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Alaska Teacher Certification and Career Guide

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) oversees the Alaska teacher certification process. Teaching in Alaska K-12 schools requires an active teaching certificate issued by DEED.

The main steps for the traditional path to teacher certification in Alaska are:

  1. Complete a state-approved bachelor’s degree with a teacher preparation component.
  2. Complete a student teaching placement.
  3. Pass the required teacher certification exams.
  4. Apply for an initial teaching certificate.
  5. Upgrade your license.

Continue reading to learn more about the traditional certification pathway in Alaska.

Table of Contents

Steps to Become a Teacher in Alaska
Teacher Certification Renewal
Adding Subjects or Grades to a Certificate
Teaching License Reciprocity
Related Licenses
Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
Additional Resources
Frequently Asked Questions


How to Become a Teacher in Alaska

This section details the steps to receive an initial educator license in Alaska via the traditional licensing route. Alaska, like many states, uses a tiered licensing program:

  • Initial Two- or Three-Year Teacher Certificate: New teachers who have met Alaska’s certification requirements will receive an Initial Two-Year Teacher Certificate. This certificate is good for two years, with a one-year extension available for teachers who complete the required Alaska studies and multicultural coursework. Applicants who qualify for the Initial Two-Year certification and have already completed the required Alaska coursework are eligible for the Initial Three-Year Teacher Certificate, which is not renewable.
  • Initial Five-Year Teacher Certificate: Teachers who have previously held an initial certificate but do not have two years of teaching experience can apply for an Initial Five-Year Teacher Certificate. Application requirements are the same as those for other initial certificates. The Initial Five-Year Teacher Certificate is renewable.
  • Initial Program Enrollment Teacher Certificate: Teachers who have their bachelor’s degree, are enrolled in a teacher preparation program, have passing scores on the required tests, and have five years of experience in their teaching subject can qualify for an Initial Program Enrollment Teacher Certificate. This certificate is only for candidates who have been offered a certified teaching position by an Alaska school district. This certificate is good for one year but may be extended twice for up to two additional years.
  • Professional Teacher Certificate: Teachers who have at least two years of experience can upgrade to a Professional Teacher Certificate, the standard license for Alaska educators. Professional Teacher Certificates are good for five years and are renewable.
  • Master Teacher Certificate: Educators who meet the requirements for a professional teacher certificate can obtain National Coard Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) to earn a Master Teacher Certificate. Master Teacher Certificates are good for five years and renewable.

If you are a bachelor’s degree holder who has yet to complete a teacher preparation program, check out our guide to alternative teacher certification in Alaska.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree that includes an approved teacher preparation program.

Candidates for a teaching certificate in Alaska must obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. The major for the bachelor’s degree will depend on the grade level and subject to be taught. All prospective teachers will also complete one of Alaska’s state-approved educator preparation programs, usually as part of the bachelor’s degree.

You can compare key metrics for state-approved teacher preparation programs on our Alaska schools page. You can also read about two important accreditations to consider, institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation, on our teaching schools guide.

2. Complete a student teaching placement.

As part of their teacher preparation program, all prospective Alaska educators must complete clinical practice through student teaching, an internship, field experience, or practicum. The state requires the supervised clinical practice to be in a public school for at least 500 hours over 15 weeks. The student teaching experience should be completed at the grade level and/or subject area corresponding to the desired certification area. They will submit a Student Teacher Authorization Form before beginning the placement.

3. Pass the required Alaska teacher exams.

Alaska State SealProspective teachers must complete content-specific Praxis Subject exams related to their teaching area. These exams are administered by ETS.

Alaska does not require the Praxis Core tests to become certified, though it is one of the options to fulfill the basic competency exam (BCE) requirement.

The BCE requirement can be satisfied with any of the following exams, plus a variety of state exams from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, and Oklahoma:

  • ACT or SAT
  • Praxis Core
  • CBASE
  • CBEST
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic Skills

A passing score for reading, writing, and mathematics is required. Scores from different exams may be combined to form a set of passing scores.

In addition to the basic competency requirements, all candidates must complete Alaska’s mandatory trainings in sexual abuse awareness and prevention; alcohol or drug-related disabilities; dating violence awareness and prevention; and suicide awareness and prevention. These trainings must be approved by DEED or an Alaska public school district.

4. Apply for initial Alaska teacher certification.

Once the above steps are complete, candidates can apply for their Initial Two- or Three-Year Teaching Certificate in Alaska. All required items must be mailed in a single packet to the DEED Teacher Education and Certification office.

*Certification fees can also be paid online through the DEED Online Payment Center.

For more information on applying for a teaching certificate in Alaska, including application requirements for other licensing tiers, visit Alaska’s Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) website.

5. Upgrade to a Professional Teacher Certificate.

Once educators have at least two years of teaching experience, they are eligible to upgrade their Initial Teaching Certificate to a Professional Teacher Certificate. Since Alaska’s initial teacher certification is non-renewable, this is a key step in continuing to work as a teacher in Alaska. To upgrade to a professional teaching certificate, teachers must submit the following documents to the DEED teaching certification office:

  • Professional Teacher Certification Checklist
  • Standard Application
  • Official transcripts and proof of completion of required coursework
  • Proof of two years of teaching experience with a teaching certificate
  • Fingerprint card
  • Official Transcripts
  • Certificate of completion of Alaska’s mandatory trainings
  • Payment of non-refundable certification fee
  • Proof of completion of the BCE requirements
  • Proof of completion of the Praxis Subject requirements
  • State-Approved Teacher Preparation Program Verification Form

Professional Teacher Certificates are good for five years and can be renewed up to one year before expiration. Teachers with National Board Certification can apply for the Master Teaching Certificate, which is good for five years and renewable.

Visit the DEED website for additional information on Alaska teacher certification.

Guide to Other Teaching Pathways

Alaska Teacher Certification Renewal

Neither the two- or three-year initial teaching certificates can be renewed, although they can be extended under certain circumstances. Teachers who do not yet have two years of teaching experience but whose Initial Two- or Three-Year Teacher Certificate is expiring can apply for an Initial Five-Year Teacher Certificate. Educators with two years of teaching experience under an initial certificate can upgrade to a Professional Teacher Certificate.

To renew the Professional Teacher Certificate in Alaska, teachers must complete six renewal credits related to at least one of their endorsement areas or a required element of a program leading to an endorsement they are actively pursuing. One renewal credit equals 15 hours of continuing education units from an approved provider or one semester hour of college/university credit. Teachers can use the Online Renewal System or mail a paper application to the DEED Teacher Education and Certification Office.

Adding Subjects or Grades to a Certificate

Once you receive your teaching license, you will only be eligible to work as a teacher in the grade levels and certification areas listed on your certificate, though occasional, temporary exceptions are made. There are several ways to add endorsements to an Alaska teaching certificate, depending on the endorsement being added.

  • Endorsement Program: The only method to add a grade level to a certificate. The endorsement program option requires the completion of an approved teacher preparation program and proof of passing the corresponding Praxis Subject exam.
  • Additional Degree: Candidates can complete a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate with at least 18 credit hours in the desired endorsement area. This option is not available for elementary, reading, English as a foreign language, or special education endorsements.
  • Teaching Experience and Passing Subject Exams: Those with two years of teaching experience (or three years for elementary teachers) in the desired content area can take the related Praxis Subject exam to apply for an additional endorsement. This method cannot be used for a reading, English as a foreign language, or special education endorsement.
  • Career and Technical Teaching: Those seeking a CTE endorsement will need at least two years of CTE teaching experience, six semester hours of CTE-related courses, and proof of completion of a CTE content exam.

Necessary documentation for the endorsement must be mailed with an Add/Remove Teaching Endorsement Form to the DEED Teacher Certification Office.

Alaska Teaching License Reciprocity

Alaska offers out-of-state reciprocity for educators with a current teaching certificate in another state who have at least two years of teaching experience. Out-of-state educators can apply for an Out-of-State Professional Certificate, which is valid for up to five years and is renewable. To apply for an Out-of-State Professional Certificate, candidates must mail the following documents to the DEED Teacher Certification Office:

Endorsements on the Out-of-State Professional Teacher Certificate will reflect the endorsements on the teacher’s original certificate. For more information about Alaska’s reciprocity program, visit the Alaska DEED website. You can learn more about transferring a teaching certificate or license between states on our guide to certification reciprocity.

In addition to standard educator licenses, Alaska offers a variety of certificates and endorsements in support and administrative areas. These include:

  • Type B: Administrative Certificate: This certificate allows individuals to work as superintendents, principals, and directors of special education. To obtain a Type B Administrative Certificate, candidates must have at least three years of experience as a certificated teacher or special service provider. They must also hold at least a master’s degree in a related field and obtain an institutional recommendation showing completion of an approved education program related to their prospective position.
  • Type C: Special Services Certificate: Specialists like school psychologists, occupational therapists, and school counselors who wish to work in Alaska’s public school system must earn a Type C Special Services Certificate or a Type K: Advanced Special Services Certificate (which requires national certification and a standard Type C Certificate). This certificate requires a bachelor’s degree, institutional recommendation, and specialized courses from an accredited college or university.
  • Type E: Early Childhood Education Certificate: This is a renewable five-year certificate for instructional aides at the early childhood level. The Associate I requires a Childhood Development Associate (CDA) credential or a 30-credit college program including 400 hours of supervised practice. The Associate II requires an Associate I and an approved associate degree program in early childhood education.

Additional information, including details on other certificate types, such as Type M, Type W, and Type I, can be found on the Alaska DEED certification page.

Alaska Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

Projected Job Growth

7.5%

Growth in Teaching Jobs in AK through 20302*

There were an estimated 132,872 students enrolled in Alaska’s 509 K-12 public schools during the 2017-2018 school year.3 Based on an estimated 7,743 teachers during the same time period, Alaska had a student-to-teacher ratio of approximately 17:1.3

Overall, job growth prospects for educators in Alaska are lower than they are nationally, with some exceptions. Job growth for Alaska elementary teachers is projected at 7.8% compared to 7.4% nationally; for Alaska middle school teachers, 7.5% compared to 13.1% nationally; and for Vermont secondary school teachers, 7.9% compared to 13.7% nationally.2

The table below provides a detailed comparison of job growth prospects and salary levels for Alaska teachers.

TypeNumber Employed in AK4Average Annual Openings in AK2AK Proj. Job Growth 2020-20302Average Annual Salary in AK425th Percentile Wages in AK575th Percentile Wages in AK5
Preschool Teachers5408012.3%$41,740$28,760$46,160
Preschool Teachers, Special Education110100%$60,270$38,540$79,540
Kindergarten Teachers130306.7%$67,140$59,300$77,860
Elementary School Teachers3,1101707.8%$67,980$61,350$77,730
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Special Education500207.4%$71,570$60,860$78,880
Middle School Teachers850407.5%$73,860$62,330$78,700
Middle School Teachers, Special Education1401012.5%$75,280$63,270$79,840
Middle School Teachers, Career/Technical Education$72,430$59,360$78,520
Secondary School Teachers2,6101207.9%$74,870$61,600$81,090
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education530105.9%$75,830$63,850$80,700
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education170100%$76,660$63,810$94,560

*The estimated job growth average is based on projections for mainstream kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers. Projections for other categories, such as special education and career and technical education, may be higher or lower than the average.

Teacher Shortages in Alaska

According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2023-2024, Alaska has designated the following deficits:

According to the most recent data available, there were over 120 unfilled teaching positions in Alaska during the 2022-2023 school year.7 1,500 teachers in the state were considered underqualified for their positions, including temporary and emergency assignments that placed teachers outside of their certification field.7

Additional Resources

Related Articles

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What are the requirements to become a substitute teacher in Alaska?

Answer: Alaska does not offer certification for substitute teachers on a state level. There are also no state minimum requirements for substitutes. Individual schools and school districts decide who to hire as substitute teachers.

Question: How many private schools are in Alaska?

Answer: According to data from the 2019-2020 school year, the latest information available, there are 43 private schools in Alaska.8 These schools have a total of 3,058 students and employ 387 full-time teachers.8 Private school teachers in Alaska must be certified unless the private school is “exempt,” as determined by Alaska state regulations.

References:
1. Alaska Department of Education & Early Development: https://education.alaska.gov/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. National Center for Education Statistics, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data, 2017-2018: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Alaska: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
6. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports
7. Teacher Shortages in the United States, Tuan D. Nguyen et al.: https://teachershortages.com/
8. National Center for Education Statistics, Private School Universe Survey, 2019-20: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/tables/TABLE15fl1920.asp