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A teaching credential is a certification which indicates that someone is allowed to teach a particular subject or grade level. There are numerous types of teaching credentials, ranging from those designed for school nurses to special education credentials. Using a credentialing system for teachers ensures that all students have access to qualified teachers who are familiar with the subject and teaching techniques. The path to obtaining a teaching credential can be quite lengthy, depending on the credential being sought.
Different parts of the world have different teacher credentialing requirements. Someone who is interested in becoming a teacher should contact their local department of education to find out what the requirements are. Typically, a teaching credential is issued by the state or province in which the teacher lives and works, and some regions may have agreements with each other so that teachers can transfer existing teaching credentials.
There are several aspects to a teaching credential. The first is education, both in the subject the teacher intends to teach and in teaching methods. Teacher education usually includes fieldwork, giving teachers an opportunity to work with students in classrooms under supervision. Teacher education also includes training in the legal and ethical responsibilities of the teaching profession. Depending on what the teacher wants to specialize in, he or she may pursue specific educational goals, such as a program designed to graduate single subject high school teachers, or a program for elementary-age special needs education.
Along with education, the credentialing process also includes testing. A teacher who wants to teach a single subject, for example, will have to take a test in that subject to demonstrate proficiency. Should a teacher apply for certification in multiple subjects, he or she will have to take a test in each subject. If a teacher passes the testing, he or she can complete the application for a teaching credential. This application often includes fingerprinting, a background check, and other procedures which are designed to ensure that every teacher is suitable for the job.
Once a teacher has earned a teaching credential, he or she can apply for jobs as a credentialed teacher. Numerous trade journals list such positions, as do school districts. During the job application or hiring process, the teacher may be asked to produce a physical copy of the credential, so that the school district can be sure that the credential is valid. Credentials will also ultimately expire, so teachers need to renew them periodically, and take continuing education classes as required.