The Alabama Teaching and Certification Resource
The standard path to earning teacher certification in Alabama is to attend a four-year bachelor’s degree program that includes an approved educator preparation program. The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) oversees this process, which is discussed in further detail below for those who want to learn how to become a teacher in Alabama.
How to Become a Teacher in Alabama
Teaching in a K-12 public school and in many private K-12 schools requires active Alabama educator certification. To earn certification through the traditional route, prospective teachers must earn a bachelor’s degree that includes a state-approved educator preparation program and pass the state’s exams for prospective educators.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a field outside of education, explore our guide to alternative teacher certification in Alabama to learn more about your options.
The initial and standard certificate issued once the basic requirements for a teaching license are met is the Professional Educator Certificate (Class B). To keep this certificate valid and active, candidates must “continue” the certificate or it will expire and become invalid. Documented professional development hours are required for certificate continuation. Candidates may earn advanced certificates, known as Class A certificates, by earning a master’s degree.
- I want to teach 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, Education Specialist Programs, or Doctorate Education Programs
- I want to explore substitute teaching: Learn about Substitute Teacher Opportunities
- I am already certified and want to teach in another state: Learn about Teacher Certification Reciprocity
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Alabama
Projected Job Growth
Average Growth in Teaching Jobs in Alabama through 20261
The most direct route to Alabama teacher certification is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the desired certification area from a teacher education program at a college or university that has formal approval from the Alabama State Department of Education. You can view a list of approved programs through the department’s website. To compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs, use the sortable table on our Alabama schools page.
Schools offering educator preparation programs, especially those located outside of Alabama, should be in good standing with one of the six regional accrediting bodies. Schools that do not hold accreditation from one of these six agencies will not qualify graduates for Alabama teacher licensure. Graduates of educator preparation programs located outside of Alabama must also become certified in the state in which they studied prior to applying for an Alabama educator’s certificate.
Schools may also hold accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which was formed through the merger of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). CAEP accreditation is held as a marker of quality teacher preparation that is recognized throughout the education sector.
Alabama Teacher Education Requirements
All prospective teachers in Alabama must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved educator preparation program to become certified to teach. Generally, an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5 is required. Those who have a lower GPA may still qualify for certification if they complete a master’s degree program or a second bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.5 GPA.
Alabama Teacher Testing Requirements
Candidates who wish to obtain Alabama teacher certification must take two tests. The first exam, the Alabama Educator Certification Testing Program: Basic Skills Assessment, measures competence in reading, writing, and mathematics. Candidates must also take the subject and grade-level specific Praxis II exam(s) appropriate to the endorsement areas they are seeking. You can view the required Praxis II exam(s) through the Educational Testing Service (ETS).
Additional Alabama Teacher Certification Requirements
The next requirement for teacher certification in Alabama is a background check. Candidates who apply for initial certification must submit fingerprints through Cogent (3M) for a background check by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Alabama Teachers Licensing Application Process
To complete the application process to obtain Alabama teacher certification, you will need to complete the following steps.
- Submit to a background check and fingerprinting with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and FBI.
- Submit an application with required documentation, including official transcripts and verification of test scores through the Alabama Educator Certification Testing Program and Praxis. Candidates must also provide a Recommendation for Certification from the educator preparation program attended.
- Pay a non-refundable application fee.
Applications should be sent to:
Alabama State Department of Education
Educator Certification Section
PO Box 302101
Montgomery, AL 36130-2101
Visit the Alabama State Department of Education for further details on Alabama teacher certification.
Alabama Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
There are 1,513 public schools in Alabama, with an estimated 744,930 students enrolled in the public school system according to 2016-2017 data.2 With an estimated 42,533 teachers, this provides a state average student-to-teacher ratio of 17:1.2 The average annual salary is $49,850 for elementary teachers, $50,210 for middle school teachers, and $51,180 for secondary school teachers in Alabama.4
Projections estimate that there will be 1,840 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 690 average annual job annual openings for middle school teachers, and 930 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in Alabama from 2016 to 2026.1 Visit the Alabama Education Association for the latest news on issues impacting teachers in the state and further information about what it’s like to teach in Alabama.
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||140||$46,580|
|Elementary School Teachers||23,850||$49,850|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||820||$49,320|
|Middle School Teachers||10,010||$50,210|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||380||$54,090|
|Secondary School Teachers||16,270||$51,180|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||450||$46,810|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||730*||$49,980|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
*Data as of 2015.4
Teacher Shortages in Alabama
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, Alabama broadly has the following shortages5:
- 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
Teacher Career Interviews
- Kindergarten Teacher, Julie Hicks
- Fifth Grade Teacher, Linda Dunnavant
- President, Alabama Conference of Educators, Marla Vaughn
- President, Alabama Association of Agricultural Education, Kelly Pritchett Mullins
Frequently Asked Questions
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, pass a background check, and receive a substitute license from the state. A substitute license is only issued with the recommendation of the employing school district. Individual districts may have more stringent education requirements than the state minimum of a high school diploma.
Question: I want to teach in Alabama, but I do not have a bachelor’s degree in education – what do I do?
Answer: If you already have a bachelor’s degree that did not include teacher preparation, the next step towards teaching in Alabama is to complete an approved teacher preparation program. This may be either a stand-alone program or be pursued as part of a graduate degree. Check out the Alabama State Department of Education website for further information and approved programs.
Question: Is there a teacher shortage in Alabama?
Answer: Alabama reports teacher shortages in mathematics, science, language arts, and special education for the 2021-22 school year.5
1. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
2. National Center for Data Statistics, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
3. Alabama State Department of Education: https://www.alabamaachieves.org/
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Alabama: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/