So you've decided to go in to teaching. No matter what type of teaching you hope to get in to, there are certain things you will need to do to become a certified teacher. These things will vary from state to state and according to what you're going to teach, but this practical advice will get you started. The last step is devoted to those who already have college degrees who wish to change gears and go in to teaching.
Steps To Becoming a Certified Teacher
Plan on going to college if you are in high school. If you are already in college, find out through a career counselor what courses you need to take to be certified for whatever you hope to teach. With few exceptions, you need a college degree to become a certified teacher. A few guidelines: if you intend to teach elementary, you need to take "methods" classes. Those classes are methods to teach all of the major subjects: English, math, social studies, and science since most elementary teachers teach more than one subject. If you intend to teach secondary students, you will probably need to acquire a major in education and another in whatever field you intend to teach in. Going in to special education has different criteria.
Take part in a pre-internship sometime during your first year or two of college. Most colleges require this though it may be called by a different name depending on where you are. A pre-internship will put you inside a classroom as an observer. It will give you the chance to see what you'd be facing as well as talk to teachers and students so you can determine if you are doing the right thing by going in to teaching. If you are already a professional and are changing careers, you can work out your own pre-internship through a local college or at the school itself.
Complete an internship. Most colleges require that you complete an internship prior to graduating. An internship will allow you to teach in a classroom under the guidance of a professional teacher who can help out and give suggestions. An internship will teach you things you cannot learn in a classroom and prepare you for real teaching.
Take the certification tests required by your state and apply for certification as soon as you are able. This way, if you find out you are in need of assistance to pass the test or in need of a class or two that you didn't take, it isn't too late to take care of it prior to or right after graduation.
Call the state department of education or visit the local school board where you hope to teach if you are a college graduate hoping to change careers. Many places have special programs just for you! You may be able to start teaching right away. The school board will probably require that you take a few college courses each year until you are ready for certification. They may even allow you to skip classes here and there to get you certified faster. It depends on how badly they need teachers.
If you are attending college in one state but are intending to teach in another state, take the time and make sure you are taking all of the courses you will need for certification in your state. Your college career counselors may not know for certain when it comes to criteria of other states. It is your responsibility to make sure you are covered.
Do not move from one state to another and assume that your certification will automatically follow you. That will be the case in some areas, but many states require that you take additional classes or workshops before you are eligible for certification in their state.