How to Become a Teacher in Georgia
Choosing to be an educator is an exciting decision, but one needs to have a few requirements met before making the full transition into a teaching career. The short version is in order to meet Georgia teacher certification requirements, one needs to have a bachelor's degree and pass the content assessment tests related to their grade and subject.
There are plenty of branching paths for reaching these requirements, so let's take a brief look at the steps needed to obtain Georgia teaching certification.
The more common path is the "traditional path," which focuses on going to school first, and gaining employment after. This path will generally look like enrolling in a Georgia based college or university (out-of-state schools work too, as long as they are certified through their state's certification office), being in a GaPSC-approved or -accepted program, and then finding employment afterwards.
The traditional path more often leads to a professional certificate of teaching. In other words, one that does not expire.
The "alternative path" is more for those who already have a bachelor's degree or are looking to ease themselves into an education career. This path has certification-only programs (not tied to a traditional university setting or having a degree associated), and Master's in Teaching programs that compliment someone who already has a degree.
The alternative path usually gives one a temporary or "provisional" certificate; this certificate will expire in three years. There are routes and options to upgrading it, though.
Steps and Things to Consider When Looking At Teaching as a Career
Deciding on a career as a teacher in Georgia is exciting. However, there are some things to consider.
Step One: Pick a Grade Level
Each grade level has its own certification path, so picking one early is essential.
The degrees and certificates are as follows:
- Birth - Kindergarten
- Elementary Education: Pre-K - 5th grade
- Middle Education: 4th grade - 8th grade
- Secondary Education: 6th - 12th grade
The best question to be asking here is how one works with different age groups. Different ranges require different approaches and personalities. Someone who is great with middle school kids may not be so comfortable around elementary level children and vice versa. Even within the ranges that are presented, one could prefer teaching the 3rd - 4th grade range and the not 1st - 2nd. The best way to figure out what works with each individual is to find volunteer positions at school districts or substitute teaching.
Step Two: Pick a Subject
This step does not apply to elementary education and before, as those teachers generally teach all subjects. Otherwise, plan on choosing one or more subjects to teach.
Which subject one wants to teach is also a great question to be thinking about in the early stages of becoming a teacher. Naturally, one should teach what they are passionate about and have skill in. Teaching a math class with an ambivalence towards the subject would not be fun for the students or the teacher. Instead, one should teach what they love.
It is also worth noting that subjects at the high school level can be more specific, such as teaching "physics" or "biology" instead of "science." This way, if anyone has a specific passion for a more granular field, they can focus on those studies and eventually begin teaching it.
Step Three: Complete a GaPSC-approved or -accepted Program
Everyone who wants to become a teacher in Georgia must complete a GaPSC program, as it is a requirement for a Georgia teaching certificate.
When looking at this step, one needs to be aware of their needs and how each program works best within their unique situation. There are plenty of programs, so odds are there is a path for each individual.
Georgia Teacher Certification Steps
Georgia teaching certification steps are few, but each step can be a bit dense. As stated before, there are two general paths (traditional and alternative), where traditional focuses on a degree and a program now with employment later, and the alternative path suited for someone who already has a degree. Therefore, the steps required will be slightly different depending on an individual's approach, and each path has its own section in more detail below.
1. Complete a Bachelor's Degree and any Pre-Requirements
In order to be an educator for Georgia state, a bachelor's degree is required. There are a few areas where this is not the case — such as in Career, Technical, and Agricultural fields — but a bachelor's degree is needed for the vast majority of prospective educators.
This step applies the most to those who are going through the traditional path to Georgia teaching certification, as they are starting at a college or institution, and working through that degree's program. It does not apply to those going down the alternative path, as those people generally already have a bachelor's degree.
2. Successfully Complete a Teaching Certificate Program
The main thing to look for in this area is that the program is GaPSC-approved or GaPSC-accepted. Getting a teaching certification in Georgia is impossible without the certification program being GaPSC-approved or -accepted. There are plenty of options for this category, and they will be listed in more depth under the traditional and alternative teaching paths sections.
3. Sign Up and Pass State Required Exams
This is another important step, as the state required exams are also what give specific credentials to teach subjects. These content assessments are multifaceted, and more often than not each subject has its own corresponding content assessment. An individual interested in how to become a teacher in Georgia should do the research and double check which tests would be needed for them. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission website has excellent resources that can help guide this process.
4. Submit Application Verifying State Teaching Credential Requirements Fulfillment
The best way to find a teaching job in Georgia is to use the Teach Georgia website. It has job listings, and makes applying incredibly easy. Assuming that the last three steps were properly accomplished, there should be little issue with finding a job as a teacher in Georgia.
Georgia Teaching Certificate Traditional Path
The traditional teaching path in Georgia is the more straight-forward approach and generally leads to a professional teaching certificate (one that does not expire). As a brief overview, the traditional teaching path in Georgia consists of enrolling in a GaPSC-approved program at a university or college, and then seeking employment after the program is finished. This process is even more straightforward if this work is done at a Georgia based institution.
There are plenty of bachelor's degrees that lead to teaching certification, and have certification programs integrated into the curriculum. For younger individuals, or for those who do not have a degree yet, this path is probably the easiest.
Additionally, if a bachelor's degree has already been obtained, there are plenty of certification-only and master's programs that work in this traditional structure. It is even possible to teach for up to three years while working on a Master's in Teaching.
Remember: programs must lead to initial educator certification and must be approved by the certification office for whatever state they are based in. The best thing to do here is ask the admissions advisor or any heads of the education department at prospective schools if their programs are GaPSC-approved.
Georgia Teaching Certificate Alternative Path
On the other hand, the alternative path for Georgia teaching certification can be a better fit for some scenarios. However, alternative paths generally lead to temporary/provisional teaching certification for Georgia. The Georgia provisional teaching certificate permits one to teach for three years. For some, this is not a problem, but it could pose an issue for individuals looking to make teaching a lifetime career.
The alternative path generally consists of already having a bachelor's degree (if it was earned in the last 10 years, must have a minimum 2.5 GPA), passing the GACE Program Admission Assessment, passing the relevant GACE content assessment test, and completion of Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment.
After completing all of these assessments, a provisional teaching certificate will be given. As stated before, Georgia provisional certificates only give the proper credentials for teaching for three years. There are routes to upgrading the provisional certificate to a professional one.
Overall, the alternative teaching certificate path works well for those who either already have a bachelor's degree, or are unsure of teaching as a long-term career option. It gives an opportunity to see if teaching is a good fit. Since there are options for pivoting into making teaching a lifetime career, it strongly benefits those who have already received a bachelor's degree or are searching for a new career path.
Georgia Teacher Employment Information & Salary
A Georgia teaching career can be incredibly rewarding. However, job satisfaction is not the only variable to consider. One of the most important factors to consider is salary.
Below is the Georgia teacher pay schedule. To find what an individual would make, align the years of experience and the education level to receive a ballpark yearly figure.
Georgia Teachers' Salaries
|Years of Service||Teaching Certificate||Bachelor's (T-4)||Master's (T-5)||Specialist Ed. S. (T-6)||Doctorate (T-7)|
Additionally, teachers are in high demand right now. An individual seeking a rewarding career, working with youth and helping to build future generations up would find a great place amongst fellow Georgian teachers.
If still unsure whether or not teaching is the right career path, there are plenty of job fairs through the Teach Georgia website, as well as volunteer opportunities through local school district and tutoring/subbing positions as well. The best way to find out if teaching is the right path is to dive in and experience it.