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Teaching Certifications and Licenses

The teaching profession is one of the most sought-after careers for military spouses, but it is also one of the most heavily state-regulated professions. Knowing what certifications or licenses you must obtain can help you plan your training and job search.

Until recently, teaching had always been one of the more difficult career paths for military spouses. States heavily regulate the licensure and certification requirements to teach in each specific state, and every state has different requirements. Through recent legislation, many states have developed reciprocity agreements and now accept licenses and credentials from other states, at least temporarily, so you can obtain new state licensure. Make sure to view the Spouse Licensure Map for up-to-date state legislation and licensure information.

Occupations in education and training have a very positive outlook. As the school-age population increases, demand for elementary and middle school teachers, as well as for teacher assistants, will rise. In addition, more students are seeking higher education to meet their career goals, increasing the demand for postsecondary teachers. The education and training profession projects a 9 percent job growth from 2016 to 2026, with a median annual wage of $48,000. You can research employment trends and salaries for your specific education field and location using the MySECO Research Occupations tool.

Education and training requirements differ depending on what level of education you want to teach.

  • Elementary school. States require you to obtain a bachelor's degree before you can be considered for an elementary school teaching position. In addition, public schools require you to have a state-issued certification or license.
  • Secondary school. States require you to obtain, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree and have a major in the field or content area in which you wish to teach. It is also highly advised to take a teacher preparation program and classes in education and child psychology as well. Many states now require you to have a master's degree in the field or content area in which you wish to teach before you can be considered a strong candidate.
  • Postsecondary school. Most states require you to have a doctorate and to have a major in the field or content area in which you wish to teach. Some community colleges require only a master's degree; private institutions have their own set of hiring standards.

Becoming a teacher isn't as difficult as you may think, as long as you are following a structured program. The MySECO College Exploration section will help you research postsecondary institutions to find the right school for you. Tools such as Community College Finder, Choosing a School and College Scorecard can all be valuable resources to help you achieve your education goals.

Once you have completed your education, it's time to focus on your state licensure and certification requirements. Teach.org allows you to select the state where you will be teaching, and it will identify the licensure and certification requirements for employment in that state. Once you have completed these requirements, it's time to begin your job search.

If you are going to be teaching in a specialty field such as music and arts or health education, you may need specialty certifications and licenses in addition to regular teaching credentials. Some specialty areas requiring additional certifications include the following:

  • National Board Certification Early Childhood/Generalist
  • Nationally Certified Teacher of Music
  • Master Certified Health Education Specialist

To explore additional information related to licensure and licensing portability, check out the article on Highly Portable Degrees for Military Spouses. You may also use the CareerOneStop State Licensure Directory to research your state's rules and regulations for the required licenses for a teacher. If you still need additional information, you can visit the Licensures and Certifications section of the Education, Training and Licensing lifecycle stage of MySECO or speak with a career coach at 800-342-9647.

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