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You will need a teacher certification credential to become a school teacher, but what type of teaching credential is right for you? Find out what you can do with the different types of teaching credentials.

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What are the Types of Teaching Credentials?

Elementary school teaching credentials allow you to teach pre-K, kindergarten, and elementary education.1 Credentials for elementary education cover multiple subjects, rather than a single subject, such as math or history.

Secondary school teaching credentials cover a single subject, rather than multiple subjects. You’ll be prepared to teach the subject at various levels, from elementary school, middle school, and high school up to adult education.2

As the name implies, special education teaching credentials prepare you to teach special education. Individuals with special education teaching credentials may teach in classrooms, special schools, home settings, hospitals, or other settings. There are specialties available here, for instance for early childhood education, visual health impairments, or physical health impairments.3

Which Teaching Credential is Right?

The right teacher credential will allow you to teach the subject that interests you to the level of children or adults you want to work with. If you have a passion for working with young children, then an elementary school teaching certificate credential is a strong fit for your professional development.

If you would prefer to teach one subject instead of multiple, then you may prefer a secondary school educator certification. Likewise, if you are highly interested in one topic, you’ll be able to pursue your passions more with secondary school teaching credentials.

Consider what teaching experience you would most enjoy. Would you rather teach critical thinking and academic skills or direct children in play? If you’re not sure what age group is right, volunteer with children to get a better idea of what you enjoy.

Once you’ve made the decision, find a student teaching training program and prepare to obtain your teaching license and credentials.

Are there alternative routes to educator certification for special circumstances?

Consideration of unique circumstances in obtaining teaching certification and alternative options are made available, such as expedited certification, temporary licensing, or bypassing the traditional certification process.

  • Accelerated Certification Programs - This type of teacher certification program allows you to earn your certification while actively teaching.
  • Emergency Teaching Credentials - States facing critical teacher shortages may offer temporary or emergency teaching licenses that bypass typical requirements, often for high-need subjects such as math, science, special education or bilingual education in urban schools. Another one is for high-need geographic areas like urban schools. Reach out to the state Department of Education to find out if your state offers this option.
  • Transferring Teacher Credentials from a Different Country - Many states do not recognize teaching credentials obtained in other countries. Still, provisional teaching certificates may be granted, allowing individuals to teach while fulfilling additional education requirements. Once completed, full licensure is obtained, which typically takes one to two semesters of full-time study.

Can anyone enter the teaching profession without a professional certification?

Here are some alternatives for entering the teaching profession without undergoing the usual certification process. Note that earning a degree and other forms of verification may still be required.

  • Obtain a support role in a public school

  • Look into teaching opportunities abroad

  • Take on a student teaching position

  • Substitute teaching may be an option, though subject to competency testing

  • Volunteer for teaching roles

Why You Should Aim for Educator Preparation Program and Teacher Licensure

  • The potential for job security and stability.
  • The continuous learning and growth as a professional.
  • The potential to earn a good salary and benefits package.
  • The experience of working with a diverse group of students and colleagues.

Apply for an Online Teaching Credential Today

Interested in learning more about CA teaching, online teaching credentials, or any of our other teacher education programs? Contact an Alliant admissions counselor today. Check out our full list of online programs today to take the next step in your career. 

Become a teacher


  1. “Elementary School Teacher Career Guide,” Teacher Certification Degrees, accessed November 22, 2021,….
  2. “High School Teacher Career Guide.” Teacher Certification Degrees. Accessed November 22, 2021.…;
  3. “Teaching Special Education.” Teaching Special Education. Accessed November 22, 2021.…;

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