Whether you’re starting out in the workforce or have decided on a career change, becoming a teacher can be a rewarding path that allows you to help students learn and reach their full potential. If you’ve decided that teaching is the right career for you, you’re probably eager to make your move to the classroom and start teaching as soon as possible.
People who want to become teachers have quite a few requirements to check off their list before they get certified. For starters, you’ll want to look for a college or university that is both regionally accredited (such as National University), as well as approved by the state organization that governs teachers. In California, that governing body is the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). It requires potential teachers to complete a CTC-approved teacher/education specialist preparation program, as well as pass several skills and subject matter competency tests.
Because the path to becoming a teacher requires a rigorous curriculum, you may not be able to juggle a full-time job while working toward teacher certification and, eventually, fulfilling the student teaching requirement to get certified.
However, there are ways to fast-track your teacher certification and begin teaching sooner, while you’re pursuing your standard teaching license. Here are four ways to become a teacher fast.
School District Internship
While student teaching may sound like an “internship” for teachers, a student teacher and a school district intern are two very different paths to earning your teaching credential. California offers aspiring teachers in accredited preparation programs the option to work toward their credential as a student teacher or earn an intern credential.
An intern credential allows students enrolled in a state-approved program to work as a teacher with a contract and salary while earning hands-on experience as a teacher in a classroom setting. While a student teacher works under the supervision of a mentor who is the primary instructor in that classroom, a teacher with an intern credential does not operate under a mentor’s supervision and is the primary teacher in a classroom of their own.
That’s not to say that teachers with an intern credential are totally on their own. If you choose to go this route, you’ll have an on-site mentor, as well as support from your district. However, that support won’t be on a daily basis, as you’d have as a student teacher. Instead, you’d have more sporadic contact with your mentors, have before- or after-school meetings with them, and professional development hours.
If you’re more independent and confident in your teaching abilities and feel you don’t need daily mentorship, a school district internship may be the right fit for you as you’re working toward your permanent certification. School district interns are expected to complete all requirements for a permanent credential within two years.
In order to become a school district intern, you’ll need to have already earned a bachelor’s degree, passed the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), and passed the background checks. Other requirements vary depending on the grade level and subject you plan to teach.
If you plan to work as a school district intern while pursuing your teaching credential, contact a sponsor with a CTC-approved district intern program to learn more about what requirements may be expected of you.
Experience in the Peace Corps
If you’ve served at least 18 months in the Peace Corps, you may be able to teach while pursuing your standard teaching license. This interim certification is valid for up to five years as you work toward your formal certification in a state-approved teacher preparation program.
In order to qualify for this temporary certification, you’ll need to have spent over 50% of your time in the Peace Corps in a classroom or teaching capacity. You’ll also need to have a bachelor’s degree, complete basic and specific subject matter exams, as well as fulfill English language and reading skills requirements.
Just like prospective teachers working toward earning their standard teaching license, prospective teachers with Peace Corps training are also required to pass a course on the U.S. Constitution.
Private School Experience
Many private schools do not require teachers to be state-certified. In California, the CTC does not govern private school teachers. Instead, it’s up to each individual private school to regulate their instructors.
Most private schools do require teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a given subject, such as English, history, or science. However, private schools do not require teachers to complete testing. While you’d need to pass the CBEST to teach in a public school, private schools do not require teachers to take that test.
If you’re planning to get your permanent teacher certification, you’ll want to prepare to take the CBEST and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. However, if you’ve taught for at least three years in a private school setting, you may apply for your formal teaching licence without having to complete the student teaching portion of the requirement. If you have six or more years of private school teaching experience, you may be able to bypass a teacher preparation program altogether, as well as the student teaching component. However, you’ll still need to pass the CBEST with a score of at least 123 to become certified to teach in a public school.
Earn an Emergency Teacher Certification
Many states throughout the US have a shortage of teachers. California is one of those states experiencing a shortage of teachers, which impacts over 80% of the state’s school districts. To combat this shortage, many states offer emergency teacher certification permits to help increase the pool of substitute teachers throughout the state.
There are four different types of emergency teacher certifications in California:
- Emergency 30-day permit: This renewable permit is issued on an annual basis and allows you to teach for no more than 30 days per teacher throughout the school year.
- Emergency career substitute permit: If you’ve been a substitute in California for three or more years, this renewable permit allows you to substitute 60 days per teacher during a single school year.
- Emergency CTE 30-day permit: This permit allows you to teach career technical education (CTE) vocational/trade classes. Unlike the other three emergency certifications listed here, you would only need a high school diploma or GED to obtain this certification, but you also need to have 3,000 hours of proven work experience in a relevant field. This annual permit is renewable.
- Emergency substitute teaching permit for prospective teachers: If you’re planning on becoming a teacher but have not yet completed all of the requirements, this permit can be a great way to help you jumpstart your teaching career before you commit fully. Unlike the other permits mentioned here, it can only be renewed once after you complete your first year. This permit allows you to teach for only 90 days out of the year. It requires 90 credits from a regionally-accredited college or university, as well as proof of enrollment in a qualified BA teaching program.
Each of these four emergency teaching programs requires you to have completed the CBEST with a minimum combined score of 123. It also requires you to complete a Form 41-4, which is an Application for Credential Authorizing Public School Service.
Becoming a teacher is a rewarding experience that allows you to help others find their own path in life. Having options to begin your teaching career sooner is a great way to get experience in the field while pursuing formal certification.
If you’re thinking about becoming a teacher, visit our program page to learn how National University’s Sanford College of Education can help you achieve your goals. Learn more about our on-campus and online degrees and programs. You can also hear more from our students and faculty on our education resources pages.