TEACH.org Logo

Choose Your Teacher Training

Find a teaching program that works with your unique background and interests.

Photo of a man with drawings of a question mark, a school and on online university around his head.

What’s the difference between attending a program and getting certified to teach?

Two teaching program students walk together on their university campus.

First things first: A teaching program will give you the skills to teach in your chosen grade and subject. Attending a program is one of several steps to get certified to teach. 

You’ll also need to earn a bachelor’s degree, pass teaching tests and apply for certification. Depending on your state, you may have additional steps. Learn more about how to get certified

Also, remember that states have different teaching program certification standards. If your state does not recognize your certification, you won’t be able to get your teaching certificate. Double-check that your program:

  • Is state-approved for where you want to teach. Your regional accreditation council will usually have this information.
  • Offers a credential in the grade and subject you want to teach.

What pathway should I take to become a teacher?

There are all kinds of teaching programs out there, so you can find one that fits your situation and educational background. Here are some of the most common pathways:

How do I choose a teaching program?

As you explore teaching programs, consider how you learn best and what skills are important to you. These are some criteria that are good to consider:
  1. 1

    Basic needs

    Illustration of a future teacher next to a map. A dotted line leads from a university campus to a school.

    When choosing a program, first make sure that your must-haves are covered. Your teaching program should:

    • Offer an endorsement in the grade and subject you want to teach.
    • Be approved for certification in your state. 
    • Work for you financially.
    • Work with your schedule. Program coursework can be mostly online, in-person or a mix of both.
  2. 2

    Hands-on experience

    A student teacher straightens their tie before they go into their new classroom.

    Hands-on experience is any teaching practice you’ll get before you get certified, like student teaching or a residency experience. As a rule, more experience is better, but quality definitely matters. 

    Make sure to ask programs about what hands-on experience you’ll get, including:

    • How long it lasts.
    • How the program selects mentor teachers.
    • How you’ll receive feedback on your practice.
  3. 3

    Preparation for diverse populations

    A teacher leads a lesson, pointing to a whiteboard as students raise their hands in front of her.

    Your teaching program should prepare you to teach students with diverse learning styles, backgrounds and social and emotional needs. Your coursework might cover things like specific student populations or Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma. 

    Ask teaching programs about how they’ll prepare you to work with diverse students, including:

    • What required courses focus on diverse populations.
    • What hands-on practice you’ll get with diverse students.
    • What skills you’ll build to work with diverse students.
  4. 4

    Mentoring & coaching

    A future teacher FaceTimes with his teaching mentor.

    Most teaching programs will set you up with a teacher mentor or coach, to help give you meaningful feedback during your student teaching or other training.

    Ask prospective programs about:

    • How they select mentor teachers and coaches.
    • How they match you with a mentor or coach.
    • How they ensure that mentor teachers and coaches model effective practices and give helpful feedback. 
    • Whether they offer continued support during your first few years as a teacher.
  5. 5

    Commitment to improvement

    A professor leads a class of future teachers. In the illustration, the whiteboard behind her shows a lightbulb.

    This might be the hardest criteria to spot as you shop for programs. But you’ll want your program to be up-to-date on research about childhood development and serving diverse populations.

    Ask programs about their improvement practices, including: 

    • How they use data and research to improve their practices.
    • How they respond to the needs of their partner schools and districts. 
    • How they recruit and retain diverse teacher candidates, mentors and faculty. 
    • How they gather feedback from students and alumni.

Explore Programs

We've partnered with a variety of teaching programs to bring you tools that help you compare options.
  • Magnifying glass

    Take Your Next Step

    Explore teaching programs to find the right fit for you.

    Get Started
  • Checklist clipboard

    Start Applications

    Once you're ready to apply, we'll help guide you through the process.

    Learn More