Empowering Education: Navigating the Path to Earning a Teaching Certification in Texas

Earning a teaching certification in Texas allows you to work as an educator anywhere in the state. The path to certification can be complex, but with professionals like Texas Teachers of Tomorrow holding your hand, you can maneuver your way through it.

Requirements to Become a Teacher in Texas

To become a certified Texas teacher, one must fulfill these five requirements:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree
  • Complete an approved educator preparation program
  • Pass the appropriate teacher certification exams
  • Submit an application to be certified
  • Undergo fingerprinting

Have a Bachelor’s Degree

Only applicants seeking certification in health science technology and trades and industrial education can apply without a bachelor’s degree. Applicants for teacher certification in all other subjects must have an undergraduate degree.

Your bachelor’s degree should be from an accredited university or college. And the university’s accrediting agency should be recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). This requirement is how THECB ensures institutions meet its Standards for Operation of Institutions. Look through the list of U.S. Department of Education-recognized accreditors to confirm that your university’s accrediting agency is listed here.

Complete an Approved Educator Preparation Program

Your choice of Educator Preparation Program (EPP) depends on whether you already hold a degree. EPPs offer three pathways to certification:

  • Alternative certification programs
  • Post-baccalaureate programs
  • University program

If you already have your degree, choose between an alternative certification program and a post-baccalaureate program. Texas has at least 73 post-baccalaureate programs and 56 alternative certification programs, so the offering of programs is rich and diverse.

If you do not have a degree, choose a university program. This option is known as the traditional certification program. Under the program, applicants pursue a university course culminating in a bachelor’s degree or higher and teacher certification. Currently, at least 76 EPPs offer the traditional university program in Texas.

Pass the Appropriate Teacher Certification Exams

Each educator preparation program has its own teacher certification exams. Trainees must pass the applicable certification exams to be certified. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) expects you to take and pass at least one exam in the subject you wish to teach. The exam comes after successfully going through the program. Applicants should liaise with officials in their chosen program to get exam approval.

Apply to the State for Certification

Before submitting your certification application to the state, confirm with your EPP that, indeed, you are eligible to be certified. All these programs have a name and success track record to uphold, so they go to great lengths to prepare their trainees for certification. Program officials scrutinize each trainee’s progress and ensure they meet all TEA requirements before giving them the go-ahead to apply for a certificate. After confirming that you meet all the program’s standards, your EPP will recommend you for certification.

Go Through Fingerprinting

TEA will take your fingerprints and conduct a criminal background check. They do this for all certification applicants before issuing the certificate. TEA relies on the Texas Administrative Code to ascertain the potential eligibility of applicants. Once you pass the background check, TEA approves your certificate. They’ll post it to the TEA website and notify you when the certificate is official.

Pursuing Certification Through the Traditional University Program

The university program route is open to prospective teachers who do not have an undergraduate degree. The program allows students to pursue a bachelor’s degree, after which they also earn their teacher certification.

The program is also suitable for holders of an undergraduate degree or higher who wish to pursue teacher certification through university coursework—the post-baccalaureate option. At the end of the program, trainees may also earn an advanced degree on top of their educator certificate.

Here are the steps to follow for university program certification:

Choose the Subjects You’d Like to Teach

Your first step is choosing the grade levels and subject area you wish to teach. TEA offers more than 50 certification areas to choose from. Some subjects are more in-demand than others, while others have an overabundance of teachers. So when selecting the subject area you want to teach, consider how quickly you can land a job teaching that subject.

Not sure how to make the right choice? Advisors in your chosen program can help you navigate the options to settle on subject areas that interest you and have good employment prospects.

Choose a University EPP

Next, choose a university program from TEA’s approved list of programs. Only programs on this list can recommend applicants for certification.

Note that the program you choose depends on the subject areas you’re interested in. Each EPP will indicate how many credits you need to earn your degree and how long it will take you to finish the program. Some programs are shorter than others, so evaluate each to see the timelines that work for you.

To qualify for an EPP, you must meet its entry requirements. Again, these vary from one program to the other and may include:

  • Basic skill requirements
  • Academic (grade point average) requirements
  • Additional university-mandated requirements
  • Various state-mandated requirements

Develop a Plan for Your Program

Once you’ve been accepted into the program, your certification advisor will explain how the program works, the coursework to cover, your student teaching or internship duration, and the tests and exams you must take.

Complete the Program

Complete all your coursework and any tests required at this level. You’ll not proceed to the next steps if your coursework is incomplete and you have pending tests.

Undertake Student Teaching or Internship

Your program may assist you in finding placement as an intern or student teacher. For the internship, your teaching assignment must be in the subject area and at the grade level of your anticipated certificate. So if you wish to be certified to teach Grade 4 math, you must teach math to Grade 4 students during your teaching internship.

Apply for A Probationary Certificate

The probationary teaching certificate is a provisional permit that allows you to teach in Texas schools. It usually applies to student teachers enrolled in the post-baccalaureate university program and alternative certification programs. Apply for a probationary certificate after you’ve found and started a teaching internship.

Your program will recommend you for the certificate, and then you can apply for it online. You’ll need to pay an application fee and pass a background check, and the certificate is valid for one year.

Complete Examinations

Your EPP must approve the examinations you take. This ensures you take the appropriate exams for the grade and subject you’ll be teaching. You must complete and pass these exams.

Apply for Your Certificate

Your program will recommend you for the standard teacher certificate. This recommendation is subject to you meeting all program requirements, from coursework to internship or student teaching and exams. TEA will run a background check on you and approve your certificate.

Pursuing Certification Through An Alternative Certification Program

Alternative certification programs (ACPs) in Texas offer a nontraditional path for prospective educators with an undergraduate degree to pursue certification. More than 100 universities, community colleges, school districts, education service centers, and private organizations offer ACPs.

To get certified through an alternative program, follow the same steps as the traditional university program. The only notable differences between the two are that:

  • You’ll choose an alternative EPP as opposed to a university EPP.
  • Alternative certification programs are shorter than the university program. Many take only a year.
  • Your degree can determine what subject area and program to choose.
  • Your choice of ACP may also depend on demonstration of knowledge based on your degree and academic transcripts.
  • Most ACPs offer paid internships.

For Out-of-State Certificate Holders

If you hold a standard teacher certificate from another state, apply for a review of credentials. TEA will then review your documents to determine whether or not you qualify for the standard teacher certificate. The process is a tad lengthy, but doable.

  1. Create a TEA Login account.
  2. Complete your educator profile
  3. Apply for a review of credentials
  4. Submit copies of all your out-of-state certificates
  5. Request your institution to send your transcripts to TEA
  6. Request the HR department where you earned your service to fill out the Verification of Experience form
  7. Request the state licensing agency where you earned your teacher credential to fill out and return the Verification of Tests form. Applicants with 3+ years of verifiable experience are exempt from test verification.

Following the review, you may need to take tests before applying for a standard certificate, or you may qualify for a standard certificate. If that’s the case, submit the application for certified out-of-state applicants.


Becoming a certified teacher in Texas is the first step toward an exciting career as an educator. It opens doors for you to work anywhere in the state in both public and private schools. And it doesn’t call for you to have a bachelor’s degree in education, either. If you have a degree in any field, enroll in an alternative teacher certification program, which is a shorter route to becoming a teacher. You only need to choose a TEA-approved educator preparation program, select your preferred subject area, grade level, complete the program, and you’re ready to roll.

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