An Ultimate Guide On How Long It Takes To Become A Teacher?

How long does it take to become a teacher? Knowing the requirements will help you prepare better to embark on this career.

As we grow older and more mature, we understand better about ourselves and the world to decide which career would fit us most. Interestingly, people who become teachers have had that teaching dream since their younger days. It’s like they just know that teaching is for them.

In fact, no matter how long it takes to become a teacher, they are determined to realize their lifelong dream. They made great efforts to meet requirements to become a teacher.

Why Should You Consider Becoming A Teacher?

When asked what we want to become when we grow older, many of us answered we wanted to become teachers. That could majorly because of how much we look up to our teachers, consider them our idols. In the young minds, the teachers knew everything and had the answers to all of our questions. Indeed, there are other reasons why teachers are so crucial for the development of a child.

The Teachers Are A Significant Part Of Our Childhood.

Since the early days of childhood, we have been trusted with the teachers by our parents. We went to kindergarten every morning, had fun, and got picked up in the evening, with fun stories to tell. Naturally, kindergarten teachers are an essential part of our childhood. We look up to them the similar way we respect our family members.

As time goes by and so does our childhood, teachers are always there. We study with new teachers every year, many of whom left unforgettable marks in our memories. They help us become the better version of ourselves. Other times, they teach us valuable life lessons and about the world outside. 

An Ultimate Guide On How Long It Takes To Become A Teacher?

How long it takes to become a teacher? Source: Shutterstock

Teachers Are Not Only Trainers

Plutarch – a Greek philosopher, historian, and priest at the Temple of Apollo, once said: “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” Indeed, a good education is all about igniting a fire of eagerness to learn. Passionately devoted teachers usually consider it their life mission to “kindle” a fire in each student they teach. 

Teachers Are Not Only Trainers

Teachers set the foundation for children to grow into good citizens. Source: wellequippedvolunteer

Teachers also play a crucial role in shaping part of the students’ personalities. Students naturally have fond memories of the teachers who helped them through a challenging time. For some students, it is hard to confide in their family members, teachers can be the ones staying beside them through tough times. Teachers can also become good friends with their past students, especially when both share similar interests.  

How Long Does It Take To Become A Teacher?

There Are Many Reasons Why You Should Become A Teacher.

Once you have made your decision, you can confidently start looking into the requirements to become a teacher. 

Of course, your passion alone does not make you a real teacher.  To be qualified, you need to obtain specific certifications and go through mandatory training programs. If teaching is your calling, you would have a clear vision of what discipline you want to teach or how to gain experience.

Typically, it takes 4 years in university to obtain a bachelor’s degree in teaching. A standard Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in the US offers approximately 40 courses. These courses equip you with hands-on experience and knowledge. You also learn applicable education methods for your teaching discipline, the general education content, and demo teaching. 

In particular, these bachelor’s degrees all consist of pre-clinical experiences, where you have the chance to observe and participate in teaching. Through such activities, you will develop the pedagogical skills and confidence to teach effectively. Usually, you are assigned to a 75-hour in-classroom observation. After that, you will document the whole experience and your key findings. 

These bachelor’s degrees all consist of pre-clinical experiences.

How long does it take you to become a certified teacher in the US? Source: Getty Images

Do You Have To Teach During Your Time At The University?

If yes, how many times do you have to teach? You have to conduct demo teaching, which takes from 12 to 20 weeks of in-classroom experience under supervision. All of these are included in the 4-year duration of your Bachelor’s degree.

In case you did not have a bachelor’s degree in anything related to Teaching, you can always take a Master’s degree in Teaching. A full-time Master’s degree typically takes you two years. There are flexible enrollment choices; hence, you can take the Master’s degree part-time while still going to work if required. 

In general, how long does it take you to become a teacher? If you start fresh with a Bachelor’s degree in teaching, it takes you four years. If you switch from another field, you will spend two years with a Master’s degree in teaching and get the teacher licensure you need. Both pathways would equip you with the knowledge and experience to confidently handle responsibilities and be excellent at teaching.

What Are The Required Qualifications For A Teacher In Your State?

Know Precisely Which Level Of Education You Want To Teach

The requirements for levels of study are very different, besides the particular instructions of your state. You should first ask yourself: where you want to teach, which level you are interested in, etc. After that, you can start to look into the requirements and how long it takes to get a teaching certificate. 

Carry On Yourself The Weighty Responsibility

Once you are a member of the education system, you carry on yourself the weighty responsibility to meet expectations and realize hopes. Hence, the system sets out obvious requirements for particular teaching positions. Besides competence and passion, qualifications play a vital role in whether you can practice your dream job.

There are multiple requirements for a teaching career in the US. You must first decide where you want to get a teaching post. This decision is essential, yet you can indeed choose a more suitable location later on.

Before contacting the state education board of your choice, you should learn the necessary information about the different state requirements. However, every state asks for a minimum qualification of a bachelor’s degree, favorably in education. Besides, each state will have more detailed requirements, which will be explained in the next part.

Identify The Requirements Of Your States.

Let’s take Alabama for reference. How long does it take to become a teacher in Alabama? Besides your bachelor’s degree, you will perform a combination of curriculum planning and fieldwork. For the fieldwork component, you can expect field observations, student teaching, and an internship. Moreover, you will need to pass 2 compulsory tests by Alabama law. 

Firstly, you must pass the Basic Skills Assessment with a perfect score. This Basic Skills Assessment will test you applied mathematics, reading for information, and writing. These skills are all applicable to classroom and work-related content. The writing test will ask you to respond to a work-related situation.

Identify The Requirements Of Your States.

Basic Skills Assessment test prospective teachers the skills in the classroom. Source: Darnells

After passing the Basic Skills Assessment, you will take the Praxis II test. This test covers knowledge of both general and specific subjects related to K-12 teaching skills, along with classroom knowledge. The Praxis II tests have 120 different tests, and you only need to take the test required for your teaching discipline. The Praxis II test and the Basic Skills Assessment will help decide your eligibility to teach in Alabama. 

In addition, you need to teach students under an experienced teacher’s supervision and guidance. How many times do you have to teach? In fact, this depends a lot on your skills and how you improve after each session. The experienced teacher can give you comments. The more your teaching enhances, the faster your internship finishes. Your skills decide how many times you have to teach in the internship

Also, you should know that a similar process would take place in different states. You must figure out which State you want to apply to, which discipline you want to teach. From that, you can follow the instructions of the particular State you choose. 

Prepare For The Application Process

In Alabama, the application process to become a teacher is very straightforward. Once you have all the required documents, you will fill the application for Alabama certification. You need to pay an application fee of $30 to the Alabama State Department of Education. Your application needs to be sent along with your official transcripts of all degrees and earned credits. Also, remember that the institution you graduated from must send all documents to the Alabama State Department of Education. 

In particular, The Alabama State Department of Education requires a formal background clearance. All applicants will have to be cleared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI). These are the formal police checks on your records to decide if you are fit to teach. There will be a fee of approximately $50 for these checks. 

Again, the application process is different in each state of the United States. Hence, you would need to check for details of the specific State you choose. However, you can search the internet to learn the basics about all the different requirements by states. 

You Are Now Qualified To Teach. What’s Next?

Just like any other profession, teaching has its pros and cons as a career. Despite the indisputable importance of teachers, the education market depends a lot on geographic and demographic factors. For example, the South and the West of the United States have recruited more students in recent years, so their need for teachers increased. As a qualified teacher, you need to understand the job vacancies in different states to find the one suiting you best. 

You Are Now Qualified To Teach. What’s Next?

The teacher demands/supplies vary across the states. Source: collegechoice

Job Outlook Of Teachers

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates, about 69 million new teachers by 2030 are needed to meet global education goals. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts a positive outlook for a teaching career in the United States.  

For teachers in kindergarten to high school, the projected demand for teachers from 2019-2029 is 4%. This is due to the rising attention towards the school system from the public. And at the same time, the federal government has invested more into education in recent years to train highly qualified teachers across the country. 

On another note, you should check out teaching jobs that increase in demand annually. These jobs can be ESL teachers who train English as a second language for foreign students going to the United States to study. In fact, the need for ESL teachers will keep growing as the number of international students coming to the USA is not likely to go down. 

Special Requirements For Teachers.

Most states require a prospective teacher to undergo Special Education Teaching courses. Special Education helps bring education opportunities for students with difficulties in learning, behavioral or social disorders.

The Special Education teachers are trained to use technology, unique lesson plans, and individual teaching in the process. Special needs students need individualized education, and that is why Special Education Teachers are always in demand. 

In Alabama, the state government provides differential pay for teachers teaching in schools lacking teachers besides their annual salary. Also, the qualification requirements to become a Special Education teacher are different. You must be licensed with a bachelor’s degree first and then study higher to a master’s degree in special education.

However, bachelor’s degree programs train you particularly for special education, giving you the K-12 special education licensure. Unfortunately, not every state in the United States offers this course.

The bachelor’s degree in Special Education consists of coursework and assessments and a preclinical experience with obligatory observation hours. The course includes the Demo Teaching hosted by an experienced teacher under a clinical supervisor’s direction. Besides, all of this training prepares you to support students with a wide range of disabilities and needs.

How Elementary school teachers discipline the students. Source: TNDeptofEducation

Does Higher Demand Mean A Higher Salary For Teachers?

Salary rage of teachers in the US

Like anyone among us, teachers have bills to pay and rely on their salary. Despite the high demand for teachers across the United States, teachers’ salary ranges in different states vary. Commonly, teachers have 15 vacation weeks per year. However, you will get 17 vacation weeks if you teach in Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, or Wyoming.  

Teachers’ salary range depends mostly on their teaching location and whether they teach in elementary or secondary schools. According to the Occupational Employment Statistics report done in May 2017 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers’ salaries vary significantly. 

While Elementary teachers in New York get an annual salary of $80,540, their colleagues in Oklahoma only make $40,530 a year. That is a whopping $40,000 difference in payment, even though the elementary teachers in New York or Oklahoma handle similar responsibilities and job requirements. What about secondary teachers?

In fact, a secondary teacher in Alaska would earn $85,420 a year, the highest rank for secondary teachers. Sadly, again, Oklahoma secondary teachers only make $41,880 for a year of service. In other words, Oklahoma is the state where teachers are generally paid less than other states. On the contrary, New York is where the teachers are most well-paid, either in Elementary or Secondary schools. 

Teacher salary in the US in 2017

StateAverage Elementary Teacher SalaryAverage Secondary Teacher Salary
New Hampshire$57,470$60,070
New Jersey$69,500$76,430
New Mexico$77,900$78,810
New York$80,540$83,360
North Carolina$45,690$46,370
North Dakota$51,090$51,400
Pennsylvania $65,370$66,020
Rhode Island$67,990$67,620
South Carolina$50,510$53,960
South Dakota$41,570$41,980
West Virginia$45,530$46,560
Wyoming $58,420$59,780

Source: The Occupational Employment Statistics report, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May, 2017).

And The Job Downsides.

Teachers are arguably the most important members of our society. They teach and inspire children to do well and succeed in life. But being a teacher would sometimes be draining. 

Margaret Elizabeth Sangster, or more known as Aunt Marjorie, an American poet, and author in the 1910s, once said: “No one should teach who is not in love with teaching.” The love of teaching is by far the most critical component when you think about choosing a teaching career.

Teachers Are Underpaid 

It seems that we are not paying enough for essential individuals to our society today and in the future. Given their great pressure and responsibilities, teachers are very much underpaid. Sadly, the situation is not going to improve a lot very soon. 

Moreover, during their teaching years, they spend a part of their earnings on teaching props, which the government should fund. We all know at least one teacher who would have different props or materials for every session, and little did we wonder who paid for such props. There can be devoted teachers who do not care much about spending their earnings on teaching. 


Many distractions keep students away from studying. Source: Netnanny

The Tiring Race To Keep Up With Teaching Methods

There are non-stop creations of new trends on the Internet. One day students are fascinated by slimes, and the next day it is considered cool to flip a half-full bottle and make it stand. These tricks and trends spread the fastest in student communities, particularly in classrooms. Students somehow always have new things on their minds, and some teachers see the need to include these trends in-class activities to engage them. 

Once these trendy tricks are integrated into a helpful class activity, the teacher can evoke students’ eagerness to learn. Indeed, most teachers want to give students an exciting learning experience. And that gives them even more pressure to keep up with their students. 

The Naughty Students Never Cease To Leave You Alone.

In reality, there are always those playful students in a classroom, with their heads full of fun ideas to give classmates a good laugh. Sometimes, it could go out of control and become a nuisance. But there is no way teachers can choose to teach a class with only excellent and hard-working students. And deep inside, you know that those mischievous youngsters are whom you miss the most after all. 

The Naughty Students Never Cease To Leave You Alone.

A typical day in the life of a high school teacher. Source: Nicholas LeTarte

These young ones can take their exams not seriously enough, giving silly answers to your serious questions. Additionally, they give you tough questions or even “traps” to lure you into making a fool of yourself. Hence, at such times, it calls for the great love of a teacher to guide you through and show you what you should do to help those students.

Additionally, they could be troubled somehow, or maybe they are lonely and just need more attention and care. Teachers help students identify their problems and find solutions, guiding them through the uncertain times of growing up. 

Your Life Is Dedicated To Teaching.

Weekends are for lesson planning and more lesson planning. Teachers are not easily satisfied with their plans and always try to tailor them however they can. Teachers spend most of their time at home marking, planning, and learning new knowledge in their teaching discipline. Thus, a devoted teacher may feel bombarded with their teaching responsibilities.

It is so common to see teachers who have taught for their whole professional life. It’s safe to say that teachers are one of the professions to which you can devote your whole life. Unless you are interested in management roles, you would not need any significant career upgrade even in 20 years. 

A typical day in the life of a high school teacher. Source: Nicholas LeTarte

If Teaching Is Your Calling, You Are Set

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Indeed, every country considers education an essential pillar for sustainable development. If you want to contribute to your country’s development, and more importantly, if teaching is your calling, you can pursue teaching jobs. 

If Teaching Is Your Calling, You Are Set

Education plays an important role in the well-being of society. Source: Nelson Mandela

In reality, teaching can be a meaningful part of your life, giving you happiness in every way. You can envision yourself caring for young students. No matter how long it takes you to become a teacher, you know that teaching is for you deep in your soul. And you would do what it takes to become a teacher. 

Then, choose the state you want to teach in the United States, and explore their requirements. How long does it take to get a teaching certificate? How many times do we have to teach to be qualified? All of that is to properly train and prepare to start your teaching career confidently and successfully. 

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John Hobbs

At Jobandedu, John Hobbs holds the position of senior blogger. Though Hobbs has achieved massive success as a researcher, adviser, and writer, he still had to undergo multiple trials and tribulations before finding his true calling. He considered it his life's work to assist others in discovering and developing their full potential. His broad expertise in diverse fields and specifications allows him to provide insightful, real-world advice. His writings offer in-depth guidance on finding and excelling in a career, using information gleaned from extensive study and his personal experience. Hobbs also has a creative and engaging writing style, which he uses to publish pieces wherein he discusses his interests, views, and studies.