How to Become a Teacher in Alaska
Alaska public schools require a teaching license. Learn more about how to become a teacher in Alaska and the career outlook for educators.
Updated June 10, 2022
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Alaska's largest school district enrolls more than 49,000 students, while its smallest has just 23 students. The state's 10,000 educators instruct young learners and college-bound seniors. Alaska requires a teaching certification to work in the state's public schools.
Prospective educators can follow many paths to become a teacher in Alaska. Many enroll in a bachelor's in education program, which includes teacher preparation components. Alaska's online colleges also train teachers. Educators in other states can relocate to Alaska. And professionals considering a career change into teaching can return to college for a teaching degree.
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Ready to start your journey?
Alaska offers certification options for each of these pathways. Our guide offers a step-by-step view of how to become a teacher in Alaska, including the career outlook and in-demand endorsements.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Alaska?
Teachers at Alaska's public schools must hold a teaching certification. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development issues credentials to teachers that meet the state's requirements. In Alaska, licensed teachers must hold a bachelor's degree and meet educator preparation requirements.
Alaska issues multiple forms of certifications. The state issues initial teacher certificates, initial/program enrollment certificates, and initial out-of-state certificates for educators. Licensed teachers also qualify for higher-level teaching certification in Alaska. The next sections walk through how to become a teacher in Alaska.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
Alaska teachers must hold at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for certification. The state accepts bachelor's degrees in any major from an accredited institution. In addition to a bachelor's degree, teachers must complete an approved educator preparation program. Candidates also complete mandatory training programs offered through the state.
The minimum education requirements for teaching in Alaska include:
- A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
- An approved teacher preparation program
- Four mandatory trainings
Educators with a bachelor's degree can also qualify for an initial/program enrollment teacher certificate. This certificate, designed for people currently enrolled in a teacher preparation program, allows educators to teach at Alaska public schools while meeting the educational requirements.
Alaska also requires college-level coursework in Alaska studies and multicultural education. Teachers can complete these requirements after receiving their initial certification.
Gain Student Teaching Experience
Most states require student teaching experience to apply for a teaching license. Alaska also requires student teaching experience. However, the state does not set a minimum number of hours of supervised experience. Instead, candidates complete an educator preparation program that includes student teaching. Approved teacher training programs in Alaska meet this licensure requirement.
In addition to student teaching experience, candidates must complete mandatory training. The state requirement includes training on sexual abuse awareness and prevention and alcohol and drug-related disabilities. Other trainings include dating violence awareness and prevention and suicide awareness and prevention.
Pass Required Certification Tests
In Alaska, educators must pass a basic competency exam and a content area exam. Alaska accepts many tests for the competency requirement, as long as they include reading, writing, and mathematics. The accepted exams include the ACT or SAT, the GRE, and several state teacher competency tests.
Alaska's certification exams include:
Candidates for teaching certification in Alaska must also pass content area exams. Alaska accepts Praxis II tests. The approved exams include elementary, middle school, and secondary exams. Applicants can add endorsements by taking additional exams.
Apply for Certification
Alaska grants different certifications depending on the teacher's circumstances. For example, after completing certification exams and an educator preparation program, new teachers apply for an initial teacher certificate.
The state also issues initial out-of-state teacher certificates to educators licensed in other states. Educators complete Alaska state requirements, including coursework in Alaska studies.
Educators with a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution qualify for an initial/program enrollment teacher certificate. This certificate allows educators to work at Alaska public schools while completing a teacher preparation program. The Department of Education and Early Development typically reviews applications within 2-6 weeks.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Alaska?
Alaska uses a system of certificate levels for teachers. Educators new to the state or the profession apply for an initial teacher certificate. The certificate remains valid for 1-2 years, depending on the educator's qualifications. The state issues one-year renewals for educators completing additional licensure requirements. In some cases, candidates must complete Alaska studies and multicultural coursework to qualify for renewal.
At the end of the initial certificate period, teachers apply for a professional teacher certificate. The certificate requires two years of teaching experience. The certificate remains valid for five years. Board-certified teachers also qualify for a master teacher certificate, which remains valid for ten years. Educators must complete six credits of coursework to renew their certificate.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Alaska
Alaska teachers benefit from a strong career outlook. The state's teacher salaries sit above the national average. For example, high school teachers earned a median salary of $62,870 nationwide in May 2020. Alaska reported an average high school teacher salary of $75,790.
The job outlook varies by location. The University of Alaska Fairbanks reports that larger cities and more accessible locations tend to experience less turnover than more remote areas. Teachers who complete their training in Alaska are most likely to work in major cities like Fairbanks and Anchorage. Rural and remote districts may offer more open positions. Teachers who return to grad school to complete a master's degree often benefit from a higher earning potential.
More positions are in demand in Alaska compared with education careers in other states. For example, the state has included social studies and English/language arts teachers on its list of high-demand positions in recent years.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Alaska
Social Studies Teacher
Social studies teachers cover subjects like history, geography, civics, and economics. They encourage critical thinking and communication skills through document analyses and research papers. While most states do not list social studies as a shortage area, Alaska recently reported a shortage in the field.
Average Annual Salary: $49,500
English/Language Arts Teacher
English/language arts teachers educate young learners in reading comprehension and literacy skills. At the secondary level, they build close reading and analysis skills. English/language arts teachers encourage critical thinking and creativity. Compared with other states, Alaska has a greater need for English/language arts teachers.
Average Annual Salary: $50,900
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers teach children with disabilities. They modify lesson plans based on each student's abilities and needs. Special education teachers may specialize in autism spectrum disorders or gifted education. Alaska offers special education endorsements for communication disorders, cognitive impairments, hearing impairments, and early childhood special education.
Median Annual Salary: $61,500
Math teachers educate students in algebra, geometry, statistics, and calculus. Most math teachers work at the secondary level, where they may teach many subjects and grades. Some math teachers may work at the elementary level. In Alaska, math teachers apply for a mathematics endorsement on their teaching licenses.
Average Annual Salary: $51,400
Science teachers instruct learners in earth sciences, biology, chemistry, and physics. They typically teach at the middle school or high school level. Science teachers might cover multiple classes at different grade levels depending on the school. Alaska offers endorsements in several science fields, including general science, geology, life science, zoology, and environmental science.
Average Annual Salary: $48,760
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Alaska
How do I get teaching certification in Alaska?
Educators can apply for teaching certification in Alaska through the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree and complete an educator preparation program. While the state does not set a minimum number of student teaching hours, candidates must meet experience requirements. Alaska also requires a competency exam and a content area exam for a teaching certificate.
Educators apply for a different certificate depending on their circumstances. The state offers certificates for out-of-state teachers, people currently enrolled in educator preparation programs, and professionals undergoing teacher training in Alaska.
Can I teach in Alaska without certification?
Like many other states, Alaska requires a teaching certification for jobs in public schools. The state's 10,000 public school teachers hold certification, which they renew regularly. However, private schools may hire teachers without certification.
In general, public school teachers earn higher salaries. For example, public high school teachers earned about 5,000 more per year than those teaching at private schools in May 2020.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Alaska?
Teachers must meet several requirements to qualify for jobs in Alaska. The entire process takes a minimum of four years. Educators must hold a bachelor's degree in Alaska, which typically takes four years. After completing a bachelor's degree, graduates who did not major in education or teaching can enroll in a teacher preparation program.
Once candidates meet the educational requirement, they must pass a basic competency exam and a content area exam. Educators can then receive their initial teaching certificate. This certificate remains valid for 1-3 years. Then, educators apply for a professional teaching certificate.
What can I do with teaching certification in Alaska?
Teaching certification qualifies educators to work in Alaska public schools. Elementary, middle, and high school teachers at public schools must hold a certification issued by Alaska.
As part of the certification process, educators pursue endorsements in their teaching area. For example, Alaska offers teaching endorsements in science, math, world languages, and fine arts. The state also offers a unique endorsement in Alaska native studies, which includes options in Aleut language and culture and Inupiaq language and culture. Teaching certification plus an endorsement prepares educators for public school jobs in Alaska.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Alaska?
In many states, the Department of Education issues substitute teacher licenses. However, Alaska does not offer a state-wide substitute teacher certification. Instead, Alaska's 54 school districts set their own procedures to hire substitutes.
Depending on the district, substitutes may need a bachelor's degree. Some districts only require a high school diploma. Substitutes may also need to complete training through the district before teaching. In some districts, long-term substitutes must hold a teaching certification issued by the state.
Because the requirements vary widely, prospective substitutes in Alaska should contact their local school district for more information.
Feature Image: Jon Feingersh Photography Inc / DigitalVision / Getty Images
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