There are many types of teacher accreditation and the types available can even vary widely within a single country. Typically, state or provincial governing bodies determine individual requirements for each particular teaching accreditation. In the US, each state sets its own standards. In order to become licensed teachers, most candidates must pursue post-secondary education and demonstrate an understanding of both a particular subject matter as well as teaching practice.
Some teaching credentials are differentiated by the grade level to be taught. For instance, teachers may pursue accreditation to teach in primary or elementary school, the middle grades, or in high school. Those who choose to teach the youngest children generally must have a broad basis of knowledge to conduct lessons in many subjects. Those who choose to teach older kids may specialize in only one subject, like a particular foreign language or mathematics.
Other teaching credentials are differentiated by specialty. In the US, one can earn credentials as a reading specialist, special education teacher, or school counselor. Some subjects, such as physical education or art, are not taught daily, and teachers in those areas may work with students from many grade levels rather than just working with one age group.
In most countries, potential teachers must earn an undergraduate degree in order to pursue a teaching license. Many countries also require coursework in education in addition to the general undergraduate degree. This coursework can sometimes be a part of the undergraduate degree, as is common in the United States, or it may be post-baccalaureate. In England and Canada, for instance, most teachers complete education coursework after finishing the undergraduate degree.
Sometimes potential teachers are selected through a civil service test, in which case they must meet a benchmark for skills and knowledge before their formal training begins. This is true in France and India, for example. In other countries, though, candidates may not have to pass tests for teacher accreditation until after their training. Either way, it is common for the governing bodies that confer teacher accreditation to require a test to establish candidates' fitness to teach.
Some US states and provinces have developed what are called "alternate routes" to teacher accreditation. These programs generally allow potential teachers who already have bachelor's degrees to become certified teachers without having to complete traditional undergraduate education programs. Both the alternative and traditional programs include aspects of education, testing, and teaching observations. Most US teachers become accredited via the traditional route.
Once teacher accreditation standards have been met, new teachers are often expected to complete supervised teaching practice in order to earn their final credentials. For instance, US teachers become "student teachers," meaning that experienced teachers observe them and assist them in growing into competent professionals before they are permitted to teach on their own. This is true in other countries as well. In Scotland, for instance, teachers are not considered fully accredited until they have satisfactorily completed 270 days of teaching.