How to Become a Teacher in Alabama
Alabama teacher certification requirements are specific and need to be followed in order to achieve Alabama teacher certification. The process varies from state to state; the steps for becoming a teacher in Alabama are listed below. All candidates will need to begin by earning a Bachelor's degree and then completing an Alabama Teacher Certification Program in order to be considered for Alabama teacher certification.
The type of bachelor's degree a candidate earns determines whether to follow the traditional or alternative route to obtaining certification. The traditional route is tailored to those who have earned a bachelor's degree in the field of education. The alternative route is for those who have earned a bachelor's degree in any other field but would like to add a teaching certification to their existing degree. In addition to the bachelor's degree, mandatory teacher certification programs will assess future teachers in both coursework and in fieldwork.
Teaching candidates who have earned both their bachelor's degree and have completed an approved teacher certification program are required to complete the Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP). The test includes a Basic Skills Assessment and the Alabama Praxis II test for subject proficiency.
Alabama Teaching Certification
There are three types of teaching certificates in Alabama. Class B, Class A, or Class AA teaching certification can be achieved in the following areas: early childhood education, elementary education, secondary, career and technical, preschool through grade 12, and special education.
The following are the requirements for each level of certification on the path to achieving Alabama teacher certification:
- To obtain Class B teacher certification in elementary education, a bachelor's degree is needed.
- To obtain Class A teacher certification in elementary education, a master's degree is needed.
- To obtain Class AA teacher certification in elementary education, completion of a 6-year program (including at least 30 credit hours) is needed.
Note that for all certifications, completion of a subject focus is required for secondary education or special education certification in addition to listed Class requirements.
Alabama Educator Preparation Program
A crucial step on the path to Alabama teacher certification is completing an accredited teacher preparation program. Candidates may enroll in an approved educator preparation program upon satisfactory completion of a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.5 or higher.
Each program will focus on both coursework and fieldwork, which includes student teaching.
Some establishments currently offering these programs are:
- Jacksonville State University
- Miles College
- Samford University
- University of Alabama
- Birmingham Southern College
Alabama Teacher Education Requirements
Alabama teacher certification requirements state that all candidates must begin by earning a Bachelor's degree that includes at least 32 credit hours, made up of differing credits. From there, completion of a combination of coursework and fieldwork in a teacher certification program is needed. Candidates will be educated in teaching skills, as well as exploring the art and science of teaching. During fieldwork, prospective teachers will gain essential hands-on experience in a classroom under the guidance of an experienced mentor teacher.
Alabama Teacher Testing Requirements
In order to meet all Alabama teacher certification requirements, prospective teachers will need to pass a basic skills assessments test that measures abilities in three areas: Mathematics, Reading, and Writing. In addition, candidates will need to pass the Alabama Praxis II exam, which comprises of two different tests - knowledge in the chosen grade level or subject area, and pedagogical knowledge. The tests are given by the Alabama Educator Certification Assessment Program (AECAP). Teachers in Alabama will also need to pass the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), which assesses students in planning, delivering, and assessing lessons they have taught.
The Educative Teacher Performance Assessment
In 2018, the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) became a requirement to obtain Alabama teacher certification. Unlike the other two Praxis exams that must be completed prior to student teaching, this test is typically given during the last semester of student teaching and measures a prospective teacher's pedagogical knowledge in the field of education. A candidate must pass the edTPA with a satisfactory score to be granted licensure in the state. Scores will range from 15 to 75. The Alabama Department of Education requires a score of 37 in most fields of study.
The edTPA is administered by an outside company, Pearson Education, and is currently used in multiple states, including Alabama. A portfolio created by the candidate will be part of this assessment and will include evidence such as pictures and videos, student samples, lesson plans, and evaluations collected during fieldwork. Candidate performance will be scored according to the edTPA rubric.
Alabama Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching
The Alabama Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (Praxis PLT) focuses on classroom management skills. The PLT consists of four separate tests. Each test is administered by computer or on paper and includes 70 multiple-choice questions and four constructed response questions. Test-takers are given 120 minutes to complete each exam, which is graded on the number of correct answers given, with no penalty for wrong answers. For those who don't pass the exam, test-takers must wait 28 days after the previous test date to retake Praxis test.
Candidates can register to take the PLT online on the Praxis website. Once registered, candidates will choose a date and Praxis testing center to schedule the test. Mail and phone registration is also an option. Proof of valid identification and payment of a test fee will be required during the registration process. When they register for the Praxis, a score date is provided.
Alabama Praxis II Exams for Subject Proficiency
The Alabama Praxis II exam tests proficiency in a candidate's chosen subject or grade level, and the test varies accordingly. It is a written test given at approved locations only. In order to register, candidates will need to pay a fee, which varies by subject field.
Depending on the subject area, the test may take anywhere from one to four hours to complete. The test is comprised of both multiple-choice and written response questions and is scored on the number of correct answers given, with no penalty for wrong answers.
The Praxis II exams can be retaken approximately three weeks from the initial test. Candidates will repeat the Praxis registration process to schedule again. Registration for this exam is the same as for the PLT exam.
Alabama Teacher Certification Additional Requirements
Alabama teacher certification requirements state that all applicants must show proof of passing both an FBI clearance and a criminal background check. Candidates need to fill out a request with the FBI and show proof of identification at an approved site. Upon arrival at the approved location, fingerprints will be scanned and all pertinent information will be taken, as well as paying a small fee for completion of the check.
Alabama Teacher Certification Application Process
Once all of the above requirements are completed, candidates can submit an application for Alabama teacher certification. The application can be submitted through a candidate's graduating university, or directly to the state address provided below. After submitting the application, in most cases, candidates will hear back within approximately two weeks.
Steps to Apply:
1. Proof of a background check/FBI clearance including fingerprinting
2. Completed application with required documentation (including official transcripts, verification of test scores)
3. Letter of recommendation
4. Payment of an application fee
Mail Applications to:
Alabama State Department of Education
50 North Ripley Street
PO Box 302101
Montgomery, AL 36104-3833
Alabama Alternative Teaching Certification Requirements
Alabama offers alternative teacher certification in the form of a provisional certificate. This allows a teacher to earn a teaching certificate over a three-year period while teaching full-time. Candidates will begin with a bachelor's degree in any subject, and then enroll in a teacher preparation program or complete an educational master's degree.
Emergency certificates can also be issued by the school superintendent if there is no certified teacher available to fill a teaching vacancy.
Another alternative teacher certificate Alabama offers is the Troops To Teachers (TTT) program. It is a program for members of the military who wish to become a teacher in Alabama. A prerequisite to this program is having already earned a Bachelor's degree. This program provides job opportunities to veterans while filling vacancies in schools.
Alabama Teacher Certification Reciprocity for Out-of-State Teaching Licenses
Teachers with current out-of-state teaching licenses can apply for Alabama teacher certification reciprocity. This is an interstate program that allows teachers certified in other states to become certified in Alabama. An applicant's education and experience will be thoroughly evaluated by the Alabama Department of Education. A provisional certificate may be issued if all requirements for teaching in Alabama are not yet met. This allows the teacher to meet these requirements while teaching in a classroom.
Alabama Educator Professional Development & Advancement
Certified teachers in Alabama are required to continue their education by completing a set number of credits/hours of professional development through courses or workshops. This continuing education is ongoing and will be required throughout a teacher's career. Teachers in Alabama will need to earn 50 hours, or 3 semester hours, accompanied by 3 years of teaching experience. Teachers who are not currently working in education can renew certification by completing the required hours through courses and workshops.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Certification is also available, which includes a $5000 salary stipend in Alabama and is earned through a voluntary testing process. This certificate recognizes high achievers in the field of education. It is important to note that this certification adds on to a teacher's existing certification, but does not replace it.
Teachers can also choose to pursue a Master of Education. Teachers in Alabama with a master's degree earn about $7000 more each year than teachers with a bachelor's degree. In Alabama, master's degrees are offered in the following fields: Science in Education, Arts in Education, Arts in Teaching, Education, Education Specialists.
Alabama Teaching Certification Renewal
Alabama teaching certificates are renewed after five years. Teachers will need to fill out a renewal application with the Alabama Department of Education, who can be reached by phone at 334-353-8567 or it can be renewed online. One of the following is needed for approval:
- 50 hours of professional development plus three years working full-time as a teacher
- Three semester hours of approved credits plus three years working full-time as a teacher
- Six approved semester hours
Alabama Teacher Employment Outlook & Salary
Once all steps outlined in this article are complete, visit the Alabama Achieves website to apply for available jobs. There are postings of open positions, which includes hourly rate or salary, location, and start date.
In 2021/2022, the U.S. Department of Education Alabama reported teacher shortages in:
- Language Arts (English), Pre-K-12
- Mathematics (Basic and Advanced Mathematics), Pre-K-12
- Science (Biological Sciences, Physical Science), Pre-K-12
- Special Education (Early Childhood, Life Skills), Pre-K-12
When researching how to become a teacher in Alabama, consider pay and benefits offered by the state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 Alabaman teacher salaries ranged from $50,370, with salaries varying by grade level with increases every three years. Also, teachers who agree to teach in high-need schools may qualify for student loan forgiveness.
The Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) handles retirement benefits for all teachers retiring from the field of teaching in the state of Alabama. Benefits include health, dental, and vision care. Teachers in Alabama are also enrolled in a retirement plan, and are eligible for retirement after 25 teaching years.