Education consistently ranks among the most popular college majors in the nation. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), postsecondary institutions conferred about 92,000 undergraduate education degrees in 2014–2015. NCES also notes an increase in education students earning their teaching degrees online; the number of students enrolled in fully-online education programs increased 1.8% from 2003 to 2012.
Students earning an accredited, online degree in teaching benefit from flexible scheduling options and the ability to enroll in institutions regardless of their geographic location. Teaching students earning their degree from an institution outside the state in which they plan to teach, however, should ensure the program meets their state’s licensing requirements.
Students should also look for accreditation. All states require candidates for teaching licensure to hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Other requirements, such as the number of required field hours, vary by state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the economy will add 1.9 million new positions in teaching from 2014 to 2024. Earning an online degree in teaching is the first step toward becoming a qualified applicant for positions in this growing field.
How to Become a Teacher in Arizona
Most states have similar certification requirements, but some states have more rigorous standards than others. Teaching licenses do not transfer between states. However, some states maintain reciprocity agreements, which make it easier for teachers to earn licensure in another state. Interstate reciprocity agreements increase teachers’ mobility and help fill instructor shortages throughout the country. Nearly every state has accepted the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) agreement. Interstate reciprocity allows teaching students to easily obtain licensure in their home state after earning a degree online from an institution in another state.
Teachers must hold licensure from the state they teach in. Each state has different requirements, and reciprocity agreements detail necessary qualifications. Candidates for an Arizona teaching license must hold a four-year degree and submit an application and documentation, which includes official transcripts and evidence of teaching experience. The Arizona Department of Education reviews applications and reaches decisions within 10 weeks.
How to Get an Arizona Teaching Certificate
Teachers must hold an AZ teaching certificate to teach in the state. To deal with Arizona’s teacher shortage, the Arizona Department of Education released a task force report in 2015 regarding recruiting and retaining educators. Qualified teachers have plenty of professional opportunities in Arizona. New teachers, and those who are new to the state, must hold a bachelor’s degree and must meet minimum student teaching requirements.
- Provide proof that you hold a bachelor’s degree
Often, candidates for licensure must have completed specific coursework during their bachelor’s studies. For example, early childhood educators must have 37 credits in early childhood education. Elementary educators and secondary educators must also meet specific credit requirements for coursework in their area. To teach pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree in education or early childhood education. High school teachers major in a subject like math, science, art, or history. Many students planning to teach high school double-major in education.
- Hold a 3.0 GPA
Arizona teaching certificate requirements include having a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and earning a minimum B grade in every major course.
- Complete approved student-teaching hours
Early childhood educators in Arizona must complete an eight-credit classroom practicum. Candidates may substitute field experience for part or all of the required practicum credits. For example, K–8 teachers with two years of full-time teaching experience can waive the practicum requirement. Students often complete fieldwork as the culminating experience of a bachelor’s degree or as part of a teacher preparation program.
- Receive a passing grade on required exams
Candidates for an Arizona teaching license must earn a passing grade on the required exam for their grade level. Early childhood educators must pass the subject knowledge of early childhood education portion of the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments (AEPA). Elementary and secondary educators must pass the the National Evaluation Series (NES) Assessment of Professional Knowledge. Both the elementary and secondary education NES assessments comprise 100 multiple-choice questions, a case study, and a work product written assignment.
Candidates who studied specific subjects, such as history or mathematics, take an AEPA or NES exam in their subject area. Candidates can also fulfill this requirement through an out-of-state exam, a degree in the subject, three years of teaching experience, or work experience. Arizona is one of a few states that does not require the PRAXIS test, a two-part exam that tests core and subject proficiency. Each state sets minimum PRAXIS scores.
- Submit an Arizona Identity Verified Prints (IVP) fingerprint card
Arizona teachers must obtain an IVP fingerprint clearance card. State residents can apply online, and out-of-state candidates must apply by mail. The process typically takes about 10 days. However, applicants with a criminal record may wait up to 55 days. Each IVP fingerprint card is valid for six years.
- Submit application for teaching certification
Applicants for Arizona teaching certification must submit a photocopy of a valid IVP fingerprint card, official transcripts, exam scores, and proof of fieldwork or practicum experience. They must also answer a series of questions about their background. Applicants who are licensed to teach in another state must submit a photocopy of a valid and comparable out-of-state educator certificate.
- Payment of all fees
The AZ teaching certificate application requires a $60 fee for each certificate, endorsement, or additional approved subject area. The certification unit of the Arizona Department of Education processes 40,000 services each year. The teacher certification process typically takes one to three weeks; however, applicants may wait six weeks during peak season.
Student Teaching in Arizona
Student teachers perform supervised fieldwork where they lead a classroom. Bachelor’s in education programs culminate in a student-teaching experience, which allows students to apply learned pedagogical theories. Student teachers work alongside experienced professionals who provide feedback and guidance. They improve their skills and gain practical teaching experience.
Most student teaching experiences last one semester. Candidates for a teaching certificate in Arizona must have completed at least eight practicum credits. Student teachers also complete related coursework, such as essays and portfolios. Most student teachers spend six to seven hours in a classroom each day and devote additional time to preparing lesson plans, grading assignments, and assisting with school events and activities.
Students begin preparing for fieldwork early in their programs. Core courses require practicum hours in observation and classroom assistance. Distance learners typically complete practicum requirements at local schools; many public schools welcome the opportunity to support the next generation of teachers. The learner’s institution approves student teaching arrangements. Post-baccalaureate candidates for licensure can complete student teaching through a teacher preparation program.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Arizona
Arizona is currently amidst a teacher shortage, and the state’s median salary for teachers ranks 49th in the nation. Secondary teachers earn the highest average salaries, about 5% higher than the average for Arizona teachers. A report by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy found that Arizona’s teacher salaries are far lower than the national average, even considering the state’s cost of living. Business, education, and nonprofit leaders in Arizona are working to improve teacher salaries in the state. At the beginning of the 2017 school year, 18.4% of teaching positions were vacant. However, the average salary of Arizona teachers increased 4.6% from 2015 to 2018, and the shortage of teachers means qualified professionals will find plenty of opportunities in the state.
|Occupation||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Elementary School Teachers||22,320||$42,730|
|Middle School Teachers||9,910||$42,830|
Excludes Special Education Teachers, May 2016
Scholarships for Arizona Teaching Students
Education students have a variety of financial aid options and should research scholarships available in their state and field. Competition is typically less fierce for scholarships with more specific requirements, such as awards for U.S. teachers. Students can apply for scholarships, grants, and waiver programs.
- Nell Wilcoxen Future Educator Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Arizona Education Association awards scholarships to students who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and community involvement. The scholarships are available to AEA members, and their immediate family members, who are pursuing a degree and career in education.
- Rhian Evans Allvin and Joshua J. Allen Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children awards this scholarship to one student majoring in early childhood education at an accredited Arizona institution. The student must be an Arizona resident with at least a 3.0 GPA. The organization accepts self-nominations and nominations from faculty and supervisors. Previous recipients of scholarships from the organization are ineligible.
- First Things First College Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Arizona Early Childhood awards this scholarship to Arizona residents who are completing a credential or undergraduate degree in early childhood education or a related field, such as child and family studies or child development. Recipients must complete specific training and conduct presentations.
Amount: Varies, includes $150–$1,500 bonuses for education milestones
- 'Inspire Our Future' Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This annual scholarship supports teachers continuing their education and those preparing to enter the field. Teach.org offers this scholarship to defray educational costs and associated expenses. Applicants must be pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate in education, teaching, child development, or early childhood education. Applicants submit an essay on an assigned topic.
- NEA-Retired Jack Kinnaman Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The National Education Association awards scholarships to education students who demonstrate financial need. Each applicant must be a member of the NEA Student Program; have a minimum 2.5 GPA; and submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a 200-word essay describing their NEA activities.
- NIADA Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Each year, the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association Foundation awards four regional scholarships to students who demonstrate excellent abilities in education. Applicants should be high school seniors with outstanding academic records.
Resources for Teachers in Arizona
- Arizona Department of Education:Created in 1970, this state agency oversees Arizona’s public education. The department ensures that Arizona’s children have access to a quality education; more than 1.1 million students attend publicly funded K–12 schools in the state. The agency supports more than 200 public school districts and more than 400 charter holders. The department provides teacher certification, supports teachers’ professional development, and evaluates the quality of Arizona’s public education.
- The Arizona Association for Environmental Education: This organization leads statewide efforts to further environmental literacy and work toward a sustainable future. Environmental education is part of curriculums at all grade levels, in subjects such as geography, biology, chemistry, earth science, and natural science. The organization also emphasizes environmental education within communities.
- Arizona State Board of Education: The 11-member board regulates the conduct of Arizona’s public school system. The board reviews and sets the state’s public education standards, working with educators and school leaders to ensure high student outcomes. During public board meetings, teachers and parents can voice concerns and ideas to the board’s committee, task forces, subcommittees, and advisory committees.
- The Arizona Experience: This mixed media resource celebrates Arizona’s 100 years of statehood with thousands of multimedia experiences and assets, including interactive timelines and maps, museum collections, and podcasts. Teachers use the website to supplement lesson plans, classroom activities, and online learning on topics such as mining, life science, water and energy, aerospace, and Arizona’s people and cultural history. The learning site improves students’ reasoning and technology skills.
- Arizona Office of Economic Education: The Office of Economic Education and the University of Arizona help K–12 teachers fulfill Arizona’s curriculum standards through content, training, tools, and resources. The office works to make economics fun and accessible for all students and to prepare learners for higher education. Teachers use the website to develop lesson plans and study materials. The office provides resources in areas such as curriculum standards, economics in history, and financial literacy.
Networking Opportunities in Arizona
Networking is crucial for professional development and helps teachers advance their careers and expand their knowledge. During meetups, professional conferences, and events, educators cultivate new ideas, gain inspiration, and discuss best practices with peers. Professional learning networks allow teachers to connect even when limited by distance, time, or location.
During this annual conference hosted by the Arizona Department of Education, teachers attend workshops and keynote lectures on the state’s educational challenges, programs, and services. Each November, the two-day conference provides networking opportunities for school leaders and allows professionals to share best practices for teaching, family engagement, and school readiness.
During this weeklong professional development course from the Arizona Council on Economic Education, social studies teachers and career and technical instructors learn new ways to approach course materials and incorporate interactive lessons. Participants receive 45 hours of professional development, including AEPA preparation. Past attendees receive a discount.
|Founded in 1916, AFT comprises 1.7 million members. AFT’s Twitter account provides the latest news on education policies affecting students and communities. The resource helps teachers stay up to date on issues affecting their profession.|
|Vicki Davis writes about technology in the classroom and hosts the podcast 10-Minute Teacher, which discusses topics such as using technology to improve writing, common mistakes schools make when implementing technology, and professional development.|
|On her Twitter account, this Wisconsin teacher delivers ideas on how to improve student writing. She discusses writing for an authentic audience, how to fast-draft an assignment, and the power of paragraphs. Jennifer Laffin also owns the Teach Write blog.|
|This Nebraska teacher chronicles daily life as a new elementary school teacher, offering insights into the realities of the profession. Through Twitter, new teachers can connect with him while gaining perspective on reaching young students.|
|Developed by a school technology coordinator, this blog shares ideas for incorporating technology into the classroom with the goal of providing interactive lessons and fostering discussions. Readers learn to improve student engagement using slideshows, videos, and applications. The blog offers step-by-step tutorials, project and presentation ideas, and book recommendations.|