Interested in becoming a teacher? There are plenty of ways to enter the education field beyond getting an undergraduate degree in education. If you’re unsure if this field is the right fit for you, you can gain experience in the field by substitute teaching. It can be a great way to learn more about the day-to-day of a teacher and make connections with teachers and administrators in your area.

Below are three paths you can explore that can lead to a teaching career.

Alternative Methods of Entry

Gain teaching experience and certification without an education degree.

Graduate School for Education

A master’s in education can provide formal training and certification.

Teaching English Abroad

Get experience teaching English while living abroad in a variety of countries.

Alternative Methods of Entry to K-12 Teaching

There are a lot of ways to get valuable teaching experience without an education degree. Programs like Teach for America, City Year, and College Possible can provide you with a year or more of experience. If you’re hoping to dive in and start working in schools as soon as possible, each US state has its own alternative requirements and alternate pathways. Explore some of these options below to consider if they might be right for you!

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Alternative Pathways by State Requirements

Every state has its own requirements to become a certified teacher. While many accept the certifications earned by an education major, they also have alternative methods to gain that certification. Here are a few links to help you explore these:

To gain certification, a handful of states accept completed programs like TeacherReady and American Board. These both cost money for tuition and fees, but perhaps not as much as completing a graduate degree program could cost. They may be worth exploring – just be sure that the state you plan to teach in accepts their certification!

Earn Teaching Certification and/or Master’s While Teaching

Alternative Teaching programs can be a great option for gaining teaching certification and/or a master’s degree while teaching.  These programs exist in many cities; a few of them are listed below, but also consider searching for other cities and states.

One-Year Education Related Opportunities

These opportunities are ideal for any student who wants to gain teaching experience, but especially those who aren’t sure if they’re ready to fully commit to the field. These programs last for one year and look great on any US state alternative pathway applications requiring some experience teaching. 

Graduate School for Education

Going to graduate school can be a great next step in becoming a teacher. Many programs include certification and field experiences to help you prepare to enter the field. Master’s degrees are also often a consideration for increased pay or salary bumps in many states and districts.

However, like in any field, graduate school should not be considered lightly. Students should consider all of their options and resources – including your goals, types of programs, and finances – before deciding to apply. Check out SuccessWorks’ Graduate School Guide for help on getting started. You can make an appointment with us to get some guidance as well!

Graduate school can be a big financial undertaking. There are many factors to consider like tuition, financial aid, and working while in school. Will you be working full-time or part-time while in grad school? Will you be able to afford the cost? These are just a few questions to ask yourself.

However, it is important to keep in mind that there are ways to support the cost of graduate school. Like with undergrad, scholarships are available to help with the cost of tuition. Though a bit more rare for master’s programs, some schools may offer reimbursement for tuition in exchange for completing a teaching or project assistantship (check their websites or send an email for specifics). The federal government also offers support for federal student loans for teachers through the TEACH Grant Program or the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. Some states or schools offer specific financial support for students as well, like UW-Madison’s Teacher Pledge for example. Finally, if you gain certification through alternative methods, some school districts will provide funding (partially or in full) for you to get a master’s degree as a means of supporting continued education.

When looking for graduate school education programs, there are a few things to keep in mind: your goals, costs, quality, location, and support. These factors can help narrow down your lists so that you can apply to the schools that fit your needs the best. Looking into specific colleges and universities’ websites is a good place to start, but you can also use search engines like The Princeton Review’s grad school search to get started. As you explore, feel free to make an appointment with SuccessWorks to help you sort through your options and begin your application process – including the important application essay.

There are other ways to earn your master’s in education (and gain certification) beyond traditional grad school. These programs offer opportunities to get your master’s while teaching. Some programs like these have tuition costs, but they may be less expensive than a traditional grad school program.

Teaching English Abroad

As the world continues its rush to learn English, still the lingua franca of international commerce, diplomacy, and higher education, the bulk of teaching opportunities abroad continue to be for those who teach English. Your primary “credential” is simply being a native speaker of the English language. A bachelor’s degree is usually required. Some formal ESL training, whether in TEFL or TESOL certificate, is almost always a plus and in some cases a prerequisite if you have no previous experience. The ability to teach ESL may be all you need to obtain a job and a work permit in various countries across Asia and Latin America, and many other English teaching jobs exist in other desirable regions of the globe.

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Resources to Get Started

There are options for teaching English abroad full-time or participating in a program where you would teach abroad for a year or so. You should consider time and financial cost in your exploration. Are you interested in teaching English in another country? Here are a few resources to help you consider this option:

Getting a TESOL/TEFL Certification

While some programs or opportunities may not require a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification, others may ask teachers to obtain one before they apply or begin teaching. These two certifications are very similar, but TESOL designates teaching English to second-language speakers (ESL) in an English-speaking country, while TEFL designates teaching ESL in a non-English speaking country (here’s a bit more on the difference). 

Obtaining one of these certifications can usually be done online. Be careful though – there are some unofficial or fake sites out there that wouldn’t be recognized by other countries. It’s always a good idea to do research on the source of the certification before committing to it. Certain programs require specific minimum hours as well, so be sure to check these as well. Here are a few sites to explore certification:

Maximo Nivel(Spanish-speaking specific)

Exploring Opportunities to Teach English Abroad

There are a ton of opportunities and programs to teach abroad for you to explore. This table from International TEFL Academy breaks down information by continent and country with links to their website for more specific details. Here are a few other sources to explore programs.

The TEFL Academy – TEFL Internships | TEFL Jobs | Teaching English Online