Having a strong grasp of reading and writing is one of the most important elements of education; without it, a student will struggle in all other classes. Your job as an English teacher, therefore, is vital.
Teaching Language Arts in Texas means you will teach students the core skills needed to read, write, and appreciate creative works of all kinds. For elementary grades, it will be your job to set a strong foundation in English. If you teach secondary grades, you will build on the skills taught in lower grades. You will introduce your students to subjects such as critical writing and world literature. If you desire to become an English teacher in Texas, below are the basic guidelines to help you achieve this goal:
|Complete a Degree and Teaching Program|
|Take Texas Exams for Teaching|
|Seek a Texas State Certificate|
|Pursue Professional Development|
Step 1. Complete a Degree and Teaching Program
Becoming an English teacher in Texas begins with an approved degree program preparing you to teach at your desired grade level. While many new college students will participate in a teaching program that awards a bachelor’s degree (the least amount of training), some students see this as the optimum time to earn a master’s degree. If you are just graduating from high school, this is one decision to consider.
Initial Certificate Program
A bachelor’s program will offer general education courses as well as those specific to the grades you will teach. For instance, if you teach young children grades K-6 you will study language arts as well as other subjects such as math and science. Because of this, the courses you take will be rather broad in scope. A teacher who teaches seventh through twelfth grade will also take general courses, but will have more classes in English because they will teach these courses throughout their workday.
The bachelor’s degree is comprised of a variety of courses broken down by subject and purpose. Initially you will take general education followed by more specific courses in your major. As you move up in your education, you will take courses that are specific to certain skills in teaching. These classes allow you to become proficient in classroom operations. At the end of your program, you will have a set number of hours required to participate in student teaching.
If you plan on pursuing a master’s program at this time, your courses will continue to build on the ones taken in your undergraduate classes. You will also have a master’s thesis. This is usually a research project and paper. Possible master’s programs for you to enroll in include:
- Master of Arts Early Childhood Education Grades K-6
- Master of Arts Early Childhood Education Grades 4-8 (middle school)
- Master of Arts Secondary Education Grades 8-12 (high school) with a focus on Language Arts
Alternative Certificate Program
Texas State Board of Education has developed the Alternative Certification Program for those who are considering a change in careers. This program works well for students that have already earned a degree, but never completed the teacher preparation part of the program.
This plan gives you the opportunity to teach with a certificate that is temporary. While you are enrolled in this program, you are contracted for full-time employment with all salary and benefits given to new teachers. After you complete the program you will be qualified to apply for the Standard Certification. While you are an intern, you will have a mentor who will oversee your work, guide you, and evaluate your abilities.
Step 2. Take Texas Exams for Teaching
The next step is the basic skills test. Some college programs will require this as a prerequisite to the teaching program. When you enroll in your educational program, check with your school to determine if this will be a requirement at that time. If not, you will still need to take the exams prior to certification.
The test that you will have to take during your educational program is known as the Pre-Admission Content Test (PACT).
The next test that’s required will determine how well you do in reading, math, and writing. The test for this section is known as the Generalists Tests. After the 2015 school year this test will be referred to as the Core Subject test.
The next test that you will need to take is a core content test. This exam will show your proficiency in English language arts. There are different grade-level tests:
- English Language Arts grades 4-8
- English Language Arts grades 7-12
The final test, the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) exam, is designed as a teaching theory test. After these are complete, you are ready to move on to certification.
Step 3. Seek a Texas State Certificate
The first certification level is the Standard Certification in Texas. You will be issued this certificate when you have completed all the steps for testing and education. Each standard certificate will expire on the same date.
The application process for the Standard certification requires an online account. You will access this on the Certification Online System (ECOS). Just follow the instructions and fill out all the fields completely. Be sure to have your SSI number and Texas driver’s license information handy if you don’t have this memorized.
Fingerprint and DOJ check
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has assigned Morpho Trust at an IdentToGo facility to handle the fingerprint process. You will go through IdentToGo portal to complete this requirement.
- The fee is $39.50 for the DOJ check.
- After paying the $39.50, a FAST Fingerprint Pass will be issued.
- Now schedule your fingerprinting appointment.
- Bring the FAST pass to the center along with your government issued ID.
- When you have completed the scan, you will pay $9.95 for a copy of the scan.
- Your fingerprints are usually ready in about a week.
Step 4. Pursue Professional Development
When it is time to renew your first certificate, you will take150 units of continuing professional education to qualify for this step. The professional development units can be completed from any approved organization, including your own school. Some of these hours may count on your college transcripts. It all depends on where you take them and what courses you enroll in.
When you completed your initial education, if you only completed a bachelor’s degree, the professional development requirement can also count towards earning a master’s degree. If you consider all the additional benefits (salary, seniority, highly-qualified status), this may be something to consider at this time. Seek the help of an experienced counselor at your school for advice on how to maximize your professional development courses.
Texas English Teacher Salaries
Texas is known as the Lone Star State, named for its struggle to become independent from Mexico. Texas is also known for many other things such as the world’s largest rose garden in Tyler, the world’s first rodeo in Pecos, and one of the world’s largest cattle populations.
It also has a large student population. There are over 8,700 schools in the state, which means that there are plenty of teaching jobs in Texas. Teachers here will earn an average starting salary of $34,234. Many districts will pay on par with the state average and some will offer even more. As you consider where you want to teach in Texas, you may want to look at which school districts have the best starting salaries.
For example, an English teacher with up to two years of experience will receive a starting salary of $49,100 in Houston’s schools. In Dallas it would be $45,100. These are large metro areas in Texas. By contrast, in some of the smaller towns, the salary may be less.
As an example, in Longview the starting salary for a high school English teacher would be $40,280. In order for that teacher to earn a salary on par with the entry-level teacher in Dallas or Houston, they would need to be bilingual and hold a Ph.D. These extra qualifications would pay an additional $4,000 for bilingual, $1,000 for a master’s degree and $1,500 for the doctorate placing the salary closer to that of the larger city salaries.
Here are a few other entry-level salaries in other Texas cities to consider:
- Amarillo – $43,750
- Waco – $43,000
To see more teacher salary data for other metro areas around Texas view the table below: