Route options

When choosing a route, it comes down to what works best for you.

 
Pathways to becoming a teacher can be a traditional route, an alternative route, or a CTE plan.

 

Understanding the difference will help you make the best choice on your journey into the classroom. Not all preparation programs offer the same pathways, so check that your program offers the option you are considering. 

So what’s the difference?

A traditional route is generally for individuals who would like to complete their teacher preparation program as part of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education. Other options include programs that allow individuals with a bachelor’s degree to earn a teaching certificate without having to pursue an additional degree, or to earn a teaching certificate in combination with a master’s degree. 

An alternative route is designed for individuals wanting to change careers, or for those already working in the school system. Alternative routes are for individuals who want to pursue a teaching career and help alleviate the teacher shortage crisis in Washington. These routes tend to be shorter, more convenient, and more affordable.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) plans are specifically designed for individuals who want to teach in an area where they have occupational experience and expertise, such as agricultural sciences, business and marketing, family and consumer sciences, health science, or technology education.

Learn more about your options

The traditional route to teaching begins with earning a bachelor’s degree and completing a teacher preparation program. You should choose your major based on the grade level and subject(s) that you want to teach. You may complete your teacher preparation program while earning an undergraduate degree in education, or after earning a degree in a specific subject area. 

Already have a bachelor’s degree?

You can explore programs that offer post-baccalaureate certificate options or a master’s degree plus teaching certificate. You will need to check with individual programs to ensure they offer these pathways.

All teacher certification programs include a real world teaching experience, which is often referred to as student teaching or a mentored internship.

Route 1 is designed for district employees, including paraeducators, with an associate degree or the equivalent in credit hours. This route takes about two years to complete. To enroll in this route, you must be pursuing teacher certification with an endorsement in a subject matter shortage area. 

You will complete both your bachelor’s degree and the requirements to earn your teaching certificate, including your mentored internship. Route 1 is designed to allow candidates to continue working in their district while completing their teacher preparation program. 

Route 2 is designed for district staff, including paraeducators, with a bachelor’s degree who want to teach in a subject matter shortage area. This route takes one to two years to complete.

Candidates in this route complete intensive summer coursework, followed by a full year of coursework, and a mentored internship. Route 2 is designed to allow candidates to continue working in their district while earning their teaching certificate.

Route 3 is designed for individuals with bachelor’s degrees who are not employed by a school district at the time of application. To enroll in this route, you must be pursuing teacher certification with an endorsement in a subject matter shortage area. 

Route 3 candidates complete intensive summer coursework, followed by a full year engaged with a school district as a mentored intern while completing further coursework.

Route 4 is designed for individuals with bachelor’s degrees, who are employed by a district and hold a limited certificate, and who want to be certified with an endorsement in a subject matter shortage area. 

Route 4 candidates complete intensive summer coursework, followed by a full year employed by their district in a mentored internship while also completing further coursework. If employed on a conditional certificate, you may serve as the teacher of record, supported by a well-trained mentor.

CTE plan 1 may be right for you if you have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 45 quarter hours of study in the CTE area you would like to teach. One year of occupational experience (2,000 hours) in the area you would like to teach is also required. The occupational experience must have been completed in the most recent ten years. CTE plan 1 results in a residency teacher certificate as well as an initial CTE certificate.

Completers of plan 1 become endorsed in one or more broad area endorsements including: agriculture, business and marketing, family and consumer sciences; and technology education.

Learn more about CTE plan requirements.

CTE plan 2 may be right for you if you have three years (6,000 hours) of occupational experience and are interested in teaching. Experience in the CTE area you would like to teach must have been completed within the past ten years. 

Completers of plan 2 are certified in the specialty area endorsement related to their previous occupational experience. 

Learn more about CTE plan requirements.

After choosing a pathway, take the next step and pick your program! 

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