Alternative teacher certification is for those individuals who have completed a traditional four-year certification program through an accredited university. These individulals may have have a bachelor's degree in an area other than education and possess expertise in a given profession or field about which they plan to teach. According to the National Center for Alternative Certification, one-third of new teachers hired in 2009 in the United States became licensed through an alternative teacher certification program.
Each State Has Its Own Procedures
In 2010, 48 states and the District of Columbia offered alternative teacher certification. Alaska and Oregon are the only exceptions. There are an estimated 136 state-defined alternative teacher certification programs in the United States. In 1985, for example, there were only 275 people who became licensed to teach through alternative teacher certification programs. By 2009, that number has mushroomed to 59,000.
Leading Alternative Certification States
New Jersey, California and Texas lead the pack when it comes to alternative teacher certification, according to the National Center for Education Information. Roughly 40 percent of the new teachers in New Jersey in 2010 were licensed under an alternative teacher certification program. Texas and California reported that 33 percent of their new teachers came from alternative certification programs.
Alternative Teacher Certification Fulfills a Need
Alternative teacher certification is widely accepted in areas that experience teacher shortages, especially in the subject areas of bilingual education, math and science. Alternative teacher certification programs generally take one to two years to complete with a two to four month internship. In Texas, for example, to achieve alternative teacher certification at an institute of higher learning, you would need to complete 120 to 140 college level hours, pass the TexES/ExCET exams (state exam), have field experience and complete an application for certification.
Overview of Alternative Teacher Certification
The aim of alternative teacher certification is to recruit and train as teachers those with talent and experience, and who have earned a bachelor degree. Those in alternative programs often have had previous careers in fields other than education. Candidates must pass screening, testing, interviewing and demonstrate exceptional knowledge in their field. An alternative teacher certification program may include fieldwork, internship and mentoring. All participating states have their own standards for alternative teacher certification. Some states have as many as five alternative teacher certification programs.