11 Things to Consider when Selecting an Alternative Teacher Certification Program

Considering becoming a Texas teacher?  There are several options to choose from, and one of the most popular is to become certified from an alternative teacher certification program.  When evaluating whether alternative certification is right for you, here are some important aspects to consider.

Can you meet the requirements?

There are five high-level requirements to become a certified Texas Teacher.  These are:

1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree– You must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

2. Complete an Educator Preparation Program– You must complete an Approved Educator Preparation Program. If you do not hold a degree you must complete a university program. If you hold a degree you may contact an Alternative Certification Program or Post Baccalaureate program.

3. Pass Certification Exams– You must pass the appropriate teacher certification exams. Contact your program for exam approval.  These may include content area exams in addition to the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) Exam.

4. Submit a State Application– You must apply to be certified after all certification requirements are met. Do not apply until you have verified with your program that you are eligible.

5. Complete Fingerprinting– All first-time applicants must be fingerprinted as part of a national criminal background check.  Before you will be allowed to work in any Texas school, you must undergo a federal criminal history background check, including fingerprinting. The Texas Department of Public Safety uses live scan technology to achieve electronic capture and submission of fingerprints. This is called the Fingerprint Applicant Service of Texas (FAST). Through this system your prints are run through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

How much do alternative certification programs cost?

Costs vary significantly among alternative certification programs.  Fees are sometimes hidden or stated in terms that are not perfectly clear.  Carefully evaluate the full cost of programs before making your selection.

Here are the basic fee categories to consider:

1. Fees Paid to the State of Texas – these are fixed.

    • $116 per Pre-Admission Content Test exam. One or two exams are typically required depending on the certification you are seeking.  Trades and Industry Professionals are not required to take content exams in most circumstances.
    • $116 Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) Exam. This is required of all candidates regardless of certification area.
    • $104 Intern or Probationary Certificate (including fingerprinting fee). This is the temporary certificate you will teach under while you are completing the certification requirements.
    • $77 Standard Certification Fee. This is paid after you have met all the certification requirements and been recommended for your Standard Certificate by your alternative certification program.

2. Application Fee – These range from free to $150.00 depending on the alternative certification program you select. Programs like Teachworthy do not charge an application fee and feel that applying is the first step to truly understanding the entire process and determining which path is right for you.

3. Training or Enrollment Fee – These range from $195 to $495 and include the training that must be completed prior to entering the classroom in most cases. These fees are typically due prior to you receiving an offer for a teaching job.  Teachworthy believes that training fees should be minimal since these are paid prior to securing a teaching position.

4. Program Fee – These range from $3,960 to $5,100. These should be paid only after a paying teaching position has been started allowing you to pay the fee from your teaching salary.  Programs like Teachworthy wait to charge you this fee (paid monthly) until you have been teaching for 60 days.

    • Note that some programs combine their Training Fees and their Program Fees into one category. Typically, this means you are contractually obligated to pay your Program Fees regardless of whether you secure a paid teaching position or not.  Program like Texas A&M University through their Accelerate Program take this approach.

5. Other Fees – these can include test preparation expenses, training materials and technology access fees. Be sure to confirm with your program if any of these will be required.

Online or Face-to-Face?

When it comes to the delivery of the training to become a teacher, there are basically two approaches.  One involves face to face classes that are great for people that have more flexible schedules and feel instructor-led classes are their best approach to learning.

The other approach that is becoming how the vast majority of alternative program candidates receive their training is through online delivery.  Some online programs allow you start at any point in the time and work at your own pace.  Others require you to follow a more standard semester schedule.

Teachworthy actually combines both approaches.  For content that is easily learned through video, online assignments, and self-paced work, Teachworthy provides 11 web-based learning modules.  But since effective teaching is accomplished by building strong classroom culture and psychological safety, Teachworthy asks candidates to complete 2 days of living training called Capturing Kids’ Hearts where you learn and practice behavioral processes.  These processes have been proven through neuroscience to increase learning in kids from all backgrounds.

Are Alternative Certification Programs Regional or Statewide?

If you live in the region you want to teach, then a regionally or statewide program will work.  Both will provide you the required training and hopefully both will have good rapport with the school districts where you want to teach.

If you live in one region of Texas or out of state, then a statewide program will likely be more helpful.  Programs like Teachworthy that can work with every district in Texas help candidates have the broadest job opportunities.  If you are just graduating college and can move anywhere, then a statewide program will be a great fit.

What Certification Areas offered with Alternative Certification Programs?

Another important aspect to consider are the certification areas offered by the alternative certification program you choose.  The content area you want to teach in needs to be available through your certification program.  Surprisingly, most university programs only offer a limited number of certifications (5-19 areas).  Whereas, alternative certification programs like Teachworthy offer more than 50 certification areas.

After you have carefully considered all these options, visited the websites of the programs you are considering and had a phone or live interview with each program, you’ll be ready to select the best alternative certification program for you.  Discover more about the Teachworthy process and begin your journey to becoming a Texas Teacher.

Hear why Zaira Diaz choose Teachworthy.

“I’m from Puerto Rico. I went to university in Connecticut and then back to my home country where all my family lives. After starting my own family and really struggling because of the economic situation at home, I really wanted to teach in the United States. Since I was a little girl, I had always thought about becoming a teacher, but in Puerto Rico it wasn’t possible financially.

I reached out to Teachworthy and they were so encouraging right from the start. They convinced me that I could do the training while I was in Puerto Rico and that they would be able to help me find a teaching position. They have a great reputation with the school districts they serve. I felt I could really trust them.

They did just as they promised. I found a great teaching position and my life has changed in so many ways. My husband and kids all moved with me to Texas and I know that none of this would have been possible without the family I found at Teachworthy.”