The second largest state in the U.S. in terms of both geographical area and population, Texas educates nearly 5.4 million students through its public and private K-12 school systems. Unsurprisingly, this also makes the Lone Star State one of the largest employers of teachers, alternative educators, and school administrators in the country. In the 2016-2017 academic year, Texas employed 347,351 classroom teachers, a number that will only increase as the population grows.
Texas is experiencing significant teaching shortages, particularly in rural areas and certain subjects.
If you’re interested in becoming an educator, now is an excellent time to earn a teaching degree in Texas. Texas is experiencing significant teaching shortages, particularly in rural areas and certain subjects. To incentivize prospective educators, Texas provides streamlined certification methods, welcomes out-of-state teachers, and offers financial assistance through scholarships, flexible grants, and tuition reimbursement programs.
Due to the increased demand for teachers, many colleges and universities now offer online teaching degrees in Texas and other states. Distance education offers not only lower tuition rates, but also greater accessibility and flexibility for current and future educators. Both online and on-campus students must complete the same requirements for teaching licensure. Texas teaching requirements include obtaining at least a bachelor’s degree, completing a state-approved teacher training program, and passing all necessary exams. This guide outlines the steps necessary for getting a teaching certificate in Texas.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Texas?
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) describes the steps that all candidates must complete before earning a Texas teaching license. These include obtaining an accredited bachelor’s degree, completing an approved training program, passing exams, and applying for certification. Once you’ve earned a teaching degree in Texas, you must keep your skills up-to-date through guided professional development.
Teaching certification doesn’t directly transfer across state lines. A licensed Texas educator may not automatically teach in Louisiana schools, and vice versa. Fortunately, most states allow experienced out-of-state teachers to obtain a new license without undergoing the same extensive process as new teachers. In Texas, certified educators from other states may apply for a temporary one-year license. After issuance, they must past the necessary state exams to become a fully certified teacher.
Of all Texas teaching requirements, a bachelor’s degree is the longest and most expensive component. However, you don’t need to take this big step right away. For many students, especially those who live outside Texas, online associate programs provide an accessible introduction to advanced academics and college life. Distance education not only carries financial benefits, but also enables you to schedule coursework around your work schedule and other personal responsibilities. Many online associate programs also provide direct transfer pathways to partner colleges and universities, so you won’t waste time on credits that won’t fulfill baccalaureate requirements.
Out-of-state teachers may apply for a temporary license, but during this allotted one-year window, they must pass the necessary Texas teaching certification tests.
In general, teaching programs in Texas take the length of a conventional bachelor’s degree: four to five years. The TEA lists approved educator preparation programs on its website. Teaching degrees embed educator preparation into their curricula. Students can complete all coursework online, but there are certain in-person components, including 12 weeks of full-time student teaching. Prospective educators who choose a major other than education or who attend college out of state can apply for an alternative certification program. This option provides students with more freedom, but also takes more time than the traditional route.
Students who earn their degrees at an out-of-state institution must obtain approval from the TEA. As previously mentioned, requirements for teaching are state-specific and licenses don’t seamlessly transfer between borders. Out-of-state teachers may apply for a temporary license, but during this allotted one-year window, they must pass the necessary Texas teaching certification tests. Texas educators who want to teach in another state must undergo that state’s particular transfer process. Since Texas participates in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement, Texas teachers generally have an easier time transferring their license to other states.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Texas
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Principles of Education||In this course, students examine the historical, philosophical, legal, and sociological principles of education. Topics include current issues, terminology, and major theories. Prospective teachers analyze their role in education and their motivations for teaching.|
|Classroom Management||This course offers an introduction to methods, materials, and instructional approaches used in classroom management. Students develop their own management styles for use in their future careers.|
|Psychology of Childhood||Students learn the core principles and practices of childhood training and education. The course also provides an overview of cognitive, psychological, and physical areas of development from birth through puberty.|
Bachelor's Degree in Teaching
|Foundations of Educational Technology||This class explores ideas and strategies in technologically-enhanced learning. Students evaluate web applications and software for educational application and effectiveness. They then implement these tools through classroom practice and lesson planning.|
|Curriculum and Instructional Design||Students examine the pedagogy involved in creating, selecting, and evaluating curricula to meet students’ diverse needs. Topics include evaluating learning outcomes based on academic standards and assessing student achievement.|
|Phonics-Based Reading and Decoding||This course covers the history of written language and alphabetic systems. Teacher candidates learn how to implement effective methods for reading instruction. Candidates also study practices associated with research-based systematic phonics instruction.|
Master's Degree in Teaching
|Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics||Current and future educators explore advanced strategies for teaching and learning elementary math. Assignments include data collection and analysis in each student’s field placement.|
|Equity and Schooling||The class provides in-depth study of educational politics, including common administrative issues and how they relate to class bias, sexism, and racism in the classroom. Topics include the history of educational inequality in the U.S. and current efforts to dismantle these systems.|
|Supporting Students with Special Needs||Students develop the basic knowledge and skills for teaching learners with special needs in an inclusive general education classroom. The course also covers special education law in the U.S. and the teacher’s role within this framework.|
How to Get a Teaching Certificate in Texas
Unlike teachers in other states, Texas educators don’t need to worry about a tiered certification process. The TEA bestows one standard license that enables you to become a fully-qualified general classroom teacher. Texas teachers must renew their standard certification every five years. In order to renew, teacher must complete 150 hours of continuing professional education and pay a $22 re-application fee.
To earn a teaching certificate in Texas, you must complete a five-step process. You must first obtain a bachelor’s degree from a school recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). You also need to go through teacher training. Here, students have two options: they can enroll in an approved educator preparation program that integrates professional training into the degree plan for a bachelor’s in education, or they can pursue an alternative certification program after obtaining their undergraduate diploma in a different major.
Next, students must pass Texas teaching certification tests relevant to their training program. Educators usually complete the THECB basic skills test. Students may also have to complete content-specific exams facilitated by organizations such as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages or the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. Texas Examinations of Educator Standards are the gold standard for certification. The fourth step is application for licensure through the Educator Certification Online System. Finally, candidates must undergo a criminal background check, which includes fingerprinting.
After earning their standard license, teachers can pursue specialized credentials through work experience and additional exams. These specializations include student services, career and technical instruction, and leadership for prospective principals and superintendents.
Out-of-state educators who want to teach in Texas submit their credentials for review to obtain a one-year temporary license. During that time, they must pass exams and fulfill other Texas teaching requirements. Students who earn a bachelor’s degree in a major outside the education field may apply for a two-year license. This temporary certificate allows them to teach in their subject area while they fulfill the standard Texas requirements for teaching.
Choosing a Degree Program in Texas
Price is an important consideration when you evaluate teaching programs in Texas. During your search, look closely at tuition rates and residency requirements. Generally, public colleges and universities offer lower tuition for Texas residents, while private institutions charge the same rate for all students. You should also consider school location. Most schools allow you to complete in-person student teaching requirements in your local community. However, you may have to travel to campus for certain classes, residencies, or support services.
For the easiest path to certification, you should obtain a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. You can pursue an unrelated major, but this path requires you to pursue additional Texas teaching requirements that will take more time and may cost you more money. However, unrelated majors may prove more useful if you decide to leave the field.
Several specialization options are available for education majors, including concentrations by grade level, student age, and subject area.
As you research online teaching programs in Texas, look for schools that offer concentrations that match your career goals. Several specialization options are available for education majors, including concentrations by grade level, student age, and subject area. Special education is one of the fastest-growing sub-fields. Certain schools offer focus areas in autism spectrum disorders, visual impairment, bilingual instruction, and gifted and talented education.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Texas?
Students who want to earn their teaching degree online in Texas can pursue several opportunities. One of the most important considerations for distance learners is accreditation. In order to meet Texas requirements for teaching, candidates must obtain a degree from a school with approved accreditation status. All the schools listed by the TEA have been pre-approved for licensure. Additionally, Texas accepts degrees from any U.S. college or university that holds regional accreditation. Students may attend certain nationally accredited schools.
Online teaching degrees in Texas provide ample benefits, including affordable tuition rates and scheduling flexibility. Certain schools offer accelerated course options that enable students to earn their bachelor’s degree in less time. However, distance learners must complete certain in-person components such as classroom observation, assistant teaching, and hands-on lesson planning. Prospective teachers must also complete at least 12 weeks of full-time student teaching, though some training programs require up to 20 weeks. Most online programs allow you to complete these components in schools near your home or workplace.
Directory of Teaching Schools in Texas
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in Texas
Getting a teaching certificate in Texas can be expensive, but there are many steps students can take to make their education more affordable. Consider schools that provide affordable tuition, including public state colleges and universities. Distance learners should also apply for scholarships, grants, and, if necessary, loans.
Students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA prepares you to take advantage of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study opportunities simultaneously. The FAFSA calculates the funding package you receive by subtracting expected family contributions from approximate cost of attendance. The FAFSA page also includes related information such as how interest rates work, methods of repayment that minimize interest, and loan forgiveness programs.
Professional organizations and local businesses also offer scholarship opportunities for students in certain fields and communities. Students can also pursue scholarships based on identity-based criteria such as ethnicity, gender, and first-generation status. Because skilled educators are in demand everywhere, there are hundreds of scholarships exclusively for future teachers.
Loan Forgiveness for Texas Teachers
Loans should be used sparingly due to the financial burden that comes with debt from escalating interest rates. If you do decide to take loans, prioritize federal and state opportunities, most of which can be accessed through FAFSA. Private lenders usually charge more and do not forgive loans for public service or special circumstances. Public loans usually come with lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options, including partial or total cancellation through a government loan forgiveness program.
The U.S. government offers three primary loan forgiveness programs. The Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program enables you to reduce up to $17,500 of your Direct and Federal Stafford Loans, including subsidized, unsubsidized, and consolidated amounts. In exchange, you must agree to work for at least five years at a high-need school or educational service agency. Through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, the remainder of your Direct loans will be forgiven if you’re an employee of a participating nonprofit or government agency. However, you must first make 120 qualifying monthly payments. The Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation Program for teachers forgives a certain percentage of your debts for every year you work in an approved educational setting. Texas educators enjoy additional opportunities through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, including loan forgiveness specifically for math and science teachers.
Scholarships for Texas Teaching Students
Pursuing a teaching degree in Texas requires a significant time and financial commitment. Through enrolling in an affordable college and pursuing distance education opportunities, you can cut down on some costs. However, you should still explore the many financial aid options available to educators. Scholarships are the best form of financial assistance, since students don’t need to repay them once they graduate. The list below describes several awards for future Texas educators.
Texas Retired Teachers Foundation Beginning Teacher Scholarship $750
T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship 80% of Costs
Coastal Bend Community Foundation Scholarships Varies
AFCEA STEM Teacher Scholarships $2,500 to $5,000
Jack Kinnaman Scholarship $2,500
Barbara Lotze Scholarship for Future Teachers $2,000
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in Texas
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this table compares the average salary for Texas educators with teachers throughout the country. Texas teachers may experience salary growth as the state continues its efforts to recruit and maintain qualified educators in its public K-12 schools, especially in designated shortage areas like mathematics, science, and bilingual and ESL education.
How much you earn as a teacher in Texas also depends on where you teach. Private schools tend to pay more than public institutions due to access to greater financial resources. Schools in metropolitan areas pay more than schools located in rural communities. The TEA is attempting to ameliorate this inequality through its Rural Schools Task Force, which provides support for educators who teach in high-need, low-income areas.
As you can see from the table below, teachers who work in middle schools and high schools enjoy higher pay than teachers who work in kindergartens and preschools. Among middle and high school teachers, those who work in special, career, and technical education earn the most money.
|Elementary School Teachers||$54,780|
|Middle School Teachers||$55,000|
|Secondary School Teachers||$55,500|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Texas
How do I get a teaching license in Texas?
How much does a teacher make a year in Texas?
How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in Texas?
Do you need a master’s to teach in Texas?
Resources for Teachers in Texas
- Texas Education Agency As the accreditation body for Texas teachers, the TEA provides in-depth guides to the licensure process. The website also includes information on academic opportunities, professional development programs, and financial aid options. Teachers who wish to engage in leadership and community service initiatives can find opportunities through the TEA.
- Texas State Teachers Association As the state body of the National Education Association, the TSTA supports active and aspiring teachers through research, policy advancement, and community engagement. Members enjoy discounts on a number of services, including life insurance. The association also provides classroom tools like free lesson plans and student management strategies. TSTA hosts conferences and a mentorship program.
- Association of Texas Professional Educators ATPE members enjoy online professional development programs and access to in-person opportunities through the association’s partners. Additional resources include job search assistance and services specific to new teachers, student teachers, and paraeducators. The ATPE also advocates for Texas teachers through policy and lobbying initiatives as the state and national levels.
- Texas Classroom Teachers Association The TCTA represents over 50,000 Texas educators. The association provides valuable resources such as certification guidance, legal support, career advice, and a job board. Members also gain access to financial opportunities such as tuition grants and mortgage assistance programs for educators.
- National Education Association The NEA boasts over three million members, making it the largest professional organization in the U.S. Members enjoy several resources, including lesson planning guides, instruction best practices, and classroom management strategies. In addition to providing financial awards and facilitating conferences, the NEA also promotes research that seeks to solve challenges in the field of education.