The Alabama Teaching and Certification Resource
For those interested in pursuing a teaching career, there are several ways to get an Alabama teacher certification. The focus of this page is the standard path (known as the “Alabama State-approved Program Approach”) where you attend a four-year BA program in a school of education that is recognized and approved by Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). If you already have a four-year degree in a field outside of education (e.g., business or psychology), you will want to explore our alternative guide to certification in Alabama for options open to you.
How to Become a Teacher in Alabama
Anyone looking for teaching certification in Alabama should understand that the Alabama State Department of Education controls the process for and the granting of Alabama teacher certifications. To teach at a K-12 public or many K-12 private Alabama schools requires an active Alabama educator certification. You may be able to teach at some private schools without a license, but most require a four-year BA or BS. Alternately, you can become a substitute teacher in most states with a four-year degree or sometimes a high school degree or GED. For those teachers looking for information on Alabama teacher certification renewal, it’s best to consult the Alabama Department of Education for individual requirements for each type of certification.
Finding an Alabama teachers certification program that is certified is incredibly important for aspiring teachers. We prefer to always feature schools that meet the ALSDE’s criteria, but because program statuses change during accreditation review periods, we recommend that that you understand these criteria so you can inquire after requesting information from schools of interest.
The ALSDE relies heavily on two pieces of information in assessing Alabama teachers certification programs: 1) Is it accredited, and 2.) Is it recognized by one of the national education accrediting bodies? The more compliant the school is with these criteria, the more likely the school is recognized and approved by the ALSDE. Other factors are likely involved in order to obtain an Alabama educator certificate.
First, the school overall must be accredited and in good standing with one of the six regional accrediting bodies for colleges and universities. The US Department of Education approves and oversees those six bodies. Alabama is part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). So you should confirm that the school you’ve requested information from is in Alabama in good standing with SACSCOC. If you request information from a program offering online teaching certification, and the school is headquartered in another region (think University of Phoenix in Arizona), ensure that it is recognized and in good standing with one of the six regionally accredited bodies.
The six regional accrediting bodies for colleges and universities are:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools The Higher Learning Commission (NCA-HLC)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWAC)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WASC)
Second, the school you request information from may be deemed conforming by one of the national education accrediting bodies. Again, these accrediting bodies are approved by the US Department of Education. Since schools invite these accrediting associations to review them, possessing an additional designation is very nice “extra credit.” So, looking for a Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) adds to confidence in school selection as this organization ensures curriculum, staff, process and facilities meet their rigorous standards. CAEP accreditation can also apply to online programs.
See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Alabama.
Once you are admitted to a school that meets your needs, the coursework towards your teaching certification in Alabama will be set for you depending on the track you choose (e.g., elementary education), and will guide you to your end goal of teaching. We have highlighted the various requirements below for your information, however, understanding these specifics are not necessary as they will usually be built into your program.
- I want to be a teacher in Alabama, but don’t have a degree: Earn an Education Degree
- I want to be a teacher and have a degree, but not in education: Learn about Alabama’s Alternative Certification Process and Programs
- I have a teaching degree and am interested in more education: Learn about Master’s Degree Education Programs or Doctorate Education Programs and Information.
Alabama Teacher Education Requirements
The most direct route for Alabama teacher certification is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the desired certification area from a teacher education program in an Alabama college or university that has been formally approved by the Alabama State Board of Education. Anyone looking into becoming certified teacher in Alabama can work with the certification officer at the chosen school to ensure all the paperwork and state requirements are fulfilled. An applicant must be recommended for certification by the certification officer at their school.1
Alabama’s state employment security agency projects 300 annual openings for middle school teachers and 410 annual openings for secondary school teachers from 2012 to 2022. There are 44,250 elementary, middle school, and secondary teachers employed (excluding special education) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013). The average annual salary is $48,970 for elementary teachers, $48,830 for middle school teachers, and $50,170 for secondary school teachers in Alabama (BLS 2013). You can visit the Alabama Education Association for latest news on issues impacting teachers. Given the projected hires, now is a good time to research school options to become a teacher in Alabama.
Alabama Teacher Testing Requirements
Candidates who wish to obtain Alabama certification must take two tests. The Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP) is a test of basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics. After completing that test, candidates must take the Praxis II test for their certification area (such as elementary education, early childhood education, etc.). Official scores must be sent from the testing service to the Alabama State Department of Education.
Additional Alabama Teacher Certification Requirements
One requirement for everyone pursuing a teacher certification in Alabama is a background check. Candidates who apply for initial certification must submit fingerprints for a background check by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Prospective teachers must submit two fingerprint cards, a Release Form, a Background Review Consent Form, and a fee to have this done.
Alabama Teachers Licensing Application Process
To complete the application process to obtain your Alabama teacher certification, you will need to complete the following steps.
- Submit an application with required documentation including official transcripts and documentation of compliance with the Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP).
- Pay a non-refundable application fee.
- Submit to a background check and fingerprinting with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and FBI.
- After receiving your Alabama Teachers Licensing, fulfill ongoing requirements to ensure your certification remains valid.
Teacher Certification Section of the Office of Teaching and Leading
P.O. Box 302101,
Montgomery, AL 36130-2101
Visit the Alabama State Department of Education for further details on Alabama teacher certification.
Alabama Teacher Salary and Jobs
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Elementary School Teachers||18,830||$48,450|
|Middle School Teachers||9,070||$48,780|
|Secondary School Teachers||13,350||$49,500|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.
Interview with Julie Hicks, Alabama Kindergarten Teacher
Interview with Marla Vaughn, President of the Alabama Conference of Educators
Interview with Linda Dunnavant, Alabama Fifth Grade Teacher
Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Alabama
Question: How can you become a substitute teacher in Alabama?
Answer: To become a substitute teacher in Alabama you must have a high school diploma and a license from the state, which is inexpensive. Individual districts may have more requirements and may include training sessions. Apply to each district to find out the hiring requirements.
Teaching and Education Programs
1. Alabama State Department of Education: http://public.alsde.edu/office/otl/tc/Alabama%20Administrative%20Code/Teacher%20Certification%20Chapter.pdf
2. Alabama State Department of Education: https://tcert.alsde.edu/Portal/Public/Pages/News.aspx
3. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
Page edited by Charles Sipe.