Pros & Cons of Alternative Certification
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Pros & Cons of Alternative Certification

Being a school teacher is one way for you to have the same schedule as your children, and it allows you the chance to have a positive influence on a variety of kids. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can get a teaching license through alternative certification in most states. Before you start the process, you may want to consider the pros and cons of obtaining your teaching license this way.

Additional Schooling

Depending on your state’s regulations, you may need additional education before the state will issue you a license. In Colorado, for example, the Department of Education requires you to participate in an alternative teacher preparation program. This term refers to any program that provides the education you need to teach but is not part of the traditional teaching route. In most states, the traditional route is a four-year college degree in education followed by passing all the required state exams.

While you can select what alternative program you want to use from the list of state-approved agencies, you will have to pay the program’s fees. For many, this is one of the major cons to alternative teacher certification. Another con is the time the program will take away from other things. Depending on the program, it can take six months to two years to complete the requirements to get your license. In the pro column, the alternative program takes less time than pursuing a license to teach through the traditional route. Once you complete the additional schooling, you can begin applying for jobs. Keep in mind paying for the training does not guarantee you a job, which can be another con.


Based on the results of the U.S. Department of Education’s evaluation of teachers trained through different certification routes, you have just as much chance of being successful as a teacher as those individuals who obtained their certifications through traditional programs. The study paired teachers certified through different routes but teaching the same content subject in the same school and measured the test results for state exams given to the students. There was no significant difference in the test scores. This is another pro for alternative certification.

Content Area

Some states may restrict the content areas for certification through alternative teaching programs. For example, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy reported all of Washington’s programs focused on recruiting participants willing to teach in a shortage subject area or a content area where the state did not have enough teachers. At the time of its report, the state needed teachers in special education, math, science and English as a Second Language (ESL). If you want to teach one of these areas, the restrictions can be a pro. For those who prefer to teach other content areas, they are a con.

No Child Left Behind

According to the Texas Education Agency, the requirements for No Child Left Behind demand schools hire teachers who are highly qualified to teach specific subjects. Some schools will hire the most qualified teacher, and they may consider a teacher with a standard, or traditional, certification over one who holds a probationary certification. A standard certificate is what you get when you follow the traditional route to obtaining a teacher’s license. A probationary certification is a temporary license the state issues to people who have completed an alternative certification program. It is usually issued for one year, known as the internship year. Once you complete the internship year, you can apply with the state to get your standard certificate. Until you have the standard certification, you may have trouble finding a position as a teacher.

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