How to Become a Teacher in Texas: Education & Certification Guide
In order to work as a teacher in Texas, you’ll need to get certified. The route you’ll take to certification can vary depending on your education and prior experience.
Whether you’re looking into a teaching career for the first time or you’re an experienced teacher from another state, this guide will help you get started on the path toward teaching in Texas.
Take a look at the short video below, and use the table of contents to find the information you need.
Teaching in Texas: Fast Facts
Texas has the second-highest population of any U.S. state, with 23 million people calling it home. Texas educates its large population by having the most schools and employing the highest number of teachers in the country. There are currently more than 350,000 teachers working in over 1,200 school districts across the state.
The population in Texas is expected to keep expanding, and with it, the need for teachers will continue to increase. In fact, teaching jobs are projected to grow by nearly 20% by 2026. Additionally, Texas is currently facing teacher shortages in several areas.
If you’re looking to work as a teacher in Texas, here are a few more facts you should know:
- Average starting salary: $40,725 – more than 5% higher than the national average
- Average overall salary: $52,575 – 12% less than the national average
- Average teachers per student: 15 – roughly the same as the average
- Average education level: 66% have a bachelor’s degree and nearly 26% have a master’s degree
Texas Teacher Certification
Whether you’re just starting out or have years of experience teaching in another state, you’ll need to get certified to teach in Texas. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is the certifying body for both new and established teachers. Read on to see what you’ll need to do to make sure you’re ready to teach in Texas.
How to Become a Teacher in Texas
The TEA offers 3 types of certification:
- Initial Certification: for first-time teachers
- Out-of-State Certification: for teachers with experience in other states
- Standard Certification: for teachers with in-state experience
Both Initial and Out-Of-State Certifications are only valid for 1 year. After that, they’ll need to be converted into Standard Certifications if you want to keep working in Texas
There are 4 steps toward earning Initial Certification. Once you complete these steps, you’ll need to complete criminal background checks before being employed by a school.
Meet minimum education requirements
To teach in Texas, you’ll first need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college and complete an educator preparation program (EPP). If you’re earning your degree in education, your degree program will include an EPP.
EPPs are regulated by the state and must include 300 hours of coursework covering teaching skills such as:
- Reading instruction
- Instructional planning and delivery
- Knowledge of students and student learning content knowledge and expertise
- Data-driven practice
- Instruction in detection and education of students with special needs
Complete an educator preparation program
If you have a bachelor’s degree in another subject, you’ll need to complete an EPP in addition to your degree. Texas maintains an interactive map of approved EPPs that you can use to search for these programs. The programs provide the additional education you’ll need to work as classroom teacher and also offer mentorship and guidance throughout the program. They typically last 1–2 years, including classroom experience.
Some programs will require you take the Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT) before admission. This is a general knowledge test, similar to other pre-program admission tests like the GRE.
Complete student teaching requirement
Student teaching will be included in your EPP or degree program. You’ll need to complete 30 hours of field experience observing a certified teacher before applying for student teaching. In Texas, there are 2 ways to complete your student teaching requirement.
- Clinical teaching: Clinical teaching experiences generally last 14 weeks. During this time, you’ll work in a classroom, preparing lessons, working with students, and getting feedback from the supervising teacher. This experience is unpaid and will be monitored and evaluated by your EPP.
- Internship placement: A student teaching internship lasts for 1 year. Your internship will still be overseen by your EPP, but you’ll be employed by a school and receive pay and benefits.
Since clinical teaching is a fast-track option, not all students will qualify for a position. You’ll need to work with your program advisor to determine which program is right for you.
Pass Texas teacher certification tests
Certification exams in Texas are called the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards (TExES). Your EPP will need to approve the exams you take and ensure you are taking the appropriate exam for the grades and subject you want to teach.
The TExES exam will include content area questions for your subject, as well as questions about teaching methods. TExES exams are scored on a scale of 100-300. In order to pass, you’ll need to score at least a 240 in each subject.
Apply for certification
After you’ve met all of the above requirements, you can apply for certification. You’ll need to set up an account with TEA to apply and submit the following information:
- Your completed FBI fingerprinting and background check
- Your college transcripts
- Records showing you completed your EPP
- Your TExES results
Texas Teacher Certification Renewal
Standard Certificates need to be renewed every 5 years. This includes completing 150 continuing professional education (CPE) hours. CPE hours must be taken with an approved provider and can be earned in-person or online. If you teach any students with dyslexia, you’ll need to take CPE courses specific to their needs.
Teacher Certification Reciprocity
Texas participates in reciprocity with the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement. This agreement is designed to allow teachers to move from 1 state to another and continue to teach through certification reciprocity. While Texas participates in the agreement, there are still steps you’ll need to take before working as teacher.
- Complete an application with TEA
- Pay a non-refundable fee
- Submit all transcripts
- Submit test scores
- Submit official copies of your certification
Once you complete these steps, you’ll be eligible to receive a 1-year, non-renewable, Out-Of-State Certification. TEA will review your credentials and determine if there are any additional steps you need to take before being granted a Standard Certificate. These steps might include taking TExES exams or submitting further proof of your credentials.
Alternative Teacher Certification in Texas
There are several alternative pathways for certification in Texas. If you completed a bachelor’s degree in another subject and want to work in education, these programs can help you earn your teaching certification. With an alternative program, you can use the education and experience you already have toward gaining your teaching certification. This can allow you to enter the field much faster than if you were to earn a second degree.
Teach for America
Teach for America (TFA) is a nationwide program that matches qualified teaching candidates with high-needs schools. TFA participants receive extensive training and are assigned to work at a high-needs school for 2 years. After fulfilling this commitment, TFA helps participants earn their Texas teaching certificate.
To participate in TFA, you need to hold a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 2.5. Acceptance into the program is not guaranteed. You’ll need to complete interviews, screenings, and be selected to participate.
In Texas, TFA works with schools in the following areas:
- Dallas-Ft. Worth
- San Antonio
- Rio Grande Valley
Transition into teaching for career changers
TEA allows individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree to teach while participating in an alternative certification program (ACP). There are 8 steps you’ll need to complete before earning your certification through an ACP.
- Decide what subject and grade level you want to teach. This will determine the program you’ll need to complete.
- Choose an approved ACP. An ACP will take about a year and will include intensive classroom-focused training.
- Meet the acceptance requirements for the ACP you are interested in. Requirements will vary but may include taking the PACT.
- Develop a certification plan with your program. An advisor will help you determine the specific requirements you’ll need to complete.
- Obtain a teaching position. Your ACP will help you find an internship teaching position that aligns with your goals.
- Apply for an intern or probationary certification. This certificate is valid for 1 year and will allow you to work in a school.
- Complete all requirements for a standard license.
- Apply for your teacher certification. Your ACP will help make sure you’ve done everything you need in order to apply for certification.
Troops to Teachers
Troops to Teachers (TTT) is a type of ACP that was established in 1993 to help veterans transition into teaching careers. Through TTT, veterans receive support and placement assistance to start them on their career path. Financial assistance to pay for an EPP is also available for qualified veterans.
Substitute Teacher Requirements
You’ll need to complete a fingerprint and background check in Texas before working as a substitute teacher. Each school district in Texas has different requirements for substitute teaching. You’ll need to register with the district you wish to teach in and meet those requirements. You don’t need to be a licensed teacher to work as a substitute.
The Average Texas Teacher Salary
How much you can earn teaching in Texas will depend on your education level, your experience, the school you teach in, and the subject that you teach. TEA regulates minimum salaries throughout the state. These minimums are determined by years of experience. Some minimum salaries at various career levels are listed below.
Job Growth for Teachers through 2026
|Years Experience||Minimum Salary|
|5 Years of Experience||$32,440|
|Secondary School Teacher||$55,500|
|10 years of experience||$38,080|
|15 years of experience||$42,310|
|20 or more years of experience||$45,510|
These numbers represent the lowest salary allowed by the state. The average teacher in Texas earns an annual salary of $52,575 with an average starting salary of $40,725.
How advanced degrees impact salary
In Texas, roughly 66% of teachers have a bachelor’s degree and nearly 26% have a master’s. While there’s no guarantee that having a master’s degree will increase your salary, Texas school districts also offer a stipend of $1,000 to teachers who earn higher degrees. Additionally, having a master’s degree allows you work in leadership or administrative positions, which often have a higher salary.
TEA states that they do not feel having a master’s degree improves education outcomes for students or teacher effectiveness. Salary increases appear to be based on experience, not advanced degrees.
Texas Teacher Shortage Areas & Job Outlook
Texas is currently experiencing a teacher shortage in the following areas:
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Secondary Education
- Career and Technical Education
- Computer Science/Technology Applications
- Special Education
Additional Teaching Certifications
Teaching in Texas requires that you’re certified in a specialty. You can do this by taking content exams on the TExES, or by completing specific coursework. Some common certifications and their requirements can be found below.
Early childhood education and elementary school
The exam includes 5 parts, and tests your knowledge in the following areas:
- English Language Arts and Reading
- Social Studies
- Fine Arts
- Health and Physical Education
A middle school certification allows you to teach grades 4-8. To earn this certification you must pass the TExES Core Subjects 4-8 exam.
There are 4 main subjects covered by this exam:
- English Language Arts and Reading
- Social Studies
To teach at the secondary level, you’ll need to pass the TExES content exam that corresponds to the subject you want to teach.
The grade range will vary with the subject, but most secondary exams allow you teach grades 6-12.
Physical education (PE) certification
A PE certification allows you teach any level from early childhood through grade 12.
You’ll also need to make sure your coursework and training during your EPP is geared toward PE.
Special education certification
To earn your special education certification, you’ll need to take coursework focused on special education, and pass the TExES Special Education exam.
This exam covers early childhood through grade 12.
English as a second language certification
To teach ESL, you’ll need to complete coursework during your EPP that focuses on teaching English. You’ll also need to take the TExES ESL exam.
This specialty certification allows you to work with students on all levels, from early childhood through grade 12.
Certifications for school administrators
There are 2 types of administrator certification in Texas: principal and superintendent.
To become a principal, you’ll need to:
- Hold a master’s degree from an accredited university
- Hold a valid Texas teaching certification
- Have 2 years of documented teaching experience
- Complete an approved principal educator preparation program
- Pass the required TExES Principal exam
To become a superintendent, you’ll need to:
- Hold a master’s degree from an accredited university
- Hold a valid principal certificate, or equivalent
- Complete an approved superintendent educator preparation program
- Pass the required TExES Superintendent exam
Financial Aid & Loan Forgiveness for Texas Teachers
With the growing need for teachers around the country and in Texas, there are many programs available to help pay for your education. There are numerous organizations that offer grants and scholarships for teachers. There are scholarships available for teaching certain subjects, for career changers, for teaching in high-needs areas, and more.
If you paid for your degree using funds from a student loan, you might qualify for student loan forgiveness. The federal government oversees several loan forgiveness programs for teachers.
Programs outlined above, such as TFA or TTT, can help you cover the cost of your education. They award cash that can be used toward paying off loans or future educational expenses.
Students who are from Texas may be eligible to participate in grow-your-own-style programs, which provide financial aid to students who return to teach in their home school district after college.
Finding Texas Teaching Jobs
If you’re ready to start applying to teaching jobs, there are several places you can look. A good first step is to check with your EPP, ACP, or degree program to see if they maintain a list of job openings. These listings might even be exclusive to students at your program, giving you an advantage.
The Texas public job site, maintained by TEA, is another great resource. Other job postings can be found on general career sites such as Monster or Indeed.
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