With a strong economy and young, growing population, Texas offers teachers excellent opportunities. Statewide hiring rates for teachers outpaced attrition rates every academic year from 2012-13 through 2018-19, while enrollment in Texas public schools spiked by 13.3% between 2009-10 and 2019-20. These trends indicate ongoing demand for qualified educators and reinforce Texas as a highly desirable destination for teachers.
From a licensure standpoint, candidates enjoy accessible standards for teaching in Texas. The five-step licensing process begins with a bachelor's degree and a professional educator prep program. Candidates then take a standardized examination, and those who pass become eligible for the final stages, including a background check and a state licensing application.
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This guide covers everything aspiring educators need to know about how to get a teaching license in Texas. It also examines salary information, statewide trends in education, frequently asked questions, and other important things to know about launching your teaching career in the Lone Star State.
Texas at a Glance
|Per Capita Income||$32,267|
|Full-Time Equivalent Teachers||359,575.9|
|Number of Public School Districts||1,230|
|Number of Public K-12 Schools||8,905|
|Number of Higher Learning Institutions||106|
Average Annual Temperature: 64.8°F
Annual Precipitation: 28.9 inches
|Major Sports Teams||Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, San Antonio Spurs, Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars|
Top Texas Schools for Teaching
- Texas A&M University
- Southwestern Assemblies of God University
- University of North Texas
- The University of Texas at El Paso
- Southwestern Adventist University
- Wayland Baptist University
- University of North Texas
- Texas Tech University
- University of Texas at Arlington
- Abilene Christian University
Why Go to College for Education in Texas?
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that 139 Texas institutions offer educator training programs, ranging from generalist degree paths to advanced and specialized study opportunities. This rich diversity reflects the state's status as one of the nation's leading destinations for teacher education.
Texas shines as a student lifestyle destination. Learners can live in exciting metro areas like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. They can also attend school in smaller, more relaxed cities and towns. Texas also offers budget-conscious degree-seekers significant cost of living advantages: in 2020, the state ranked 18th among 51 U.S. jurisdictions for affordability.
Online learning is also booming in Texas. A trend from before COVID-19 saw a whopping 86% increase in the number of Texas State University students taking online classes between 2015 and 2018, while the University of Texas at Austin saw an 81% increase during the same time frame. With distance education adoption rates rapidly rising across the state, online degree-seekers find it easier than ever to study in Texas.
Best of all, Texas remains well-positioned for long-term prosperity, both in general and specifically for teachers. The state's net migration rate soared as Texas welcomed about 3.7 million new residents between 2010 and 2019. Home prices rank among the most affordable in the country, and students in the K-12 age group account for more than one-quarter of the statewide population.
Postsecondary Education Statistics for Texas
More than 270 junior and senior colleges call Texas home, and the state allocates tax revenues to higher education at rates that exceed the national average by more than 34%. The state's recent online learning surge has propelled it to an above-average nationwide standing, helping drive improving educational attainment rates among adults over age 25.
|TX Data||National Data|
|Number of Four-Year Colleges||153||3,004|
|Number of Two-Year Colleges||119||1,579|
|Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education||35.3%||34.7%|
|Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student||$7,888||$8,196|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||7.8%||5.8%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree||7.1%||8.4%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree||19.1%||19.4%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher||10.2%||12.1%|
Accreditation for Texas Schools
Accreditation is a critical indicator of a higher education institution's quality. Aspiring educators looking at schools in Texas should only consider those that hold current, valid, and verifiable accreditation from a recognized national or regional agency.
National accreditation usually applies to schools that emphasize religious, vocational, or practical training. Teaching in Texas requires an academic degree, and regionally accredited schools focused on traditional scholastics offer most of the applicable programs. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges serves as the recognized regional accrediting body for the state of Texas.
A third form of accreditation, known as specialized or programmatic accreditation, applies to select degree paths that meet especially high standards. Experts widely consider the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) as the most important specialized accreditor of teacher training programs in the U.S. Candidates can also seek out schools that hold a prestigious NCATE endorsement.
Considerations for a Teaching Degree in Texas
The journey to becoming a licensed educator begins with choosing a teacher training program. Many factors influence this crucial choice, and the information in the sections that follow can help you decide whether Texas makes a good match for your educational and career objectives.
Teaching degree levels represent one major consideration, and learners with specific career goals should also consider specialized programs and degrees. Learning formats, financing, and other miscellaneous considerations may also shape your shortlist of potential schools.
Teaching Degree Levels
Teaching degrees come in four levels, beginning with associate and ascending to doctorate. As you explore schools, consider the degree levels offered.
The following breakdown explains the general characteristics of each degree level:
Associate Degree in TeachingThis introductory degree provides a strong, generalized foundation for further study by building student understanding of key educational and pedagogical theories and concepts. Full-time learners can usually complete an associate degree in about four semesters. Candidates need a higher degree to get a teaching certificate in Texas, but associate programs set up smooth, easy transfers into degree paths that qualify.
Bachelor's Degree in TeachingConcentrations and specializations first become available at the bachelor's level. Popular examples include early childhood education, special education, and subject-specific education. Teaching in Texas requires at least a bachelor's degree, which most students complete in about four years. Candidates can apply to bachelor's programs straight out of high school or transition into them with advanced standing after completing an associate degree.
Master's Degree in TeachingAmbitious learners seeking to maximize their career options tend to pursue master's degrees. They come in three main designations: master of arts in teaching (MAT), master of education (M.Ed.), and master of science in education (MS). MAT paths emphasize classroom-applicable pedagogical theory. M.Ed. programs prepare learners for careers in education administration, and MS degrees support roles in curriculum development, among other avenues.
Ph.D. in TeachingDoctoral degrees represent the field's terminal level, and like master's degrees, educators may select from multiple designations with differing emphases. Ph.D. programs focus on education research and pedagogical theory rather than applied skills. Ed.D. degrees offer the opposite focus, and appeal primarily to professional practitioners and aspiring school administrators. Both designations demand at least three years of intensive study beyond the master's level.
What Grade or Subject Will You Want To Teach?
The subject you want to teach and the age groups you prefer to work with also shape your teacher education. Specialization options become available as early as the bachelor's level. The table that follows offers further information about study paths that lead to age-specific and subject-specific teaching opportunities.
On-Campus Versus Online Program Options
For those wondering how to become a teacher in Texas, the journey begins with a bachelor's program in education or any other subject area. Students who do not hold education degrees must complete specialized educator prep programs. Schools offer these programs in a variety of learning formats.
|Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education Courses||Enrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education Courses||Not Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses|
|United States Students||16.3%||18.4%||65.3%|
Paying for Your Teaching Degree
For many learners, higher education financing plays a central role in school selection. Full-time undergraduate students attending a four-year college in the U.S. paid an average of $27,357 for one year of tuition, room and board, and mandatory fees in 2017-18. At that rate, the typical price tag of a bachelor's degree exceeds $100,000.
To meet those costs, personal finance experts urge students to consider non-repayable forms of aid first. Examples include scholarships, bursaries, grants, and fellowships. These forms of funding remain highly competitive and elusive for many students, making government-backed and/or private loans a common fall-back plan.
However, teachers enjoy special privileges when it comes to loans. Texas supports three different loan forgiveness programs for professional educators. You can learn more about these important initiatives through the Texas Education Agency.
|Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)||$8,645||$9,037|
|Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)||$24,937||$25,657|
|Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)||$32,482||$30,731|
|Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)||$2,209||$3,243|
|Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)||$6,418||$7,971|
In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition
While many private colleges charge enrollees the same tuition rates regardless of their residency status, public institutions in Texas commonly reserve significantly lower tuition fees for in-state students. This practice reflects the idea that locally based learners deserve price breaks because their taxes help finance the state's higher education network.
Even so, many schools participate in reciprocity agreements that extend in-state rates to students coming to Texas from nearby jurisdictions. In Texas, the Southern Regional Education Board's Academic Common Market acts as the main reciprocity compact.
Under Academic Common Market terms, learners attending signatory Texas-based schools qualify for in-state tuition if they hold residency status in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, or West Virginia.
Texas's Cost of Living
One major advantage of attending college in Texas extends to the state's advantageous cost of living. Statistics from 2020 show that Texas ranks among the most affordable states in the country, only narrowly falling outside the top 10.
The statistics, reported by World Population Review, use 100 as the nationwide baseline. Texas reports a score of 91.5, meaning that its typical cost of living falls 8.5% below the national average. Housing, groceries, and transportation, which combine to account for a large percentage of the typical student's budget, are all especially affordable in Texas.
Other School Selection Criteria
For most learners, program costs and the extent to which a study path matches their learning and career objectives serve as the two most important school selection criteria. However, numerous other factors come into play to lesser or greater degrees, depending on individual priorities and preferences. Examples include:
Many other similar factors also apply. Program competitiveness, specialization options, admission standards, test score requirements, and acceleration/deceleration opportunities may also influence your choice of schools.
Teaching in Texas
Texas boasts one of the fastest-growing and largest economies in the United States. According to one 2019 analysis, the Lone Star State's annual economic output of $1.6 trillion exceeds Russia's national gross domestic product. For residents of Texas, this means high levels of economic stability and resilience, both of which bode well for education funding and, by extension, teaching careers.
Another 2019 analysis looked at the state's job market for teachers, noting significant staffing shortages in multiple areas led by elementary education. The analysis, performed by the Education Career Alternatives Program, cited fears that the current shortage could even reach crisis levels. It also noted that state legislators recently voted to increase teachers' salaries in Texas in a bid to fill job vacancies.
Similar trends carry over to the middle school and high school levels. Teacher shortage reports from the U.S. Department of Education indicate a promising job outlook for teachers in Texas across elementary, middle school, and secondary categories.
All indications point to now being an ideal time to start teaching in Texas. The sections that follow explain everything you need to know about the licensure and job search processes.
How to Become a Teacher in Texas
Each state maintains its own internal standards with regard to teaching licensure, and state teaching licenses have limited transferability to other jurisdictions. Earning a classroom teaching certificate in Texas requires candidates to hold at least a bachelor's degree, complete a specialized teacher training program, pass a standardized certification exam, apply for a license, and clear a criminal background check. First-time license applicants must also submit fingerprints as part of the approval process.
The entire process takes at least 5-6 years to complete. Note that individuals with certain classes of felony convictions are ineligible to become classroom teachers in Texas. For more detailed information on the steps involved, consult the following subsections.
Steps to Becoming a Texas Teacher
- Complete a bachelor's degree at an accredited postsecondary institution recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Some exemptions apply: for instance, candidates with trade, industrial education, or health science technology certifications may circumvent this requirement.
- Meet the state's educator preparation program guidelines, which differ depending on whether or not you already hold a bachelor's degree. Candidates without a degree must attend a degree-granting university program, while those with a degree qualify for accelerated post-baccalaureate alternatives. In either case, the Texas Education Agency must recognize the preparatory program.
- Pass the certification examination appropriate to your chosen teaching area or specialization. Your educator prep program familiarizes you with the specifics involved.
- Apply to the Texas Education Agency for your formal certification. Candidates who meet all the requirements receive conditional approval, pending the final step.
- Pass a criminal background check. In Texas, first-time applicants must also submit their fingerprints.
Education Requirements for Texas Teachers
In Texas, aspiring classroom teachers must hold at least a bachelor's degree. You do not necessarily require a degree in education or pedagogy, though an academic background in these or related subject areas certainly supports your career goals. As an alternate path, professional educators recommend that you obtain a degree in the subject you wish to teach.
One notable stipulation applies: teaching candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from an institution with accreditation credentials recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Most regionally accredited U.S. institutions meet this standard, but aspiring teachers should still double-check that their school holds the necessary credentials, particularly if they earned their degree in another state.
Your educational background must also include the successful completion of an Educator Preparation Program (EPP) endorsed by the Texas Education Agency. Candidates who do not already hold bachelor's degrees must attend a program hosted by an accredited Texas college or university. In most cases, aspiring teachers in this category proceed into their EPPs as they near the end of their regular degree programs.
Those who already hold a bachelor's degree can attend post-baccalaureate EPPs or alternative certification programs. Colleges commonly host post-baccalaureate EPPs, but some independent institutions also offer recognized study paths that lead to licensure. For most candidates, this entire process takes 5-6 years to complete: four years for a bachelor's degree, plus one to two years for the EPP.
At the bachelor's level and beyond, most education programs build EPP requirements into their curricula. Thus, obtaining a bachelor's or advanced teaching degree from an accredited Texas institution automatically covers EPP requirements in most cases.
Teacher Certification and Licensure in Texas
Recognized EPPs in Texas include generalist programs and programs that focus on particular subject areas, concentrations, and specializations that lead to specific teaching endorsements. Generalized EPPs emphasize core subjects, and candidates can earn core certifications for early childhood to sixth grade (EC-6) or fourth through eighth grade (grade 4-8).
Concentrated EPPs cover a complete list of teaching specializations and subject areas. A cross-section of examples included:
- American Sign Language
- Computer science
- Educational diagnostics
- English language: arts and reading
- English as a second language
- Gifted and talented students
- Languages other than English
- Life sciences
- Physical education
- Social studies
- Special education
Each Texas Education Agency-recognized EPP leads to a specific certification examination, which candidates take upon completing the prep program. Passing this exam qualifies the candidate to apply for a license. The Texas Education Agency oversees this process, and this resource explains the steps involved in further detail.
In Texas, licensed teachers must recertify every five years. Renewal guidelines demand that teachers undertake at least 150 hours of continued professional development training for each five-year licensing period. For further details about the renewal and continuing education requirements, consult this Texas Education Agency resource.
Texas teaching licenses transfer to most other states, but interstate reciprocity agreements contain varying details and conditions. Teachers who relocate from Texas to new jurisdictions may need to complete additional training and/or certifications.
Student Teaching and Other Required Experience
In Texas, all approved education degree programs and EPPs include practice teaching components designed to build practical classroom experience. The exact number of student teaching hours a candidate must complete varies from one EPP to the next, but in general, they adhere to two sets of standards:
- Clinical teaching components, which typically last at least 14 weeks and involve lesson preparation and active instruction of students under the supervision of a licensed educator.
- Teaching internships, which usually cover similar activities for the duration of one full school year.
In most cases, the clinical teaching option applies to post-baccalaureate EPPs and alternative certification programs. Internship structures remain more common, but they come with pay and access to employment benefits.
Prior to starting their student teaching requirements, emerging educators must first accrue at least 30 hours of observational field experience in a classroom setting. EPPs build these opportunities into their curricula.
Alternative Paths to Becoming a Texas Teacher
Alternative certification programs offer a variant route to licensed teaching in Texas. Admissions standards for these accelerated, intensive study paths include requirements set by the Texas Education Agency as well as program-specific criteria. Appropriate backgrounds therefore vary, but candidates must generally demonstrate advanced knowledge of the subject matter they wish to teach and possess high postsecondary grades.
Certified educators relocating to Texas from other states may also pursue an alternative path to licensure. Texas Education Agency guidelines for professionals in this situation require applicants to submit an application and a nonrefundable fee along with certified college transcripts and certified copies of teaching licenses to receive consideration.
In Texas, substitute teachers do not need licenses from the Texas Education Agency, and individual school boards retain wide latitude in setting their own policies for hiring them. However, long-term substitute teachers have no alternative route to earning full teaching licensure in Texas. Instead, they must go through the same process of completing an EPP and passing the associated certification examinations.
Finding a Teaching Job in Texas
Given that Texas reports a general shortage of classroom teachers at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels, most qualified and licensed applicants should find straightforward paths to landing a job. In many cases, EPPs supply successful candidates with valuable leads that can help them land employment.
Additionally, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission maintain a specialized job search portal for educators. Candidates can also enhance their prospects by following proven principles of effective professional networking.
These four job boards and career-building resources can also help:
- Texas Classroom Teachers AssociationThis professional organization offers free links to multiple Texas-specific teaching job boards and other career development resources.
- K12JobSpotA popular job search website for educators, K12JobSpot facilitates targeted queries by state, city, and zip code.
- Texas Teachers of TomorrowSearch for subject-specific and specialization-specific vacancies or target your search by school district with this free portal.
- Texas Charter Schools AssociationSeek job opportunities at Texas charter schools by region, category, grade level, or job type.
Notable Texas Schools and Districts
Named for its soaring view of the Dallas skyline, this school ranks near the top of the largest public secondary schools in Texas and educates students in the ninth through 12th grades. Consistently recognized as one of the top high schools in the U.S., Skyline graduates about 1,000 students annually and typically experiences ongoing demand for teachers.
Using Texas Education Agency accountability data, a leading Dallas-Fort Worth real estate firm ranked this Southlake-area school district as the best in the state in 2020. This district earned a perfect 10/10 for student academic performance, making it an appealing employment target for established and emerging educators.
This Dallas-area independent school district (ISD) finished in third place in the 2020 rankings that put Carroll ISD in top spot. Highland Park ISD enjoys a high profile among Texans, who recognize it as one of the most prestigious school districts in the state and a highly desirable destination for teachers.
Texas Teacher Salaries
Several noteworthy trends emerge when analyzing data covering the typical Texas teacher salary. First: the average earnings of an elementary, middle school, and high school teacher in Texas align just below the nationwide mean in all three cases. However, after factoring in the state's low cost of living, Texas teachers generally fare relatively well, financially speaking.
Also of note: the jump in average earnings for teachers with master's degrees is less pronounced in Texas than most other states. Holding a master's degree is not required to teach in Texas; the designation may open more career doors, but potentially without a significant rise in salary.
Texas Teacher Salaries
Average Annual Salary of Public Elementary and Secondary Teachers, 2018-19
Annual Mean Wage by Teaching Level in Texas, 2019
|Special Education, Preschool||$50,720||$67,060|
|Elementary School Teachers||$56,280||$63,930|
|Special Education, Kindergarten and Elementary School||$57,360||$64,420|
|Middle School Teachers||$56,290||$63,550|
|Special Education, Middle School||$56,720||$65,740|
|Secondary School Teachers||$58,000||$65,930|
|Special Education, Secondary School||$57,890||$65,710|
Annual Base Salary of Elementary and Secondary Teachers by Education and Experience, 2017-18
|0-2 Years||3-5 Years||6-10 Years||11-20 Years||20+ Years||Average, All Levels|
|TX Teachers with a Bachelor's||$47,750||$49,140||$50,280||$52,390||$57,460||$51,320|
|National Average of Teachers with a Bachelor's||$42,440||$44,490||$46,990||$54,380||$60,770||$49,890|
|TX Teachers with a Master's||$51,150||$52,840||$54,260||$60,170||$56,060|
|National Average of Teachers with a Master's||$51,050||$56,140||$65,700||$73,430||$63,120|
Texas Trends in Education
Statistics Surrounding Texas Schools and Education
|Total Students, All Grades||5,433,471, 2018-19||56.4 million, Fall 2020|
|Pupil/Teacher Ratio||15.11, 2018-19||16.0, 2016|
|Per-Pupil Expenditure, 2018||$9,670||$12,654|
|Change in Public Elementary and Secondary School Enrollment, 2017-2020||+33%||+7%|
|Projected Change in Public Elementary and Secondary School Enrollment, 2017-2029||+5%||+1%|
|Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) for Public High School Students, 2017-18||90%||85%|
|Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Teachers||359,575.9, 2018-19||3.7 million, Fall 2020|
|Percentage of Teachers 55 or Older, 2017-2018||14.5%||16.5%|
Number of Public Schools by Level, 2017-18
TX Employment by Teaching Level
|Teaching Level||TX Employment||TX Projected Growth, 2018-28||National Employment||National Projected Growth, 2018-28|
|Special Education, Preschool||1,030||+15.5%||24,000||+7.9%|
|Elementary School Teachers||135,400||+10.8%||1,434,400||+3.3%|
|Special Education, Kindergarten and Elementary School||13,200||+9.8%||184,300||+2.8%|
|Middle School Teachers||65,310||+10.9%||615,700||+3.5%|
|Special Education, Middle School||7,460||+9.9%||86,800||+2.8%|
|Secondary School Teachers||109,180||+11.0%||1,072,500||+3.6%|
|Special Education, Secondary School||12,700||+10.2%||142,000||+3.0%|
The population of Texas continues its rapid growth, vastly outpacing the national average and leading all states from mid-2018 through mid-2019. This boom coincides with strong current and future growth projections for teaching jobs in the state, which experts expect to surge during the 2020s.
In practically all cases, labor market analysts expect job growth rates for all classes of K-12 teachers to more than double national average rates from 2018-28. In particular, they anticipate strong growth for kindergarten teachers, high school teachers, and both regular and special education preschool teachers.
Beyond general population growth, driving factors behind these trends include soaring elementary and secondary school enrollment rates. In Texas, these outpaced national averages by more than 400% from 2017 to 2020. During that three-year period, public primary and high schools in Texas saw a 33% surge in enrollment, compared to just 7% nationwide.
While the job growth numbers look very appealing, aspiring educators in Texas should also note the state's relatively low per-pupil education expenditures. Texas spent 30.8% less per student than the typical U.S. state in 2018, indicating that teachers generally need to coax more mileage out of fewer resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Texas have online teaching programs?
How do you get a teaching license in Texas?
Do you need a master's to teach in Texas?
Can you be a teacher without a teaching degree in Texas?
How much do teachers make in Texas?
Is there a teacher shortage in Texas?
Professional Teaching Organizations in Texas
- Association of Texas Professional EducatorsThe ATPE mainly focuses on continuing education and professional development. Membership also includes professional liability insurance and access to legal representation, further enhancing its utility and value.
- Texas AFTChartered in 1974 and originally known as the Texas Federation of Teachers, TAFT is now part of the national American Federation of Teachers. It functions as a labor union that protects the rights and interests of all public school teachers in the state.
- Texas Classroom Teachers AssociationIn addition to teacher certification and job search resources, the TCTA provides practicing members with liability insurance and legal counsel if needed. However, membership remains open only to educators who work in classroom settings.
- Texas State Teachers AssociationThe TSTA maintains a formal affiliation with the National Education Association (NEA). Members also enjoy full access to additional outside resources provided by the NEA.
Teaching Programs in Texas
The list below covers teaching programs offered at colleges and universities in Texas. Site auditors update this list annually using information drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. All programs listed hold valid accreditation credentials, but prospective applicants should independently verify their standing with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board before applying.