How to Earn Teacher Certification in Alaska
To teach in the state of Alaska, you’ll first need to earn certification. While there are several pathways to doing this, your options depend on your level of education, experience, and what your career goal is.
This guide can help you determine the pathway that’s right for you at any point in your career. Perhaps you’re just beginning your journey and need to know about Alaska’s certification process. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to advanced certification and endorsement, or you’re a teacher looking to move to Alaska from a different state.
You’ll find all that information and much more right here. The short video below gives an overview of what to expect as a certified teacher in Alaska.
Requirements for Teachers
Getting a teaching license in Alaska can allow you to pursue many challenging yet rewarding opportunities in both urban and rural settings in this state. Some of the most unique locations include school districts located in the remote villages of the Alaskan Bush. Since Alaska is unable to meet its demand for teachers with in-state resources, the state welcomes out-of-state professionals willing to relocate.
To apply for certification, you also must meet established minimum scores in at least one of the approved basic competency exams in reading, writing and mathematics. After completion of your educational requirements, you will have to pass content level exams administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) for every endorsement or specialty area in which you apply for certification. Fingerprinting and a criminal background check also are required to earn teacher certification in Alaska.
Alaska offers an Initial teacher certificate to all teachers who are applying for the first time in Alaska, regardless of experience earned elsewhere. There are five types of Initial teacher certificates. The most common is the Initial Two-Year/Three-Year certificate. This credential is nonrenewable and limited to two years, during which time you can earn the required credits related to Alaska studies and multicultural coursework. It can be extended for one year under certain conditions.
After holding an Initial teacher certificate, candidates are eligible to apply for a five-year Professional teacher certificate if they have two years of experience. Teachers who have passed exams from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) can qualify for a 10-year Master teacher certificate.
Minimum Education Requirements for Alaska Teachers
To qualify for any teaching certificate in Alaska, you must have a bachelor’s degree from a college or university accredited by a recognized regional accrediting association or approved by the education commissioner. Candidates for teaching certification also must complete a teacher preparation program approved by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (EED). Some teacher preparation programs are offered as part of a bachelor’s degree. Others involve the completion of a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s program.
Additional requirements for teacher certification in Alaska include the completion of mandatory training modules in four key areas within five years prior to your application. These areas of study include: sexual abuse awareness and prevention; alcohol or drug-related disabilities; dating violence awareness and prevention; and suicide awareness and prevention. Only courses approved by the Alaska EED can satisfy this requirement.
Candidates for teacher certification also are required to complete three semester hours in Alaska studies coursework and three semester hours of approved Alaska multicultural coursework. However, the requirements for Alaska studies and multicultural coursework can be completed after earning an Initial teacher certificate, as long as they are finished within two years of the certificate’s award. These courses can be completed via e-learning options approved by the EED.
All candidates for an Initial certificate must complete an educational preparation program and a clinical experience. In many cases, the clinical experience is coordinated as part of the educational preparation program. While the state does not specify a length of time for the clinical experience, your individual educator preparation program may have time and content criteria.
Before you begin a student teaching position in Alaska, you will have to secure a Student Teaching Authorization from the Department of Education and Early Development. To qualify for this authorization, you must be enrolled in a state-approved program. Even though you may be participating in a clinical experience as a requirement of your educator preparation program, you will need this authorization. In addition, you must have passed an approved basic competency exam. It’s important to know that you must make your application no earlier than 12 months preceding your clinical experience. You also must submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting.
Pass Alaska Certification Exams
An important requirement for teacher certification is passing the Alaska certification exams. All candidates for an Initial teacher certificate must pass a Praxis core competency exam. Alaska accepts a wide range of exams to fulfill this requirement, including Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (CASE), SATs or ACTs. It is likely that you will have to complete at least one of these tests prior to enrollment in a teacher preparation program. You also must pass content level exams administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) for each endorsement or specialty area in which you are applying for certification.
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development issues teaching certificates. You can prepare to submit an application for teacher certification in Alaska when you have successfully completed the required educational and testing criteria. To request certification, you will have to complete a paper application and ensure that the required transcripts, test scores and recommendations are submitted appropriately.
Official transcripts must be from the colleges and universities where you earned degrees and/or completed educator preparation programs. Official scores must demonstrate that you passed an approved basic competency exam and a content exam for any endorsements you are requesting. A state-approved program verification form, including a seal or stamp of the institution, indicating your completion of an educator preparation program, is also required. The application must be notarized as proof of your signature, and a nonrefundable application fee must accompany the application, or be paid online. You must also submit a fingerprint card with your application. The Alaska Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will use the card to generate a criminal history report.
How Much Do Teachers in Alaska Make?
Certified teachers in Alaska earn a wide range of salaries. Your income will depend on the location of your school district, your experience and educational specialty. Here are some median teaching salaries in Alaska.
|Early Childhood Educator||$29,450|
|Elementary School Teacher||$77,270|
|Secondary School Teacher||$74,910|
|Middle School Teacher||$77,810|
Job Growth for High School Teachers through 2031
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2021
With completion of the required criteria, you can apply to earn specialty certifications in one or more of several concentrations. To earn a specialty certification, Alaska requires completion of an educator preparation program and a Praxis II assessment in the corresponding area of specialization.
In some cases, subject endorsements can be added with a doctoral, master’s or bachelor’s degree consisting of at least 18 semester hours in the endorsement area requested. Or, individuals who have at least two years of teaching experience in a subject matter and passing scores on the related content area exam may add endorsements if their specialty matches an existing official endorsement area. Endorsements can only be added to an Initial Two- or Three-Year Teaching certificate, a Professional Teacher certificate or a Master Teacher certificate.
Early Childhood Education
To qualify for an endorsement in early childhood education, you must complete an approved teacher preparation or early childhood education program and achieve passing scores in an early childhood education content Praxis exam.
A Type E Early Childhood Education certificate is a renewable five-year certificate for individuals who are not teachers, but assist in preschools or as instructional aides in public school primary classrooms. Requirements include a Child Development Associate award or the completion of a 30-credit college program that includes at least 400 hours of supervised practice. Individuals who have an Associate I Type E certificate and earn an associate’s degree in early childhood education qualify for an Associate II Type E certificate.
Elementary School Teacher
If you want to become certified as an elementary school teacher in Alaska, you should pursue an endorsement in Elementary Education upon graduation from an approved teacher preparation or Elementary Education program and pass an Elementary Education content Praxis exam.
Secondary School Teacher
Individuals seeking certification as a secondary school teacher in Alaska should pursue a grade level endorsement for grades 9-12. There is no endorsement called Secondary Education. To earn the grade 9-12 endorsement, you must complete an approved teacher preparation or Secondary School program and pass a related Secondary School Praxis II exam. Teachers at this level also have the option of adding endorsements in specific subject areas.
Substitute Teacher Certification
There is no specific certification for substitute teachers in Alaska. A substitute teacher employed for a long-term position that will last more than 20 days needs a valid Alaska teaching certificate at the time of hire. If a school district is unable to fill a long-term position with a certified teacher, the district can employ an individual who holds a Retired Teacher certificate as a substitute for up to 120 days.
For teaching assignments lasting fewer than 20 days, school districts can hire substitute teachers who do not possess a teaching certificate if they give notification to the Alaska EED by August 31 of the school year. Districts also can establish their own requirements for short-term substitute teachers, including mandatory introductory training or minimum credentials.
Physical Education (PE) Certification
Teachers in Alaska can earn one or more of several endorsements in physical education. They include: Coaching, Health, Health Education, Kinesiology and Physical Education. Candidates for this endorsement must complete an approved teacher preparation or Physical Education program and pass one of the Praxis II examinations in an area of Physical Education or Health Education.
Or, a Physical Education endorsement can be added if you have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, with a minimum of 18 semester hours in Physical Education. If you have completed a minimum of two years of teaching experience in Physical Education and have passing scores on the related Praxis II content area exam, you also may be qualified to add this endorsement.
Special Education Certification
Alaska offers 12 different endorsements in special education. To earn this endorsement, you must finish an approved teacher preparation program in special education. If your goal is to teach preschool children, you must have completed at least six semester hours in early childhood special education and hold a teaching certificate with a special education endorsement. However, there is not a specific endorsement for Preschool Special Education.
English as a Second Language Certification
English as a Second Language (ESL) certification is awarded as an endorsement to a Teacher certificate. Candidates must be graduates of an approved teacher preparation program and pass the Praxis II content exam in this area. This endorsement also can be requested by candidates who have a bachelor’s level degree or above, which included at least 18 semester hours in ESL studies. Teachers who have at least two years of teaching experience in ESL and have passed the related Praxis II content area exam also may qualify for an endorsement in ESL.
Certifications for School Administrators
You can qualify for a renewable, five-year Type B Administrative certificate with a minimum of three years’ experience as a certified teacher or special service provider. In addition, your credentials must include completion of an approved teacher education program in school administration, a master’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution, and a recommendation from that institution. You also must have three semester hours of approved Alaska studies and three semester hours of multicultural education or cross-cultural communications.
With appropriate qualifications, you can add one or more of the following endorsements to a Type B Administrative certificate: Administrator/Principal, Superintendent Endorsement, Special Educator Administrator Endorsement or Director of Special Education Endorsement. A provisional, non-renewable Type B Administrator certificate can be awarded for two years if you meet all other requirements for this certification but do not have six semester hours of credit earned during the five-year period preceding the date of application or lack the required semester hours in Alaska studies or Alaska multicultural education.
Teaching Reciprocity Agreements in Alaska
Teachers applying for certification in Alaska who possess a valid teacher certification from another state may benefit from teaching reciprocity agreements. If you’re considering a move to Alaska, this information can help you understand how to make the most of your education and past experience.
|NASDTEC Interstate Agreement||Alaska participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.|
|State Grants full Reciprocity||Alaska does not grant full reciprocity, but has a special certification for candidates with valid out-of-state credentials. An Initial/Out-of-State certificate is granted to certification applicants who hold a current, valid teaching certificate from another state but have never held an Alaska teaching certificate. Endorsements placed on this certificate reflect the endorsements earned in the teacher’s home state. The certificate is valid for one year, but may be extended twice, for two one-year extensions. The Initial/Out-of-State certificate helps teachers gain the credentials needed to apply for the five-year Professional Teacher certificate.|
|Coursework Requirements||With the Initial/Out-of-State certificate, a teacher has one year to complete coursework requirements for three semester hours in Alaska studies and three semester hours in Alaska multicultural education. Before applying for a Professional Teacher certificate, out-of-state teachers also must complete the four mandatory training modules. Teachers also must have two years of employment and have completed at least six semester hours of college credit within the five years preceding the application for a Professional Teacher certificate. Extensions for the Initial/Out-of-State certificate may be issued for up to two years to allow extra time to complete this coursework when necessary.|
|Test-out or Exemption||Alaska does not allow for test-out or exemption from additional coursework requirements.|
|Assessment Requirements||Teachers holding an Initial/Out-of-State certificate must provide official passing scores on an approved basic competency exam within one year of receiving certification.|
|Different Requirements Based on Experience||Certification candidates seeking reciprocity who do not have proof of a valid teaching certificate in their home state must complete all the criteria required of teachers seeking an Initial Teacher certificate.|
|Performance Requirements||Out-of-state candidates seeking certification in Alaska do not have to meet performance requirements.|
|Special Reciprocity for Advanced credentials||Certification applicants who possess an out-of-state teaching certificate with advanced credentials are limited to an Initial/Out-of-State certificate until they have fulfilled the requirements necessary for a Professional Teacher certificate, including extra coursework and mandatory training modules.|
Alternate Teaching Certification
Most applicants for teaching certification apply for an Initial Two-Year/Three-Year certificate before they qualify for a five-year renewable Professional Type A certificate. However, Alaska offers other options that pertain to candidates with specific circumstances. The Initial/Out-of-State certificate is for first-time applicants who hold valid out-of-state teaching certificates. The Initial/Program Enrollment certificate is offered to candidates who are enrolled in a teacher preparation program and are within two years of graduation. The Initial/Reemployment certificate is for candidates who had a previous Alaska teaching certificate that expired. The Second Initial Teacher Certificate is for those teachers who had a previous Initial Teacher Certificate but didn’t meet requirements for two years of teaching experience or passing a content exam prior to its expiration.
Other options include a Limited Type 1 Certificate for Instructional Aides. This certificate helps experienced instructional aides complete the requirements necessary for teacher certification. Qualifications include nomination by a school district, at least three years of successful employment there as an instructional aide, local Alaska native culture expertise, enrollment in a teacher preparation program and passing scores on the Praxis I tests. In addition, the candidate must have a contract with the school district and the learning institution outlining milestones and a plan for completion of the requirements for certification.
Certificate candidates who can demonstrate subject matter expertise and teaching competency as determined by the local school board, but do not have a bachelor’s degree because one isn’t available in their specialty field, may qualify for a Type M Limited Certificate in one of three specialty areas: Alaska native language or culture; military science; or a vocational or technical course.
Transition into Teaching for Career Changers
Alaska does not have a formal program for individuals interested in transitioning into a teaching career. Alaska Teacher Placement serves as a liaison between school districts and teachers to offer a statewide clearinghouse for jobs in education. The organization offers many services to people seeking a teaching or administrative position in Alaska’s schools. An online forum supported by Alaska teachers and administrators can answer many common questions about teaching in this state. Contact the Alaska Teacher Placement for information about teaching, living and working in Alaska at: https://alaskateacher.org.
Certification specialists in the Department of Education and Early Development also can help you determine what you will need to do to become a certified teacher. In addition, admissions counselors at Alaska’s state-approved educator preparation programs can assist you in exploring options for expediting this career transition.
Financial Aid and Loan Forgiveness
You may be eligible for partial or complete student loan forgiveness if you become a teacher in Alaska. By teaching in schools that have a high number of
You also may qualify for housing subsidies available as a result of The Teacher, Health Professional, and Public Safety Housing Grant Program of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. This program awards grants to help school districts attract and retain teaching and other professionals in rural areas where housing options are often limited and substandard. The funds are awarded to municipalities or local governments for the planning, development or acquisition of housing for teachers, health professionals and public safety professionals.