Do you know someone with subject-matter expertise who wants to become a teacher, but doesn’t have the time or financial means to go back to college full time? We have solutions.

The Iowa Department of Education has several pathways to becoming a teacher, which were specifically created to streamline knowledgeable experts into Iowa classrooms.

“The pathways were created to fill specialized needs and to recognize expertise in the field for people who are not traditionally prepared as a teacher,” said Joanne Tubbs, administrative consultant for the Department’s Bureau of Educational Examiners (BOEE). “Some are meant to take care of difficult-to-fill jobs, but others are just recognizing the wealth of experience and knowledge we have throughout the state. These pathways answer the question, ‘How do we bring in content experts in a nontraditional way?’”

Current teacher pathways include:

  • Teacher Intern Program: This pathway requires a bachelor’s degree, typically in the content area that will be taught. In the first year, the candidate takes primarily online courses, which enables the candidate to continue working. In the second year, the candidate becomes a full-time intern – actually teaching in the classroom – while receiving full teacher pay.
  • Content Area Specialist Authorization: This pathway requires a master’s degree or higher in an endorsement area, and teaching would be limited to the degree. The candidate receives a three-year authorization to teach while taking pedagogy coursework online. Afterwards, the educator receives authorization every five years.
  • Native Language Teacher Authorization: This pathway requires a bachelor’s degree in any field, and the candidate must be fluent in their native language other than English. The candidate receives testing to ensure full comprehension of their native language. The candidate will receive a three-year teaching authorization and must take pedagogy classes. Further authorization is granted every five years.
    Career and Technical Authorization: This pathway is focused on individuals who are experts in career and technical positions, which includes anything from welding to culinary arts. The pathway requires a number of hours in the field for which the candidate would be teaching. No college degree is necessary. While completing pedagogy coursework, the educator would be put on a three-year authorization, followed by five-year increments thereafter.

In addition to the four BOEE pathways, the Department has also partnered with Iowa Workforce Development to offer the Teacher-Paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship (TPRA) program. The TPRA initiative is designed to allow high school students and adults to become certified paraeducators and even earn an associate degree. In turn, current paraeducators can work towards a bachelor’s degree that can be used for teaching. School districts partner with community colleges and four-year institutions to provide instruction, and all participants can learn and get valuable hands-on experience while working in the classroom.

During 2023, 100 educators received authorization to teach through the Career and Technical Authorization pathway. One hundred educators also received authorization to teach through the Teacher Intern program. A total of 15 educators received authorization to teach through the recently offered Native Language Teaching Authorization and seven through Content Specialist Authorization. For TPRA, 726 apprentices have pursued certified paraeducator and teacher pathways since the start of the program.

To learn more about teacher pathways in Iowa, visit the Department’s licenses and authorizations webpage. Additional information on TPRA can be found on the Iowa Workforce Development site.

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