On the surface, it may seem that all high school teachers do is teach academic, vocational, or technical classes to their students. However, high school teachers do so much more than that. By educating students who are aging towards adulthood, high school teachers help their students decide what and who they want to be as members of society. Their tutelage may help a student realize they’re passionate about biology or drama. They may help students decide where they want to go to college or even if college is the best choice for them. In other words, the importance of high school teachers cannot be overstated. As such, it’s incredibly important that high school teachers are well prepared for their job. In Connecticut, there are clear regulations and certifications that candidates must meet before they’re able to work in the school system. If you’ve ever wondered what degree you need to be a high school teacher in Connecticut, read on.
High School Teacher Degree Requirements
In order to become a teacher in the state of Connecticut, candidates must fulfill certain educational requirements. At minimum, they should hold a bachelor’s degree. However, Connecticut acknowledges that there is more than one avenue to becoming a teacher. Here are the degree pathways candidates might consider when exploring what degree they might need to be a high school teacher.
First Time College Students
Candidates who have not yet earned a college degree must pursue, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in order to work as a teacher in the state of Connecticut. As a high school teacher, you’ll be expected to teach specific subject-areas. So, you should earn your bachelor’s degree in an area in which you’d be interested to teach. For example, someone who pursues a degree in English Literature may be a good candidate to teach high school English. However, the state of Connecticut requires that you complete a teacher preparation program prior to earning certification. As such, candidates who are earning a college degree for the first time should consider matriculating into a program that offers teacher training as well as student-teaching internships.
Candidates should also note that the state of Connecticut requires all educators to eventually earn their master’s degree as a prerequisite for maintaining certification. As such, it may be worth considering entering a graduate program in Education directly after undergraduate study, in order to take advantage of all the benefits associated with holding a master’s degree (such as higher pay) sooner, rather than later.
First Time Teachers Making a Career Change
If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree in a subject area in which you’d like to teach, you can choose to pursue graduate study at a state-approved teacher preparation program. Or, you may complete a post-baccalaureate program in teaching. As mentioned previously, you will eventually need to pursue a master’s degree. For aspiring high school teachers, a master’s in Secondary Education is the best choice.
Pursuing Graduate Study
Teachers who have earned a master’s degree in Secondary Education are qualified to advance through Connecticut’s three tier certification system. They are also more likely to be paid more. A 2019 National Council on Teacher Quality study showed that 92% of all school districts pay their teachers more for holding an advanced degree. In Connecticut, districts will offer higher paying salaries to teachers with advanced degrees as well as bonuses for earning National Board Certification (e.g. an additional $3,500 per year in Hartford). Whether you’re a new teacher who has earned a bachelor’s degree or you’re an educator who is wondering how to take the next step in your career, earning a graduate degree is the perfect choice.
Certification and Licensing Requirements for High School Teachers
Connecticut requires that teachers hold a valid Connecticut certification in order to work in any public school. Certification is contingent on a candidate’s completion of required educational milestones (e.g. degree programs), the passing of certification tests, and experience level.
Candidates hoping to earn certification to teach high school students must pass Praxis II examinations in the subject area in which they desire to teach. For example, English teachers must pass the Praxis II English Language Arts exam.
At University of Bridgeport, there are a variety of Secondary Education certification programs students can pursue in preparation for this step, such as English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and a cross-endorsement in Computer Science.
Teacher Certification in Connecticut
In general, Connecticut has three levels of teacher certification: Initial, Provisional, and Professional. Candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree and have never before taught, can apply for the Initial certification. This certification allows teachers to gain experience and is valid for three years. Educators can apply for the Provisional Educator Certificate after teaching for at least 10 months while holding the Initial Educator Certificate and completing the TEAM Mentoring Program. This certification is valid for eight years. In order to qualify for the final level of certification (Professional Educator Certificate), candidates must earn a graduate degree, complete advanced coursework, and complete at least 30 months of teaching in a Connecticut school while holding the Provisional level of certification. This is the only level of certification that is renewable.
Becoming a high school teacher in Connecticut starts with a strong foundation. Whether you plan on teaching Math or Science, a state-approved master’s degree program can help you build the skills and knowledge base you need to earn certification and begin your career in the classroom.