The state of Arizona employs 60,000 teachers who educate more than one million students in 2,200 schools. Arizona offers terrific weather, cultural diversity, beautiful scenery, and opportunities to teach in urban, rural, and reservation schools.
Home to some of the largest distance learning programs in the world, Arizona is also an easy state in which to earn a teaching degree online. Students with a bachelor's degree in another field can gain a master's degree in education and meet Arizona teaching certificate requirements in just 12 months. Other students can earn an online bachelor's degree that leads to an Arizona teaching license.
By studying for a degree online, students can maintain their current employment, save money on transportation and parking, eliminate the need for childcare, and still complete the requirements to earn an Arizona teaching certification. Online learners can also complete in-school practicums at nearby schools in their home communities to meet requirements for both college graduation and state certification.
Arizona is part of a national reciprocity program that makes it easy for most teachers to transfer their credentials to another state.
While requirements for teaching licenses vary between states, Arizona is part of a national reciprocity program that makes it easy for most teachers to transfer their credentials to another state. Students who live in Arizona but are pursuing academic coursework through an online program in another state should check with the Arizona Department of Education to make sure that their program's requirements match those of the State of Arizona.
How to Become a Teacher in Arizona
Individual states in the U.S. are responsible for issuing teaching certificates -- not the federal government. As a result, while teachers in most states must meet similar standards to qualify for their profession, exact requirements vary from state to state. In Arizona, becoming a state certified teacher at any level -- from preschool through the 12th grade -- requires at least a bachelor's degree. Only select teachers, such as athletic coaches and Native American Language teachers, do not have to hold a college degree.
Arizona's reciprocity agreement with other states allows teachers to apply for a direct transfer of their AZ teaching certificate to a new state, or from another state into Arizona. To transfer their certificates out of state, teachers usually complete an application, provide a fingerprint clearance card and a copy of their Arizona certificate, and then send their credentials and an appropriate fee to the department of education in their new state. Alternative licenses, emergency teaching credentials, and certificates that do not have a direct corollary in Arizona may not qualify for transfer.
The key to becoming a teacher in Arizona is earning a degree. Teachers at all levels must meet minimum educational requirements, which are typically fulfilled by earning a bachelor's degree in education. While students who wish to be teacher's aides or lead teachers in a preschool center may do so with an associate degree, becoming a certified teacher at any level -- early childhood, elementary, middle, or secondary -- requires completing an approved teacher education program or a minimum number of education credits as part of a bachelor's degree.
Those who already hold bachelor's degrees may complete a master of arts in teaching, leading to an initial license as a teacher. This track to certification may be an especially good choice for aspiring secondary teachers who already hold a bachelor's degree in a subject other than education. Secondary teachers in Arizona must not only have the required education credits, they must also have a minimum number of credit hours in their teaching discipline, such as language arts, science, math, or social studies.
becoming a certified teacher at any level -- early childhood, elementary, middle, or secondary -- requires completing an approved teacher education program
Achieving an Arizona teaching certification can take as few as 12 months or as long as four years, depending on one's starting point. A prospective teacher with a bachelor's degree in physics, math, chemistry, sciences, biology, English, Spanish, or history may add a master's degree in teaching in a single year. Recent high school graduates, however, need to complete a full bachelor's degree, which typically requires four years of study.
In any program, students complete eight credits of a practicum -- also called student teaching -- in order to qualify for an Arizona teaching certificate. Individual schools may require more student teaching credits to complete their degrees, though most student teaching requirements can be satisfied in 16 weeks. Because of Arizona's reciprocity agreement with most other states, a teaching certificate earned in Arizona can easily transfer to other states.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Arizona
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Children's Literature||This course reviews modern and folk literature from a variety of global cultures for education students. Learners apply literary analysis criteria to children's literature.|
|Introduction to Education||This course is a survey of the political, economic, philosophical, social, and historical factors relevant to education. It includes 30 hours of field experiences and offers students a chance to assess their own interests in, and suitability for, teaching.|
|Cultural Diversity in Education||Students examine the relationship of learning styles and cultural values as well as the roles of stereotyping, prejudice, and cultural incompatibilities with education. Teacher candidates study ways to provide equal opportunities to students from varied cultural groups.|
Bachelors Degree in Teaching
|Mathematics for Elementary Teachers||Prospective elementary teachers study basic concepts of mathematics, including functions, set theory, number theory, decimals, proportions, and percents. The course also emphasizes critical thinking.|
|Social Justice for Educators||Studying diverse populations of students in a writing-intensive course invites prospective teachers to understand social constructs, prejudice, and privilege to become better educators.|
|Advanced Methodologies of Structured English Immersion||Focusing on English language learners, this course helps prospective teachers understand the legal, cultural, and pedagogical issues surrounding English language instruction.|
Masters Degree in Teaching
|Brain-Based Learning||Using brain research related to teaching and learning, this course translates the inner workings of the brain into what goes on in classrooms. Participants explore the effects of neuroscience on teachers and learners alike.|
|Literate Environments||This course helps teachers create an environment that fosters sound writing and reading practices. It includes 10 hours of practical, hands-on experience as well as time spent studying instructional practices and assessments.|
|U.S. and Arizona Constitutions for Teacher Candidates||In this course, learners examine the U.S. Constitution and the Arizona Constitution. They examine the documents' relationship to each other and in educational contexts.|
Certification and Licensing Needed to Become a Teacher in Arizona
The Arizona Department of Education is responsible for issuing teaching certificates in AZ. It offers many certificates, including administrative certificates; career and technical certificates; adult education and substitute teaching certificates; and certificates in early childhood, elementary, secondary, and special education. To work as a teacher in an Arizona public school, you must have the appropriate state license or certificate. While the requirements vary from certificate to certificate, applicants generally must hold a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited institution. This degree should include a minimum number of credits in education as well as a minimum number of credits in the subject the applicant intends to teach. Once certified, a teacher must complete coursework in the Arizona Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, and other academic areas in order to retain certification.
A Standard Teaching Certificate is good for 12 years, and teachers in Arizona must renew their credentials within one year of their expiration date.
Certification also requires teachers to earn a passing score on a professional knowledge exam such as the National Evaluation Series (NES) or Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments (AEPA) Assessment of Professional Knowledge. Elementary educators must pass the NES Subject Knowledge Elementary Education (Subtest I and II), the AEPA Subject Knowledge exam, or a similar standardized test. Secondary educators must pass the NES or AEPA Assessment of Professional Knowledge Secondary exam as well as a subject knowledge exam in their field. The length and the cost of these tests varies from subject to subject.
Arizona's teacher reciprocity program means a teacher who holds a valid teaching certificate in another state can apply to receive a comparable Arizona teaching certificate. Arizona teachers can also use the program to transfer their certificates out of state. A Standard Teaching Certificate is good for 12 years, and teachers in Arizona must renew their credentials within one year of their expiration date. Teachers who hold multiple renewable certificates may have them renewed all at once within one year of the first certificate's expiration date.
Choosing a Program in Arizona
While an online teaching program can be a timely and efficient way to realize the dream of being a teacher, choosing which online degree to pursue can be difficult. There are many aspects to consider before making a decision, and tuition costs are a major factor. Applicants should compare what they can afford with the tuition each school charges. Some schools offer reduced tuition rates for Arizona residents, and some give discounts for active or retired military members and their families.
Additionally, beginning an associate degree in education at a community college before transfering to a four-year institution can help students save money. Transfer students should learn how many credits their colleges will accept toward a degree, as the more credits a school accepts, the shorter and less expensive their program may be. Transfer policies, semester lengths, and summer school options may all affect the length of an online program.
While online programs are available throughout the nation, a student's home location can be a factor in their success. Students enrolled at a nearby school may have easier access to support resources and may be able to seek more help with practicum placements. Additionally, some colleges and universities offer specializations that others do not, so prospective students should ensure their future plans align with their school's curriculum. Finally, future teachers need to be certain that their online teaching degree makes them eligible for teacher certification within the State of Arizona.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Arizona?
Students can pursue a teaching degree online in Arizona as part of their teacher certification process. Typically, a bachelor's degree in elementary education or secondary education requires a practicum component. Aspiring teachers who pursue licensure through a master's in teaching must also complete a practicum. The State of Arizona requires eight credits of practicum as part of an approved teaching program, and online students can often complete their practicums in their home districts to fulfill the state and school requirements for certification and for the requisite degree.
To receive an initial teaching license in early elementary education, applicants must complete a bachelor's degree in an approved teacher preparation program, or at least 37 semester hours of early childhood education. An elementary education teaching license requires 45 hours of elementary education coursework, and earning a secondary license means having at least 30 hours of secondary education coursework. To be eligible for a teaching certificate, students must complete their degrees through an accredited institution, and pass a professional knowledge exam and subject knowledge exam approved by the State of Arizona. The requirements for teaching certificates in AZ in special education, Native American Languages, physical education, and other specialized subjects may vary.
Directory of Teaching Schools in Arizona
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in Arizona
Although earning an Arizona teaching credential is relatively straightforward, paying for your education can seem daunting. Most students do not have to rely entirely on private funds, however. Instead, they can take advantage of federal grants, student loans, private scholarships, and tuition reimbursement programs. Veterans or members of the U.S. armed forces may also enjoy reduced tuition options.
Private scholarships are funds that donors set aside to help students pay for their education. Typically, scholarship donors choose student recipients through a competitive process, and the requirements, processes, and deadlines for scholarships vary widely from donor to donor. Federal grants are funds set aside by the federal government to help cover undergraduate student tuition expenses, and this money typically does not need to be repaid.
To receive consideration for federal grants and federally subsidized student loans, students must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many institutional and private funders also require the FAFSA as part of their application process. Teachers in qualifying schools can receive loan forgiveness from the U.S. government as well as the State of Arizona provided that these teachers meet certain qualifications.
Loan Forgiveness for Arizona Teachers
To help students train for certain professions -- including teaching -- state and federal agencies offer loan forgiveness programs. These programs forgive the balance of a loan, typically after a predetermined number of payments. In order to qualify for loan forgiveness, recipients usually must practice their profession for a set number of years in an underserved region of the country or state. The federal government offers one such program, called the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. To qualify for up to $17,500 in forgiveness of certain student loans, recipients must teach full time for five years in a low-income school and meet other qualifications.
The State of Arizona also offers a loan forgiveness program. Arizona teachers can receive up to $5,000 of loan forgiveness provided they teach in a public K-12 school for a minimum of five years. The school must qualify for Title I funds as well as demonstrate that low-income scholars comprise 30% or more of its student population. The Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefit must also list the school. All schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education or operating on a reservation automatically qualify.
Scholarships for Arizona Teaching Students
Private scholarships are one way many prospective teachers help fund their collegiate education. Some scholarship funds are limited to applicants of a particular race, gender, or geographic location, and others are available to all college students. Scholarships specific to future teachers, especially those in Arizona include:
The Gardner Family Teacher Scholarship $2,000
Rudolph Dillman Memorial Scholarship $2,500
The Native American Scholarship $5,000
STEM Teacher Graduate Scholarships $2,500 - $5,000
First Things First College Scholarships $150 - $1,500
Nell Wilcoxen Future Educator Scholarship Varies
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in Arizona
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Teachers in Arizona enjoy great weather and low state income taxes. Although the annual mean wage for Arizona's teachers is below many other states in the country, most of the state has a comparatively lower cost of living. Phoenix, which is Arizona's most populous city, has a cost of living that is about the same as the national average, though the average teacher salary in Phoenix is also higher than the rest of the state.
Qualified teachers usually have no problem finding positions in Arizona thanks to the state's extreme teacher shortage. Rural communities and reservations in particular suffer from too few applicants to fill open jobs. Due to Arizona's high immigrant population, ESL teachers may also find themselves in high demand. As in most states, Arizona's teacher pay ramps up considerably between preschool and kindergarten and then elevates slightly through elementary and middle school. Consistent with the national trend, secondary school teachers earn the most. The table below features average salary levels, though it should be noted that salaries may vary widely depending on the economic makeup of the school's neighborhood.
|Elementary School Teachers||$42,730|
|Middle School Teachers||$42,830|
|Secondary School Teachers||$48,020|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Arizona
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Resources for Teachers in Arizona
- Arizona State Music Teachers Association (ASMTA) Teachers from colleges and universities, private studios, and public, charter, and private schools can be members of the ASMTA. The organizations offers a state conference, honors recitals, and state competitions. Students who become members can take advantage of teacher enrichment grants, honors, and awards. ASMTA sponsors six local chapters throughout the state.
- Arizona Science Teachers Association (ASTA) ASTA supports, engages, and inspires Arizona's science teachers. Founded in 1931, the organization emphasizes professional development including workshops, conferences, and a teacher leadership program at minimal cost. It also publishes the ASTA Science Times Circular twice a year. Both novice and experienced STEM teachers can participate in the association's programs.
- Arizona English Teachers Association (AETA) An affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English, AETA is the professional association of Arizona's English teachers from kindergarten through university. Its mission is to foster the NCTE's standards, policies, and goals in Arizona. The organization offers conferences, publications, and awards.
- Arizona Professional Educators (AZPE) Professional educators can take advantage of AZPE's insurance program, professional education, and grants and scholarships. Members can apply for one of three mini-grants, $500 for student travel, $500 for professional development, and $1,000 for schools or classrooms. The organization focuses on empowering teachers for excellence.
- Arizona Education Association (AEA) Arizona's largest professional organization, the AEA now has more than 20,000 members in 150 local chapters. Its mission is "keeping the promises of quality public education." It offers students a chance to engage in learning opportunities like workshops and conferences, as well as community outreach and political action.