Troops to Teachers: From the Military to the Classroom Making the Transition to Teaching with TTT Services

The Departments of Defense and Education founded the Troops to Teachers (TTT) program to assist veterans transition into teaching careers after completing their military service. Since the program began in 1994, TTT has helped thousands of veterans every year start successful teaching careers. TTT members are encouraged to teach in low-income school districts and pursue teaching in math, science, special education and other high-needs areas. In this guide, learn how the Troops to Teachers program provides the tools and resources for starting a teaching career after military service.

Fact vs. Fiction: Test Your Troops to Teachers Knowledge

Since 1994, the Troops to Teachers program has evolved to meet the needs of current veterans and students. New legislation from January 2, 2013 expanded the program to all veterans with an honorable military discharge. Test your knowledge of the Troops to Teachers program in this interactive quiz.

The TTT program provides both monetary assistance and employment counseling.

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It’s a Fact : The Troops to Teachers program provides resources for teaching students and help finding a job after graduation. TTT offers stipends of either $5,000 or $10,000 to eligible participants.

The Troops to Teachers program is only for veterans wanting to teach at the elementary school level.

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It’s Fiction : The TTT program covers all grades from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

The mission of the TTT is to help fill teacher shortages.

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It’s a Fact : The TTT program is designed to help fill a shortage of teachers in the subject areas of math, science and special education.

The TTT program is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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It’s Fiction : The program is managed by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), which is a branch of the Department of Defense.

To participate in the TTT program, veterans must already have a bachelor’s degree.

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It’s Fiction : All applicants are not required to have a bachelor’s degree. However, applicants without a bachelor’s degree must possess one year of college and at least six years of relative vocational experience and be state-licensed as a vocational instructor to be eligible.

The TTT program includes non-teacher positions.

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It’s a Fact : While the focus generally is on those wishing to teach, other non-teaching positions are supported, such as: teacher aides, counselors, psychologists, school nurses, librarians, media specialists, speech therapists, audiologists, school principals and vice principals.

The Troops to Teachers Mission

  • Assist transitioning military veterans into teaching careers.
  • Provide exemplary role models for today’s youth.
  • Help fill teacher shortages in critical subject areas and geographical regions.

By 2013, more than 17,000 active duty military veterans transitioned into teaching positions through the Troops to Teachers Program.

Troops to Teachers Grant Study (2014)

Who is Eligible for TTT Services?

The TTT program is open to all transitioning military veterans who will be or have been honorably discharged and have a bachelor’s degree or alternative training. Members of the National Guard and Reserves of the Armed Forces may also apply.

  • Eligibility for Referral & Placement Services

    Prospective veterans who are eligible for general TTT services can take advantage of all referral and placement services. TTT provides information on state certification requirements and helps eligible members find employment in their chosen state.

  • How to Register

    To register for the program, applicants must be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces with an interest in a career of instructional or non-instructional teaching. Registration can be completed online or through a paper registration form.

  • Financial Assistance Eligibility

    The TTT program offers two forms of financial assistance: a $5,000 stipend or a $10,000 bonus. Both the stipend and bonus require three-year teaching commitments. The stipend award amount is based on the location of the teaching position.

More than 85 percent of TTT educators are male, compared to 26 percent in the overall teaching force.

Troops to Teachers (2015)

Roadmap to Becoming a Teacher through TTT

Becoming a teacher via the Troop to Teacher Program is a multi-step process that includes everything from registering for the program and getting certified, to finding a job and passing all of the state and school teacher requirements. Most TTT members will follow these steps to become a teacher including:

Step 1 Register for the Troops to Teachers program

For veterans who have a bachelor’s degree, TTT registration is online. Include military service, education and certification information in the application.

Step 2  Meet with a counselor and create an action plan

 The initial counseling session provides information about the program, including creating an individualized action plan.

Step 3 Pass Praxis exams or state exams for teacher credentials

States use either the Praxis exams or a state-specific exam to determine eligibility to teach in that state.

Step 4 Pass background check and screening

Potential teachers must pass a background check, fingerprint screening and medical screenings prior to starting a teaching job.

Step 5 Complete student teaching hours

Most states require student teaching hours before becoming a certified teacher. Complete these hours as part of your initial teacher training or while in the TTT program.

Step 6 Apply for state certification

From the state drop-down menu at the Troops to Teachers website click on the state and then “Routes to Certification”. Click on a state name to see what certifications are required.

Step 7 Create a resume, cover letter and list of references

 Write a teaching resume tailored to the type of teaching position desired. TTT counselors and group services can help with the resume writing process.

Step 8 Search for jobs by state

 On the Troops for Teachers website, search for current open teaching positions or search through teacher-specific job boards such as Teachingjobs.com.

Step 9 Attend job fairs or TASC events

Look for teaching job fairs and TASC events hosted by Troops to Teachers in your state and attend as many as you can.

Step 10 Start working as a licensed teacher

After becoming a licensed teacher with support through Troops to Teachers, start working in a high-needs school near you.

Learn more about education & teaching degrees Learn more about earning a teacher credential

73 percent of TTT teachers remain in the same high-need school where they started. This indicates their effectiveness at teaching and the school’s level of satisfaction with them.

In a recent survey, 96.4 percent of school administrators agreed that TTT participants followed school regulations, policies and procedures.

Troops to Teachers Grant Study (2014)

Troops to Teachers Services

The Troops to Teacher program specifically prepares veterans to take teaching positions in schools with large populations of disadvantaged students. TTT supports veterans and active duty service members within three years of retirement who are interested in teaching as a second career. TTT provides the following services to members:

  • Individual Counseling

    Each applicant attends an individual counseling session. During this meeting, the counselor creates an action plan identifying what the applicant must do to become a certified teacher. This typically includes licensee and certification options, picking a subject to teach, creating a resume and writing letters of recommendation.

  • Financial Support: Stipends & Bonuses

    Applicants may be eligible for either a stipend or bonus:

    • $5,000 Stipend

      A participant can receive a $5,000 stipend in return for a commitment to teach three years in a public school with at least 20 percent of its students who are at or below the poverty level.

    • $10,000 Bonus

      Teachers must commit to teaching at least three years in a school district that has a 10 percent student population at or below the poverty level and a high percentage of students with disabilities to become eligible for the $10,000 stipend.

  • Job Placement Assistance

    Counselors work with participants to locate and apply for teaching positions. Through their contacts within school districts, counselors can also advise TTT participants where potential needs may exist for teachers in jobs not currently advertised.

  • Hire in Advance Program

    A service member transitioning out of the military can guarantee a teaching position up to three years in advance. After applying and interviewing, successful applicants are issued a Letter of Intent. Most hire in advance selectees teach in high-need subject areas including math, science and special education.

  • Events

    Teaching as a Second Career seminars attract applicants and increase awareness for the Troops to Teacher Program. Seminars cover the initial counseling session, pathways to state certification, financial assistance, salaries and job markets, advantages (and disadvantages) of teaching and discuss the attributes that make a high-quality teacher.

Top 5 Qualities of TTT Teachers

The Troops for Teachers program focuses on providing low-income schools with quality teachers. Lessons taught in the classroom are only part of what these students will learn from you. It takes dedication, patience, and love to be a TTT teacher. All TTT teachers must have the following qualities to succeed:

Having the following character attributes and skills and help Troops to Teachers members succeed once they have their own classroom:

  • 1

     Attention to Detail During military service, attention to detail is crucial for the success of missions. In the classroom, a missed step can mean the difference between success and failure for students.

  • 2

    OrganizationWhether presenting a class or accounting for equipment, organization is a must during military service. It is just as important in the classroom. From organizing lessons, to keeping track of assignments, an organized classroom is a successful classroom.

  • 3

    Communication SkillsBeing part of a team requires the ability to give or take spoken and written orders clearly. These communication skills are critical for teachers when presenting lessons to students, especially in classrooms with students of diverse backgrounds.

  • 4

    PatiencePatience was a skill learned in the military and a handy one to have in the classroom. Patience and understanding will go a long way towards earning students’ respect.  

  • 5

    Leadership Without a solid leadership structure, the military cannot succeed. The same is true in the classroom. A strong leader can solve many discipline issues and serve as a role model for students.

In a 2014 survey, 92 percent of supervising administrators rated their TTTs as prepared to meet the needs of diverse students.

Troops to Teachers Grant Study (2014)

33 percent of TTT teachers identify as a person of color as compared to 10 percent of non-TTT teachers.

Troops to Teachers (2015)
Learn more about teaching in a diverse classroom

Using GI Bills & Other Financial Aid to Become a Teacher

Veterans are eligible for financial aid from multiple sources. Commonly, veterans can apply for the following financial aid services to make paying for a teaching degree and certification easier.

GI Bills

The GI Bill is an education benefits package that provides up to 36 months of entitlement used to obtain a post-secondary education. With two or more GI Bills, a veteran receives up to 48 months of benefits pay. A TTT participant can use their GI Bill to pay for needed certifications required by their state or pay for an advanced degree. The amount each GI Bill pays varies as noted below.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

Offered to military members serving on or after August 1, 2009, the Post-9/11 GI Bill can provide up to 36 months of education benefits. This bill pays in three ways: tuition paid directly to a school by the VA, a monthly housing allowance, or a book stipend paid once per semester. The VA pays tuition in full at public schools and up to $21, 970 per year at private schools. Veterans can use Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to pay for certification exams and requirements.

Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB)

The Montgomery GI Bill requires a service of at least three years and a contribution fee of $1,200. This bill can be used for the same training as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. All pay goes directly to the student who is responsible for all education-related expenses.

Montgomery GI Bill – Select Reserves (MGIB-SR)

Members of the National Guard and are eligible for this GI Bill after a six-year enlistment. The monthly pay goes directly to the student and pays up to $368 per month for full-time students. The student must pay all education-related expenses. This GI Bill can be awarded in conjunction with the Post 9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty and the stipend from the TTT program.

Scholarships & Grants

Troops to Teachers program members may also be eligible for additional scholarships and grants. One of the best grants for prospective teachers is the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. The TEACH grant pays up to $4,000 per year to eligible students. Eligibility is determined by degree path. Most TEACH grants go to students working toward teacher certification in math, science, or special education.

At the same time, many private and public organizations and schools offer scholarships for veterans pursuing post-secondary education in any field. Veterans working to become a teacher through TTT can apply for scholarships like this to earn extra money to pay for school. There is also a breadth of scholarship opportunities for prospective teachers in general, meaning that veterans following the TTT path may apply for these awards as well. In other words, veterans aspiring to be teachers are often eligible apply for financial aid and scholarships awarded to both groups: veterans and future teachers.

Learn more about Financial Aid & Scholarships for Veterans Learn more about Financial Aid & Scholarships for Teachers

Loans & Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Loans can cover any costs not covered by TTT or other grants and scholarships. Teachers have an advantage over other professionals as many states offer loan forgiveness programs for teachers. Serving for five consecutive years in a school with a high percentage of low-income families may make a teacher eligible for up to $17,500 of loan forgiveness from both Direct and Stafford loans. However, not all loans are eligible for loan forgiveness.

Loans can come from a variety of sources through federal, state or private organizations. Always read the fine print carefully to verify eligibility for loan forgiveness, as loan agreements can vary widely from organization to organization.

Learn more about Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

Expert Q&A: Advice from the Field 

What qualities or traits make a good teacher?

In my opinion, whether someone wants to teach elementary (K-6) or secondary (7-12), the qualities of a good teacher are twofold: a genuine love of students and being a constant student themselves by staying current with educational research and trends.

Is there a difference teaching at the elementary level versus middle or high school?

Elementary teachers are generalists because, in most cases, they teach all the subjects and have their students all day long for the entire school year. They develop a close personal bond with their students and parents. At this level, focus is on the development of the whole child.

Secondary teachers, on the other hand, teach specific subjects and help students become knowledgeable and develop skills in those subjects. In most cases, secondary teachers have their students only one hour a day, for [either the whole year or only for a semester]. Many secondary teachers develop strong educational bonds with their students because of the teacher’s and student’s interest in that academic subject.

What are the advantages of specializing in a particular field of teaching, such as math, versus general elementary education?

If you are considering a career in education you must ask yourself: what age child can I most closely identify with and do I want to teach all the subjects or focus on one. I don’t feel there is an advantage or disadvantage to becoming an elementary or secondary teacher. Your decision should be based on your love of children/young adults, learning and subject matter.

With some districts using performance-based salaries, how are teachers evaluated?

During my time as an Instructional Coach, our district used the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching which includes a rubric for evaluation in four areas:

  • Planning and Preparation
  • The Classroom Environment
  • Instruction
  • Professionalism

As coaches, we worked with teachers in the areas of Planning and Preparation and Instruction. Each area involves many skills that are rated on a continuum going from Unsatisfactory to Basic to Proficient to Distinguished. The Charlotte Danielson Framework is a comprehensive guide to excellent teaching and still being used in our district today.

Additional Resources  

My Army Benefits: Troops to Teachers

Military resources for army members and veterans who want to learn about their benefits, with this page talking specifically about TTT.

Scholastic.com

Under the Teacher tab are helpful classroom resources, including planning tools for teachers to improve their classroom curricula.  

Teacher Lingo.com

Teaching resources created by teachers for teachers. An expansive list of lesson plans and curriculum ideas for all grade levels and subjects.

Teach-nology.com

A website filled with 66 different links to various teacher resources, tools and information that can be used in the classroom or for self-development.

TTT State Office Points of Contact

A list of phone numbers, email addresses and website URLs for each TTT point of contact within a particular state or territory.

Troops to Teachers

The official website with resources, a calendar of events, helpful links and information on the TTT program.