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Start Teaching Before You Get Certified (Houston)

Earn your teaching certificate and a salary at the same time.

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More than ever, school districts are working hard to find high quality teachers. If you’ve already earned your bachelor’s degree, you may be able to start your teaching career sooner than you think.

Alternative certification allows you to get on-the-job experience (and a paycheck) while you get certified to teach. Here, we’ll go over the steps to get started on this pathway.

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What is alternative certification?

Alternative certification is a non-traditional route to becoming a teacher. This innovative route allows you to apply for certification, start teaching and earn your standard teaching certificate at the same time.

Through alternative certification, you can earn a salary, take classes that accommodate your work schedule, and complete your certification coursework in under one year. 

How is this different from standard certification?

In a standard teaching program, you typically complete your teaching program coursework, followed by an unpaid student teaching experience. This pathway can take longer and often costs more than an alternative certification program.

Who should consider alternative certification? 

Alternative certification is a great option for anyone with a bachelor's degree who is looking to transition into teaching, without having to start over from scratch. This includes career changers and paraprofessionals.

Are you a school staff member? Our School Staff page has more information and resources just for you! 

How to get started on alternative certification

  1. 1

    Make sure you're eligible

    To qualify for alternative certification, you’ll need to:

    • Have a bachelor’s degree. For most alternative certification programs, you’ll need a GPA of at least 2.5.
    • Meet any coursework requirements. For most teaching programs, you’ll need a certain number of college credits in your teaching subject. 
    • Pass any required tests. For some teaching programs, you’ll need to take the Pre-Admission Content Test, or PACT, in order to enroll. (The TEACH for Houston Testing Guide can help you prepare!)
  2. 2

    Decide what you want to teach and choose the teaching certificate you want to earn

    The teaching certificate you earn will depend on the subject and grade level you want to teach. The TEACH for Houston Certification Guide has a full list of your options. 

  3. 3

    Apply to teaching programs and enroll

    In Houston, you’ll need to enroll in a teaching program that is specifically for alternative certification. (You can see a list of your options in the Program Options section below.)

    For some programs, you’ll apply for teaching jobs before you apply to the program itself. If this is the case, you should apply for jobs in a school district that partners with your desired teaching program. Check with individual programs to make sure you understand their process and where you should apply for jobs.

  4. 4

    Create a certification plan

    Your teaching program will help you create a certification plan. This will outline your courses and let you know what exams you’ll need to take to become a fully certified teacher.

  5. 5

    Apply for teaching jobs in a Houston school district

    Your teaching program may be able to help you with this step! Your teaching job must be in the same level and subject area that you plan to teach once you’re fully certified. 

    The Region 4 Education Service Center District Jobs page has job boards for the greater Houston area. You can also check out the KIPP Texas or YES Prep websites for opportunities. 

    Visit our Resume Guide for tips to craft your resume, plus a free downloadable template.

  6. 6

    Apply for an intern certificate

    Once you have been accepted into a teaching program and secured a job, your program will give you permission to apply for your intern certificate. This is a special permit that allows you to teach while you complete your alternative certification program.

    You’ll apply through the Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) website. Your program staff can help you complete the application. You’ll also need to complete a background check.

    You’ll need to pay a fee to receive your intern certificate. Visit our Fee Reimbursement page to learn how TEACH for Houston can help with the cost!

  7. 7

    The Texas Education Agency will review your application

  8. 8

    Start teaching!

    Once you have your intern certificate, you’re ready to step into the classroom and start your new career.

You can learn more about alternative certification at the Texas Education Agency Alternative Certification Overview Page

Talk to a coach

Have more questions? A TEACH for Houston coach can help you decide if alternative certification is right for you. Set up a 1:1 coaching session for free!

Houston Alternative Certification Programs

Check out these certification programs in the Houston area.


  • KIPP Relay logo

    KIPP Relay Residency

  • Relay GSE logo

    Relay GSE

  • Rice logo

    Rice University

  • Rice logo

    Rice University

  • teachHOUSTON logo


  • Teaching Excellence logo

    Teaching Excellence

  • TWU logo

    Texas Woman's University

  • University of Houston logo

    University of Houston

  • UH Clear Lake logo

    University of Houston - Clear Lake

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to more questions about alternative certification and teaching in Houston.