9 answers

How Do I Get My Teaching Certificate/degree?

I graduated from college with a bachelors in Communications and have been working in Marketing for the past four years. Since I had my son, I keep thinking about how great it would be to have a job that would allow me more time at home with him. I have always wanted to be a teacher, but never persued it. Now, I think it would be a great move for me, but I have NO IDEA how to get started. Is there some kind of test I need to take? Do I need to get a certificate? Do I need to go back to school? If so, what schools have the best programs? Are there jobs available (I live in the city) on the elementry school level?
Thanks for any advice and information you might have!?!?! I would also be interested in hearing about other moms who started out corporate and made the switch to being a teacher: are you happy with your decision?

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Hi M.,

I teach in the School of Education at DePaul University. I really think this is an excellent program to go through. Almost all of the graduate students are career switchers (from the corporate world). It would be almost pointless to get another bachelor's degree in teaching b/c the pay will be low. Your best bet is getting a Master's. UIC, Roosevelt, Northeastern, and Erikson also have programs in the city. DePaul is great b/c it really focuses on preparing Urban Educators. Once you finish your program you would have a Master's degree and an Illinois Teaching Certificate.

Another route is to do a direct-entry program where you teach during the day and get paid and go to school at night. These programs look appealing but I caution you...they aren't always as highly respected as traditional programs.

There are plenty of jobs in the city!! You'd be able to find a job pretty easily once you finish (about 2 years).

I will caution you--teaching is not an easy job. While it seems you'll have an easy schedule and a lot of time off; you'll have to do a lot of work outside of the job, especially in the first few years. I'm not trying to discourage you. I just want you to know the facts before you pursue a degree and complete life change.

Please e-mail me if you'd like to learn more. I've been teaching education courses at the college level for a few years and I can give you some more advice if you need it.


2 moms found this helpful

For starters, what do you want to teach? Elementary? High School? A subject area? What you want to do will dictate what type of program you'll need to pursue.

Assuming you have a Bachelors degree, you may be able to get a Masters degree and be done within one (a full year including summer) to two years. Again, this depends on what subject/grade you want to teach. Part of your degree program will require you to do several hours of observation (done in addition to the classes you take) and a student teaching experience (usually a semester-long responsibility). If you don't have a Bachelors degree, then it is likely that you'll need to do a four-year program (you can reduce the amount of time by taking summer classes).

Also, assuming you live in the state of Illinois, you should check out the State Board of Education website: www.isbe.state.il.us Admittedly, it is an absolute PAIN in the butt to navigate, but it will have good information. You want to look under CERTIFICATION or something along that line. You might need to take a 'Basic Skills Test' and then when you're just about finished with your program, you will need to take a 'Subject' area test, again depending on what you want to teach. The basic skills test was a piece of cake (simple math, English, and writing) and the subject area test was also pretty easy.

When you are ready to start looking for a job, you can usually find job postings on each of the counties' websites:

Cook - www.cook.k12.il.us
DuPage - www.dupage.k12.il.us
Lake - www.lake.k12.il.us

Additionally, many individual district's websites will post jobs when they become available (under personnel, human resources, or employment). The best time to apply for a job is usually in January/February, but you can submit your materials online at any time. Typically, the best jobs go quickly and can be settled by mid-March to early April.

Since you live in the city, you may wish to look into teacher certification programs at either UIC or Northeastern, as they are likely to be less expensive than say, DePaul or Loyola. I wouldn't worry about the 'best programs'; when you go to interview most schools won't particularly care about the college you attended, but your former corporate experience, references from your teaching/practicum experiences, and your interview responses.

I have a Bachelors, Masters in my subject area, and a Masters in general administration. I've been teaching at the high school level in the Chicago area ever since I moved here 7 years ago. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send me a private message and I can try to help. I can't imagine doing anything else...nor can I ever imagine working during the summer, especially now that I have a baby!

1 mom found this helpful

I worked in advertising for over 8 years before deciding to switch to education. It was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made for 2 major reasons: 1. I love teaching. It is so much more fulfilling than the corporate world. 2. It is the best job to have while also being a mom. I have a 16 month old at home and it is so nice to get home in time to spend a few hours with him every day before he goes to bed (I never would have been able to do that in advertising). Also, having Christmas break, spring break and summers off to spend quality time with my son in invaluable. In order to make the switch, I attended DePaul and went through a joint Masters/certification program. Getting a masters is a good idea if you can afford it and have the time (DePaul is a good school, but more expensive than other programs. As other people have mentioned, there are a lot of good schools out there and it doesn't really matter where you go). With a masters you have an advantage in the interview process (in most private schools, it's a prerequisite) and you will get paid more.

1 mom found this helpful


I have been thinking about the same thing. I have a 13 month old and another one on the way and I want to spend more tiem with them. St. Xaview University has a rally good program, I have been looking into it. You can recieve your masters degree in about 2 years. You might want to look into it,

1 mom found this helpful

Just wanted to add Chicago State to the list of schools that can help you get certified with less expense. Any school of education can take a look at your transcripts and tell you what you need to get certification.

I think you will certainly get all the info you need from the previous poster (I'm a teacher myself and I don't think I knew all that!), but I have a tiny bit of advice for your question.

My bachelor's degree is in education, as is my master's, so I didn't switch careers. But I did get my master's from National-Louis University www.nl.edu and as I earned it while I was teaching, I really feel like it's a great program for people who are working and going to school at the same time. They have campuses all over the place, including downtown Chicago and in Skokie, just off the Edens. National-Louis is a school that is respected among educators and is especially great for people looking to get into education from the business world. While I was getting my degree, I really felt like I never had to choose between work and school - I always had time for both. The only downside is it's expensive. But, it's something to look into.

Next to being a mother, teaching is the most rewarding (and demanding!) profession out there - and it's worth it. And, when your son is in school, having the same schedule as him will be invaluable. It's really the ideal job for moms. I think you should go for it. Good luck!

My husband left the corporate world to start teaching at a private high school, but he didn't get certified first. Private schools can waive the certification requirement for teachers, while public schools can't. The first year of teaching for anyone is difficult, and admittedly he did have a very rough beginning since the last syllabus he'd seen was from when he graduated college 12+ years ago and suddenly he was expected to create several. He is, however, someone who learns very quickly, loves deadlines and thrives under pressure; He had also been a coach and observed other teachers in their classrooms prior to making his decision. I don't want to say the "no certification" route is for everyone, but it is an option.

My sister just started a 15-month program (one night per week) to get her teaching certificate at Timothy Christian. She also had Bachelors degree so just needed the certification.

Hi M.,
You should check out Concordia University in River Forest. You can seek a Master of Arts in Teaching (Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education or Secondary Education). Check out this link: http://www.cuchicago.edu/catalogs/graduate/masters_progra... it will give you an idea about this Elementary Ed. MA program. Concordia's strongest program is teacher education-- so I would definitely check out their College of Education. Give the Office of Graduate Admission a call and see how it would work out for you... ###-###-####.
Good luck!

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