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A lot of Coast Guard
personnel seem to be under the impression they need to get an
education/teaching degree to become a teacher. This may or may not be the
case, depending on which grade(s) you want to teach. The following quotes
are liberally taken from a book I highly recommend, if you’re thinking about
a second career as a teacher:
Bear's Guide to the Best Education Degrees by Distance Learning.
Teaching in all 50 states “requires an accredited bachelor’s degree and, for public schools, a teaching credential (though more and more private schools are also requiring a credential). The credential is usually earned after the bachelor’s as a separate, one-year program, although it sometimes can be earned in combination with a bachelor’s or master’s.”
In the long run, it doesn’t matter what you major in: You can become a teacher no matter what kind of bachelor’s you earn, whether it’s a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts, whether you major in Spanish, music, or geology.
In the short run, however, your major matters. …What you study as an undergraduate can have a big effect on how easy or hard it is to get [a teaching credential].
Though licensing requirements can vary widely from state to state, most involve at least these two things:
1. the completion of a certain amount of coursework in the theory of education and the practice of teaching, and
2. some sort of proof that you know the subject area you want to teach.
Chosen wisely, what you major in as an undergraduate can satisfy some or all of these requirements. For example, a bachelor’s in history is proof enough, in most states, that you know history well enough to teach it. If you major in education, some of your classes will meet credential coursework requirements. For many states, an undergraduate degree in a cross-disciplinary field such as liberal studies shows that you’re qualified to teach language, science, and math in an elementary school classroom.
The bottom line is: don't just jump into an education degree – check with the school district (or at least the state department of education) where you'd like to teach to find out your preferred state's or district's degree requirements.
Bear's Guide to the Best Education Degrees by Distance Learning talks about the process of getting an education degree, generally, as well as how you might do so using distance learning.
You should also check out the web site TeachersCount. Its mission is “to address … [poor retention of young teachers and the teachers’ shortage] by raising the status of the teaching profession, using public service announcements and related initiatives, and providing resources to teachers, prospective teachers, and others concerned about education.” Both of these are really useful resources for would-be teachers.
The DANTES External Degree Program provides a number of paths you can follow to earn teaching or specialty certificates, bachelor’s degrees which include education courses, or master’s degrees in education.
You might also consider the Troops-to-Teachers program. Even if you're not interested in participating in the program, you should definitely check out for referral and placement assistance available through each state's Troops-to-Teachers representatives.
The Teacher Education
Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides
grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who agree to teach for four
years at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service
agency that serves students from low-income families and to meet other
requirements. The terms and conditions of this teaching service obligation
are explained in the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve that you must sign
before you receive a TEACH Grant.
For more information, go to the Department of Education's web site.