How to Become a Teacher in Texas
To embark on a teaching career in Texas, you’ll need to obtain state certification. The certification process consists of four major steps:
- Meeting the state’s educational background requirements as well as those for a state-approved educator preparation program
- Completing a program, including a teaching residency
- Passing the appropriate exams for your desired teaching position
- Applying for your certificate and participating in a background check
As a Texas teacher, you can expect to initially make about $46,550 (the median salary for new teachers). However, the demand for teachers is so high that some are currently earning six figures due to state legislation and districts’ strategic compensation models.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through each step and point you to useful resources to make your journey to Texas teacher certification smoother.
Get Your Texas Teacher Certification
As mentioned, to get your Texas teaching certification, you must meet educational requirements, complete an educator preparation program, and pass the required tests. You’ll need to consider a few factors as you go through each of these steps.
Meet Educational Background Requirements to Become a Teacher in Texas
Texas requires most teaching applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited college or university. If you’re unsure whether the institution you attended is accredited, you can search for it at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).
If you’ll be applying for Health Science Technology or Trades & Industrial Education certifications, you won’t need a bachelor’s degree. However, a Health Science certificate does require an associate degree. If you’re interested in either of these certification areas, check out the Texas Education Agency (TEA) web page explaining their specific requirements.
Most other educational background requirements will be set by the state-approved educator preparation program you select. You have the choice of enrolling in a university program or taking the shorter options of a post-baccalaureate program or an alternative certification program.
If you opt for either a post-baccalaureate or an alternative certification program, the state will require you to pass a TX Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT) exam before being accepted under the following circumstances:
- You have a GPA of less than 2.50 or
- You have not completed at least 12 semester credit hours in the subject (also called a content area) you’ve chosen for certification. Note: certification in math or science above grade seven will require 15 semester credit hours.
Tip: If you have enough credit hours to qualify for another content area, you may be able to use them for admission. Then, once you’re in the program, you can take the test required for the content area you want. Discuss that possibility with the program’s admissions staff.
Complete an Educator Preparation Program
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, a university program gives you the opportunity to earn one while also fulfilling your educator preparation program requirements. You’ll have to go through a four-year degree program, take courses in the specific content areas you’ll need for your certification, and do one year of field work. While completion time will vary from person to person, this certification route generally takes about five years.
Completing an alternative certification or post-baccalaureate program will take significantly less time since you won’t have to earn credits for a degree. You usually will be able to complete the program’s coursework alongside the required two semesters of field experience. That means you will usually complete the program within a year.
Another benefit of alternative certification or post-baccalaureate programs is that they’re likely to offer paid internships. Some alternative certification programs offer an unpaid clinical teaching placement that’s shorter in duration than the internship. In all cases (including university programs), once you are eligible for your teaching residency and you secure a teaching position, you must apply online for a one-year probationary certificate, pay an application fee, and undergo a criminal background check. You’ll create a TEA Login (TEAL) account for this application process.
Program requirements for career and technical education (CTE) areas such as Health Science Technology or Trades & Industrial Education are a bit more involved. You will require at least two years of verified work experience. Some of that experience can be prior to your enrollment in the program. In addition, you will need to have a current, industry-specific license, certificate, or registration from the state or nationally-recognized accrediting agency in addition to your teaching certification. In some cases, you will also have to pass the appropriate National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) assessment.
Pass Required Tests to Become a Teacher in Texas
To demonstrate your grasp of educational theory and pedagogical best practices, you will have to take the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) test from the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES) exam series. You must also take the appropriate TExES content area test(s) to confirm that you understand the content area(s) you want to teach. Once you’re a certified teacher, you can take more TExES exams. This will expand the number of content areas in which you’re eligible to teach.
If you want a Bilingual Education certificate or Languages Other Than English (LOTE) certificate, you will also have to take Language Testing International’s foreign language test for your selected language.
Submit Your Certification Application to Become a Teacher in Texas
Your educator preparation program must recommend you for certification before you can apply. Once they do, you can complete the application form and pay the fee via your online TEAL (TEA Login) account. TEA will perform a national criminal background check, which includes fingerprinting, as part of the process.
TEA issues a standard certificate, but you won’t receive a paper copy. Instead, TEA will post a virtual certificate to your online account as the official record of your certification as a Texas educator. Potential employers will search for that virtual certificate via TEA’s Certificate Lookup tool.
Teaching Careers in Texas
A high demand for teachers makes Texas an appealing place to start a teaching career. While the median starting salary for teachers is $46,550, the state has devoted a significant amount of funds to supporting school systems’ strategic compensation models. According to the 2023 Texas Teacher Vacancy Task Force Final Report, that strategic compensation has enabled teachers to quickly earn higher salaries “based on performance and other factors such as campus needs and subject area.” The report even found that the number of Texas teachers earning six-figure salaries has doubled since 2019.
Teachers for the following subject/content areas are in especially high demand:
- English as a Second Language
- Career and Technical Education
- Special Education
- Computer Science
Hopefully, you now have the information you need to begin your journey toward a satisfying new career. If the alternative certification option sounds right for you, download our Texas Certification Guide for more information. Good luck!
Frequently Asked Questions about Alternative Teacher Certification
How do I get a teaching certification in Texas?
To get a Texas teaching certification, you will need to meet educational background requirements, complete an educator preparation program, pass state-required tests, submit an application with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and undergo a background check.
You must go through four steps. First, you’ll have to meet the educational background requirements set by the state and by the educator preparation program you select. One of those prerequisites will be a bachelor’s degree (unless you’re applying for Health Science Technology or Trades & Industrial Education certifications).
Second, you must complete your educator preparation program, which will involve a mix of coursework and field experience. Third, you must pass all the tests required to confirm your teaching capabilities. Once you have completed all the program requirements and passed the tests, your program will send a recommendation for your certification to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Your fourth step will be completing an online application and going through a background check, including fingerprinting. TEA will issue a virtual standard certificate for you, which potential employers can find online.
How long does it take to become a certified teacher in Texas?
If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can earn your certification in 12 – 16 months by completing a post-baccalaureate or alternative teacher certification program. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, it takes about five years on average to become a certified teacher in Texas, which includes the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree and complete an educator preparation program.
How long it takes to become a certified teacher in Texas often depends on whether you have a bachelor’s degree. If you don’t have a degree, you should enroll in a university program so that you can obtain your degree while also completing an educator preparation program. That process usually takes about five years.
If you already have a degree, you can opt for a post-baccalaureate or alternative certification program. You can usually complete a post-baccalaureate or alternative certification program in 12-16 months.
For some certifications (e.g., Health Science Technology, Trades & Industrial Education, Marketing) you’ll need at least two years of full-time work experience in lieu of or in addition to your degree. You can acquire work experience before you enroll in the educator preparation program. Health Science Technology and Trades & Industrial Education also require you to have current licensure, certification, or registration for working in that field (in addition to your teaching certification). For those two, you may be able to substitute military experience for work experience and licensure. Discuss your circumstances with the staff of your selected educator preparation program to get an idea of how long it may take you to get certified.
What is the fastest way to become a teacher in Texas?
For a prospective teacher with a bachelor’s degree, the fastest way to become a teacher in Texas is through an alternative certification program. These programs can be completed in as little as six months (when you opt for an unpaid clinical placement).
Can you become a teacher in Texas without a degree in education?
Yes. If you have a bachelor’s degree that is not in education, you can become a teacher in Texas by completing an alternative teacher certification program.
In lieu of a degree in education, you can become a teacher in Texas by enrolling in an alternative certification program. You will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree (except for Health Science Technology or Trades & Industrial Education certifications), but it will not have to be in education. Texas requires alternative certification programs to identify the content area (subject) enrollees will pursue for certification. If your degree directly relates to a certification field, the program will identify that field as your content area. But once you’re enrolled, you have the option of taking a TExES certification test in a different content area.
How long does my teacher certification last in Texas?
Your certification lasts approximately five years. All standard certificates expire on the same date, so it’s possible that you may have to renew your certificate before five years have passed. The expiration date is found on your virtual certificate and in your online account profile.
How do I renew my teacher certification in Texas?
To renew your certificate, you must complete 150 continuing professional education (CPE) hours, submit an online application, and pay a renewal fee.
No more than 150 CPE hours are required to renew your Texas teaching certification, even if you are certified for more than one area. If your certificate expires before five years have passed, your CPE hours are prorated. You will only need to complete 10 CPE hours for each full year that your certificate is active.
You will submit an online renewal application and pay the associated fee though your online account. The renewal process will include an online affidavit in which you will attest that you have met all renewal requirements. If you do not renew your certificate by the expiration date, it is automatically designated as inactive. You can renew your certificate even after it has become inactive.
Can I teach in Texas without certification?
Yes, in some cases. You can teach in Texas without certification only if issues a school district teaching permit (SDTP). However, most Texas teaching positions require certification.
The state allows school districts to issue a SDTP to individuals who do not have a teaching certificate. However, districts only have the authority to issue permits for “noncore academic CTE courses.” These are career and technical education courses that don’t count toward students’ math, science, language arts, or social studies credits for graduation. Permits for any other course will have to be approved by the commissioner of education.
Your SDTP would only be valid in the district that issued it. If you are approved for a course other than a noncore academic CTE course, TEA states that you will still be limited to working as a classroom teacher or a teacher for special education, bilingual education, English as a second language, prekindergarten or preK-4 students. You will be ineligible for other positions (e.g., school counselor, school librarian, or administrator).
To acquire a SDTP, you must undergo a criminal background check and receive classroom management training. The district’s board of trustees may also require you to meet additional continuing education requirements.
Can I take more than a year to complete a Texas alternative teacher certification program?
You can take more than a year to complete most Texas alternative teacher certification programs if the need arises. The program will often even extend your probationary certificate for up to two years. Your educator preparation program can advise you regarding the possibility of an extension.
How do I get approved to teach in Texas if I have a teaching certificate from another state?
If you have a standard, renewable certificate from another state, you apply for Texas teaching certification by submitting an out-of-state application to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Your certificate does not need to be currently valid, but it must have been a standard level certificate when it was issued. TEA has created a detailed checklist to guide you through the process.
If you are interested in becoming a teacher in Texas, apply today!