If you want to become a teacher in Arizona, the first thing to do (after reading this article) is research the specific requirements of the state's Department of Education, which you can find on their website. Depending on the grade level you would like to teach, the following are steps you must typically take in order to become a teacher:
- Complete a bachelor's degree in education or in the academic subject you wish to teach.
- Complete a teacher training or preparation program that has been approved by the Arizona Department of Education, or fulfill a certain number of semester hours of accredited education courses in the field of education you wish to teach.
- Take and pass Arizona's teacher certification test. For certain fields of education, additional certification tests may be necessary.
- Apply for teacher certification.
- Pass a background check.
Areas of Specialization for Teachers in Arizona
Outside of the standard grade-level specialties, described below, teachers in Arizona may also choose to specialize in arts, adult, JROTC, Native American Language and other areas of practical concentration.
Early Childhood Education
Teachers in early childhood education in Arizona can teach children from preschool age to grade 3, according to the Arizona Department of Education. Preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers educate children ages 3 to 5 and 5 to 8, respectively, on the fundamentals of reading, writing and math.
Elementary Education (grades 1-8)
Elementary school teachers build off of the fundamentals children are taught in preschool and kindergarten, instructing their students in reading, writing, math and science through instruction, hands-on projects and tests.
Secondary Education (grades 7-12)
Middle and high school teachers teach their students more advanced skills and knowledge in the fields of reading, writing, math, science, foreign languages and several other subjects. Unlike preschool, kindergarten and elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers tend to specialize in a particular subject, as middle and high schools usually have students rotate through different periods to receive instruction on separate academic areas.
Teachers in adult education teach individuals ages 16 and over who are not enrolled in traditional school. Topics covered in these classrooms tend to focus on literacy, writing, math and science. Adult education teachers help their students prepare for the workforce or transition to post-secondary education.
Arizona Teaching Licensing Requirements
The Arizona Department of Education has different education and certification requirements for teachers at different levels. However, the basic steps to earning a teacher's certification in Arizona typically start with a bachelor's degree and one of the following:
- Completion of a teacher preparation program specific to the subject or grade one wishes to teach (ex. early childhood education, elementary school education, high school math, etc.). This program must be either accredited or approved by the Arizona Board of Education.
- Completion of a certain number of semester hours in one's area of education, as well as a minimum number of hours of fieldwork/internship work. The number of required hours can differ depending on the grade or subject one wishes to teach.
- A valid early childhood education certification/license from a different state.
Further, you can expect to need a passing score on one or more exams provided by Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments (AEPA). These exams are related to the grade level and subject one wishes to teach. For example, an elementary school teacher will need to take the NES (National Evaluation Series) Assessment of Professional Knowledge: Elementary, while secondary teachers need to take the NES Assessment of Professional Knowledge: Secondary, as well as a subject test in their area of study.
As with most states, as a potential educator, you can usually expect the requirement of needing to pass a background check.
Alternate Paths to Teaching in Arizona
The Arizona Department of Education also allows individuals to earn their teacher's certification through an alternative pathway, the Teaching Intern Pathway to Certification. This route exists for individuals who would like to make a career change and become a teacher after earning a degree and/or working in a field unrelated to education.
Furthermore, teachers who have received an educator license or certification in a different state may be able waive the teacher training program requirement described above.
For more information about these program, as well as other requirements to become a teacher in Arizona, visit the Arizona Department of Education's website.
- "Required Arizona Educator Exams," azed.gov, Arizona Department of Education, http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/az-ed-exams/
- "What Tests Do I Need to Take," aepa.nesinc.com, Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments, http://www.aepa.nesinc.com/PageView.aspx?f=GEN_WhatTestsDoINeedToTake.html
- "Educator and School Excellence," azed.gov, Arizona Department of Education, http://www.azed.gov/hetl/
- "Educator Preparation Programs," azed.gov, Arizona Department of Education, http://www.azed.gov/hetl/epp/
- "Teaching Certificates," azed.gov, Arizona Department of Education, http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/certificate-requirement/teaching-certificate/