Certification is usually granted by the state board of education or a state certification advisory committee. You may seek certification to teach:
- early childhood (nursery school through grade 3)
- elementary (grades 1 through 6 or 8)
- special subjects
- special education (kindergarten through grade 12)
A college major in education is not necessary in order to teach. There are several avenues toward certification.
A typical 4 year college degree with a major in education will prepare you for certification. Some states require that education students seek an additional content major, effectively completing a double major. Check with your college for more information.
Post-College Specialization Program
Post-collegiate programs for people who hold a bachelor's degree and wish to become certified to teach. These often are one-year programs or may be part of a master's program.
Enter a master's program in education (with or without a prior education degree) and you can earn teaching certification. Getting a masters degree in education isn't absolutely necessary to becoming a teacher, but some schools require that you either have one or are on your way to getting a master's in education or some specialty subject within a certain number of years after being hired. A master's degree is also the ticket to a career in school administration. Many teachers choose to work toward a master's after they've already been teaching for a few years.
When teachers are hard to come by, states can issue emergency credentials to college graduates who want to teach but who have not yet met the state's minimum requirements for regular credentials. These are given under the pretense that the teacher will eventually take all of the required courses for valid certification (so the teacher must take classes outside of work while they are teaching). Or some states offer intensive programs over a period of months.