How to Become a Teacher in Alaska

How to Become a Teacher in Alaska

Those who hope to begin an educational career in this state must pursue Alaska teacher certification. This helps to ensure that Alaskan school children receive a high-quality education. There are a few elements that applicants may want to consider before beginning the process.

For example, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree. Additionally, they must also attend a program that offers Alaska Studies. These are courses that cover the unique aspect of the state's history and culture. This gives teachers the opportunity to provide relevant instruction to their students.

Alaska teacher certification also comes with a few required tests. For all areas, students must complete core competency exams in reading, writing, and mathematics. Other tests also apply for areas of specialization. For example, applicants will need to successfully pass an elementary education exam in order to work with young children.

Finally, applicants will need to pass a background check and submit their fingerprints. Upon the successful completion of these and all previous requirements, they will have earned their Alaska teacher certification credentials.

Alaska Teacher Certification

Those who want to know how to become a teacher in Alaska should carefully consider the available certification programs. These programs include Alaska-specific courses as well as those focused on providing attendees with the educational skills necessary to teach.

For instance, some topics that students will have the opportunity to learn about include:

  • The history of native populations and the impact of colonization
  • Educational administration through the lens of Alaska's culture landscape
  • Ecological and geographical elements of the state

In the state of Alaska, there are five approved teacher certification programs that offer this kind of education. Applicants must attend one of these programs in order to meet certification standards. Additionally, these courses will also satisfy the recency requirements.

One popular program for those hoping to satisfy Alaska teaching certificate requirements is the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In addition to being a teacher certification preparation program that's been approved by the state of Alaska, it also offers a variety of online classes. This can help make the process more convenient for some students. The same applies to the Alaska teacher certification reciprocity programs.

These programs may also be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP is an organization that strives to assess the quality of teacher certification programs such as these. Thus, it may suggest a higher quality of education than non-accredited courses. This applies to any program that is meant to lead to an eventual teaching certification.

Alaska Teacher Education Requirements and Alaska Teacher Certification Renewal Requirements

One of the Alaska teacher certification requirements is a certain level of education. Applicants must hold at least a bachelor's degree. While there is no specified major, students may find that an educational-focused course helps best prepare them for the certification exams. Additionally, the degree must be one that comes from an accredited institution. This applies to the school itself and not necessarily the program.

Students must also participate in an Alaska-specific educational course. These must be approved by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development in order to count. In addition to these, students must also complete four mandatory training areas:

  • Sexual abuse awareness and prevention
  • Suicide awareness and prevention
  • Alcohol or drug-related disabilities
  • Dating violence awareness and prevention

These modules must be completed for new and reapplying individuals, making it one of the important Alaska teacher certification renewal requirements.

Required Tests for Alaska Teachers

Those who are wondering how to get an Alaska teaching certificate may want to consider the required tests. There are a variety of tests that potential applicants need to take before they can become certified to teach in Alaska. One of these a test referred to as a basic competency exam. This is the only required test, and applicants have several options for tests that will show their basic competency. As such, students are encouraged to prepare for this test regardless of their area of special interest.

On the other hand, students may pursue these special interests by taking individual certification tests. These are in addition to the basic competency exam. Students may want to consider these as they add qualifications that may be attractive to potential employers. It may also help to make them more well-rounded educators.

Basic Competency Exam (BCE)

There are three areas that applicants must successfully pass: reading, writing, and mathematics. Each distinct test helps ensure that applicants are skilled educators across the board. There are many different potential tests that qualify for the BCE.

For example, applicants may choose to take the Praxis Core, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), or the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA). Test-takers may choose to submit all three scores from one test or combine them from several different ones. Passing score values differ between these tests, and as such, applicants are encouraged to seek out this information prior to the exam.

In order for these tests to count, students must send their official score reports to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. They must also arrange for an electronic score to be delivered from the testing agency directly as well as an official letter from their university.

Specialty Required Exams

Students only need to complete the BCE in order to become certified teachers in Alaska. However, they may also want to pursue specialty certifications, also known as content area examinations. There are currently six tests available via Praxis 2:

  • Elementary (Developmental Area)
  • Middle School
  • Secondary
  • Vocational Education
  • World Languages
  • Additional Development Areas

Each of these Praxis tests includes subtests that focus on content relevant to the subject matter. This ensures a certain quality of education for students within those areas. Additionally, students must successfully acquire the Praxis passing scores on the relevant subtests in order to hold certain positions. For example, students who wish to teach high school chemistry must receive at least a 139 on the Praxis II Secondary Chemistry Content: Knowledge exam. Applicants may take more than one subtest.

Additional Alaska Teaching Certificate Requirements

Those who are not currently employed as certified staff members in an Alaska public school district must submit a fingerprint card. A fingerprint card is a professionally created record that's been signed and dated. In addition to the fingerprints, applicants must also record their residence, citizenship, and other personal details such as date of birth and eye color. In addition to fingerprints, applicants must also pass a criminal history report. These are completed by the Alaska Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Alaska Teacher Licensing Application Process

To begin the Alaska teacher licensing application process, individuals must demonstrate that they are properly educated. This includes a bachelor's degree, Alaska-specific courses, and safety classes such as dating violence. They must also pass a basic competency exam and tests for any area they would like to specialize in.

Once they have passed a background check and submitted their fingerprint card, they can begin the application process in earnest. This includes submitting a standard application and sending official transcripts from their tests and schools. Students must also pay an application fee of $200.00. Finally, a Notary Public or Postmaster must witness and verify the final signature with a seal before the applicant can mail the packet to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

Certification in Alaska for Out-of-State Teachers

Applicants who are already credentialed teachers in a different state will have to undergo a slightly different process to achieve Alaska teacher certification. Similar to in-state teachers, these individuals must have completed a bachelor's degree with an accredited university and achieve passing scores on an approved basic competency exam. Other similar requirements include a fingerprint card, background check, and official transcripts from tests and schools.

As for different requirements, these applicants must have never held an Alaska teacher certification. This also applies to any Alaska alternative teacher certification programs and Alaska Type A teaching certificate qualifiations. Instead, they must hold a current and valid certification from a different state or territory. They must also complete three hours of approved Alaska studies and multicultural courses if they wish to extend a two-year certificate for an extra year. Once these have been met, applicants may fill out the standard application, get it notarized, and send it to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development

Alaska Teacher Employment Outlook & Salary

The state of Alaska has roughly 500 schools divided into 55 school districts. Due to the size of the state, the number of students in each varies by size. Schools in Anchorage, for example, might serve 2,000 students whereas rural areas may serve 20 or fewer. The projected number of job openings and average salaries in these Alaskan schools vary between areas of specialty.

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there are roughly 3,380 Alaskan elementary school teachers. The annual mean wage for these professionals is estimated to be $74,720.

On the other hand, the BLS estimates that there are about 2,470 Alaskan secondary school teachers. The Bureau also estimates that the annual mean wage for these positions is around $75,790.

Expert Contributor

Bryan McMahon

Bryan McMahon, M.A. is a high school biology and special education teacher in New Jersey with over 14 years of experience. He has hundreds of hours of experience tutoring aspiring teachers to take the CSET/CBEST exam suite. He has successfully passed the science and special education Praxis exams. Bryan completed a B.S. in Education from Seton Hall University and an M.A. in Teaching from Mangrove College.

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