How to Become a Teacher in Georgia
Learn how to become a teacher in Georgia and what it takes to earn teaching certification in Georgia.
Published on April 5, 2022 · Updated on April 26, 2022
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Ready to start your journey?
People interested in teaching in Georgia can do so by meeting requirements set by the state's governing educational body. To teach at any public K-12 school in the state, educators must hold valid and active teaching certification.
Whether looking into the best online colleges in Georgia or thinking about going back to college to earn a teaching degree, prospective students can find various resources about the education and certification processes. Keep reading to learn how to become a teacher in Georgia and how jobs for these professionals are projected to grow between 2018-2028 in the state.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Georgia?
People looking to become a teacher in Georgia must complete several steps, as outlined by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). This process typically starts with completing a state-approved teacher preparation degree.
Georgia issues many types of certifications. People just entering the profession receive an induction certificate but can advance to the professional certificate after three years of teaching. The state maintains different certification processes for those educated in Georgia and those looking to transfer their teaching certification to the state.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
People considering teaching in Georgia must earn at least a bachelor's degree to seek certification. The GaPSC, the governing body of licensure in the state, does not require applicants to hold a degree in their related teaching field (if planning to work in secondary school settings). But they do need to meet content assessment requirements.
That said, students must attend a teacher preparation program approved by the state. The GaPSC provides a list of approved programs leading to certification to help prospective learners pick an acceptable option. When looking at any program, learners should ensure it leads to initial educator certification. The Commission also provides the Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy for those looking to become Georgia educators with degrees in fields outside education.
Gain Student Teaching Experience
As part of their teacher preparation program, students must participate in a student teaching experience in an approved primary or secondary school. These experiences require a semester of full-time student teaching under the supervision of a licensed teacher. Before starting the experience, students need their college to request a pre-service certificate.
During these experiences, students get to put theory into practice by learning how to manage classrooms. They also create and teach lessons, assign and grade projects and exams, and address social and behavioral challenges. In addition, they work with other educators and school staff. They learn more about their chosen grade level or content area.
Pass Required Certification Tests
The certification tests an aspiring teacher must pass depend on their chosen grade level and certification field. Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) provides a comprehensive list of required GACE assessments. Generally, students must pass the GACE program admission assessment and the GACE content assessment in their chosen area.
Learners can study this list of content assessments, as some areas may require multiple exams. For instance, a teacher looking for gifted-science concentration certification must pass exams in middle grades science, mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. In addition to GACE exams, applicants must pass the Georgia Educators Ethics Assessment.
Apply for Certification
First-time teachers in Georgia receive an induction certificate. To receive this certification, they must apply for a job at a Georgia-based school. After being hired, their new employer will apply for the certificate from GaPSC on their behalf. To apply for the certification, students must supply several documents, including:
- Official transcripts from a state-approved teacher preparation bachelor's degree
- Proof of completing a preparation program
- GACE passing scores on all required exams
- Completed certification application and nonrefundable processing fee
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Georgia?
The induction certificate remains valid for three years. From there, teachers apply for a professional certificate, which remains valid for five years. To work in public schools, teachers need an active and valid teaching certification issued by the GaPSC.
The GaPSC does not currently set any requirements around continuing education or additional coursework for renewing licenses as of March 2022. That said, some employers may provide mandatory continuing education as part of employment requirements.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Georgia
O*NET OnLine, a governmental website, projects jobs for elementary, middle, and high school educators to grow by 16% between 2018-2018. These figures exceed the national average, which sits between 7-8% depending on the grade level.
Teachers working in Georgia typically earn salaries around $60,000 annually. Those thinking about going to graduate school and earning a master's in education degree can often earn even more money. Other factors that impact teacher salaries in Georgia include experience level and location. Teachers living in Atlanta typically make more than those in Macon, as it costs more to live in a large city.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Georgia
Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher
Typically working with children from kindergarten through fifth or sixth grade, these teachers educate learners on foundational subjects such as math, reading, science, and writing. They prepare students for middle school studies. They also teach social and emotional skills such as sharing and interacting with other students.
Median Annual Salary: $58,710-$61,290
Middle School Teacher
Middle school teachers usually work with students from sixth to eighth grade and focus on teaching individual subjects. They develop lesson plans and teach topics and use assessments to see how well students understand the material. They also communicate with other teachers, staff, and students' families to provide updates on their progress.
Median Annual Salary: $61,150
High School Teacher
High school teachers teach grades 9-12. These teachers focus on preparing students for entering the workforce or attending college after high school. They teach individual subjects at an advanced level and sometimes lead AP classes. They also provide guidance on life after school and may write recommendation letters for jobs or universities.
Median Annual Salary: $61,930
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers work with students with emotional, learning, intellectual, or physical disabilities that affect their ability to learn. They develop individualized educational plans (IEPs) based on assessments and skill levels, track their progress, and set goals. In addition, they liaise with other educational professionals to keep IEPs updated and accurate.
Median Annual Salary: $60,750
Career and Technical Teacher
Whether working in high school or vocational schools, career and technical teachers educate students on technical and vocational skills that directly relate to jobs. Whether teaching mechanics or cosmetology, these teachers develop lesson plans and provide assessments to make sure students progress through the material.
Median Annual Salary: $60,100
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Georgia
To earn teaching certification in Georgia, students must complete various steps. These include completing a state-approved teacher preparation plan, participating in a set amount of student teaching, passing all required exams, and applying for certification.
In addition to the traditional certification path, the GaPSC also provides alternative paths for people with bachelor's degrees in unrelated subjects or those who currently teach in another state but want to transfer their credentials to Georgia.
Any individual looking to teach K-12 studies in a public school must hold certification through the state. This federal standard applies to all states. That said, teachers who plan to work in private or charter schools may be able to bypass this step, depending on individual schools' requirements.
Teachers considering the private or charter pathway should review the hiring requirements of individual schools. Some may require candidates to have previous teaching experience. To gain this experience, applicants may first need to get certified and teach in a public school.
The process of becoming a first-time teacher in Georgia typically takes just over four years. Full-time teacher preparation bachelor's degrees take four years to complete and include the semester-long student teaching component as part of the curriculum.
After graduating, students must prepare for the required subject, grade level, and other examinations required by the certifying body. After passing all these exams, they can begin applying for teaching jobs. Upon being offered a job, the school will apply for an induction certificate on their behalf.
Individuals who hold teaching certification in Georgia can select from various occupations at different grade levels and in different subject areas. That said, students must pass exams based on their chosen specialty area.
If an individual first thinks they want to teach kindergarten and takes those exams only to find they want to teach high school, they will need to complete the examination process again. That said, many teachers in Georgia possess certifications in many areas, allowing them to apply for many different teaching jobs.
To work as a substitute teacher in Georgia, applicants must hold at least a high school or GED diploma and pass a background check. They may also need to participate in a special training session about substitute teaching. While these are the state minimums, individual districts may set more requirements.
When considering substitute teaching opportunities, note that some districts offer scaled pay based on the level of education an applicant holds and whether they possess any relevant certifications. Individuals seeking long-term substitute teaching positions may need to seek state certification.
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