How to Become a Certified Teacher in New York State

Do you remember a teacher from elementary or high school who encouraged you, took an interest in your success and made learning fun? Then you’ve experienced the lasting impact that teachers have on students. 

If you’re considering a career in teaching, chances are you love helping children, you love to learn and you want to make a difference. The good news is that you can combine your passions with excellent job opportunities in New York State. 

New York State officials estimate the need for up to 180,000 teachers in the next decade. In addition, New York consistently ranks highly for Academic and Work Environment, with low teacher turnover. New York also has the highest public school spending per student and the highest national average annual teacher salary ($83,889). 

Whether you are a high school student interested in a teaching career, have recently graduated from college and want to teach, or are a working professional looking to switch careers, this article will help you find out how to get a teaching certificate in New York State.

Educator Requirements for NYS Teachers

Is becoming a teacher hard? Not if you are dedicated to teaching and understand the educator requirements. 

In New York State, childhood and adolescence (high school) teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program that includes student teaching (in the classroom) supervised by a mentor teacher. The New York State Education Department manages the certification process.

The traditional route to a teaching certificate for students that need a bachelor’s degree is to complete general education coursework for the subject you want to study (and ultimately teach), take teacher preparation classes and learn best teaching practices. 

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you can enroll in an approved teaching preparation program. Or choose to earn a teaching certificate and a master’s degree at the same time. 

A master’s in teaching will not only increase your salary, but it also helps you make progress towards earning your professional certificate — which you need to continue teaching — within five years after earning your initial certificate. 

We’ll answer the question “do teachers need a master’s degree?” in more detail later in this article.

Choosing the Right Training for Teaching

To reach your teaching goals, it’s important to ask yourself some questions before choosing a teacher preparation program.

What subject do you want to teach? What grade level? Are you interested in teaching in a rural or urban environment? 
Research various programs and choose one that is challenging and prepares you to teach the type of student and subject matter you are interested in. Teaching special education requires quite different preparation than teaching adolescence education, for example.

Consider that certain subjects and student populations are more in need of teachers than others. The U.S. Department of Education lists Special Education, English as a Second Language, Science and other subjects with teacher shortages. 

If you’re interested in those areas, you can receive monetary help to pay for your education from Federal and state programs. NYS also offers grants for teachers who agree to serve students from low-income areas. 

Finally, select a program that meets you where you are as you begin your training for teaching. Are you an aspiring teacher who needs a bachelor’s degree? Someone without a degree but with a desire to teach? Or perhaps a professional looking to change careers? 

We’ll review the various paths to becoming a certified teacher in more detail below.

How to Become a Certified Teacher: The Traditional Route

These are the traditional steps to obtain your first certification:

•    Complete a BA/BS in teaching (teacher preparation program)
•    Pass certification exams: the Educating All Students (EAS) exam and the Content Specialty Test(s) in your area of certification
•    Complete at least 40 days of student teaching with a mentor who is certified in your specialization or a related area
•    Receive fingerprint clearance from the state
•    Apply for and get initial certification

How to Become a Certified Teacher: The Alternative Route (Dual Degrees, Career-Changers)

When it comes to how to get a teaching certificate, the traditional path to earning a bachelor’s degree in teacher education is not the only route. Again, depending on your situation and goals, you have many options available to fulfill your educator requirements.

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you can save time and money with a dual degree such as the 4 + 1 B.A. or B.S. and M.S.Ed. in Adolescence Education: Students with Disabilities at Canisius University. 

You’ll complete your bachelor’s, master’s and teaching certification in five years. Plus, with a degree in special education, you’ll be in high demand when it’s time to find a full-time position.

If you already have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a non-education field, consider initial certification master’s programs. This choice is ideal if you have a degree in a non-teaching field, and if you want to pursue teaching as a career change. 

Another option to learn more about is the first teacher residency program in Western New York at Canisius University. It offers two years of field placements and a year of paid residency teaching. The program guarantees to place you in a job, offers scholarships and leads to dual certification in high-need teaching areas. 

Do Teachers Need a Master’s Degree?

While educator requirements vary, you don’t need a master’s degree to begin teaching. However, in NYS, you do need to obtain one to progress towards professional certification. You must get a master’s degree within five years of your initial certification. Other steps include:

  • Having three years of teaching experience and one year of mentored teaching
  • Taking 100 hours of professional learning every five years

Although five years is the maximum timeframe to get a master’s, consider programs that allow you to get your degree more quickly. A master’s in education will increase your salary and introduce new learning opportunities as you pursue professional certification.

Some programs, such as those at Canisius University, provide a path to earn your initial teaching certification and your master’s degree at the same time. Relieve the stress of having to balance your time in a master’s program and full-time teaching. The program offers advantages such as gaining real-world teaching experience, student teaching in diverse educational settings, and a head start on your professional certification and earning potential.

Take the First Step: Earn Your Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree With Teaching Credential at Canisius University

If you’re thinking about how to get a teaching certificate in NYS, one of the best options is Canisius University.
Canisius University offers accredited education programs approved by NYS for teaching certification. Our online master’s education program has also ranked among the top in the nation for six years in a row. 

Our teaching education programs help build your confidence and launch your successful teaching career by giving you:

•    Thorough preparation for certification exams
•    Connections to alumni mentors who invest in your training
•    Guided support throughout your student teaching

Become the teacher you want to be — ready to lead a classroom and meet the diverse needs of all of your students.

The School of Education and Human Services offers eight undergraduate majors and 27 graduate programs, along with multiple certifications, extensions and advanced certificates of study.

The School of Education and Human Services is also home to the Center for Urban Education. Aligned to our Jesuit mission, the Center works for and with community stakeholders dedicated to quality educational experiences in historically underserved communities, in the pursuit of social justice.