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A career as a teacher has many perks. Many teachers work only nine to 10 months out of the year and are still paid a full year's salary. They also receive extended time off during the Christmas holidays and may even be excused from work because of inclement weather. Teachers generally receive excellent benefit plans also. Becoming a teacher involves obtaining the right level of education and becoming certified to teach in your area of specialization. For those holding a degree in a field not normally offered in high school, like psychology, alternative certification can provide you with a viable path to a teaching license.
Decide what field or age group you would like to teach outside of the psychology field. Elementary schools and secondary schools do not offer courses in psychology, so you will need to find a field that works well with your background in psychology. Psychology majors have keen insight into the behavioral patterns of people. If you have taken courses in child psychology or development, that can assist you in working with children of any age. If you have an academic minor that can be taught in the public school system, you might be able to fall back on that as your field of instruction.
Take additional courses in the area you intend to teach or obtain a master's degree. Doing this will shore up any deficiencies you have in that area and will look good on your resume when you submit it to the state's education department. Take courses online if you need to keep working while you attend school. If you decide to obtain a master's degree, you can pursue a master's degree in education or the subject you plan to teach.
Gain experience by teaching courses at the community college level. If you obtain a master's degree, you can teach courses for a community college or even a technical school to gain some perspective on classroom management and the learning styles of students. One year or even just one semester of teaching at the college level can help eliminate some of the supervised teaching experience you may be required to acquire as part of the alternative certification process.
Apply for alternative certification through your state's department of education. Alternative certification is a process whereby you can obtain your teaching certificate by taking an examination over the subject matter and meeting any additional requirements mandated by the department of education. Additional requirements may include the completion of additional coursework in teaching theory and legal and ethical issues in education.
Pass your certification exams. Once you have been determined eligible to sit for the exams by the state, you can take the exams to determine whether or not you can teach. Some states will require as many as three different certification exams. Check with your state board of education to determine what exams you will need to take. Aside from an exam testing your knowledge of the subject matter you will be teaching, you will likely take exams on teaching theory and professional skills needed for teaching. Once you have passed your exams, the state will issue your certificate so that you can begin teaching.
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Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.