If you're interested in earning a teaching certificate, several options exist to help you achieve this goal. Note, however, that some requirements for teacher certification vary from state to state.
Many teachers obtain their teaching certificates by enrolling in a teacher education program at a college or university. Undergraduates and graduate students can participate in university licensure programs. You may have to take the Praxis I exam before entering your teacher education program. However, many programs waive the Praxis I requirement if you submit a sufficiently high SAT or GRE score.
If you enroll as an undergraduate education major, you will take classes in your content area(s) as well as classes on educational theory, curriculum design, and instructional practice. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can enroll as a graduate student in a joint Masters of Education plus licensure program. Once admitted to the MEd. plus licensure program, you will also take classes on educational theory, curriculum design, and instructional practice. However, you may have to take undergraduate courses in your content area(s) if a university evaluation of your undergraduate transcript indicates you don't meet state requirements for licensure in your content area(s).
Whether you enroll in a teacher preparation program as an undergraduate or graduate student, you will have to decide the content area(s) and grade levels you want to teach. Colleges of education typically offer certification in early childhood/elementary education, middle childhood education, special education, and secondary education. Areas of concentration for these grade levels include math, science, social studies, and language arts. Middle childhood programs allow for dual certification in two areas of concentration, while secondary education programs provide certification in one area of concentration.
In addition to taking classes, you will have to perform student teaching to obtain your certification. This involves a short placement for either one quarter or one semester in a classroom within the grade level of your certification. You will follow up this short practicum experience with a year-long internship in a school that will also be within the grade range of your certification, but may not be the same grade level as your practicum.
After completing your coursework and student teaching, you need to take and pass the principles of learning and teaching Praxis II exam for your grade range (early, middle, or secondary). You will also need to take a Praxis II exam in your content area(s) if you studied middle childhood or secondary education.
Some teachers obtain their certification through alternative means. Research the specific state in which you hope to teach to determine the options you have for pursuing alternative certification in that locale. For instance, the state of Kentucky lists 8 paths you can take to pursue alternative certification: exceptional work experience, a local training program, college faculty, adjunct instructor, veterans of the armed services, university-based alternative route, institute alternative route, and the Teach for America alternative route.
Study your options, and select the best route for you for earning your teaching certificate. Whichever path you choose will lead you to a rewarding career in education.