The Alaska Teaching and Certification Resource

Teaching is still considered to be the world’s most noble professions and for anyone interested in becoming a certified teacher in Alaska, it’s important to understand the Alaska teacher certification process, which differs from other US states.

In Alaska, the state’s Department of Education and Early Development (EDD) oversees the Alaska teachers licensing process needed to teach in the state’s school system. Regardless of previous teaching experience or a holding teaching certificate from another state, teaching in Alaska (public and private schools, K-12) requires an active teaching certificate issued by the Alaska Department of Education.

How to Become a Teacher in Alaska

To obtain an Alaska teacher certification, applicants must complete an Alaska teachers certification program at a traditional four-year BA program provided by a certified university recognized by the Alaska State Department of Education (EED). For those that already have have a four year degree in another topic, but not a specific teaching degree, there are alternative ways to become a certified teacher in Alaska.

Below, we outline the Alaska teacher certification process as stipulated by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

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Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Alaska

When looking for a qualified Alaska teachers certification program, it’s imperative to find an institution that is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies that oversee educational institutions across the US. These six agencies are approved and overseen by the US Department of Education, but work on a regional scale.

The Alaska school accreditation is overseen by the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC). This organization accredits a variety of learning organization in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Formerly known as Northwest Association of Accredited Schools, this association is responsible for the accreditation of a variety of schools in the region, including all K-12 programs, distance education programs, supplementary education, etc.

When approving its state-wide educational institutions, the Alaska Department of Education will look for accreditation from the NWAC and whether or not it is recognized by one of the national education accrediting bodies. Although, in addition to these criteria, other factors may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It’s advisable to check with the Alaska Department of Education for an up-to-date list of state approved teacher education programs to confirm that your program is approved.

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When evaluating programs offering teaching certification in Alaska, you should first and foremost confirm that it is in good standing with the NWAC. If you’re considering an online teaching certification from a school headquartered in another region (for example, University of Phoenix in Arizona), it should also be in good standing with one of the six regionally accredited bodies.

In addition to looking for a legitimately accredited program, you may want to consider looking for schools that are accredited by one of the national education organizations, which are approved by the US Department of Education. While this accreditation is not mandatory for schools to operate, most educational programs will solicit a review because this additional accreditation is seen as a merit of excellence in the education sector.

The two most distinguished accrediting organizations have previously been the NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) and TEAC (Teacher Education Accreditation Council). However, as of July, 2013, these two organization have been consolidated under the name, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness or CAEP. Both organizations were previously regarded as a professional quality control mechanism for teacher preparation for both campus-based and online programs. CAEP will follow that distinguished reputation and work to ensure that teacher programs’ curriculum, staff, operations and facilities meet rigorous standards.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Alaska.

Once you have been admitted to a school of your choice, the coursework will be based on the educational track you choose (e.g., elementary education), and will lead you to your teaching degree, qualifying you to obtain a Alaska teacher certification.

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Quick Guide

Alaska Teacher Education Requirements

When it comes to issuing Alaska educator certification, each state has specific policies on out-of-state qualifications and experience. Reciprocity policies differ from state to state, so it is always best to check with the appropriate contact at the Department of Education before pursuing certification. In Alaska, anyone with a out-of-state teacher certificate may be eligible for a 3-year initial certificate as long as they have passing results from one of the required Basic Competency Exams. Applicants without the required test scores may be eligible for a temporary 1-year certificate and may apply for the Initial certificate once they have taken and passed one of the exams. For those teachers who already have a Alaska educator certificate, Alaska teacher certification renewal process is fairly straightforward providing teachers have fulfilled the experience necessary. For more details, it’s best to contact the Department of Education’s renewal office.

In order to be certified to teach in Alaska, an applicant must have completed or be enrolled in a state-approved teacher education program at an accredited college or university. The state of Alaska issues three types of teaching certificates: Initial, Professional and Master.

  • Initial Teacher Certificate requires a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution. Official transcripts of coursework and degrees must be included in the application, including community college and transfer credits, if applicable. An applicant must be able to complete their teacher education program within two years.
  • Professional Teacher Certification requires two year of teaching experience while holding a valid teacher certificate or a current initial teacher certificate that was valid on September 16, 2011.
  • Master Teacher Certificate requires all of the prerequisites for a Professional Certificate plus a current Initial or Professional certificate. Additionally, applicants must have a National Board certification issued by the NBTS. The Master Certificate is valid for ten years and may be renewed upon expiration in most cases.

For those looking to teach under specific fields such as Special Education, Preschool Special Education, Gifted or Vocational Education, there are specific requirements set for each field.

Special Education

All special education teachers must complete a typical teaching program as well as secure an endorsement once an approved teacher training program in special education is completed.

Gifted Education

Teachers looking to teach gifted students must complete a certified teaching program and at least six semester hours in a gifted teacher education program .

Vocational Programs

Vocational teachers must have an endorsement in vocational education or a Type M Limited Certificate.

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Alaska Teacher Outlook as of 2014
Alaska’s state employment security agency projects 90 annual openings for elementary school teachers, 30 annual openings for middle school teachers, and 50 annual openings for secondary school teachers from 2012 to 2022. There are 7,200 elementary, middle school, and secondary teachers employed in Alaska (excluding special education) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013). The average annual salary is $70,190 for elementary teachers, $69,600 for middle school teachers, and $71,040 for secondary school teachers in Alaska (BLS, 2013). NEA-Alaska, the largest active union for education professionals in the state, provides the latest news on issues impacting teachers.

Alaska Teacher Testing Requirements

Alaska State SealAll applicants wanting to teach in Alaska must pass a Basic Competency Exam. There are quite a few basic competency exams that meet the requirement for Alaska teacher certification:

Praxis I, CBEST, WEST-B, Alabama Work Keys, Florida Teacher Certification Exams, Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators, Illinois certification Testing System, Michigan Test for Teacher Certification, New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Basic Skills, New York State Teacher Certification Liberal Arts and science Test, and the Oklahoma General Education Test.

A passing score from all sections (reading, writing, mathematics) from one of the aforementioned exams is mandatory for all applicants. However, if you do not pass one of the exams, but you have a valid teaching certificate issued by another US state, you may qualify for a one-year Initial teaching certificate.

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Additional Alaska Teacher Certification Requirements

All Alaskan teaching applicants are subjected to a background check with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and a federal background check with the FBI. Fingerprints must be rolled or scanned by a trained technician. Acceptable fingerprint cards can be obtained at the local city police department and the Village Public Safety Office (V.P.S.O.) Applicants must submit one fingerprint card prior to submitting their completed application.

Alaska Teachers Licensing Application Process

Even if you have teaching experience outside of Alaska and are certified as a teacher in another state, you cannot teach in Alaska without a valid teaching certificate. If you are looking to teach in Alaska and have out of state teaching experience and are certified to teach, you must begin by applying for the Initial Alaska teaching certificate.

Similar to most states, the Alaska Teacher Certification Office receives a high volume of applications in June, July and August. For first time applicants, it’s recommended to submit applications at least three months prior to the start of your desired employment with the Alaska public school district.

To obtain your Alaska teacher certification, you will need to complete the following steps.

1. Take the BCE Exams.
2. Submit to a background check and fingerprinting with the Alaska Department of Public Safety.
3. Submit an application with required documentation including official transcripts and appropriate documentation of compliance to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. (Mailing address can be found below)
4. Pay the non-refundable application fee.
5. After receiving your certification, fulfill all requirements to ensure your certification remains valid.

Department of Education & Early Development
Teacher Education & Certification
801 West 10th Street, Suite 200
PO Box 110500
Juneau, AK 99811-0500

Visit the Alaska State Department of Education for more details on obtaining a teaching certification in Alaska.

Alaska Teacher Salary and Jobs

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers 550 $34,240
Kindergarten Teachers 230 $66,600
Elementary School Teachers 3,620 $67,110
Middle School Teachers 1,670 $64,700
Secondary School Teachers 2,470 $67,990

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

Teaching and Education Programs

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1. Alaska State Department of Education: http://education.alaska.gov/TeacherCertification/
2. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000

Page edited by Charles Sipe.