The hallowed halls of academia are fragrant with the scent of freshly printed teacher licenses, all a-mingling with their dusty old counterparts waiting for renewal.

Can you smell 'em? Good. Now here's how to get one.

The general formula is: get your Bachelor's degree + take pedagogy classes + apply through your state for certification.

Then boom! You're a teacher. Easy.

Um, yeah. We wish.

In fact, the road to "fully certified teacher" can be a long one, stretching over the span of years. For some folks, it can take upwards of five of those years to make it through the long list of undotted I's and uncrossed T's.

Let's count it through. A bachelor's degree generally takes about four years of college, and during that time you need to make sure you're laying a solid foundation of knowledge. Which means you need both content and pedagogical strategies under your belt.

Then you need to do your student teaching. If you're in a college program, that'll be in your last semester, or you join a different certification program, which will generally take a bit longer.

And of course there's the good ol' Praxis (I and II)—not to mention other exams, depending on your state. These prove to the powers that be that you have the knowledge and experience necessary to fulfill your state's requirements. Don't know what your state's requirements are? The ETS is here to help.

When you get close to finishing the educational process, you'll ultimately have to go through your state's Department of Education (or some equivalent), apply for certification, and then wait while someone in a state office cashes your application fee, double checks your creds, and issues your initial certification.

Yeah, we're holding back the yawns, too.


Your license will have an endorsement on it. Doesn't that sound fancy? Plus, you can have endorsements added to your certification at any time (check with your state to determine how you can add endorsements). Your initial license will have the endorsement you tested for and are authorized to teach when the license is issued. For more endorsements, check with Nabisco, Pepsi, and other popular sponsors. Really, teaching is just like Nascar.

Okay, not really. So what are these magical creatures?

Endorsements, in the teaching sense, delineate the subject that you are endorsed to teach. For example, if your initial certification shows the secondary endorsements of English, drama, speech, and photo journalism, that means that you can legitimately teach any or all of these classes. In general, the more endorsements you have, the more flexibility you have and the easier it is to find a job.

Just like in Nascar, after all.

Of course, these are generalities. Make sure to talk with the counselor in your program and check with your state's Education Department, as well as looking into any other specifics your state or district may decide to take on.

It sounds like a lot, but it's not as hard as it seems. Especially compared to roomful of 13-year-olds.


Shmoop's resources will work for you, too, by the way! Check out our Teaching Tools, or use our test prep for Praxis!