How long does it take to become a teacher? Developing as a teacher takes time. You’ll need a teaching certificate, one or more degrees, plus any extra credentials needed by your state, district, or school.

Because of this, the question of how long does it take to become a teacher does not have a straightforward solution.

The amount of years you’ll spend preparing to enter the classroom depends on a variety of factors, including your current level of education, state requirements for teachers, your area of interest, and the grade level you want to teach.

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It can take four years to complete a bachelor’s degree and six months of teacher preparation, or just over a year to complete an alternate program for teacher certification.

It may take two years to complete a master’s degree in the subject you teach before you may teach in a high school. As a result, everything we share here is meant to get your research going.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Teaching?

Depending on the teaching degree, the answer to this question varies. For students who are just starting college, bachelor’s in education programs normally last four years.

In all 50 states, a bachelor’s degree in education is the minimal requirement to sit for the state teaching licensing tests.

For recently graduated high school students interested in becoming teachers, these programs offer the quickest path to teacher licensing.

The longest and most time-consuming step toward becoming a teacher is earning a bachelor’s degree in education, but it is also the place where the majority of teachers learn about pedagogical techniques, classroom management, learning styles, educational psychology, and other fundamental subjects related to teaching.

The majority of full-time and part-time Bachelor of Science in Education programs have a practicum component that enables students to amass the necessary student teaching hours before completing their degree.

Aspiring teachers are more likely to enroll in a one- or two-year master’s degree in teaching program if they already hold bachelor’s degrees in education at the level of other topics.

You could pursue a Master of Education (MEd), Master of Science in Teaching (MST), or Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with a teaching-related emphasis.

If you choose to choose this path, be sure your program offers a teacher certification track with curriculum-integrated student teaching hours.

Can You Teach Without a Degree?

To begin a career as a teacher, you will require a bachelor’s degree, albeit it need not be a bachelor’s in education. Instead, you can opt to major in your field of study and minor in education—especially if becoming a high school teacher is your ultimate aim.

After completing your four-year undergraduate program, you’ll be eligible to sit for your state’s licensing tests.

You might be able to enroll in a non-degree teacher preparation program at a college or university and become a certified teacher more quickly if you already hold a bachelor’s degree in another topic, even one unrelated to the grade level or discipline you wish to teach.

Programs for teacher training are also managed by nonprofit groups, private businesses, and state governments.

The length of these programs varies according to the state’s certification criteria, the type of coursework taken (synchronous or asynchronous), and the design of the programs.

Although some of these programs are self-paced and can take up to two years to complete, the material in many of them can be finished in a year or less.

A typical academic year is allotted for the paid, supervised teaching time that is a component of teacher preparation programs.

How long does it take to qualify to teach at an elementary school?

It takes around four years to complete the relatively simple process of becoming an elementary school teacher. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in elementary education is the typical path to becoming an elementary school teacher.

The good news is that your teacher education program probably includes the teaching internships and student teaching experiences that are necessary in your state, so you won’t need to fulfill any additional requirements once you graduate.

After earning your degree, you’ll be qualified to take any required teaching tests in your state.

Is becoming a middle school or high school teacher more difficult?

Middle school and high school instructors must be subject-matter experts, as opposed to elementary school teachers who must be generalists.

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As a result, teaching in middle or high school is a little more challenging. Some aspiring teachers engage in bachelor’s degree programs in middle grades education or secondary education that let them select concentrations in the subjects they want to teach.

Some people minor in education while majoring in their chosen fields. Others choose to major in both their field of study and education.

The good news is that training to teach in middle and high schools usually doesn’t take much longer than training to teach in elementary schools. In four to five years after graduating from high school, you can begin teaching.

Also, if you enroll in an alternate teacher-preparation program and already hold a bachelor’s degree in your subject area, you can start teaching in a year.

How long does it take to qualify to teach as a substitute Teacher?

Not certain if you want to work as a teacher? To determine whether teaching is for you, think about starting out as a substitute teacher.

There are various standards for subs in each state. In some states, substitute instructors must adhere to the same criteria as regular teachers. In some states, a high school diploma is required to work as a substitute (provided they can pass a background check).

Some states don’t have a national standard for substitute teachers. Contacting the department of education is the simplest approach to learning more about the requirements for becoming a substitute teacher in your state.

If your state has a unique substitute teaching licensure category or needs full licensure for long-term substitute teachers, finding a job as a sub can take you as long as finding a job as a teacher.

If you live in a school district that has a dire need for subs, you might be able to start covering classes in as little as a few weeks.

Why do just a small percentage of teachers obtain master’s degrees?

It all depends on your state’s laws and your personal preferences. To become a teacher, you do not need to complete a one- or two-year master’s degree program in education.

But in a few places (such as Connecticut, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York), instructors must return to graduate school within a certain time frame in order to keep their licenses or earn the highest level of teaching credentials.

Even if it is not necessary for licensure, a master’s in education or teaching can be useful. Because of this, a lot of educators who don’t work in those states attend graduate school.

In fact, master’s degrees in teaching and education account for more than 20% of all master’s degrees granted, demonstrating how popular these degrees are.

Since taking credits toward a master’s degree is one of the simplest methods to fulfill continuing education requirements, around 50% of teachers hold graduate degrees.

Also, instructors with graduate degrees can earn anywhere between $1,400 and $11,000 more per year than those without.

Recommended read: What Education Is Needed To Become A Teacher

Furthermore, being a teacher can be accelerated by obtaining a master’s degree in teaching or education. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the one you want to teach, you can start teaching in just a year or two by enrolling in a master’s program with a licensure track.


If you want to be a leader in education, you might want to obtain advanced degrees. You may be qualified for positions affecting curriculum design, public policy, and community outreach with executive-level expertise.

Think outside the box and look into roles in the education industry other than those of a teacher or professor when and if you decide to pursue education beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Education now extends well beyond the walls of our institutions’ classrooms and hallways. Professionals with teaching experience or specialized knowledge in education are also needed by private businesses and governmental organizations.

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