There are generally three types of teacher certification programs that qualify educators to work in classrooms. These teacher certification programs include traditional college-based certification programs, bachelor's degree or master's degree university degrees in education science, or alternative teacher certification programs. Each teacher certificate program has specific guidelines set forth by the state or regional education boards, depending on the subject area to be taught, the types of schools, and how critical a region needs teachers.
A majority of teachers decide to attend traditional college teacher certification programs. These programs involve four years of formal classroom education combined with training in a school where the teacher in training assists certified teachers. This allows teaching students to learn advanced skills that will enable them to be become more effective teachers upon completion of the program. It also provides insight concerning student learning styles, working with special needs students, and critical subject area opportunities.
In some cases, a teacher candidate will want to focus on getting either a bachelor's degree or master's degree in education and then apply independently for various teaching jobs in local schools. In most regions, a bachelor’s degree plus 18 credit hours in a specific topic area is adequate to obtain employment as a teacher, while in other areas, a master’s degree is a requirement. Once this is completed, candidates can apply for teacher certification programs and be approved to teach in area schools.
Another way to become a teacher is to apply to alternative teacher certification programs, which are available in most states and regions where there are teacher shortages. Alternative teacher certification programs allow working professionals to teach in the classroom while completing coursework designed to master teaching principles. This generally involves having one's background checked, passing subject area tests, and working in a school for a period of between two to four years. Once these requirements are completed, a teacher can apply for a teaching certificate. Certifications can be earned in many subject areas and age groups, such as elementary education, middle school, or high school.