Alternative Paths to Teacher Certification

If you want to become a teacher in the United States, there are several different paths you can take to reach your goal. While there are some people who know that they want to become a teacher when they enter college, others don’t realize this desire until later. There are successful professional educators from both traditional and alternative paths, meaning there may be an available program for your specific circumstances and needs.

Below we’ll go over some of the alternative routes people take to earn teacher certification. Be sure to check your state’s guidelines and criteria in regard to these alternative certification paths so you can get in the classroom and positively change lives as soon as possible.

Alternative Teacher Certification Programs

There are both national and regional alternative teacher certification programs available for prospective educators. On the national level, there are programs like Teach for America, which recruits intelligent, motivated people to work in underprivileged schools anywhere within the states. Teach for America volunteers can make a huge difference for students all while gaining real life experience and working towards a teaching credential.

Another national alternative is the American Board. This non-profit organization places qualified educators in classrooms by using alternative means such as online certification.

In terms of regional certification programs, each state’s Board of Education has established alternative routes. These routes are designed for individuals who already have an undergraduate degree. You can contact your local Board to see what type of accelerated programs they provide.

Find schools and get information on the program that’s
right for you.
(It’s fast and free!)


Other states have alternative programs that work to place driven, passionate and bright people in classrooms where they are needed. Urban areas with a lack of resources or impoverished school districts may recruit and train prospective professionals so they can earn the experience they need to become certified all while helping at-risk children succeed.

Alternative Teacher Certification

Provisional Teaching Certification

Some people may be eligible for a provisional certificate. Check with your state’s Board of Education to see if you can apply for a provisional teaching certificate as you finish the education requirements needed to become a teacher.

State Exams for Educators

After successful completion of an alternative teacher certification program, you can take the state tests for educators. These assessments will cover basic skills in math, reading and writing, as well as more specific subject matter. Most states use the Praxis series of exams, but you should check on your area’s expectations and processes before you begin to prepare. These tests typically cost between $100 and $300.

Discover teacher certification and education programs that are a match for you!

Apply for Teacher Certification

Once you have completed an alternative teacher preparation program and passed your exams, you can formally apply for your certification. Apply for this initial certificate with your state’s Board of Education and expect it to cost between $40 and $200.

You application should reflect your passing test scores and must include the passage of a criminal background check. After this is completed, you can apply to work at any public school in your state.

Renewal frequency depends on where you live, but expect to participate in continuing education courses every few years in order to maintain your status as a certified teacher.