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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.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Alabama

Projected Job Growth

3.33%

Average Growth in Teaching Jobs in Alabama through 20262

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.

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.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Alabama.

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 (the most recent statistics available).1 This provides a state average student-to-teacher ratio of 17:1.1 There are approximately 50,130 elementary, middle school, and secondary teachers, excluding special education but including private school teachers, employed in Alabama according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.4 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 2026.3 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.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers2,480$24,800
Preschool Teachers, Special Education140$46,580
Kindergarten Teachers1,670*$44,790
Elementary School Teachers23,850$49,850
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School820$49,320
Middle School Teachers10,010$50,210
Middle School Teachers, Special Education380$54,090
Secondary School Teachers16,270$51,180
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education450$46,810
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education730*$49,980

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
*Data as of 2015.4

Teacher Career Interviews

Teacher Quote: “If teaching and working with children is truly what you want to do, stick with it no matter what others may say or think. I cannot think of a more rewarding calling one could have – to impact the lives of young people.” -Marla Vaughn, President of the Alabama Conference of Educators

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, 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.

Teaching and Education Programs

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References:
1. National Center for Data Statistics, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
2. Alabama State Department of Education: http://www.alsde.edu/sec/ec/Pages/home.aspx
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Alabama: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm