Teaching in Alaska is an excellent way to earn a high wage and receive scholarship opportunities. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), teachers in the state earn annual mean wages that exceed the national average. Since Alaska's rural communities qualify as high-need areas with teacher shortages, there are many scholarship and grant programs that can finance education for teachers who commit to working in these regions. Urban areas such as Anchorage and Juneau also offer high salaries and plenty of job openings for prospective teachers.
The University of Alaska system and Alaska Pacific University currently allow students to earn their teaching degrees online. As such, students who live out of state can still earn their Alaska teaching license without moving. Requirements for teaching licensure change from state to state, so it is a bit more difficult for students who enroll in out-of-state educator preparation programs to become licensed in Alaska. However, these students can still become licensed in Alaska by applying as out-of-state teachers.
Alaska is also home to many state-specific scholarships that incentivize talented students to become teachers in the Last Frontier. There are plenty of opportunities for students willing to move north, especially in terms of salary and job openings. Below, we provide a comprehensive overview of the requirements to become a teacher in Alaska and what students can expect from an online teaching program in the state.
How to Become a Teacher in Alaska
In each state, the requirements to become licensed as a teacher are different. Additionally, state-specific teaching licenses do not automatically transfer to other states. Fortunately, Alaska's teaching licensure requirements are relatively straightforward and similar to standard requirements in other states. Applicants for licensure must have a bachelor's degree, must have completed an approved educator preparation program, and must pass Praxis exams, among other requirements.
Alaska's teaching licensure requirements are relatively straightforward and similar to standard requirements in other states.
Once applicants have their Alaska teaching license, they can move to another state and become licensed in that state by completing additional requirements. Generally, these teachers can become licensed in their new state by providing proof of their Alaska license, demonstrating proof of competency (often through the Praxis), and completing a background check.
Though earning an online associate degree can be an important step toward teaching in Alaska, the state's Department of Education and Early Development only awards teaching licenses to applicants who have at least a bachelor's degree. Aspiring teachers who have a bachelor's degree in a field other than education can earn a license by pursuing a master's degree. A master's degree also provides current teachers with more in-depth knowledge and prepares them to enter administrative positions.
Students do not have to major in teaching to become licensed in Alaska; however, an undergraduate degree in teaching is an asset when entering the classroom, as these teachers will have a greater knowledge of how to develop curricula and manage classrooms. Most bachelor's degrees in teaching require four years of full-time study. Students who want to complete a master's degree should plan on spending an additional one to two years in school. Whether or not they have a master's degree, all prospective teachers must fulfill student teaching requirements to earn their Alaska teaching license.
Alaska is a member of the NASDTEC Interstate Reciprocity Agreement, meaning that an Alaska teaching license can transfer into 46 other states. However, this does not mean that Alaska teachers automatically become licensed when they move to those states. Alaskan teachers must still fulfill additional requirements for out-of-state teachers as stipulated by those states' departments of education.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Alaska
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Curriculum Principles and Practice||Students learn about the theories and techniques behind curriculum development. They then apply their knowledge by designing their own lessons, scope, and sequence.|
|Practicum||Students practice teaching their chosen level -- early childhood, elementary, or secondary -- at a local school under the supervision of a faculty member and licensed teacher.|
|Child Guidance||This class covers the stages of early childhood or adolescent development. Future educators learn how to best stimulate growth in their students.|
Bachelors Degree in Teaching
|Classroom Organization and Management||This course examines techniques and theories for creating an inclusive, organized, and effective classroom environment. Students also learn how to correct off-task students.|
|Multicultural Education||In this class, future educators discuss how to maintain equity and equality in the classroom. Learners study best practices in creating a classroom environment that is conducive to learning for students of all backgrounds.|
|Developing Literacy in the Content Areas||Students learn how to help young children and adolescents gain skills in reading comprehension and literacy.|
Masters Degree in Teaching
|Introduction to Educational Technology||This course covers the various technologies for K-12 education. Topics include multimedia, computer-assisted instruction, tool software, and telecommunications.|
|Alaska Literature for Young People||This course provides future teachers with an overview in Alaska studies so that they can teach the content to their future students. This course is an Alaska Department of Education requirement for certification.|
|Student Teaching||Future educators complete a student teaching experience in a local school under the supervision of a faculty member and licensed teacher.|
Certification and Licensing Needed to Become a Teacher in Alaska
All public school teachers in Alaska must be licensed. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development oversees and manages all certification procedures. Individuals who are new to the teaching profession must apply for an initial two-year certification. Requirements for initial certification include a bachelor's degree, successful completion of a state-approved educator preparation program, and qualifying scores on the Praxis (both the basic competency and content area tests). Applicants must also submit a fingerprint card and pass a background check to earn their initial Alaska teaching license. Prospective teachers must pay a total of $260 along with their application, including a $200 certification fee and a $60 background check fee. Teachers can extend their initial certification for an additional year by completing an Alaska multicultural course and an Alaska studies course.
After two years of full-time teaching experience, Alaska teachers may apply for the professional teacher certificate, which lasts for five years. After completing those five years, teachers can apply for the master teacher certificate, which lasts for 10 years.
Alaska teachers may apply for the professional teacher certificate, which lasts for five years.
State teaching licenses do not transfer automatically to other states. Out-of-state teachers who are interested in teaching in Alaska must fill out a separate application to become licensed. Applicants who have a bachelor's degree and a valid teaching license from another state can earn a one-year license, provided they meet similar qualifications as first-time teachers. To that end, they must pass a background check, send in a fingerprint card, and pay the $200 certification fee and the $60 background check fee. Once they receive their Alaska teaching license, out-of-state teachers can extend the license for a year by passing a basic competency exam such as the Praxis. Just like new teachers, out-of-state teachers can extend their license for an additional year by completing courses in Alaska studies and Alaska multiculturalism.
Choosing a Teaching Degree Program in Alaska
Choosing an online teaching program can be difficult because many programs seem similar at first glance. However, upon closer examination, there are many small factors that add up to differentiate one program from another. What follows is a list of programmatic factors that students should take into account before committing to any one online program.
- What can you afford? Part of the appeal of online programs is that most of them charge tuition on a per-credit basis and cut out unnecessary on-campus fees. Additionally, students who reside outside of Alaska may be able to pay in-state tuition or a flat online tuition rate at certain schools.
- While a school's location is far less important for distance learners than for on-campus students, some online programs may ask students to come to campus for an orientation or residencies. Students who want to teach in Alaska after graduating should consider their chosen college's location, as the college may have connections with local schools for jobs.
- Completion Time
- Program completion times depend on whether a program offers full-time and part-time options and whether students can progress at their own pace. Programs that run on cohort models offer set completion times, as students complete a predetermined sequence of courses with a group of peers.
- Different programs offer different specialization options. Be sure that the school you choose offers a specialization that aligns with your interests and career goals.
- Delivery Method
- Most online programs deliver coursework asynchronously, meaning that there are no scheduled class times. However, synchronous coursework -- in which students meet online once or twice a week -- is a better fit for some students.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Alaska?
Students in the so-called "last frontier" can earn both their Alaska teaching license and their teaching degree online. Currently, students can earn online teaching degrees through the University of Alaska system -- specifically, the Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Southeast campuses -- and Alaska Pacific University. Each school is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Alaska's regional accrediting body.
There are few differences between earning a teaching degree online and in person. Most notably, distance learners go through a slightly different process for their student teaching. Since many distance learners live outside of Alaska or in remote areas within Alaska, they may be able to arrange student teaching placement sites in their local communities.
The accreditation and licensure processes are identical for on-campus and online students. The University of Alaska's programs are on the state's list of approved educator preparation programs. Online graduates only need to pass background checks, complete the Praxis, and fulfill the rest of the state's requirements to earn their initial Alaska teaching license.
Directory of Teaching Schools in Alaska
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in Alaska
There are many funding opportunities available to students enrolled in teaching programs in Alaska. All students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as they are applying to colleges. By filling out the FAFSA, students can learn what federal grants and loans they are eligible to receive, including Stafford and Perkins loans. Teachers who work in low-income schools after they graduate can receive forgiveness for a significant amount of their loans. TEACH is a particularly popular program.
Alaska also offers several state-level scholarship, grant, and loan programs for aspiring teachers who commit to teaching in high-need areas in Alaska after they graduate. These programs prefer applicants who went to Alaska high schools and achieved a high level of academic performance.
Aside from federal and state programs, many third-party organizations also offer scholarships for aspiring teachers. Since teaching is such a high-need but low-paying profession, many organizations offer funding to help teachers receive an education. Education students should look into opportunities from organizations such as Phi Delta Kappa, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and the Future Educators Association.
Loan Forgiveness for Alaska Teachers
Loan forgiveness programs eliminate individuals' student loans, most often in exchange for some sort of commitment to work. For example, students can have some or all of their loans forgiven by committing to military service or by agreeing to work in a low-income public school for a defined period of time. Special education teachers also qualify for many loan forgiveness programs. Teachers who specialize in a subject area that Alaska determines it has a shortage of can also qualify for these programs.
Students who commit to teaching in low-income areas can get up to $17,500 of their Stafford loans forgiven and all of their Perkins loans forgiven over the course of five years of teaching. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program applies to anyone who works in public service. As such, teachers who change professions but still work in public service can continue to receive loan forgiveness.
Scholarships for Alaska Teaching Students
Though Alaska is a small state in terms of population, there are many state-specific scholarships available to both aspiring teachers who have yet to enroll in college and students currently enrolled in undergraduate teaching programs. Below, we highlight four of the best Alaska-specific scholarship options.
Patty Hamilton Early Childhood Development Scholarship $2,500
Patricia Ann Hughes Eastaugh Memorial Teaching Scholarship $8,000
Alaska Teacher Education Loan Varies
AlaskAdvantage Education Grant $3,000
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in Alaska
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Alaska's teachers make a higher average annual mean wage than the national average, although the sample size is smaller than other states. A recent study adjusted annual mean teacher salaries for cost of living, and Alaska finished 28th among the 50 states. Alaska's population was 739,750 in 2017, and over 3.4% of the state's residents are teachers. Factoring in high wages and a high number of teaching jobs relative to the state's population, Alaska is fertile with employment opportunities.
Another important factor affecting salary is whether you teach in a rural or a city setting. Teachers working in the Alaskan wilderness generally take home lower salaries than teachers in Anchorage. The age of the students you teach will also affect your salary. In Alaska, preschool teachers make less than half of the salaries of their primary and secondary counterparts make. This is because preschool teachers may work fewer hours or have less education. Kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school teachers earn relatively similar salaries. Secondary school teachers in Alaska earn significantly more than their counterparts.
|Elementary School Teachers||$73,050|
|Middle School Teachers||$75,950|
|Secondary School Teachers||$82,020|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Alaska
What do I need to do to become a teacher in Alaska?
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Resources for Teachers in Alaska
- Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) DEED's mission is "an excellent education for every student every day." DEED provides four core services: distributing funding among Alaska's public schools, overseeing compliance with regard to funding, running school effectiveness programs, and partnering with education stakeholders. DEED's website provides a comprehensive list of requirements and applications necessary for new teacher certification.
- NEA-Alaska NEA-Alaska is a state branch of the National Education Association. The organization represents over 13,000 members, all of whom work in Alaska public schools. NEA-Alaska provides many services to its members, including professional development, an annual conference, attorney referral, and information on student loan forgiveness.
- Anchorage Education Association (AEA) AEA is an advocacy association composed primarily of professionals teaching in Alaska. The organization's members split into committees, which deal with issues such as professional development, special education, and workers' rights. Teachers who join AEA benefit from advocacy efforts and networking opportunities.
- Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) As its name suggests, ACSA represents school administrators throughout the state. The council provides listings of administrative vacancies throughout Alaska. Membership in ACSA is a good option for current teachers who would like to make the move into administration or current administrators who would like to change schools.
- Alaska Arts Education Consortium (AAEC) AAEC's mission is to advance teaching and learning in and through the arts in Alaska. To that end, AAEC operates three committees that focus on the organization's three central services: professional development, public awareness, and sustainability. AAEC members can participate in networking and professional development opportunities.