There are multiple pathways to becoming a teacher in Arizona, depending on the grade level or subject that you're looking to teach. Various specific combinations of educational experience are required for each grade level specialty, with the main differences resting mainly on the specific types of college coursework required.
Teachers seeking certification to practice in Arizona at any grade level are required to complete the appropriate application for certification, pay the associated fee and submit a valid copy of their plastic Arizona Identity Verified Prints (IVP) fingerprint card. Aspiring teachers must also pass a professional knowledge exam called the NES Assessment, complete a state-approved Structured English Immersion (SEI) training course and earn passing scores on any applicable subject knowledge portions of the Arizona Educator Exam.
Successful applicants receive a provisional certificate in their chosen grade level. Provisional teachers can apply for a standard certificate after meeting certain work experience requirements.
What is Your Area of Interest?
Outside of the standard grade-level specialties, teachers in Arizona can choose to specialize in arts, adult, JROTC, Native American Language and other areas of practical concentration. Educators who take on one of these fields also choose the grade level in which they want to become certified to teach, so application requirements for these occupational areas of interest tend to be less rigorous than those necessary for general elementary, secondary or early childhood teaching certification.
A few education requirements are common among the various exams. For instance, all prospective teachers must earn a high school diploma, and a college education that has ended in a bachelor's degree or higher is required before any application for Arizona teaching certification can be considered.
Requested amounts of college coursework differ from grade level to grade level. For example, early childhood teacher certification requires 37 semester hours of courses in early childhood education, while elementary teachers must take 45 hours of courses specific to their grade level and high school teachers need 30 hours of courses in secondary education. Completion of an approved teacher preparation program or a valid teaching certification from another state may stand in for these requirements.
All grade levels also call for courses or exams on the Arizona and U.S. Constitutions, and eight semester hours of teaching practicum are required unless the candidate has at least two years of relevant experience in a professional teaching environment.
The Arizona Alternative Pathways to Teacher Certification Program can help non-traditional candidates who are looking to become educators. A bachelor's degree is still required, as well as SEI training, subject knowledge proficiency, enrollment in an approved teacher preparation program and a valid Arizona IVP fingerprint card. If a candidate meets these requirements, a one-year Teaching Intern Certificate can be awarded and the certificate holder can seek a teaching contract. Visit the Arizona Department of Education for more information on these or other teaching certification requirements.
Candidates looking to eventually work as a college professor or lecturer should talk to an administrator about graduate school. A master's degree or Ph.D. is usually required for teaching positions in higher education.
"Certification Requirements," Arizona Department of Education, Educator Certification, http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/certificate-requirement/
"Alternative Pathways to Teacher Certification," Arizona Department of Education, Educator Excellence Section, September 1, 2012, http://www.azed.gov/highly-qualified-professionals/files/2011/09/altpathdesc.pdf
"Teaching Certificates," Arizona Department of Education, Educator Certification, http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/certificate-requirement/teaching-certificate/