How to Become a Teacher in Texas

Learn how to become a teacher in Texas. Find out more about Texas' paths to teacher certification and job incentives.

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by Meg Whitenton

Published on March 4, 2022 · Updated on April 27, 2022

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How to Become a Teacher in Texas

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) outlines a straightforward path for students who want to know how to become a teacher in Texas.

The state also offers a variety of programs to encourage teaching certification in Texas. This includes the Teacher Incentive Allotment, which projects a six-figure salary for teachers in Texas' high-need districts and subject areas.

Teaching certification in Texas is regulated by TEA to ensure that all teachers are qualified. Texas public school teachers must obtain a state-issued teaching license. They may also need additional certification in their teaching subject, grade level, or specialization.

Texas offers more than 120 TEA-approved educator preparation programs, which are designed to lead to licensure.

Texas employs more than 320,000 teachers and over 80,000 education administrators in its public schools. Teachers in Texas may qualify for student loan forgiveness, especially in current shortage areas like special education, English as a second language (ESL), and career and technical education.

Explore our guide to learn how to become a teacher in Texas.

How Do I Become a Teacher in Texas?

Texas teachers must have a bachelor's degree from a TEA-approved teacher preparation program.

Aspiring elementary school teachers can pursue a general teaching degree. Prospective middle school and high school teachers typically major in their desired teaching subject. Students who want to be special education teachers must major in special education and pursue certification in this specialization.

Public school teachers must have certification in Texas, but private school teachers may not need this. After completing a bachelor's degree/teacher preparation program, aspiring teachers must pass certification exams in their teaching subject, grade level, or specialization to apply for a state-issued teaching license.

Out-of-state educators pursuing teaching opportunities in Texas must request a review of credentials through the TEA.

Meet Minimum Education Requirements

Students can meet the minimum education requirements for teaching in Texas in multiple ways, as described below. Regardless of their exact path to certification, they should have a GPA of at least 2.5. Aspiring teachers with a GPA lower than 2.5 and/or who have not completed at least 12 semester credits in their desired certification area must pass the Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT) through TEA.

Most teachers begin the path to certification by earning a bachelor's degree. Since kindergarten and elementary school teachers often teach multiple subjects, they typically have a general degree in early childhood or elementary education.

Prospective teachers in elementary, middle, or high schools planning to teach a specific subject should pursue a bachelor's degree in that subject. Future special education or ESL teachers must major in their respective specialization.

All aspiring educators who will work directly with students in a classroom must complete a TEA-approved educator preparation program, which includes an internship to gain hands-on experience.

Learners who do not hold a bachelor's degree must complete an educator preparation program through an accredited university approved by TEA.

Texas allows some individuals who have a bachelor's degree to apply for a temporary license and begin teaching in a high-need area while they complete their educator preparation program.

Texas career and technical teachers specializing in health science technology, trades, and industrial education do not require a bachelor's degree for certification.

Gain Experience

Aspiring Texas teachers must complete 300 clock hours of coursework and training, including 30 hours of field experience, before taking on student-teaching roles.

All classroom teachers are required to have a supervised practicum experience to qualify for initial licensure in their desired subject or age level. Most bachelor's degree programs and all educator preparation programs emphasize hands-on experience.

This requirement may include training in topics like teaching strategies, curriculum development, and adaptive educational technology. Additionally, learners build critical skills in problem-solving, positive modeling and reinforcement, and classroom-management techniques.

Pass Required Certification Tests

Individuals who meet the minimum education requirements must then pass the required certification tests in their teaching subject, grade level, or specialization. Common exam categories and subcategories for teaching certification in Texas include:

Apply for Certification

Candidates applying for initial teaching certification in Texas must create a TEA Login (TEAL) account at TEA.Texas.gov. Here, applicants can submit the necessary test scores and fees for initial licensure, track the progress of their application, and check the status of their certification. TEA charges a $78 fee for a standard teacher certification application.

Additionally, first-time applicants must undergo fingerprinting as part of a national criminal background check. TEA charges $52 for this service. Students must also provide a copy of their current Texas driver's license or state ID, Social Security number, current daytime phone number, and email address to complete their application through TEAL. Most applications are processed within approximately 10 business days.

How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Texas?

Once they receive initial licensure, employed educators must renew their standard educator certificate every five years. Employers require teachers to hold both valid and active certification. "Valid" indicates the teacher passed the qualifying certification exams, and "active" means their certification has not lapsed.

Classroom teachers in Texas must complete 150 continuing professional education (CPE) hours during each five-year renewal period. Examples of CPE include participating in workshops or seminars, completing higher education coursework or training, or providing professional guidance or mentorship.

TEA sends a reminder via email to teachers prior to their renewal deadline. Teachers may simply log in to their TEAL account to verify their CPE requirements and pay the necessary fee. TEA charges $22 for the on-time renewal of a standard educator certificate.

Career Outlook for Teachers in Texas

Texas prioritizes teacher education, as evidenced by its many direct paths to certification and employment incentives. More than 80% of initially certified teachers in the state were employed in Texas public schools in 2020-2021, according to TEA.

Also, according to TEA, Texas' most in-demand areas are also the most competitive. To compensate for teacher shortages, Texas offers incentives such as higher salaries and loan forgiveness to teachers of subjects like math and computer science and in specializations like ESL and special education.

TEA implements a minimum salary schedule for licensed educators, based on their cumulative years of experience in the field. For 2021-2022, teachers with one year of experience can earn at least $34,390, while teachers with 20 years of experience or more can earn at least $54,540 per year.

Teachers with a master's degree can also access higher-paying jobs that may require specialized skills beyond initial licensure.

In-Demand Teaching Careers in Texas

ESL Teacher

These educators teach non-native, English-speaking students to read, write, and speak in English. While there is a national demand for ESL teachers for all ages, including adults, Texas is especially short on ESL elementary and secondary teachers in 2022. Aspiring ESL teachers must pursue separate ESL certification in addition to earning a Texas teaching license.

U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $60,660

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with students who experience mild, moderate, or severe learning, mental, or physical disabilities. Qualified special education teachers remain in high demand across the U.S., especially in Texas, at elementary and secondary levels. Aspiring special education teachers in Texas must major in special education to obtain a teaching license in this specialization.

U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $61,500

Career and Technical Education Teacher

Career and technical education teachers prepare students for sustainable employment in a particular field or trade. Texas especially needs career and technical education teachers at the high school level in 2022. These teachers in Texas must hold a general teaching license and certification in career and technical education, or certification in a sub-category: trade and industrial science, marketing, or health science.

U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $59,140

Computer Science Teacher

Technology applications and computer science teachers are critical for students of all ages in the ever-increasingly digital world. Texas is especially short on computer science elementary and high school teachers in 2022. Computer science teachers in Texas must obtain a state-issued teaching license. They also may need to pass TEA's computer science certification test.

U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $62,870

Math Teacher

Aspiring math teachers typically major in this subject while earning their bachelor's degree, then focus on teaching math to a particular grade level. Texas is especially short on high school math teachers in 2022. Math teachers in Texas must hold a state-issued teaching license and additional certification to teach high school-level math.

U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $62,870

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Texas

true How do I get teaching certification in Texas?

Texas teachers must earn a bachelor's degree, complete an educator preparation program, and pass a certification exam. Students can major in general education, or a particular teaching subject and grade level, or specialization, such as ESL or special education.

Texas also offers a variety of alternative paths to certification for aspiring teachers who do not hold a bachelor's degree. To obtain certification, learners must meet the minimum requirements for student-teaching experience through a degree and training program and pass exams in their teaching subject or specialization.

true Can I teach in Texas without certification?

Possibly. However, employment opportunities are extremely limited for uncertified teachers in Texas. Generally, public schools require teachers to hold valid and active teaching certification.

Aspiring teachers still in the process of completing certification requirements may qualify for a temporary license in a high-need teaching area.

Teachers who are not certified may pursue employment through a private school or alternative education facility, which implement their own teaching requirements.

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

It takes roughly five years for aspiring teachers in Texas to achieve the certification they need to enter the field. This covers the time it takes for students to earn a traditional bachelor's degree (four years) and complete an educator preparation program (one year). Some universities offer accelerated degrees and alternative paths to teacher certification requirements.

Additionally, in some cases, Texas allows teachers to begin working in classrooms while they are still completing certification requirements, if they agree to fill a high-need teaching position.

Out-of-state educators pursuing teaching opportunities in Texas must request a review of credentials through the TEA.

What can I do with teaching certification in Texas?

Certified teachers can work in public school classrooms in their desired teaching subject and/or grade level, or specialization. Certified teachers may continue to work in Texas classrooms while pursuing a master's degree toward additional specialized certification or postsecondary instruction.

TEA also extends financial incentives — including salary bonuses and student loan forgiveness — to certified teachers who commit to working in high-need areas of education and underserved communities across the state.

How do I become a substitute teacher in Texas?

Substitute teaching in Texas requires workers to hold an associate or bachelor's degree and some education experience. Districts can issue a school district teaching permit (SDTP), or temporary certification, to substitute teachers in Texas, though this qualification is altogether separate from that of permanent teachers.

Candidates for the SDTP must complete 20 hours of classroom-management training and pass a criminal background check. While not technically required, an advanced degree and expertise in a particular teaching subject are especially desirable among substitute teachers in Texas.

Feature Image: Klaus Vedfelt / 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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