What Education Do You Need to Become a Teacher?

A bachelor's degree is required to become a school teacher.
A bachelor's degree is required to become a school teacher. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Teachers are responsible for instructing students and helping them to learn. All states have minimum education requirements to become a licensed teacher. You must have a bachelor’s degree to teach. The degree should include education courses as well as courses in the subject you will teach. Enrolling in a degree specifically designed to help you become a teacher will help you meet your education requirements.

Education Specific Courses

States require that teachers have a specific number of courses focusing on educational theory and classroom management. The amount varies slightly from state to state, but if you qualify for a license in one state it should transfer to another state. People interested in becoming a teacher with a bachelor’s degree without an educational endorsement may qualify for an alternative license. The alternative license allows the person to teach while enrolled in educational theory classes required by the state. An elementary alternative license candidate may be required to complete a set number of education classes before teaching in a classroom.

Elementary Teachers

Elementary school teachers must take a wide variety of classes to teach. Elementary school teachers must complete teaching reading and writing classes as well as a variety of classes on art, history, science and math. These classes are geared towards teaching younger children and can be intensive.

Secondary Teachers

Secondary teachers must have a degree in the field they want to teach in or at least 18 credit hours to qualify for an endorsement in another field. For example an English teacher should have a degree in English. If she wanted to teach history as well, she must have 18 credit hours in history before she can teach that subject as well. Endorsements are also available for teaching ESL, gifted children or special education children. The endorsements require additional classes and testing.

Continuing Education Requirements

Teachers are required to complete in-service training or continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses each year. The amount varies from state to state. Generally districts offer free training the teachers can sign up for, but there are also workshops at universities over the summer that will meet the requirements. Coursework for a master’s degree or other college classes to get an endorsement may count, but you should check to make sure the class will count towards your required hours, since some non-education credits may be required for your degree, but do not meet the qualifications for your training.

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