How to Become a Teacher In Arizona

Becoming a teacher in Arizona gives you the opportunity to work in a variety of professional situations. From the unique challenges of teaching in urban schools in Phoenix or Tucson to access to underserved populations in rural areas and Native American reservations, Arizona has a wealth of teaching opportunities. Consider your overall career goals and teaching specialty area when pursuing your teaching qualifications in Arizona. If you’re wondering how to become a teacher in Arizona, understanding the requirements and job climate is essential.

Arizona Job Outlook

With a population of 6.5 million, Arizona has just over 1 million school-aged residents, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. With 227 school districts, the state has 2,380 public schools and many more private education opportunities. Although the total number of schools in Arizona is above the national average, the state has a relatively high student-to-teacher ratio at 21.42 students per teacher. This student-to-teacher ratio varies by school, with numbers often higher in underserved populations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) reports that the unemployment rate in Arizona was 7.9 percent in March 2013, slightly above the national average of 7.5 percent. However, employment in the education sector has risen 1.7 percent in the past year, indicating that there is a positive job outlook for teachers in Arizona.

Salary Considerations

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average teaching salary in Arizona is $46,617. As a starting teacher, you can expect to make an average of $31,689, although holding a master degree increases this salary. Salaries at private schools differ by institution. In addition to the basic salary, teachers at public schools receive health insurance and retirement plans that are competitive with those found in the private sector.

Basic Teaching Requirements in Arizona

You need to to fulfill several requirements to become certified to teach in Arizona.

Education Requirement

Applicants must have successfully completed a bachelor degree from an accredited postsecondary institution (completion of a teacher-preparation program must be approved by the Arizona Board of Education). Although many teachers decide to major in education, this is not strictly required. Completing at least 30 semester hours of education courses including at least eight credits of practicum may also be acceptable.

There are numerous opportunities in Arizona to fulfill the education requirement. The state has several universities and colleges that offer qualified education programs. Look into online degree programs in education, which can be a great way to obtain your bachelor degree and fulfill this requirement. The state also offers post-baccalaureate teacher-preparation programs for those who have a degree in a field other than education. This is a great way for professionals to transition into a teaching position.

Examination Requirement

In addition to completing a bachelor degree, applicants must demonstrate professional knowledge by passing two examinations:

  1. Professional knowledge in education. Either the National Evaluation Series Assessment of Professional knowledge or the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments Professional Knowledge Exam fulfill this requirement.
  2. An exam in a specialty area is also required. These examinations range from Early Childhood to Spanish to Biology.

Teachers who are certified in another state can typically achieve certification in Arizona without retaking this exam, provided that their qualifications are equivalent to Arizona standards.

Alternative Paths to Certification

Arizona offers an alternative method of certification for individuals who did not complete a formal baccalaureate program in education. Applicants must have a bachelor degree, pass several exams and enroll in a two-year teacher-preparation program. While working as a teaching intern in an academic classroom, you can gain hands-on teaching experience while obtaining your certification. This is a great approach for recent college graduates or individuals looking to change careers in midlife.

Benefits of Becoming a Teacher in Arizona

Pursuing a career in education can be very rewarding for individuals who enjoy working with children or teenagers. Becoming a teacher in Arizona gives you the opportunity to work with a variety of populations. Schools in the inner city and rural areas (including reservations) are traditionally underserved, providing job prospects for beginning and veteran teachers. Educating the next generation of citizens provides incredible rewards for those who love to teach.