Best Online Teacher Certification Programs

Ready to start your journey?

If you are looking for an in-demand career field where you can learn every day and make a lasting difference in people’s lives, exploring education and the various teacher certification programs online may be a great fit for you.

Teacher Certification Programs Online

You can prepare for this career online or in a classroom, but it will take some time before you are able to stand in front of a classroom of students and teach.

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Once you have your teaching credentials, there are many different career paths you can choose from.

Teacher Certification Programs Online

Man taking Teacher Certification Online

Teaching certification programs can be an alternative pathway to becoming a certified teacher. The program is designed to provide students with a core education curriculum to be eligible for licensure.

An online teaching certification program is designed for professionals with a bachelor’s degree or higher who may want to start a career as an educator. It can also be useful to current educators who want to enhance their teaching skills, learn about new instructional technologies, or become certified in a different specialization.

The program introduces students to teacher preparation coursework, such as:

  • Foundations of Assessment and Learning
  • Instructional Technology
  • Child Psychology and Development
  • Classroom Management

You can learn about various technologies commonly used in the classroom and instructional tools for learning, assessment, and evaluation. You may take a child or adolescent psychology courses to understand how children at different age levels learn and process information.

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The process of certification can vary by state. You can check with the Board of Education in the state you wish to teach in for specific requirements. Earning teacher certification online can prepare you to apply for state licensure to legally practice as a teacher.

You can choose a specialization depending on what grade levels or subject areas you wish to teach. Examples of specializations can include:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Special Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Adult Education
  • Teaching English as a Second Language

Specializations help narrow the focus of the curriculum. You can learn different instructional techniques and develop knowledge in a specific subject area by choosing a specialization.

Advantages of Online Teaching Certification Programs

Woman pursuing Teacher Certification Online

There are a number of reasons why an on-campus program may be more restrictive to some professionals. An online learning environment may address some of those issues.

These are some benefits of an online teaching certification program:

  • Flexible learning environment
  • Accelerated
  • Option for career or subject area change
  • Learn about current instructional technologies and teaching methods
  • Convenient learning environment

Online learning can be flexible and convenient if you want to receive your education but have other responsibilities. Asynchronous learning can be beneficial if you wish to complete your coursework on your own time, while still adhering to a structured deadline schedule.

The program can also be beneficial for professionals looking for a career change through an accelerated program, or current educators who want to advance their teaching skills and knowledge.

Teaching Careers & Salaries

Teaching Careers & Salaries

As student enrollment increases, the demand for postsecondary teachers and preschool, elementary, and secondary school teachers.

We have listed 10 common teaching positions and their annual median salaries according to the data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Postsecondary Teachers $79,640
Instructional Coordinators $63,740
High School Teachers $61,820
Special Education Teachers, Middle School $61,820
Elementary School Teachers $61,400
Middle School Teachers $61,320
Kindergarten Teachers $60,900
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Postsecondary $59,840
Adult Education Teachers $59,720
Substitute Teachers $50,540

Please keep in mind that some employers look for a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to be considered for a few of these positions.

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According to the BLS, the employment rate for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is expected to increase by 4% over the next 10 years, while postsecondary teachers will see a 12% increase over the same time period.

Teaching Certificate Curriculum & Courses

Students taking Teaching Certificate

The curriculum of a teaching certificate is designed to introduce students to the teaching profession and child development, instructional technology, and teaching methodologies.

  • Introduction to Teaching as a Profession: Students are introduced to the teaching profession by examining historical and current teaching perspectives and teacher qualifications and preparation.
  • Child Psychology: This course teaches students about childhood development from infancy to adolescence, focusing on social, emotional, and intellectual development.
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Education: Students are introduced to various policies, procedures, and laws related to education to learn about legal and ethical issues in the field.
  • PK-12 Instructional Technology: Professionals are introduced to various technological tools and techniques to integrate technology into classroom instruction.
  • Classroom Management and Discipline: In this course, you can learn about the group dynamics within a classroom and manage students by addressing physical, social, and emotional needs.
  • Introduction to Assessment of Education: Professionals can develop a foundational understanding of various types of assessments to analyze and evaluate student performance.
  • Learning and Development: Students study educational psychology theory and research to understand how child development and learning correlate to foster a positive learning environment.
  • Foundations of Curriculum Design and Evaluation: Professionals learn how to design and develop curriculum, and instructional materials, and assess student learning.
  • Behavior and Individual Differences: This course focuses on how instruction can be adjusted to meet specific behavioral and social needs of individual students and the class as a whole.
  • Developing Instructional Strategies: Students put educational theory into practice by developing instructional strategies and finding a pedagogy that promotes student success.

These courses can help you develop your teaching style by learning about teaching perspectives and pedagogy to foster a healthy and productive learning environment for students.

How to Become a Certified Teacher

 Certified Teacher discussing in class

How do I get a teaching certificate? The most common way to earn a teaching certificate is to earn a bachelor’s degree that includes a teacher preparation program, and then apply to your state for a teaching certificate.

Here are the typical steps involved when participating in education certificate programs online:

  • Determine What to Teach: It’s important to determine what and where you want to teach. You should determine if you are interested in specialty areas, such as special education or English as a second language (ESL). It’s also important to choose which state you plan to teach in because the licensure requirements vary from state to state.
  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: Most educators are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree. You can earn this degree online, on a college campus, or a combination of both.
  • Complete a Teacher Preparation Program: A teacher preparation program is designed to prepare you to teach the grade level or subject area of your choosing. A teacher preparation program explores things like issues in the education system, child or adolescent development, student assessment, language and literacy, and educational psychology. The program also offers hands-on teaching experience, which typically involves at least one semester of student teaching.
  • Pass the Tests: Before you can be certified, you must pass a series of standardized exams. Most states use the Praxis tests. The testing fees range from $150-300. There are a few U.S. states, including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Michigan, that have their own assessments.
  • Complete Background Check: A standard fingerprint and/or background check is required to teach. In some states, this is a part of the teacher preparation program, and in others, it happens when you apply for your certificate.
  • Apply for a Teaching Certificate: Once you have earned your degree and met the requirements set by your state, you can apply to your state’s Department of Education for your teaching certificate. The cost to submit your application varies from state to state, but you should plan to pay anywhere from $40 to $200.

If you have questions about this, an educator from your teacher preparation program should be able to help guide you through this process.

Admissions Requirements

student preparing her Teacher Certification requirements

Admissions requirements for an online education certification program can vary between schools, programs, and your state. These are some general admissions requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement to become a teacher. Some credits outlined in your official transcripts may be transferable to foundational coursework offered in the program.

Online Teacher Certification Programs Accreditation

University offering Online Teacher Certification Programs

Colleges and universities can seek accreditation as an institution and for specific departments and programs. The accreditation status of a school or program provides credibility in the curriculum, faculty, resources, and facilities.

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To become accredited, an educational institution or program must go through a rigorous review process and meet or exceed standards set forth by an accrediting organization. You can research the accreditation status of postsecondary institutions on the U.S. Department of Education accreditation page.

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

The Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is a recognized accrediting organization that provides accreditation services to teacher preparation programs.

The CAEP has a list of standards used to review the curriculum and pedagogical knowledge of programs, the effectiveness of student learning and development, and support services. Education departments, educator preparation programs, and institutions can be reviewed by the CAEP to assure students that programs satisfy quality standards and effectively prepare them for the teaching profession.

Teacher Licensure and Certifications

Certified Teachers in a faculty meeting

Teaching licensure requirements can vary by state, but general requirements can include earning a bachelor’s degree, completing a teacher prep program, passing state-mandated exams, and submitting a state Board of Education licensure application.

There are three main types of teaching licenses:

  • Temporary: Valid for a limited number of years and nonrenewable, designed for professionals who’ve completed most state licensure requirements.
  • Initial: Limited renewable license granted to professionals who’ve fulfilled all state licensure requirements.
  • Professional: Valid for five years and continuously renewable.

Education and field experience can affect what type of licensure you may be eligible for.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Teacher Certification Financial Aid

Receiving financial aid and scholarships can help you cut down the costs of your education. Eligibility requirements for state financial assistance can vary depending on where you live.

Federal financial aid is based on household income, the cost of tuition, and other factors. You can find out if you’re eligible for federal assistance by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Scholarships are another form of financial assistance that can be awarded to student applicants for numerous reasons, such as special interests or athletic or academic merit.

What Is a Teaching Certificate?

Man with teaching Certificate discussing to his elementary class

A teacher certificate is, sometimes called a teaching license or teaching credential, the certification required to teach in a public school. The requirements for earning a teaching certificate vary from state to state, but there are some commonalities. Typically, the process requires individuals to:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Complete an approved teacher preparation program
  • Pass knowledge and skills tests (Praxis series)
  • Pass a standard background check

Once these steps have been taken, you can apply for your teaching certificate.

Can I Teach Without a Teaching Certificate?

Teacher aide working as an online teacher

While a traditional teaching position in a public school will likely require you to have a teaching certificate, there are other ways to teach, including:

  • Substitute Teacher: The requirements for substitute teachers vary by state, school, and position.
  • Teacher’s Aide or Assistant: Aides or assistants are often only required to have a high school diploma or associate’s degree, but some states will require you to pass a general aptitude test.
  • Teacher at a Private School: Private and independent schools can set their own requirements, rather than adhering to those set by the state.
  • Teach Overseas/Online: Schools around the world hire educated adults to teach a variety of subjects. Alternatively, you may be able to teach students on the other side of the globe without leaving home, through online programs.

Keep in mind that positions working within a school system more times than not will require you to pass a standard background check.

How Do I Get a Teaching Certificate If I Already Have a Bachelor’s Degree?

teacher using laptop at library

If you already hold a bachelor’s degree, you are one step ahead of completing your online teacher certification program. You can complete a teacher preparation program, which will give you hands-on experience with teaching, and pass the exams required by your state.

Another option is to obtain an alternative teaching certificate. This certificate is designed for those who hold a bachelor’s degree that is not in education and have no prior teaching experience. For alternative teaching certificates, each state has its own requirements so be sure to check with your state’s department of education or talk to a college advisor.

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There are teacher preparation programs available on many college campuses, or you can complete the program online while still maintaining your career and other commitments.

What Are the Qualifications to Be a Teacher?

Kindergarten Teacher guiding her class in their art activity

Qualifications and steps to become a certified teacher can vary by state. These are some general teacher qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement to become a teacher.
  • Complete a teacher preparation program: May be completed within an education degree program or as a separate program.
  • Field experience: Classroom observation and student teaching hours are typical field experience requirements.
  • Pass certification and/or state-mandated licensure exams: Skills and knowledge essential to teaching are covered in these exams.

Collaboration, active listening, adaptation, and leadership skills can be learned throughout a teacher certification program.

What Can You Do With a Teaching Certificate?

Special Education Teacher awarding his students

Some states refer to teacher licensure as a teacher certificate. If this is the case, online teaching certificate programs help students fulfill state requirements to become certified teachers, including offering an online teacher preparation program.

There are a number of teacher certification programs that allow professionals to become certified in a specific subject area or grade level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers you may pursue with a bachelor’s and proper teacher certification include elementary or high school teacher, career or technical education teacher, ESL teacher, or adult education teacher.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Teacher Certification Online?

Woman completing her Teacher Certification Online

It depends on where you’re starting from. If you have already earned your bachelor’s degree, the process to become a certified teacher may take as little as one year. Some programs can be completed in as little as 6 months.

If you are just graduating high school and/or have no college degree, it will likely take around 5 years to earn your bachelor’s degree and continue on to earn your teaching certificate.

Will I Have to Renew My Teaching Certificate?

Two teachers preparing to renew their Teaching Certificate

Yes. Your teaching certificate will be valid for one to five years, depending on your state. After that, the certification will expire.

You will need to check the requirements in your state to determine when and how you should renew your license. It is likely that you will need to show continued professional development, through training workshops or additional college courses.

Some states are very specific about the courses and number of hours necessary for renewal, while others are more general in their requirements.

How Do I Transfer My Teaching Certificate to Another State?

Teacher guiding his student in their lesson

Will my teaching certificate be valid if I move to another state? When you receive a teaching certificate, it is a license to teach in that state only. If you move to another state, you will need to be licensed in that state in order to teach there.

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Some states offer to teach certification reciprocity, but that does not mean your certification will be fully recognized as-is in your new state of residence. You may need to complete additional coursework, assessments, or classroom experience. Oftentimes you can teach on a temporary license while you complete those requirements.

What’s the Difference Between a Teacher Certification vs. License?

Teacher certification and licensure are often used interchangeably to describe a teacher that’s certified to practice, but earning a certification doesn’t always equal receiving licensure depending on the state.

Teacher Certification Teacher Licensure
  • Can be completed through an educational program
  • Awarded upon completion of required coursework and passing an exam
  • Allows you to legally practice as a teacher in your state
  • Awarded by the state Board of Education upon completion of state requirements

Certification may be received upon completion of a certification program, while licensure is pursued after you’ve completed all teacher requirements defined by your state.

Is a Teaching Certificate Worth It?

Elementary School Teacher welcoming her students

Yes, a teaching certificate is worth it for many students. An online teacher certification program can prepare you for a career in the education field.

If you have a deep desire to teach others and want to share your knowledge with others, a teacher certification program may be worth it to you. The need for educators is expected to maintain an as fast average job growth rate.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teacher occupations from the elementary to secondary level are expected to have a 4-5% growth rate over the next decade.

Universities Offering Online Teaching Certification Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Adelphi University

Adelphi University

Adelphi University offers several pathways for teacher certification. These programs are designed for teachers who plan to teach in New York public schools.

Students seeking initial certification need an undergraduate degree, while those seeking professional certification need a master’s and three years of paid teaching experience. Adelphi helps students find the right pathway for their situation.

Adelphi University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University offers a Middle and Secondary Teaching Graduate Certificate. The program is fully online, and courses may be taken part-time. The program requires the completion of 19 to 24 credit hours, including a clinical internship. Applicants must have a relevant bachelor’s degree. Courses follow a regular semester schedule and are offered in the fall, spring, and summer.

Appalachian State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers a Teacher Certification Graduate Certificate that can be earned online. The program is designed for aspiring K-12 teachers or those already teaching on alternative teaching certificates. Students may either complete the program while working as teachers or be placed as student teachers. The program requires the completion of nine courses for a total of 23 credit hours. Courses are 7.5 weeks long.

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

City University of Seattle

City University of Seattle

The City University of Seattle offers an Alternative Route to Teaching Certification. The program includes online coursework and on-campus Saturday classes. It can potentially be completed in just 1 year. Students may earn the certificate through bachelor’s courses or through master’s courses, potentially putting them halfway toward a master’s.

CityU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Drexel University

Drexel University

U.S. News & World Report named Drexel University one of the country’s best graduate schools for teacher preparation. Drexel offers a Post-Bachelor’s Teaching Certificate for PreK-4th grade. Coursework is fully online, but a field experience is required. Credits earned in the program may be able to be applied to a master’s in education.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

East Stroudsburg University

East Stroudsburg University

East Stroudsburg University offers an online program for a K-12 Teaching Certificate and Pennsylvania Department of Education Online Instruction Endorsement. Some courses are synchronous, while others are asynchronous. The program requires the completion of four courses that may later be able to be applied toward a master’s in education.

ESU is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University offers a Graduate Certificate for College Teaching. All coursework may be completed online, but the program also requires the completion of an internship. The program can potentially be completed in just 5 months. Courses are 6 weeks long, and there are seven start dates offered each year. Credits in the program may be able to be applied to a master’s degree.

Eastern Washington University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Indiana University – Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University—Bloomington offers a Certificate in English as a Foreign Language and English as a Second Language (EFL/ESL). The program is fully online. It requires the completion of 12 credit hours. Teachers seeking licensure need to complete an additional program. Courses follow a semester schedule and begin in the fall, spring, and summer.

Indiana University – Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Louisiana State University – Alexandria

Louisiana State University Alexandria

Louisiana State University—Alexandria offers a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate for Practitioner Teachers. Coursework is offered online and in a synchronous format. Class meetings are set with busy teacher schedules in mind. The program is designed for working teachers seeking licensure. It requires the completion of 24 credit hours and can potentially be finished in just 1 year.

Louisiana State University at Alexandria is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University offers an entirely online program for a Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching for K-12 Teachers. The program requires the completion of four classes for a total of 12 credit hours. The curriculum is designed to prepare teachers for online teaching. Courses are offered in synchronous and asynchronous formats and are 12 weeks long.

Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Providence College

Providence College

Providence College offers a Secondary Education Teaching Certification. The program prepares students to teach subjects like math, biology, and English in grades 7 to 12. The certificate may be used toward earning licensure in at least 45 states.

Providence College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona offers a Post Baccalaureate Teaching Certificate through its online program. The program offers certification for elementary and secondary education. Classes are 5 to 6 weeks long, and one class is taken at a time with a cohort. The program requires the completion of 24 to 27 credits, including student teaching.

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida

U.S. News & World Report named the University of Central Florida one of the best online graduate schools for education degrees. The school offers an Initial Teacher Professional Preparation Certificate program with fully online coursework. The program requires the completion of 18 credits. Courses follow a semester schedule with start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Florida

University of Florida

U.S. News & World Report named the University of Florida #16 in its ranking of best online secondary education programs. UF offers a certificate program in secondary teaching preparation. The program requires the completion of 18 credits and 1 semester of student teaching. It can potentially be finished in 2 years.

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

The University of Illinois—Urbana Champaign offers several certificates for teachers who want to add to their credentials or pursue a leadership position. All programs are fully online. Most programs require students to complete 2 to 5 courses. Courses are 8 weeks long in the fall and spring and 6 weeks long in summer.

The University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of North Georgia

University of North Georgia

The University of North Georgia offers a Post-Baccalaureate Initial Teacher Certification program for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree. Coursework is online. Students begin the program with a cohort during the summer and typically finish the program the following summer. The program requires two semesters of student teaching as well.

UNG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of San Diego

University of San Diego

The University of San Diego offers certificate programs designed for teachers who want to add to their credentials. Most of these programs are fully online. Courses are asynchronous, and many are self-paced. Students have 180 days to complete each course as they sign up for it. Certificates offered include Bullying Prevention in Our Schools and Effective Classroom Management.

USD is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota offers an Alternative Teacher Certification designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree and want to transition into teaching. Completing the program can help students pursue licensure to teach in K-12 classrooms. The program is fully online and requires the completion of 15 credit hours. Applicants must already have an offer of employment to qualify.

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Walden University

Walden University

Walden University offers a variety of online graduate certificate programs designed for those who want to update their teaching skills and become more effective educators. Credits from these programs may be applied toward select degrees from Walden. Courses are conducted in an accelerated format, and there are several start dates offered each year. Programs include Science K-8 and Elementary Reading and Literacy.

Walden is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

West Chester University

West Chester University

West Chester University offers a Post-Baccalaureate Certification in Special Education. The program is fully online. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Classes are offered in 7 and 15 week formats. The program requires the completion of 39 credits.

West Chester University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Getting Your Teaching Certificate Online

 student Getting his Teaching Certificate Online

In conclusion, just as doctors and lawyers need licenses in order to do their very important work, so do educators.

If you have the qualities and drive necessary to become a teacher, it’s important to research the requirements in your state, pursue the appropriate education and training and apply for your teaching certificate. It will be a journey, and the job itself may be demanding at times, but it will also be extremely rewarding as you make a difference in the lives of your students year after year.

You can start by comparing online teaching degree programs and researching accredited online colleges today.

Ready to start your journey?
Amy Hayes

Amy holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Old Dominion University, with a minor in English. She previously worked as an educator before starting her career as a writer. Amy spends much of her time researching and writing, with the goal of sharing valuable information with readers.