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The Process of Getting a Master's and a Teaching Certificate

written by: wilhackney•edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch•updated: 9/22/2010

Do you want a better job? A job with benefits? Becoming a teacher is both rewarding and possible even in these tough economic times. With a master's and teaching certificate, you can teach virtually anywhere in the US. Teachers also have great hours and in most states, the summers off!

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    Introduction

    Earning a master's degree opens the door to a variety of well paying jobs and is well worth the time you spend working on it. You can earn a master's in virtually any subject from agriculture to music to veterinary science. A Master of Science, M.S. or M.Sc. and a Master of Arts, M.A. represents the two most commonly awarded in the United States. But if you are interested in teaching, you can look into programs that offer both a master's and teaching certificate.

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    Applying for a Master's and a Teaching Certificate

    Several steps are involved in the application process for a master's and teaching certificate:

    1. Order your transcript from the college you received your bachelor's degree. Order an official copy and an unofficial copy. The official copy will be the one you send to the university you are applying to for your master's. It must remain sealed. You can open and keep the unofficial copy for your records. It is also a good idea to verify the information on it. Pay close attention to your GPA as universities have different minimum GPA requirements.
    2. Fill out a FAFSA. This is the federal student aid form to find out if you are eligible for any financial aid. Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov.
    3. Decide what area of study you desire a master's in. It is best to work towards a degree in which you have an interest in and some prior knowledge.
    4. Talk to the school system's human resource department in the locality you plan to teach in and find out specific teaching needs. The human resource department should also be able to explain the process for licensure, earning a teaching certificate, in the state you desire to teach in.
    5. After you have decided on the degree you want to pursue, start looking at colleges which offer the classes you need. Keep in mind that most universities offer online classes, so you do not have to live within driving distance of a school. Some schools, however, do require a student to attend a few classes on campus. These are usually done on consecutive weekends, or as a week long intensive. For example, Liberty University requires a student to take at least two classes on campus. They want to be certain the student they are teaching online is who they claim to be, since he or she will most likely be working with children at some point in his or her career.
    6. Start applying to the schools which meet your needs, remembering that you must also meet their standards when applying.
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    Things to Consider

    An important issue to remember is nearly all states require a prospective teacher to spend at least twelve weeks student teaching as part of the certification process. Each state also has required tests which teachers must pass to earn a teaching certificate. Again, the human resource department of the school system you desire to work in can identify the test and also recommend testing sites. The prospective teacher usually is responsible for paying for these tests. These tests are referred to as Praxis I and Praxis II, and can be specific to the area you will be teaching: math, science, history, etc.

    Prospective teachers must also be aware that in most school districts student teachers are not paid for their student teaching. Student teaching is considered a class that you are receiving credit for. You will have homework and a supervisor while student teaching.

    Becoming a teacher is well worth the time and effort it takes. Online classes have made it possible to earn a master's degree and a teaching certificate for whoever has the guts and the willpower to go for it!