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If you’re interested in a rewarding career in education in Arizona, you’ll have to complete a few key steps before you can start the job search. 

Luckily, starting a teaching career as an Arizona teacher is straightforward when you start at Alliant International University. If you’re interested in improving leadership in schools, apply to our education program that can help you nurture students’ engagement and mindset.

Learn how to become a teacher in Arizona through our step-by-step guide. We’ll discuss the requirements prospective teachers must fulfill before their job search begins (including education, certification, and experience) and break down everything you’ll need to do to step toward your teaching career on the right foot. 

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Requirements to Become a Teacher in Arizona

To understand how to become a teacher in Arizona, you’ll need to understand the state’s educational, certification, and experience requirements. Let’s explore the state’s requirements for professional educators. 

Education

Since teaching in Arizona requires a teacher certification, educators must complete a qualifying educational program to be eligible for the state’s certification exam. 

Arizona recognizes three general types of training programs for teachers:1

  1. Traditional bachelor’s degree educator preparation programs – In traditional bachelor’s degree educator preparation programs, students enroll in a typical four-year program, complete the curriculum, and complete twelve weeks of student teaching to receive a bachelor’s degree in education or an education-related field. This bachelor’s degree qualifies them for a teaching certificate in Arizona and other US states.
  2. Traditional or alternative post-baccalaureate educator preparation programs – Post-baccalaureate educator preparation programs are available to students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. These programs vary widely. Both master’s degree programs and certificate programs fall under this umbrella, and all programs require students to complete a twelve-week student teaching experience. 
  3. Alternative educator preparation certificate program – Arizona offers Teaching Intern and Teacher in Residence certificates for people with bachelor’s degrees or higher looking to work full-time as teachers while completing their full certification requirements. This certificate program prepares future teachers to take the state certification exam. Upon passing the exam, they’ll receive a standard certificate that fully qualifies them to teach in the state.

Certification

Since Arizona requires public school educators to be certified, Arizona teachers must pass a teacher certification exam. The state offers a wide variety of certifications, including:2

  • PreK – 12 teaching certificates – There are currently eighteen certifications in this teacher preparation program, and each specific certification qualifies prospective educators to work with specific grade levels, subjects, or disciplines (such as special education). 
  • Substitute Teacher and JROTC certificates – Prospective substitute teachers and JROTC program instructors can receive certifications for these specific careers.
  • Alternative teaching certificates – For people with bachelor’s degrees or higher looking to work full-time as teachers while completing their full certification requirements, Arizona offers Teaching Intern and Teacher in Residence certificates. However, these certificates are temporary, and teachers using these certificates will have to receive a full certification to continue teaching long-term.

Experience

To qualify for full certification, teachers in Arizona must either:

  1. Participate in a twelve-week, supervised student teaching experience
  2. Teach full-time with an alternative teaching certificate while preparing for full certification

For prospective teachers who take the first route, student teaching experiences are typically organized by their bachelor’s, master’s, or certificate program. Student teaching is similar to an internship in other fields, and student teachers:

  • Are matched with a supervising teacher who is certified to teach in the state and has ample teaching experience
  • Create lesson plans and conduct lessons in a real classroom setting while supervised by a certified teacher
  • Will be evaluated and mentored by their supervising teacher throughout the experience

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Becoming a Teacher in Arizona: A 4-Step Guide

Prospective teachers in Arizona must fulfill the requirements above to secure a full-time, permanent teaching position in the state. But where should future educators start?

#1 Choose a Career Track and Certificate

Whether you already have a bachelor’s (or more advanced) degree or your educational journey hasn’t yet begun, the first step is choosing a teaching discipline. Your chosen discipline will determine which Arizona teaching certification you’ll pursue after graduation. 

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a discipline and certificate, like:

  • Grade level – What age group are you interested in teaching? Arizona offers certifications for specific grade levels (e.g., K – 8, PreK – 12, 5 – 9, and 6 – 12).
  • Subject matter – While you can pursue a more general certificate (like Elementary Education K – 8 or Secondary Education 6 – 12), some teachers choose a more specific subject for certification, like Art Education, Physical Education, or STEAM. If you are unsure whether you want to teach one or several topics, consider learning more about a single subject vs. multiple subject teaching credential
  • Special education – If you’re interested in learning how to become a special education teacher, a special education training program can prepare you for these specific certifications. 

#2 Complete a Training Program

Once you choose a discipline and corresponding state certification to pursue, find and complete a teacher certification program that will prepare you for your future career. Depending on your level of completed education, some training programs might meet your needs better than others. 

A few tips to keep in mind: 

  • If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree or higher, consider a traditional bachelor’s degree program. After successfully completing the program (and a twelve-week student teaching experience), you can receive a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. Your diploma will serve as your ticket to the certification exam.
  • If you have a bachelor’s degree, consider a master’s or doctoral degree program in education or a related field. To become eligible for a state certification exam, you’ll need to successfully complete the program and a twelve-week student teaching experience.
  • If you have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a non-educational field, programs that award Arizona teaching certificates may be right for you. While completing an organized training program and twelve-week student teaching experience, you’ll receive a certificate instead of a diploma. This certificate will qualify you to take a state certification exam.

#3 Pass the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment

Before you can qualify for a full-time, permanent teaching job in Arizona, you’ll need to pass an Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment (AEPA) exam. 

Each exam is made up of one or more tests, and the tests you’ll take will depend on the type of certificate you pursue. For example, for Elementary Certification (Grades K – 8), candidates must pass three exams:3

  • Assessment of Professional Knowledge: Elementary
  • Elementary Education (Subtests I and III)
  • Constitutions of the United States and Arizona

Test preparation is included in many degree and certificate programs for teacher education. 

#4 Start Working as a Teacher

Once you’ve received your degree or certificate, completed a twelve-week student teaching experience, and passed an AEPA exam, you’ll be qualified for a full-time, permanent teaching position in Arizona. 

But, you might also be a good fit for an alternative teaching certificate (which will allow you to teach full-time while completing the requirements above) if:4

  • You already have a bachelor’s degree or higher in education or a related discipline
  • You need to earn income while you pursue additional educator training or certification

An alternative teaching certificate lasts for two years. It can be renewed for two additional years if you need more time to complete the program or complete your certification exams. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Arizona

If you have additional questions about how to become a teacher in Arizona, explore these answers to common queries.

How Often Do I Need to Renew My Arizona Teaching Certificate?

Each Arizona teaching certification has an expiration date, and the state awards certifications in three different increments:5

  • Six-year certifications
  • Eight-year certifications
  • Twelve-year certifications

To renew your certificate, you must renew your fingerprint clearance card, complete professional development, and resubmit your degree or certificate program transcript. 

Can I Teach in Arizona Without Certification?

There are a few important things to note about certification and non-public school teaching jobs:

  • Not all charter schools in Arizona require teachers to be state-certified. But, charter school teachers must obtain a fingerprint card and pass a state background check.6
  • Per the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, charter schools in the state may not hire teachers whose certificates have been surrendered or revoked (unless their certifications have been reinstated).7
  • Arizona private schools are not required to hire certified teachers.8

But, teachers pursuing careers in non-public school environments (like private and charter schools) could potentially improve their job prospects by completing an educator training program and pursuing certification.

What Teaching Positions Can I Apply For?

While charter and private schools in Arizona establish their own hiring requirements, public school teachers must either pass a certification program or receive an alternative teaching certificate to qualify for open positions.

Once you complete state certification, you’ll be eligible for jobs related to your specific certificate. For example, teachers with Elementary Education, K – 8 Certificates will be qualified for teaching jobs across grades Kindergarten through 8 in any subject. 

If you’re interested in a specific grade level and subject (twelfth-grade history, for instance), consider taking a Subject Matter Certificate exam to improve your chances of securing this specific position. 

Start Your Educator Training at Alliant International University

If you want to start a teaching career in Arizona, earning a certificate from an educator’s training program is an excellent place to start. 

The California School of Education at Alliant International University provides training for future teachers in both California and Arizona, giving them the expertise and experience they need to pass state certification exams and prepare for successful teaching careers. Our programs offer comprehensive curricula in an online format. We’re making it simple for future educators to get the training they need to positively impact students’ lives. 

If you’re ready to pursue an Arizona teaching certificate, explore our programs and apply today.


Sources: 

  1. “Become an Educator.” Arizona Department of Education. https://www.azed.gov/teach/enter-the-profession/becoming-an-educator-in…. Accessed July 25, 2023.
  2. “Certification Requirements.” Arizona Department of Education. https://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/forms-and-information/certi…. Accessed June 25, 2023. 
  3. “What Tests Do I Need to Take?” Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments. https://www.aepa.nesinc.com/PageView.aspx?f=GEN_WhatTestsDoINeedToTake…. Accessed June 25, 2023.
  4. “Alternative Teaching Certificate Information.” Arizona Department of Education. https://www.azed.gov/node/27129. Accessed June 25, 2023. 
  5. “Educator Certification: Renew Your Certification.” Arizona Department of Education. https://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/educator-certification-rene…. Accessed June 25, 2023.
  6. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. https://asbcs.az.gov/faq. Accessed Jun 25, 2023. 
  7. “Information Pertaining to Teacher Compliance and Guidance.” Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. https://asbcs.az.gov/sites/default/files/Teacher%20Compliance%20and%20G…. Accessed June 25, 2023. 
  8. “Arizona State Regulations.” US Department of Education. https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/non-public-education/regulation-map/…. Accessed June 25, 2023. 

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