How do I get Elementary Certification?

Dan Cavallari

Obtaining elementary certification will involve coursework and real life teaching experience, as well as several other steps that differ depending on the state or country you live in. Most people looking to obtain elementary certification can go down two different paths: either they can work toward a bachelor's degree in elementary education from a college or university, which generally includes all the testing and paperwork required to become a teacher, or they can enroll in a teacher training program that fulfills coursework and testing in a post-graduate setting. Regardless of which path you choose, a few things remain the same: you will need at least a bachelor's degree, and you will need to research the state requirements for obtaining elementary certification in your state.

Obtaining elementary certification will require teaching experience.
Obtaining elementary certification will require teaching experience.

Some colleges and universities offer specific degrees that grant graduates an elementary certification. These degrees cover all the coursework necessary to prepare a candidate for the teaching profession, and at least one year of that program is usually partially dedicated to getting the candidate into a classroom as a teaching assistant. The candidate will work with a certified teacher to gain real experience in the classroom, to develop effective lesson plans, and to get used to the classroom environment and the expectations placed on a teacher. At the end of the program, the candidate will take all the necessary testing involved with gaining elementary certification.

Lesson planning is a typically covered in teacher training programs.
Lesson planning is a typically covered in teacher training programs.

Other candidates who have obtained a bachelor's degree in an area outside of teaching can still obtain elementary certification. Teacher training courses are available at many colleges and universities, and they are specially designed to cater to people who have a degree in another area besides teaching. Such training courses will cover most topics pertinent to the teaching profession, and more specifically to elementary education. This may include lesson planning, special education programs, state laws, and so on. Such training will also include required testing and certification paperwork.

One last way to obtain elementary certification is to take courses required by the state you live in. Most school district websites will have teacher certification applications, which will spell out the specific requirements a candidate must fulfill to become a teacher. You can research these requirements and enroll in specific courses you may need to complete certification and testing; requirements and testing vary from state to state, so be sure to research carefully. Once you have fulfilled the requirements — and sometimes while you work on the requirements — you can apply for a provisional certificate that will get you in the classroom even sooner. Such a certificate only lasts for a year, in which time you must complete all requirements for teaching certification.

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