Out of all aspects of the school experience, teachers have the most impact on their students’ achievement. The right teacher can determine whether or not a student continues on in their studies and pursues higher education. Teachers prepare their students for professional life and for the complexities of adulthood. In other words, their students’ test scores barely scratch the surface of a teacher’s contribution and impact. It takes a special person to become a teacher. If you think you have what it takes to become a teacher, you may find yourself now wondering, “How long does it take to become a teacher?” Read on to learn about the process and required timeline.
How Long Does it Take to Complete a Teaching Degree?
The process of becoming a teacher begins in a classroom. Before they stand at the head of their own classroom, future teachers must first complete a number of education requirements.
Prospective teachers must earn, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for certification. Traditional bachelor’s degrees take four years to complete, meaning that at the very least, it takes four years of schooling to become a teacher. Those who want to teach elementary school-aged children should pursue a degree that provides them with an extensive knowledge base in a wide array of subject areas. Those who want to teach secondary school should pursue a degree in the subject they want to specialize (e.g. English Literature).
Teachers in Connecticut are required to eventually earn a master’s degree in order to maintain certification. For those who want to enter the teaching profession after earning their bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject area, or who perhaps are changing careers, earning a master’s degree in Education is a great way to enter the field. Master’s degree programs also exist in certain areas of teaching, such as Elementary and Secondary Education. It is important to find a degree program that aligns with your career goals.
A traditional master’s degree in Education typically takes two years to complete. However, some schools offer fast-track options, such as the accelerated internship program at University of Bridgeport. This pathway takes one year (12 months) to complete.
Teacher candidates who are changing career paths may be concerned about making the transition into the classroom. Fortunately, all Connecticut teaching programs must provide their participants with field experience and training, as part of their degree. University of Bridgeport provides students with the opportunity to complete a 14 week teaching residency under the direction of a trained and experienced teacher. As such, you’ll receive the preparation you need to become a teacher, during the course of your studies.
Additional Certification Requirements
Upon completing their education and training requirements, teacher candidates must complete a variety of examinations in order to gain certification.
In Connecticut, future teachers must pass the Connecticut State Board of Education’s teacher assessment, known as the edTPA. The test is a performance-based, subject-specific test that assesses the knowledge and skills that prospective teachers possess. Candidates must create an instruction unit, prepare a 40-50 page portfolio of sample lessons, answer a variety of subject-specific prompts in the edTPA handbook, and submit all of these elements for professional approval. In addition to this requirement, prospective teachers must complete certification exams specific to the grade(s) and subject(s) they want to teach.
Those who want to become certified elementary school teachers must pass the ETS Praxis II Elementary education test. Additionally, they must pass the Foundations of Reading Test.
Future middle and high school teachers who want to specialize in a specific subject area must pass Praxis II exams in that subject. Examples of these tests include the Biology Content Knowledge, Chemistry Content Knowledge, English Language Arts Content and Analysis, and Social Studies Content Knowledge exams.
Teaching Certification: The Three Tiers
In Connecticut, there are three levels of teacher certification: Initial, Provisional, and Professional. New teachers must earn their Initial Certification before they can begin teaching. This can be done after four years in a bachelor’s degree program. This certification is valid for the first three years of a teacher’s career, giving them time to gain experience and prepare for their Provisional Educator Certificate. The Provisional Educator certificate may be earned after a teacher gains at least 10 months of experience and completes the TEAM Mentoring Program in Connecticut. Professional certification may be obtained after 30 months of teaching experience in a school environment.
To prepare for the teaching certification exams, candidates with a master’s degree can complete a short, sixth-year certification program. Learn about University of Bridgeport’s teaching certification programs here.
Timeline to Become a Teacher in Connecticut
For those who have yet to earn a bachelor’s degree, the answer to the question, “How long does it take to become a teacher?,” is simple: four years, to begin with. This is just the beginning of the educational journey you’ll need to embark upon. Completing a master’s degree or post-baccalaureate certification option requires an additional time investment—typically involving one to two years of graduate studies, plus 10 to 30 months of teaching experience.
Regardless of their route to the career, teachers in Connecticut are held to a high standard. They’re expected to complete graduate education, certification exams, and continuing education over the course of their career. So, in many ways, becoming a teacher is a life-long endeavor. However, all of this training prepares you to provide your students with an excellent education, both academic and practical.
Ready to begin your journey as a Connecticut educator? Learn more about how to become a teacher, here, in this free, downloadable guide.