WRITTEN BY Kian Northcote • 6 min
Kian Northcote is a freelance journalist and writer with a background in education.
If you’ve already got classroom experience but you don’t yet have a full teaching license, you might be wondering whether now is the right time to get fully certified.
The short answer, yes it is.
A full license will give you stability, more employment opportunities, a consistent salary, access to healthcare benefits, and even a state pension.
How many other industries can say the same?
The economic fallout from COVID-19 means you’ll be hard pushed to find another career that offers all of the above.
Plus, with a full license, you’ll have the skills to make a more significant impact in the lives of your students.
The question is, what is the most efficient way for unlicensed teachers to get fully certified in 2021?
Alternative programs for teaching certification are becoming increasingly popular.
As they are designed for graduates, they are affordable, offer flexible learning pathways, and can often be completed in less than a year without sacrificing quality tuition.
There are many reasons you might want to pursue an alternative route to obtaining a full teacher certification, but we’re going to focus on the five biggest advantages.
- You won’t have to go back to college.
- Alternative certification is both time and cost-effective.
- Alternative certification courses are often better organized.
- Teachers from non-traditional programs stay in education longer.
- Alternative certification promotes greater diversity.
1. You won’t have to go back to college
This is a big deal!
If you’re already working as an unlicensed teacher, the idea of enrolling in a four-year college course to get your full license might appear demoralizing.
Plus, the rigid nature of on-campus courses means your employment opportunities might be limited throughout your studies, and you may have to make other major lifestyle changes, too.
But some alternative certification providers, like Klassroom, offer remote options that will allow you to study pedagogical concepts online.
You can learn from the comfort of your own home, before putting the theory into practice!
These are also known as hybrid courses.
One of their great strengths is that aspiring teachers are given a chance to gain crucial hands-on experience in the classroom via a comprehensive school placement as part of the training.
It’s worth noting that you’re unlikely to have that option if you select a 100% fully remote course.
That’s one reason why it’s crucial to read through each course curriculum carefully before committing.
Plus, if you’re a graduate, and you’re juggling both a job and family obligations, you’re also going to know just how precious your time is.
You’re not going to want to return to college when you can gain a full teaching license in less than a year by enrolling in an alternative program for teaching certification.
And don’t let the word ‘alternative’ put you off.
Your qualification will be a full, renewable teaching license that’s essentially the same certificate you would earn on a traditional pathway, only in a lot less time.
2. Alternative certification is both time and cost-effective
The average cost of a college degree in the U.S. is now more than $35,000 per year.
Multiply that by four, and you can see why many people are hesitant about enrolling in four or five-year programs.
Plus, if you’ve already worked as an unlicensed teacher, why burden yourself with all that extra debt?
Your on-the-job experience means you’ll already possess a lot of the skills trainee teachers learn in college.
But alternative certification programs often cost as little as $5000!
Their intensive, hands-on approach makes them the ideal environment in which to hone your expertise and develop new teaching methods.
Convenience is also an important factor here.
You will save both time and money not having to commute to and from a physical campus.
It’s also worth remembering that we’re still living through a pandemic.
Although necessary, social distancing guidelines are not exactly conducive to learning.
Plus, both schools and colleges are likely to close without notice if there is an outbreak of the virus.
But this doesn’t impact online learning to the same degree!
Being able to complete your studies online is one less thing you’ll have to worry about.
3. Alternative certification courses are often better organized
It’s true that students enrolled in traditional programs enjoy more direct feedback from their instructors, but this is not a huge loss.
Think back to your most recent experience as a student.
On the rare occasions you were able to talk one-on-one with your professor, how often were they distracted by other students and colleagues? Or by papers that needed grading?
How pressed for time were they?
Would you have benefitted from a more organized setup where instructors were given the time and space to answer your questions properly?
This is another reason why alternative programs for teaching certification are worthy of your attention.
Instant access to a plethora of online tools makes it much easier for teachers to automate attendance, track student progress, share course information, and provide more accurate feedback.
And that means your instructor will have more freedom and more time to interact with you online and develop more compelling lessons.
4. Teachers from non-traditional programs stay in education longer
Research carried out by The National Association for Alternative Certification revealed that 83% of educators who graduate from alternative certification programs remain in the teaching profession for longer than three years.
This is comparable with educators who receive their education through traditional programs but are more likely to leave their profession early on in their teaching careers.
Why is this?
One reason is that teachers who qualified via an alternative route to certification often have real-world experience.
They might be looking at teaching as a second career option, or they might be unlicensed teachers who have spent a considerable amount of time in the classroom.
If you’ve already worked in different industries, you’re more likely to have some understanding of your strengths, your weaknesses, and where your interests lie.
Likewise, if you’ve already spent time in the classroom, you’re going to know whether or not teaching is for you.
But a college graduate who is fresh out of school is not going to have a whole lot of experience to fall back on.
As a result, they’re also more likely to move into another profession.
It’s also worth remembering that most alternative certification programs have a strong practical component that prioritizes time spent in the classroom and working directly with students.
This is vital because this is where you’ll learn what it takes to be a great teacher.
It’s intensive, but educators that are well-equipped and able to handle challenging situations from the start are far more likely to remain and flourish in their job.
5. Alternative certification promotes greater diversity
Although schools in the U.S. are more diverse than ever, it’s also true that the majority of teachers are white.
If you’ve spent all of your time in school being taught by teachers who don’t look like you and cannot relate to your lived experience, this may well put you at a disadvantage.
On the one hand, all students benefit from spending time with diverse teachers.
But students of color who are taught by teachers of color are less likely to face disciplinary procedures and are more likely to graduate from high school.
The most recent data from the US Education Department reveals that almost three-quarters of trainee teachers enrolled in traditional college programs are white.
However, the same report also indicates that the number of black teachers enrolled in alternative certification courses is double the amount of those in traditional programs.
The option to study online without giving up work has an obvious appeal because people of color are more likely to face discrimination in any new job search.
Other minority groups within the teaching profession can also benefit from alternative certification programs: older people, men, and people with a disability can benefit from a more flexible career pathway that will help diversify our teaching demographics.
Be part of the solution
It’s much easier to find a teaching job when you have a full license.
You’ll have far more employment options to choose from, and you’ll be moving into a profession where there is a strong demand for qualified professionals.
We will always need teachers!
This means you’ll effectively have a job for life, working in an industry where you can make a real impact on young people’s lives.
But why waste time and money on a trip back to college?
So long as you’re a graduate, you can enroll in an alternative program for teaching certification and get your full license within a year.
You can contact us today to learn more about how you can fast-track your teaching career.