How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas
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Becoming a teacher can lead to a rewarding career for those looking to educate and develop young learners into active members of society. Teachers are in high demand in Arkansas due to the state's current teacher shortage.
You must obtain certification to teach in Arkansas. This professional certification will also allow you to be considered for assistant principal and principal roles, though you may need to fulfill additional education and certification requirements. Arkansas teachers are also required to obtain certifications to teach specific grade levels and subjects.
The teaching certification process differs for in-state and out-of-state educators. Educators from another state that wish to teach in Arkansas must transfer their teaching certification in a process called certification reciprocity. Some school districts may help educators with this process.
The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification allows teachers from states with comparable certification requirements to be qualified to teach in Arkansas. For example, teachers from states that also require educators to have a bachelor's degree and licensure similar to the standard teaching license will be able to teach in Arkansas.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
Teachers in Arkansas must have at least a bachelor's degree. In order to receive a teaching certificate, applicants must complete an educator preparation program at either an approved Arkansas college or university or other regionally or nationally accredited educator preparation program.
Teachers must also complete a background check and pass the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching test. The Arkansas Department of Education requires teachers to score at least 172 in reading, 173 in writing, and 171 in math. Teachers that wish to become licensed in a particular subject must also pass the Praxis test in that subject.
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Gain Student Teaching Experience
A certification applicant will need to complete an internship with a mentor teacher, also known as a "cooperating teacher," which may last anywhere from twelve weeks to one school year. During field placement, applicants will be placed in a classroom with a mentor teacher based on their grade level and subject area preferences.
Pass Required Certification Tests
Teaching candidates must pass the Praxis I Core Academic Skills for Educators in reading, writing, and math. If candidates wish to teach a specific subject or grade level, they must also take the Praxis test in the corresponding area.
Apply for Certification
In order to obtain a teaching certification in Arkansas, candidates must first complete the application. The application includes a fee, and applicants will also need to send an official college transcript, Praxis score results, completed background check, and certification from their supervisors to prove they have completed initial licensure requirements in their teacher preparation program.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Arkansas?
In order to continue teaching in Arkansas and maintain an up-to-date license, teachers must submit an application for license renewal, consent to a background check, and have documentation of their completed professional development hours every five years. All teachers are required to complete a minimum of 36 hours of professional development a year. Professional development opportunities are often provided by the school district.
Teachers over the age of 62, retired teachers, or teachers that have made significant contributions to education can request a lifetime teaching license as long as they have a current or expired teaching license. There is no fee to apply for a lifetime teaching license, however, there is a $75 fee to renew your teaching license every five years.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Arkansas
There is a high demand for certified teachers and many teaching jobs available in Arkansas due to the current statewide teacher shortage. According to data from CareerOneStop, the median salary for an elementary school teacher in Arkansas is $48,490. Middle school teachers make a median of $50,270, while high school teachers earn a median annual salary of $51,310. CareerOneStop projects that teaching jobs in Arkansas will likely grow 6% between 2018-2028.
Teachers with a master's degree can expect to earn a higher salary than those with a bachelor's degree. Those teaching in Arkansas who wish to become principals are required to have a master's degree in educational leadership, education, or in their chosen subject area.
Sometimes school districts will help pay for advanced degree programs for educators, and sometimes master's program credits can count toward the professional development hours required by the district. Be sure to investigate these options if interested in pursuing additional education.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Arkansas
Early Childhood Teacher
Early childhood educators know that critical brain development happens during a child's first few years of life and can prepare Arkansas's youngest students for successful lifelong learning. Prospective early childhood teachers must pass the Praxis exam in that specialization.
Median Annual Salary: $31,930
Teachers of English as a Second Language
Teachers of English as a second language teach students who are not fluent in English to speak and write in English. These teachers are required to pass the Praxis exam for this specification and desired grade level.
Median Annual Salary: $55,350
Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers are able to educate students who have learning disabilities and other physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. These teachers must provide an inclusive learning environment for every student and be able to tailor lesson plans to a student's individual needs. To become a special education teacher in Arkansas, you must pass the Praxis content tests in special education for their desired grade level.
Median Annual Salary: $61,500
A secondary teacher teaches at the high school level and often specializes in a particular subject area. High school teachers must pass the Praxis exam in their specialization in addition to passing other foundational Praxis exams for becoming a teacher in Arkansas. Secondary teachers often earn slightly higher salaries than teachers at the elementary and middle school levels.
Median Annual Salary: $62,870
Education administrator jobs include principals and superintendents. These roles are a common next step for those with ample teaching experience. Teachers are often preferred candidates for these positions because the qualities of an exceptional teacher, such as leadership skills and an understanding of school structures, are required for administrator roles. Education administrators typically have a master's degree in education.
Median Annual Salary: $98,490
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Arkansas
How do I get teaching certification in Arkansas?
In order to get a teaching certification in Arkansas, you must have at least a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher preparation program, pass a background check, and pass the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching exam.
You may also need to pass additional Praxis exams in your areas of specialty, such as early childhood education, special education, or specific subject areas. Teachers in Arkansas must complete ongoing professional development to maintain their license.
Can I teach in Arkansas without certification?
You cannot become a full-time teacher in Arkansas without at least a bachelor's degree and teaching license. The only way to teach in Arkansas without any kind of certification is to become a substitute teacher. Becoming a substitute teacher requires either a high school diploma, GED certificate, or a bachelor's degree along with a background check.
In Arkansas, traditional substitute teachers do not need any additional examinations or certifications to be hired. Bachelor's degree holders can also become substitute teachers after obtaining a Professional Teaching Permit and completing 40 hours of pedagogical training.
What can I do with teaching certification in Arkansas?
A teaching certification in Arkansas will allow you to become an educator in your desired grade level and subject matter and qualify you to become an education administrator, such as a principal or superintendent.
There are many different teaching certifications that you can obtain if you wish to teach a specific grade level or subject. For example, if you wish to teach high school chemistry, you will need to pass the Praxis exam in that subject area.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Arkansas?
There are two ways to become a substitute teacher in Arkansas: you can become a traditional substitute teacher or obtain a professional teaching permit to teach a specific subject. Traditional substitute teachers must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and pass a background check in order to start teaching.
To obtain a professional teaching permit and teach the subject matter of your choice, you must have at least a bachelor's degree in the subject you wish to teach and complete 40 hours of training within the first year you wish to start substituting.