Learn to Teach

Alaska needs teachers who want to make a difference in the lives of our state’s children and to improve the quality of life in our communities.

We need more teachers who know our state well: its history, geography, economy, cultural richness and diversity, languages, and beauty. Currently Alaska hires more new teachers from outside of the state than it does those who’ve been educated in Alaska. Teachers are in demand in many parts of our state, and especially in rural areas. Certain subdisciplines in the profession, such as Special Education and Math/Science--are in demand in communities large and small. There is great desire in the state to educate more teachers from minority backgrounds—particularly Alaska Native teachers—so that the makeup of teachers across the state mirrors the student population and demographics of our communities.

If you’re considering a teaching career, the University of Alaska has many options to choose from. You’ll find campus-based programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at all three UA universities. You’ll also find ‘fast-track’ graduate programs leading to teacher certification, including a one-year Master of Arts in Teaching program. You’ll find distance programs that often do not require that you live near a UA campus.

Nearly all these programs expect you to spend significant time in K-12 classroom settings working with experienced teachers. This gives you a first-hand understanding of the profession and helps you build a network of mentors and professional colleagues.

The University of Alaska system is increasing coordination and alignment of its Education programs statewide—including creation of the Alaska College of Education based at the University of Alaska Southeast. All UA Education programs are nationally accredited. You’ll find quality education programs at all three UA universities--in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau.



Steps to Becoming a Teacher

1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

All states require K-12 public school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Other future teachers, especially those seeking secondary credentials, will earn a degree in subject area such as biology, mathematics, English, Alaska Native languages, or history. Education students study the pedagogy of teaching and take the PRAXIS Core and PRAXIS II in a content area. Many of these graduates will then enter into a one-year Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program to become certified.

2: Engage in Student Teaching

Gaining classroom experience is a must for teachers. Aspiring teachers must have a certain number of hours of supervised educational experience in order to sit for licensure. Student teaching can be performed during the pursuit of the bachelor’s degree, completed during an internship, or finished as part of a Master of Arts in Teaching program.

3: Get Certified or Licensed

Those who intend to teach in public schools must be licensed or certified. Certification typically follows grade level, with separate licensures for preschool through third grade, first through sixth (or first through eighth) and seventh through twelfth.

The two main types of teaching credentials used in Alaska are the Initial Certificate (valid for two years with a possible one-year extension, nonrenewable) and the five-year, renewable, Professional Certificate. To advance from the Initial to the Professional Certificate, you must teach for at least two years, complete a teacher preparation program, and take required courses. There is also a Master Teacher Certificate (valid for ten years, renewable) available for teachers who have earned National Board certification.

For an Initial Certificate, Alaska requires that applicants pass the Praxis 1/Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators, or an equivalent basic competency exam from one of a number of other states.

4: Continue with Higher Education

Public school teachers are required to complete a minimum number of continuing education or professional development course hours in order to maintain their state license or certification.

Though teachers can begin their work with a bachelor’s degree, many public schools encourage their teachers to earn a master’s degree. Those who earn the master’s degree might also see the possibility of higher pay, greater job flexibility and easier advancement into administration positions.

Further, teachers who wish to be recognized as standing atop their profession should consider obtaining National Board Certification, a voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond state licensure. To obtain National Board Certification, teachers must complete a rigorous peer-reviewed certification process that includes submission of videos of their teaching and student work samples as well as pass a three-hour examination.

Hear from students in the PITAAS Program

Preparing Indigenous Teachers & Administrators for Alaska Schools

Mary Folletti: https://www.facebook.com/SHInstitute/videos/1015441221863108/

Michael Baldwin: https://vimeo.com/234010177

Jasper Nelson: https://vimeo.com/157370834

Josh Jackson: https://vimeo.com/157370601

Heather Dickens:  https://vimeo.com/216013849

Karen Coffey:  https://vimeo.com/218038797

Andrea Durny: https://vimeo.com/232988657

Erica Browitt:  https://vimeo.com/206540496

Popular Teaching Degrees

Early Childhood Education

In this degree program aspiring teachers learn how to teach and work with young students, typically up to age eight. Principles and theories in early childhood education and development are emphasized, giving students the skills the need to work specifically with children.

Elementary Education

An elementary teacher helps children up to grade 8 develop academic and social skills and positive learning habits in an enthusiastic, stimulating, and positive classroom environment. This can be a rewarding career, as elementary educators help foster the social and intellectual development of their students. Since most elementary teachers provide instruction in all subjects, they typically lead a single class of children through the school day.

Secondary Education

Teachers who want to work with high school students can choose a secondary education degree. This prepares them for the unique challenges of the high school classroom while they gain extensive knowledge in the subject they wish to teach. Those who earn their secondary education degree are often prepared to teach in middle school as well.

Special Education

Working with children with special needs requires unique education and training. Those who pursue a special education degree are prepared to handle the unique needs of students with learning or developmental disabilities as well as emotional, behavioral, or physical disabilities.

Advanced Programs in Teaching

Additional certifications and licensure are available in reading, mathematics, and educational technology. The Advanced programs are geared toward extending and developing the practicing teacher's classroom skills and abilities.  Applicants to these programs must have a Bachelor of Education degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution or a current teaching Certificate.

Education Administration

Those who choose to pursue a degree in education administration will have at least three years experience in a public school setting or intend to pursue their doctorate and move into research and curriculum development. This degree allows graduates to move freely among the various teaching levels if they choose to work directly with students.











No matter where you enroll in a University of Alaska teacher preparation program, you’ll find talented faculty, supportive student services and financial aid staff, and helpful advisors. All of them are committed to your success as a future teacher.

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