Careers in Education for Veterans and Military Spouses

Every May, teachers are celebrated for their hard work and contributions to enriching the lives of students through education. Teacher Appreciation Week originated around 1950 when a teacher advocated for her profession and Eleanor Roosevelt convinced Congress to formally recognize teachers.

For the nearly 1 million military-connected students, teachers are essential. They have been tackling big challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. As schools across the globe closed, teachers rapidly translated what they do for students at school into virtual classrooms. Their continued support for their students during these times deserves respect and recognition.

An additional challenge that adds to the strain that teachers are facing right now is the shortage of teachers – especially in certain underserved areas of the country. To combat this shortage and recruit talented teachers, alternative routes to teacher certification have been created.

A growing number of teachers earn teaching licenses and certification through these alternative programs. These programs may be more feasible than traditional routes for veterans and military spouses.

Routes to Teaching for Veterans and Military Spouses

Troops to Teachers

Service members within 3 years of separation from the military are eligible for the Troops to Teachers program. This program supports transitioning service members in meeting education and licensing requirements to become teachers, assist with job placement, and financial aid opportunities.

JROTC Instructors

The Army JROTC program is an accredited high school elective that teaches leadership, citizenship, life success, cultural awareness, and wellness skills and lessons are aligned with ELA Common Core Standards. This program is taught by qualified retirees. JROTC Instructors are certified by the military and employed by school districts through cost sharing with the military.

Opportunities with DODEA

After earning a teaching degree, the Department of Defense Education Activity offers career opportunities to veterans and military spouses. DoDEA does have specific requirements for teaching.

Alternative Routes to Teaching

According to Teacher Certification Degrees, there are several alternative routes to teaching. Although requirements vary from state to state, they often share similarities among alternative routes to teaching:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in the subject you’d like to teach
  • Complete a teacher preparation program approved by the licensing or certification board in the state where you wish to be licensed
  • Obtain a temporary license or certificate to begin teaching while you complete an alternative program
  • Pass the same exam required of all teachers in your state – generally a Praxis test
  • Specialized types of teaching certificates – like special education or early childhood education – are not commonly issued via alternative routes

Teacher Certification Degrees provides the following insight on alternative routes to teaching:

Formal Alternative Teacher Preparation – Similar to traditional teacher preparation, but teacher preparation is completed after already earning a bachelor’s degree. This typically involves completing a master’s degree and can take 1-2 years to complete. A growing number of these programs are available online.

Transition to Teaching – Also similar to traditional teacher preparation, but coursework is offered through the program rather than a university and student teaching requirements are often offered earlier in the program. Examples include:

  • American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)
  • Teach for America
  • TNTP Teaching Fellows

Career and Technical Education Certification – Teachers who license or certify via this route are referred to as vocational, occupational, technical, or career teachers. Formal work experience is often substituted for a bachelor’s degree.

In-District Training – The states of Deleware, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have alternative pathways to teaching that involve training through mentorship within a school district.

Teaching Equivalency and Portfolio Evaluations– These less common pathways involve approximately 3 years of teaching experience in areas that do not require completing professional teacher preparation (private or post-secondary). Programs like these are available in Arkansas, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.

Where to Start

Whichever pathway you choose to become a teacher, it will be necessary to understand the requirements outlined by the Board of Education in your state and the specific requirements for the school system where you intend to teach.

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