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Massachusetts Alternative Teacher Certification

In order to attract business professionals and career changers to the teaching profession, the state of Massachusetts has provided a few alternative routes to certification for individuals who have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

The typical candidate for the alternative approach to certification typically has a desire to pursue a career in education and holds a bachelor’s degree but lacks the teacher-preparation requirements for an Initial certificate. These candidates can follow one of several routes to teacher licensure in Massachusetts.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Massachusetts

Preliminary Teaching License

A Preliminary license is available for those who hold a bachelor’s degree and have passed the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) appropriate to the grade level and content the candidate wishes to teach. This approach to certification gives the candidate the ability to begin teaching right away. The Preliminary license is valid for up to five years while the candidate completes an approved educator preparation program, which is required for a renewable Initial license.

Professional Teaching License

Candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree may also obtain Massachusetts teacher certification by completing an approved post-graduate program that includes teacher preparation. Alternative programs such as these can be completed in as little as one year as a certificate. Candidates also have the option of earning a master’s degree in education or in the academic discipline to be taught that includes an approved certification program.

Candidates following alternative licensure pathways who choose this route typically complete an Alternative/Practice-Based Licensure Program, which combines a yearlong residency in a school with master’s-level education. You can view available programs through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.

Preliminary Vocational Technical Education License

For those who wish to teach career and technical education subjects, the Vocational Technical Education License offers alternative routes to the classroom. As for teachers in traditional subjects, career and technical educators pursuing this type of license may obtain a Preliminary license with fewer requirements than for standard Initial teacher licensure while working towards advancement to a renewable license.

The basic requirements for an Preliminary Vocational Technical Education license are:

  • Possessing at least a high school diploma
  • Having the required years of professional experience, which vary based on the subject to be taught
  • Holding state-level licensure or certification in the profession to be taught, if available
  • Earning passing scores on the Vocational Subject Matter Test(s) and either the Vocational Technical Literacy Skills Test (VTLST) or the Communication and Literacy Skills Test

Once a Preliminary license is issued, candidates have five years to meet the requirements for a Professional Vocational Technical Teacher License, which is renewable. You can read more about these requirements through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.

Testing Requirements for Massachusetts Alternative Certification

Prospective educators who wish to teach traditional subjects must pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). The required tests vary based on the subject area(s) and grade level(s) to be taught, so candidates should consult the guide to MTEL requirements. Career and technical (professional vocational) educators must pass the vocational subject-area tests for each content area to be taught as well as either the Vocational Subject Matter Test(s) and either the Vocational Technical Literacy Skills Test (VTLST) or the Communication and Literacy Skills Test, which are outlined in the guide to vocational technical licensure.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Teachers who hold a license from another state and can verify at least three years of teaching experience may be eligible for licensure by reciprocity in the state of Massachusetts. Massachusetts participates in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement. Teachers with an out-of-state certification may be eligible for a Temporary license, which is valid for one year, while completing Massachusetts testing requirements and fulfilling educational deficiencies. For further details, see our teaching license reciprocity guide or contact the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.

Additional Resources

Schools with Alternative Certification Programs in Massachusetts

Because the alternative certification process is complex, we have researched and provided specific school programs below for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree outside of education and want to become a teacher. We recommend you request information from one or more of these specific programs:

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References:
1. Massachusetts State Department of Education: http://www.doe.mass.edu