Going Back To School To Teach

October 19, 2007 2 min read
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I am interested in becoming a physical education teacher. How would I go about getting certified if I have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field?

Thank you,
Rose Michel

Hello Rose,

Most colleges and universities with colleges of education have teacher certification programs designed just for people like you. The requirements for admission into these programs differ from institution to institution and from state to state, so the best place to begin this process is to check with the closest institution to find out the exact requirements. Here are some pointers to keep in mind regarding this process.

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You will be enrolling as a graduate student to complete the certification process. Many graduate schools will require you to take the GRE, or a similar test, prior to being admitted. As your undergraduate degree is in another field, you will have deficiencies to meet, and this will add some hours to your program. You’ll need to supply a transcript, so that the school can conduct a transcript evaluation to determine just what courses you might need. And most states require criminal background checks for students who want to become teachers.

Some teacher certification programs may require you to complete an entire master’s degree. Check with your institution of choice to determine your options. Length of programs will vary, but most will require you to complete around 35 hours of coursework, which usually includes a full semester of student teaching. The 35 hours do not include deficiency courses.

Now, many programs are structured in such a way that you can work part time while completing the coursework. You will probably not be able to work while you are completing the all-day-long student teaching. There are even some programs that are geared specifically to the needs of adult students with other life obligations. If this is important to you, you will want to contact any institutions within a reasonable distance and compare their programs. You are the consumer, so it’s important that you find the best program to fit your needs.

It is important to start this process early. Certification programs have limited enrollment, so don’t delay. Meet with an advisor at your selected institution, so you are able to ask questions and determine any important deadlines.

Teaching is an exciting, rewarding profession. If you invest the time now to gain your certification/licensure, you will have the opportunity for a long, interesting and secure career where you can touch the lives of many and make a real difference!

This answer, provided by Dr. Dawn Scheffner Jones, online education and health advisor for career services at Northern Illinois University, is intended for informational purposes only. Opinions are solely those of the participants.


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