TEACH.org Logo

Not certified but want to teach?

Find out how you can earn your teaching certificate and a salary at the same time.

Understand the StepsFind Info in Your Region
A smiling future teacher holds a clipboard. In the background are arrows pointing in different directions, a checkmark and a graphic of a teaching certificate.

Understand Alternative Certification

Alternative certification is a non-traditional route to becoming a teacher. Get an overview and find out if this pathway could be right for you.

Steps to Alternative Teacher Certification

Some states have additional steps, or will have you complete steps in a different order. In general though, here’s what you’ll need to do:
  1. 1

    Make sure you’re eligible.

    A smiling future teacher with long hair and glasses. Graphics of a checklist, graduation cap and a checkmark float around her face.

    To qualify for alternative certification, you’ll need to:

    • Have a bachelor’s degree. Check with your teaching program about any GPA requirements.
    • Meet any coursework requirements. For most programs, you’ll need a certain number of college credits in your teaching subject. 
    • Pass any required tests. You may need to pass a content test, like the Praxis, before you enroll. (Our Praxis Guide can help you prepare!)
  2. 2

    Decide what you want to teach and choose your teaching certificate.

    A future teacher smiles widely in front of a chalkboard. Around him are graphics of a globe, a microscope and a checkmark.

    The teaching certificate you earn will depend on the subject and grade level you want to teach. Your state Department of Education can tell you your teaching certificate options.

    Find your Department of Ed.

    Some states require alternative certification candidates to teach a shortage area subject, like math, science or special education. Check with your state Department of Education to find out if this is a requirement! 


  3. 3

    Apply to teaching programs and enroll.

    A teacher leans over a desk to talk to his elementary school students. Around the image are graphics of a checkmark, an email icon and a calendar.

    Look for teaching programs that offer specific programs for alternative certification teacher candidates.

    Explore teaching programs.

    Some programs have you apply for teaching jobs before you apply to the program itself. In this case, look for jobs in a school district that partners with your desired teaching program. Check with your program to make sure you understand their processes and where you should apply for jobs.


  4. 4

    Apply for teaching jobs in a school district near you.

    A science teacher sits outdoors with students, holding a solar panel in front of her. Around the photo are graphics of a dollar sign, a speech bubble and a checklist.

    Your teaching program may be able to help you with this step! Your teaching job must be in the same grade level and subject area that you plan to teach once you’re fully certified.

    You may find a job more quickly if you plan to teach a critical need or shortage area subject, like math, science, bilingual education or special education!

  5. 5

    Apply for your alternative teaching certificate.

    An alternative certification teacher candidate stands proudly with arms crossed. She is wearing a school ID badge around her neck. Around her are graphics of a certificate, an exclamation mark and an envelope.

    Once you’ve been accepted into a teaching program and secured a job, it’s time to apply for your official alternative teaching certificate from the state. Depending on your state, your program or school district may apply on your behalf. 

    Your state Department of Education will approve and issue your certificate.

  6. 6

    Start teaching!

    A grinning new teacher holds a clipboard to their chest. Around them are graphics of a checkmark, an arrow, a calendar and a notebook with a pencil.

    Congratulations! You're on your way to a new career that makes a big difference.

Alternative Certification in Your Region

Find out how to start teaching right away in each of our seven partner regions, or through your state’s Department of Education.

Get Career Advice

An enthusiastic future teacher talks to a TEACH career coach over a video call on his computer.

Not ready to start just yet? Sometimes it helps to talk to an expert.

TEACH offers free career coaching in each of our partner regions, so you can ask all your questions and take your next steps with confidence. Learn more, or get ideas on how to connect with teachers in your state.  

Get Free Advising