Working as a teacher is a fun and rewarding career that lets you help students every day, but your college might have prerequisites for a teaching program in place. Those prerequisites include many of the same tasks that you would encounter during the application process to other programs, however, you’ll find that there are other requirements needed before taking more advanced education classes. Many states now have teaching programs designed for recent graduates and those with a degree in another field; these programs may come with other prerequisites.

General Education Requirements

If you think that getting your teaching degree only requires that you take a few teaching classes and participate in a student teacher experience, you might be surprised by what is involved. Teaching programs today include a number of education courses and specialized classes focusing on teaching a specific topic or age group, but you also need to take general education classes. Science, behavioral sciences, math and humanities classes all count toward those required courses. Some schools won’t let you start the teaching program until you meet the general education requirements.

College Entrance Exam

One of the prerequisites for a teaching program is a college entrance exam. The ACT is the most popular test taken by high school students, but colleges will also accept the scores that you received on the SAT. The organizations responsible for administering those tests offer the exams at different points throughout the year at community colleges, community centers, dedicated testing centers and high schools. When you select the schools you applied to or plan to apply to, the organization will send a copy of your scores to each school on your list. You can take the test more than one time until you receive the score you want.

Letters of Recommendation

Depending on the school you apply to, you might find that the college requires letters of recommendation. Those letters must come from people who know your skills and can explain why you have what it takes to be a good teacher. If you have experience working with children, you might ask for a letter related to this experience.  This could be from a teacher in an after school program or daycare center or the parent of a child you babysit for on the weekends. Schools often put weight on those letters in addition to your test scores, grade point average and other parts of your application.

State Teaching Programs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some states have a alternative teaching programs that differ from the traditional programs found at colleges. The programs are sometimes referred to as emergency certification programs and they allow candidates with a bachelor’s degree, who aren’t yet qualified to teach, work in public and private schools while they take educational college classes at night and on the weekends. These programs often require that students complete their degrees within a specific period of time. Other prerequisites for admission to a state teaching program may include submitting your fingerprints to a police agency, passing a drug test or going through a background check.

Before you can teach, you need an education degree and your teaching credentials. There are various prerequisites for a teaching program that are dependent on the program and state you are in.  Make sure to verify all of the perquisites for your situation prior to pursuing your teaching degree.