Teaching is a valuable profession that shapes today’s children for tomorrow’s opportunities and helps equip them to successfully navigate life as adults. When you teach, you get to experience the satisfaction of making a difference in others’ lives.
It’s an exciting time to be a teacher in Alabama. The state legislature has recently taken aggressive action to improve teaching in the state in math and science, offering significant financial incentives of up to $20,000 a year to attract new talent. No one goes into teaching for the money, but it is great to have the financial support you need to devote all your attention and energy to your students.
Before you can find a place to serve in public school classrooms in Alabama, however, you need to be certified. If you visit the Alabama State Department of Education website looking for information about the process, it can seem a little overwhelming. Our goal here is to give you a clear overview of the process and point you toward helpful resources with more information.
The Certification Process
There are four basic parts of the process of getting certified to teach in Alabama. Here is an overview of each one.
Enroll in a teacher education program
The path to becoming a teacher begins with learning. You will need to have completed at least a bachelor’s degree in a program approved by the Alabama State Department of Education. These programs will give you instruction in the principles of teaching and allow you to specialize in a particular subject matter, like math or history, for secondary school teaching.
Note that the specifics of each program will differ, including the subject areas they cover. Carefully consider the area of teaching you’d like to pursue and make sure the program you’re applying to offers it. The state collects information about the performance of students from each program, which can be a helpful reference as well.
Gain classroom experience
As part of the university program in which you enroll, you’ll also be required to spend some time in the classroom. This will include a student teaching internship where you’ll have the chance to put what you’re learning into practice in a supervised environment.
Alabama currently requires those applying for certification to pass two kinds of tests. The first is called Praxis Subject Assessments, which are designed to test for both general teaching skills and subject-specific knowledge. If you want to be certified to teach math, for instance, you’ll need to pass a Praxis test in that subject area.
The other assessment Alabama requires is the Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). This test is given at the end of your college program in education. It is an evaluation of a portfolio of your work that you create during your student teaching internship. The aim is to verify that you have the skills necessary to effectively teach in an actual classroom setting.
Depending upon the area of teaching you wish to pursue, you may also need to pass the Foundations of Reading test.
Apply for certification
The Alabama State Department of Education is responsible for certifying teachers. Upon successful completion of your degree program, your institution will recommend you for approval to the Department of Education. You will need to make sure you have completed the above components, submitted your official transcripts, and completed a few other items like a background check. You can dig into the details on the state’s site.
Coming from out of state?
The process sketched above assumes you are going to be (or are in the process of) pursuing teacher education in Alabama. However, what if you are from out of state and are interested in becoming qualified to teach in Alabama?
You’ll first need to be certified in another state. For most states, that will mean going through a similar process as that described above, including earning a bachelor’s degree, participating in an internship, and passing examinations.
Assuming you are already certified in another state, you will need to provide this certification along with official transcripts for all your coursework.
There are a few other possible routes to certification in Alabama that are less common but may apply to you. You can find complete details in the Overview of Alabama’s Educator Certification Approaches.
Take your next step with Athens State
If you have already completed some college coursework but are still early in your journey towards certification, Athens State can be a great place for you to finish your degree. We built our programs to help you make the most of your existing credits in a flexible and supportive environment.
The College of Education offers bachelor’s degree programs leading to certification in a number of areas of focus in both elementary and secondary education. We’ve helped hundreds of other students get started in the rewarding vocation of teaching.
If you’re interested in exploring your options, see the programs we offer or request more information.