor a certification that is not from an accredited institution. In some areas of the United States, for example, it is even required that parents who home school their children must be certified.

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