How to Become a Teacher in Oklahoma

Teaching in Oklahoma public schools requires certification. Our guide walks through the steps for how to become a teacher in Oklahoma.

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by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published on March 24, 2022 · Updated on May 3, 2022

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How to Become a Teacher in Oklahoma

Oklahoma teachers educate children in language arts, math, science, and state history. From Tulsa and Oklahoma City to the state's rural school districts, educators need a teaching certification to work in Oklahoma public schools.

Teaching in Oklahoma is a rewarding profession. Before looking for teaching jobs, you must understand how to become a teacher in Oklahoma. Educators must meet certain requirements and pass three certification exams to qualify for certification.

Prospective teachers can meet the requirements in several ways. Oklahoma's top online colleges offer educator preparation programs with the flexibility of a distance learning format. The state also recently passed an initiative to pay student teachers during their training. And professionals considering a career change into education can go back to college for a teaching degree.

How Do I Become a Teacher in Oklahoma?

In every state, teachers must hold a state-issued certification or license to work in public schools. In Oklahoma, the state's Department of Education issues teacher certifications.

Candidates for a standard certification must hold a bachelor's degree and complete an educator preparation program. Whether educators receive their degree in Oklahoma or another state, they can earn a teaching certification in Oklahoma.

After meeting the education requirements, passing three exams, and applying for certification, educators receive a valid credential for five years. The following sections lay out how to become a teacher in Oklahoma.

Meet Minimum Education Requirements

Like other states, Oklahoma requires a bachelor's degree to earn a teaching certification. The traditional certification path requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with an approved teacher education program in the candidate's certification area.

Candidates with a bachelor's degree who do not complete a teacher preparation program follow the alternative certification path. Oklahoma offers many certification routes for those with a bachelor's degree and no teacher training. The Alternative Placement Program places candidates in Oklahoma schools. The CareerTech Instructor Certification allows career and technical education teachers to earn credentials.

Graduates from approved teacher education programs in Oklahoma follow a different process than those educated outside of Oklahoma. Out-of-state candidates must provide proof of a bachelor's degree that meets Oklahoma's requirements.

Gain Student Teaching Experience

In Oklahoma, prospective educators typically gain student teaching experience during their bachelor's degree. The state does not set a minimum number of hours of teaching experience for traditional applicants. However, certification requires classroom experience. Applicants either meet this requirement through their undergraduate program or during an alternative pathway.

In Aug. 2021, Oklahoma's Department of Education announced a plan to pay Oklahoma undergraduates for their student teaching hours. Under the initiative, student teachers will receive up to $3,250 for their training. Student teachers must be enrolled in an Oklahoma educator preparation program.

Pass Required Certification Tests

In Oklahoma, teachers must pass three exams to receive certification. These tests measure general knowledge, pedagogical skills, and subject area knowledge. Oklahoma's required certification tests include:

The Office of Educational Quality and Accountability administers certification exams for teachers in the state. The Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators provides additional information on OGET and OSAT exams, including study materials and scheduling information.

Some tests allow online proctoring, meaning candidates can take the exam remotely, including from their home.

Apply for Certification

Educators who meet the certification requirements submit their applications online. Graduates from approved teacher education programs in Oklahoma use the Oklahoma Educator Credentialing System to upload their materials.

Candidates with teacher training from another state submit an application with official transcripts showing their bachelor's degree. People with an out-of-state teaching certificate also fill out a proof of teaching form.

All candidates undergo a fingerprint background check during the certification process. A standard certificate costs $50. Applicants also pay a background check fee. Oklahoma reports a 4-6 week processing time for teacher certification applications.

How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Oklahoma?

With teaching certification, Oklahoma educators can work in the state's public K-12 schools. However, the certification remains valid for five years. At the end of that period, educators must renew their certification.

Educators renew their certification through the same online portal used to issue credentials for state graduates. Alternatively, educators can submit an Application for Renewal of Oklahoma Standard Certificate to the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Oklahoma charges a $50 fee to renew a standard certificate, which remains valid for five years. Retired teachers pay the same fee to renew their certification. Candidates with a certification that has been expired for more than a year must complete a new background check.

Career Outlook for Teachers in Oklahoma

Oklahoma teachers benefit from high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, high school teachers, middle school teachers, and elementary school teachers will add a projected 234,500 new jobs nationally between 2020-2030. With Oklahoma teacher retirements up at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, the state faces teacher shortages.

Many education careers require certification, particularly K-12 teachers at public schools. In Oklahoma, a teacher certification means educators qualify for hundreds of open teaching jobs in the state.

Teachers can increase their earning potential and move into administrative roles with a master's in education. Educators weighing whether to go to grad school should consider their district's pay schedule for teachers with a graduate degree and their opportunities in administration. Teachers also typically see their salaries increase with experience.

In-Demand Teaching Careers in Oklahoma

Language Arts

Language arts teachers educate elementary students in foundational reading and literacy topics. They build analytical, research, and writing skills at the secondary level. Language arts teachers add a credential to the teaching certificate to work at public K-12 schools in Oklahoma. The U.S. Department of Education lists language arts as a teaching shortage area in Oklahoma.

Average Annual Salary: $50,900

Career and Technical Education

Career and technical education teachers specialize in vocational and technical subjects. They often teach at the high school level in areas like business, technology, mechanics, and agriculture. The state's CareerTech program offers alternative paths to certification for career and technical educators. For example, educators can qualify for a technology center certification with an associate degree and two years of professional experience.

Median Annual Salary: $59,140

Special Education

Special education teachers instruct students with disabilities. After observing students, they work closely with parents and administrators to design individualized education programs for students. Special education teachers also bring specialized training in particular disabilities. Oklahoma, for example, offers certification in visual and hearing impairments. Oklahoma reports a shortage of special education teachers.

Median Annual Salary: $61,500

World Languages

World languages teachers instruct students in languages like Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, and German. In addition to instructing students on grammar, language teachers introduce world cultures. Oklahoma offers language certification exams in Chinese, Cherokee, French, German, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. Teachers must pass a specific language subject area exam to teach that language in Oklahoma public schools.

Average Annual Salary: $50,900

Mathematics

Mathematics teachers educate learners in numerical literacy, algebra, and geometry. At the high school level, they also teach precalculus and calculus. Oklahoma reports a shortage of math teachers. Candidates for teaching certification in Oklahoma must pass a math certification exam to add the credential.

Average Annual Salary: $51,390

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Oklahoma

How do I get teaching certification in Oklahoma? true

In Oklahoma, educators need a teaching certification to work in public schools. The Oklahoma State Department of Education issues teaching certifications. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree and complete a teacher preparation program or an alternative training program.

The state also requires a fingerprint background check and passing scores on three certification exams. The exams test general knowledge, teaching knowledge, and subject area knowledge. After meeting these requirements, candidates submit an application for their teaching certification and pay a $50 fee. Oklahoma certifications remain valid for five years.

Can I teach in Oklahoma without certification? true

Teachers working in Oklahoma public schools need a state-issued certification. However, Oklahoma offers several alternative pathways to teaching in the state. Educators can receive a CareerTech certification to teach career and technical education classes.

The Alternative Placement Program allows educators with a bachelor's degree to complete teacher training while working at an Oklahoma school. Teaching assistants can also complete requirements to earn a teaching certification. Finally, Oklahoma offers emergency certification for educators. Only administrators can submit an emergency certification application. Teachers without certification can also teach at private schools in Oklahoma.

How long does it take to become a teacher in Oklahoma? true

The process for how to become a teacher in Oklahoma takes several years. Oklahoma teachers must hold a bachelor's degree, which generally takes four years for full-time students. Most teachers complete an educator preparation program as part of their undergraduate degree. This includes student teaching experience to gain classroom skills.

After completing a bachelor's degree, prospective teachers take three certification exams. These exams include the Oklahoma General Education Test, the Oklahoma Subject Area Tests, and the Praxis Performance Assessment for Teachers. Candidates who meet the education, testing, and experience requirements submit an application for their teaching certification.

What can I do with teaching certification in Oklahoma?

A teaching certification allows educators to work in Oklahoma public schools. Elementary school teachers need certification with a credential in elementary education. Middle school and high school teachers need certification with a credential in their subject areas, such as mathematics, art, world languages, or social studies.

Educators pass a subject area exam to add credentials. The teaching certification remains valid for five years. By passing additional examinations, educators can add more credentials to their certification. Teachers with valid certifications can apply for teaching jobs in Oklahoma.

How do I become a substitute teacher in Oklahoma?

The Oklahoma State Department of Education does not issue certifications for substitute teachers. And state law does not set requirements to become a substitute teacher in Oklahoma. Instead, school districts set their own requirements and hire substitutes.

Prospective substitute teachers generally need a bachelor's degree. Districts also ask for transcripts and an application. Depending on the district, candidates may need to complete training. To take on long-term substitute assignments, educators typically need a teaching certification.

Feature Image: Marko Geber / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Learn about scholarships and financial aid available for students pursuing a degree in education. Not everyone wants to teach for decades. If you're ready to move out of the classroom, these jobs for former teachers can help you find the right path. Professional certifications help workers advance their careers and boost their earning potential. Read more about role-specific certifications in this guide.

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