How to Become a Teacher in Texas

Earning a teaching degree can lead to a rewarding career path. Our guide outlines how to become a teacher in Texas.

Published April 6, 2022 • 6 Min Read

edited by Lequita Westbrooks

How To Become a Teacher in Texas

To become a teacher in Texas, aspiring educators first need a bachelor's degree. They must complete an approved educator program and pass certification exams. They can then submit an application to the state. Some teachers complete an approved education program during their bachelor's program. Others attend an alternative certificate program or post-bachelor's program.

Prospective educators do not need state certification to start a teaching career in Texas private schools. For example, teachers at private religious schools may or may not be certified by Texas.

This page explains how to become a teacher in Texas. Read on to learn about certification steps and continuing education requirements. The last section features helpful resources for teachers.

Questions About Teaching in Texas

Can I teach in Texas without certification?

Private schools can choose to hire teachers without Texas certification. Public schools can only hire state-certified teachers.

How long does it take to get a teacher certification in Texas?

Certification length depends on whether teachers hold a bachelor's degree. Exams and applications typically only take a few months to complete.

Can you teach in Texas with an out-of-state license?

Texas welcomes out-of-state teachers, but they must apply for reciprocity. Educators have a one-year grace period to get formal certification from Texas.

How much do teachers make in Texas?

Public school teachers in Texas earn a median $59,670 annually, according to Salary.com. Teachers' experience level and school district influence pay.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Certified Teacher in Texas?

Becoming a teacher in Texas public schools requires obtaining licensure. Teachers who plan to move from Texas may need to apply for a license in their new state. Licensure requirements vary by state. The information below pertains specifically to Texas teaching requirements.

1. Bachelor's Degree

Teachers need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to become a teacher in Texas. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board must approve the accrediting agency. Accreditation proves that the school operates under a standard shared by other institutions and that enrollees gain the skills to enter their respective fields. Students do not need an education-related bachelor's degree to start a teaching career in Texas.

2. Educator-Preparation Program

Educator-preparation programs (EPPs) prepare students to take their certification exams to become a teacher in Texas. Some bachelor's programs build EPPs into their curriculum. Students who did not earn a bachelor's degree in education can complete an EPP after graduation.

3. Certification Exam

In Texas, teachers must pass a certification exam in the type of teaching they hope to pursue. For example, aspiring educators who want to teach third grade must take a certification exam covering core subjects from early childhood through grade six. Applicants cannot fail the exam more than four times. Prospective teachers can register for the exam through the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

4. State Application

After passing the exam, aspiring teachers must submit a state application to become a teacher in Texas. They can do so by using the state's Educator Certification Online System. Applicants should confirm their eligibility before submitting the application.

5. Background Check

All first-time applicants must undergo a criminal background check and fingerprinting. The TEA can provide a preliminary criminal history evaluation for a non-refundable fee. This option may prove helpful for those who are unsure how their backgrounds might impact their eligibility.

Alternative Certification for Aspiring Teachers in Texas

Alternative certification programs (ACPs) typically enroll students who are changing careers or those with a bachelor's degree in a subject other than education. The section below lists the steps to complete an ACP in Texas.

1. Choose a Subject and Grade Level to Teach

Prospective educators should consider the subject and grade level they want to teach. The answers determine which program they complete and which certification they need. Some EPPs can help teachers pick their path.

2. Select an Alternative Certification Program

Students can typically complete an ACP in 12 months. They can search for alternative programs on the TEA's website. ACPs let students teach in classrooms or intern in schools, sometimes for pay.

3. Meet With an Advisor

An advisor from the ACP of an applicant's choice can meet with prospective educators to discuss application requirements. These typically include GPA, basic skills, and demonstration of content knowledge.

4. Get a Teaching Assignment

Once a prospective teacher has gained admission to an ACP, they will receive a statement of eligibility. They must then find a teaching assignment. Some ACPs help place aspiring teachers at a school. At the school, candidates work alongside a mentor.

5. Apply for a Probationary Certificate

In order to complete a teaching internship, ACP students must apply for a probationary certificate through the state. The certificate remains valid for one year. Prospective teachers must apply online, pay the application fee, and undergo a criminal background check.

6. Complete Requirements for Standard Certificate

In order to apply for a standard certificate, prospective teachers must complete their ACP training and internship. They must also take the certification exam. Aspiring educators must complete these requirements within the year their probationary certificate is valid to become a teacher in Texas.

7. Apply for Your Standard Certificate

After completing the requirements, prospective teachers can apply for their standard certificate online. Their ACP program will recommend them to the state. Aspiring educators undergo the same standard certificate application process as any other applicant in order to begin their teaching career in Texas.

Texas Out-of-State Teacher Certification

Educators with a license to teach in other states can obtain certification to teach in Texas without starting from scratch. The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification facilitates the interstate agreement, which allows teachers to more easily obtain licensure when they cross state lines. This teacher license reciprocity applies to 50 states and Canadian provinces.

Out-of-state teachers must apply with their TEA login (TEAL) and include copies of their state's standard certificates and official transcripts. If approved, they receive a one-year certificate that lets them teach while they finalize their Texas certifications. Some teachers opt out of Texas' certification tests based on their credentials.

Continuing Education Requirements for Teachers in Texas

Teachers must renew their standard certificates every five years. In order to renew, educators must show they have completed 150 hours of continuing professional education (CPE). Teachers with an administrative or student services certificate must complete 200 CPE hours. Teachers can renew online through the TEAL system.

CPE must relate to the teacher's certification area. Of the 150 hours, teachers must dedicate a certain amount of hours to specific CPE areas. Some examples include digital teaching and educating diverse student populations. Acceptable CPE activities include workshops, institutes, and independent study. Taking graduate-level classes also counts toward CPE hours.

Texas Teaching Shortages

As of the 2020-21 school year, TEA submitted the following shortage areas to the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Bilingual/English as a Second Language – elementary and secondary levels
  • Special education – elementary and secondary levels
  • Career and technical education – secondary levels
  • Technology applications and computer science – elementary and secondary levels
  • Mathematics – secondary levels

Schools and school districts can use these shortage areas to recruit and hire certified teachers in these subjects. The Texas Workforce Commission projects that demand for teachers in Texas will increase 11% from 2018-2028. Comparatively, demand for teachers is projected to grow 4% nationally.

Resources for Teachers

This site lists scholarships, grants, and loans available to Texans attending college. Students who wish to study education in college can use these opportunities for financial aid to finance their education. The TEA offers and advertises many programs to help pay for teacher training. These include teacher loan forgiveness, Teach for America, and programs by the Texas Workforce Commission. TEACH Grants provide students with up to $4,000 a year in grants as long as they serve four years at a school or educational service agency that serves low-income students or teach in a high-need field within eight years of graduation. Failure to do so turns the grant into a loan. This program provides $2,500 of loan payment assistance to educators teaching in designated critical shortage fields. This site provides teachers and citizens with information about school districts and schools throughout the state. Visitors can compare standardized test scores between Texas schools and districts.

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