Just as doctors and lawyers have to pass exams after graduation and earn their license to practice medicine or art in their state, all teachers must first earn certification and licensure that are in accordance with their state’s requirements. These requirements vary greatly among states, though all require a student to pass a certification exam (or four, in New York’s case) in order to become a licensed teacher.
Many teachers who wish to teach a particular subject must take several exams in order to become licensed to work. A common exam administered by many states is the Praxis exam. This exam is offered in two segments; the first is the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators, which assesses a candidate’s knowledge in the core subjects of English, science and mathematics. The second is the Praxis Subject Assessment exam, formerly known as Praxis II, which assesses subject-specific knowledge, as well as subject-specific and general teaching skills needed for new educators.
Graduate degrees in education are optional for teachers in some states and required in others, depending on the level of education and subject one wants to teach. In some states, middle school teachers and above must have earned a master’s degree. University professors all must usually hold a Ph.D. in the subject they want to teach. Those who earn a doctorate degree in education will then be equipped to instruct others who wish to become teachers of their particular subject area.
A master’s degree offers those who have already earned their bachelor’s degree an opportunity to further explore the area of education they are most passionate about, as well as increase their job credentials. Students who choose to earn their master’s or doctorate degree in education may also elect to study a particular subject, such as business, law or health care. Other advanced topics such as child development, adolescent education and science education can also be pursued and will prepare graduates for greater opportunities and a higher salary.