How to Become a Teacher in Alabama
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Editor & Writer
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Students interested in pursuing a teaching career in Alabama must meet the academic and licensure requirements established by the Alabama State Department of Education. Like other states, students wanting to teach in K-12 settings must go through the steps to secure a valid teaching license.
For prospective learners interested in online colleges in Alabama or curious about what it takes to return to college to earn a teaching degree, they can find invaluable information and tips regarding education degrees and state-specific certification. Continue reading to learn how to become a teacher in Alabama and begin a career in this growing field.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Alabama?
The Alabama State Department of Education offers various pathways for students and professionals to secure their teacher certification and begin their careers. For many individuals, the traditional path involves completing a state-approved undergraduate program that covers the coursework and hands-on learning that prepares students for certification exams. Upon completion, students receive their Class B Professional Educator Certificate.
For individuals already holding a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching discipline, completing an approved education master's degree qualifies them for Class A certification. Alabama offers several paths for certificate reciprocity for out-of-state educators and provides an uncomplicated transition for experienced educators.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
For individuals interested in teaching in Alabama, the minimum education requirements begin with earning an undergraduate degree in education. Students must receive a bachelor's degree in education from a regionally accredited institution. Additionally, their institution's education program must hold programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Students pursuing a four-year education degree must graduate with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Throughout their academic tenure, degree-seekers complete coursework that coincides with their specialization area: early childhood education, K-6 education, and secondary education. In addition to standard classroom learning, students gain hands-on experience through student-teaching and internship opportunities.
Continue reading to review a list of standard minimum education requirements in Alabama.
- Bachelor's degree in education
- Minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA
- Master's degree in education
- Student teaching
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Gain Student Teaching Experience
Student teaching provides education students with essential hands-on training where they can put theoretical knowledge into practice. The state of Alabama requires that degree-seekers complete two types of field experiences: an approved student-teaching opportunity in a closely supervised setting, and a semester-long, full-time internship in the teaching area that the student is pursuing.
During the student's full-time internship, they tackle teaching duties periodically, and for at least five consecutive days before the end of the experience. For degree-seekers pursuing more than one area of specialization, the student must complete an internship in each area.
Pass Required Certification Tests
Before securing their teaching certification in Alabama, students must pass their Alabama certification exams. The specific examinations depend on the student's particular degree, specializations, and career goals. Determined by the Alabama Certification Assessment Program (AECAP), students first complete the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Tests—this test evaluates an individual's competency in reading, writing, and mathematics.
Additionally, candidates also complete tests specific to their grade level and subject area. The subject-specific tests cover over 80 unique disciplines including diverse topics such as languages, economics, agriculture, and geography. Students have access to various Praxis test preparation materials including study guides, test plans, and interactive practice tests.
Apply for Certification
Upon successful completion of their teaching degree and certification examinations, students can apply for teacher certification in Alabama. This process begins with completing a background check through both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI). Students must complete an online application and submit fingerprints through the Alabama Applicant Processing Services portal.
Continue reading to review the application materials required for teacher certification in Alabama.
- State and federal background check with application, fees, and fingerprints
- Submit a completed application to the Alabama State Department of Education
- Official academic transcripts
- Test scores through Praxis and Alabama Educator Certification Testing Program
- Recommendation of Certification from academic program
- All associated, non-refundable fees
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Alabama?
Working teachers in Alabama must maintain active and valid teaching certification. Teachers must renew their certificate every three years and meet various continuing education requirements. Before their active teaching certificate expires, teachers must complete an application and submit all required information, fees, and documentation.
Teachers in Alabama have various options to satisfy their continuing education and professional development requirements. This can include three years of full-time teaching experience along with 50 hours of professional development or three-semester credits of coursework. Teachers not meeting the full-time teaching requirements can complete 100 hours of professional development or secure National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Alabama
According to official employment data published by O*NET OnLine, the job outlook for elementary, middle school, and high school teachers is modest. All three teaching career areas are only expected to grow by 3% between 2018-2028. When compared to national numbers for all occupations—about 8% growth over that same decade—job growth for teachers in Alabama is relatively flat, but population growth may boost demand for certified teachers.
Additionally, census data reveals that Alabama's population grew by over 5% since 2010, pointing to a potential need for teachers if the state's population continues to grow. Average teacher salaries in Alabama hover just over $50,000 annually. For those interested in graduate school and pursuing a master's in education, their earning potential can offer expanding career options.
While Alabama's average teacher salaries fall short of the national average, educators working in larger areas like Birmingham and Huntsville can often earn higher salaries.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Alabama
Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher
These professionals traditionally work with students from Kindergarten to 5th grade and utilize training and certification to teach young learners foundational topics including science, math, reading, and writing. In addition to preparing students for the academic requirements of middle school, these teachers prioritize the development of social and emotional skills.
Median Annual Salary: $60,660
Middle School Teacher
Typically working with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, middle school teachers traditionally teach specialized areas rather than the more holistic approach of elementary teachers. Focusing on academic areas including math, science, English, and social sciences, these professionals develop lesson plans, prepare students for standardized tests, and evaluate student progress.
Median Annual Salary: $60,810
High School Teacher
Like middle school teachers, high school teachers utilize their training in individual subjects and prepare their students for college and life after high school. These professionals teach in areas including non-English languages, psychology, and STEM areas. Some high school teachers also oversee AP classes that introduce students to rigorous coursework similar to the college experience.
Median Annual Salary: $62,870
Career and Technical Teacher
Career and technical teachers primarily work in high school and vocational school environments and promote the vocational and technical skills that can translate into a post-high school career. Areas of specialization include automotive mechanics, cosmetology, culinary arts, and carpentry. These professionals utilize their technical competencies to teach and evaluate student progress.
Median Annual Salary: $59,140
Special Education Teacher
These professionals utilize their academic and hands-on training to offer compassionate and effective teaching to students with various learning, emotional, and physical disabilities. Special education teachers work with fellow instructors, families, and students to develop individualized educational plans (IEPs). These teachers assess students on an individual basis and establish goals, monitor progress, and continuously evaluate and update IEPs.
Median Annual Salary: $61,500
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Alabama
How do I get teaching certification in Alabama?
For individuals interested in securing their teaching certification in Alabama, they must take a series of steps. One of the most common paths involves completing an accredited bachelor's degree in education with both classroom-based and hands-on training. Graduates must complete a state and federal background check and pass all required exams before applying for certification.
While earning a bachelor's degree in education is a popular path, students holding an unrelated undergraduate degree also have a clear path towards certification through a master's program. For educators outside the state, check with Alabama's certificate reciprocity guidelines.
Can I teach in Alabama without certification?
Underscored by federal guidelines, any person interested in teaching in Alabama must hold valid and active teaching certification through the Alabama State Board of Education. That said, these guidelines apply to public schools--individuals teaching at private, charter, and religious schools can sometimes sidestep certification based on the institution's hiring policies.
Earning a bachelor's in education offers a clear pathway to teacher certification and provides future educators with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to optimize the classroom experience.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Alabama?
For first-time teachers without a bachelor's degree, the process to become a teacher in Alabama takes around four years. Students tackle general education coursework, advanced teaching theories, and gain hands-on experience through student-teaching and internship opportunities during their four-year undergraduate program.
Upon graduation, education students typically prepare for various certification exams that cover general education and their areas of specialization. Once the education graduate successfully passes their required exams, they can apply for their teaching certification in Alabama.
What can I do with teaching certification in Alabama?
Earning teaching certification in Alabama gives individuals the professional approval to teach in the state. A student's academic training prepares them with the skills and knowledge required for their selected grade level and area of specialization. Before earning certification, prospective teachers demonstrate their aptitude through examinations in their specialty area.
As a result, the academic and practical training for high school teachers is markedly different from that of future special education instructors. For individuals interested in teaching in multiple areas, they must pass the applicable exams for each area.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Alabama?
For those interested in becoming a substitute teacher in Alabama, the guidelines and requirements differ substantially from standard teaching requirements. Prospective substitute teachers must hold a high school diploma and receive a substitute license upon the recommendation of the hiring school district. Similarly, substitute teachers must pass a state and federal background check.
Potential substitute teachers should note that school districts may have unique requirements. Additionally, it is common for school districts to have a sliding pay scale that favors individuals with college degrees or relevant experience and certifications.
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