How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas

Students who decide to pursue careers in education can find a dizzying list of requirements that vary by state. Here’s a rundown on how to become a teacher in Arkansas.

Arkansas Fast Facts and Relevant Information for Teachers

Arkansas is the 32nd-most-populous state in the United States, with just under 3 million residents. Many of these residents are families with school-aged children. The state has over 480,000 students enrolled in public schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Arkansas has 1,128 school districts throughout the state. Although some of these are clustered in metropolitan areas such as Little Rock, the state is also home to a large number of rural school districts.

Arkansas public schools employ over 34,000 teachers to serve its classrooms. This translates to a student-to-teacher ratio of 14.07-to-1, which is below the national average of 15.97-to-1. Many Arkansas teachers enjoy the positive learning environments and flexibility that comes with smaller classroom sizes, making the state an attractive option for beginning teachers.

How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas: Know the Requirements

Traditional Educator Preparation Program

Arkansas offers a traditional route to teacher licensure, which is the track that most educators follow. To become a licensed teacher in Arkansas, you must successfully complete a bachelor degree from an accredited post-secondary institution. Furthermore, you must complete an approved teacher-preparation program, commonly an education program from an accredited college or university. Several online degree programs also offer excellent teacher-preparation curricula.

To demonstrate competency in a particular area, teachers applying for licensure must complete one or more Praxis II assessments. These exams assess advanced teaching skills as well as particular content areas. Educators can add one or more licensure areas to a teaching license by passing particular Praxis II exams. An alternative method of adding a licensure area is to demonstrate successful completion of post-secondary coursework in that area. Applicants must submit an official transcript to the Arkansas Department of Education detailing the coursework in that subject area.

Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure

Some people hope to become teachers but have not completed an approved teacher-preparation program. The Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure permits eligible candidates who hold a bachelor degree or higher to follow an accelerated path to licensure. In this program, candidates work as classroom teachers under professional supervision while completing teacher-preparation requirements.

This alternative pathway is a two-year track, including obtaining extensive teaching experience, developing a portfolio, completing summer and weekend teacher preparation modules, and passing required assessments. Those who complete the program are eligible to apply for a standard Arkansas teaching license. This is a great way for college graduates with a degree other than education to become teachers in Arkansas.

Benefits of Becoming a Teacher in Arkansas

One of the greatest benefits of becoming a teacher in Arkansas is that it is a great state in which to work. Arkansas had a lower-than-average unemployment rate of 7.1 percent as of April 2013, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) figures. Furthermore, the state expects growth in its education sector over the coming years. In the past year, the education and health sector added jobs, growing 2.5 percent.

Average Arkansas teaching salaries are commensurate with other states in the area. Beginning teachers with a bachelor degree can expect to earn an average of $32,679; with experience, the average salary grows to $45,034. Arkansas has a relatively low cost of living, making it an affordable place to live on teaching salaries. Candidates who hold a master degree can expect even greater starting salaries, which also grow with teaching experience.

One of the most attractive features of becoming a teacher in Arkansas is the opportunity to work with diverse groups of students. Many of the state’s schools are in rural or underprivileged areas, making teaching there a unique but rewarding challenge. With the National Center for Education Statistics reporting standardized test scores below the national average, many of these schools need high-quality, well-qualified educators to close the gap. The array of work environments — inner city, suburban, or rural — provide Arkansas teachers a wealth of opportunities to improve their skills and make a difference in the lives of the state’s children.