Skip to main content
A Teach For America corps member leading a class of students seated on the floor.

While a background in education isn’t a prerequisite for you to apply to Teach For America, our partner regions will require you to complete steps to become highly qualified in the subject(s) you'll teach in the fall. Most regions also require corps members to work toward full teaching certification during their two-year commitment. Learn more about earning your teaching license and getting hired at a school.

Becoming Qualified to Teach

Most corps members are considered “nontraditional” teachers, since they haven't completed a traditional course of study in education before starting in the classroom. This means you will need to earn a temporary teaching license in order to qualify for teaching jobs in your assigned region. 

Teach For America staff members in your assigned region will help guide you through the process. They’ll make sure you fulfill initial requirements and meet deadlines to become eligible for teaching positions in your region.

Exams & Other Requirements

In order to earn a temporary teaching license, you will need to pass state exams and will likely be required to complete education coursework while you’re teaching. Many regions will host test prep webinars, provide study materials, and/or connect you with peers who have already completed requirements to help you better prepare. If you do not pass your exams, you will need to retake them. In some cases you may need to defer your start date until you pass all required exams.

Transferring Your Teaching License

If you already have a teaching license in another state, your region can also provide more information on transferring your license.

Select a region to view more information on qualification requirements and testing costs for each region.

You will be responsible for completing these steps:

  • Preparing for your subject test and/or general knowledge exam(s)
  • Passing your exam(s)
  • Paying for the cost of exams and any additional costs of licensing
  • Completing other required paperwork such as fingerprints and background checks
A corps member writes on the whiteboard while a student raises a hand in the background.
Most corps earn a temporary teaching license in order to qualify for teaching jobs in their assigned region.

Earning Your Full Teaching Certification

While your temporary teaching license will help you qualify to teach in the fall, most regions will also require you to work toward full teaching certification. The process for becoming certified typically takes one to two years and begins as soon as you accept your offer to join the corps.

Certification Options

Each state has different specific requirements and rules regarding earning credentials. Depending on your region, you can complete coursework through a local college or university, or through another provider such as a local school district. You will likely be required to attend courses during evenings and weekends throughout all or part of your two years in the corps. 

Certification programs vary from region to region, and generally fall into three categories:

  • University Program: Corps members complete certification through their region's certification partner, usually a local university. 
  • Teach For America Program: Corps members complete their certification directly through Teach For America.
  • Hybrid Program: Corps members take some courses through a university partner, but still compete their certification through Teach For America. 

You should consider what type of program matters most to you when deciding which regions to preference on your application. Teach For America staff members in your assigned region will provide necessary information and help streamline the process for you.

Earning Your Master's Degree

You may also have the option of extending your certification into a Master’s Degree while serving in the corps.

Select a region to learn more about options for becoming certified and earning a master's degree.

You will be responsible for completing these steps:

  • Enrolling in a certification program
  • Paying for the costs of certification
  • Completing all coursework for the certification program
Teach For America corps members often complete graduate coursework at a university.
Many corps members complete their certification coursework through a local college, university, or other provider.

Getting Hired at Your School

Joining Teach For America does not mean you will automatically have a teaching job. Corps members are hired full-time employees of their school, district, or charter organization (not Teach For America). Your salary and benefits will be the same as other beginning teachers working for the same employer.

The Hiring Process

Each region has partnerships with local school districts that hire Teach For America corps members. In order to gain employment as a teacher, you will need to go through a hiring process which may include applying for open teaching positions and interviewing with principals and other staff within these partner schools.

Timelines for Hiring

The timeline for when you'll be hired varies widely from region to region. You can expect that hiring will take place some time between when you join the corps and before the school year starts in the fall.

Teach For America staff in your region will share more information on specific timelines for hiring. They will also support you during the hiring process by matching you with open teaching positions, assisting with resume review and interview practice.

Compare regions to see average salary ranges for teachers across different regions.

You will be responsible for completing these steps:

  • Preparing your resume and cover letter
  • Applying for open teaching positions
  • Interviewing with school principals
  • Completing hiring paperwork
“When I hire a teacher, I look for passion and energy first. I need to know I’m hiring someone who wants to be right here at this point in time knowing the challenges we face as a community and school.”

Amy Bays

Former Principal, Lynn Camp Elementary

Corps members go through a hiring process which may include interviewing with principals and other staff.
Corps members go through a hiring process which may include interviewing with principals and other school staff.

Making it to Your First Paycheck

Once you’re in the classroom, it can take from 3-6 weeks after the start of the school year to receive your first paycheck from the school district. There are several financial aid programs available to ease the transition into the classroom and help with moving expenses and certification costs.