How To Become An Alternatively Certified Teacher In Oklahoma

UPDATE December 9, 2012: After the Oklahoma State Department of Education updated their website, many of the links below stopped working. I have updated the links so that they now lead to the information you need. In some cases, the links now go to a non-SDE website. In those cases, I have made note of what site I'm sending you to. (And yes, I ended that in a preposition. Ha!)

Some of us know at an early age that we want to teach. So we prepare throughout college and enter our first classrooms shortly thereafter.

Then, there are those of use who take a less direct path. Like me.

I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was seven. But then I writing sidetracked me and I ended up with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and several years experience as a newspaper reporter.

And that's not all.

After giving birth to two wonderful children and spending 10 years helping work at home moms like myself start and manage their businesses, I realized I really enjoy teaching.

So I considered my options.

The first option: Go back to school and earn a teaching degree, either a second bachelor's degree or a master's degree. Problem? College degrees cost lots of money and I'm still paying for the first one.

The second option: Parlay  my bachelor's degree and subsequent newspaper experience into a alternative certification. This option provided to be much less expensive, though it required some commitment and a bit of cash.

If you're interested in becoming an alternatively certified teacher, you'll need to meet certain qualifications:

  1. You must have earned a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 from a college or university accredited by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
  2. You will need to have majored in a field of study that corresponds to an area of Oklahoma certification for a Secondary Certificate, elementary/Secondary Certificate, or a Career and Technology Education Certificate. You can see the list on the Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators site itself.
  3. You must have at least two years of work experience related to the subject area of specialization if you have only a bachelor's degree with no graduate work in a related area.

Does this sound like you? If so, I recommend you start the process by heading to the Oklahoma Alternative Certification FAQ page.

  1. Fill out the Alternative Placement Program application.
  2. In your packet that includes the application, include an official transcript from each college or university you have attended.
  3. Include a current resume indicated your related work experience and the date resume prepared.
  4. Include a $50 check payable to the Oklahoma Alternative Placement Program.

You will receive written notification stating whether or not you're been accepted into the certification program within about six weeks. Do nothing until then.

Once you've received your notification, you can sign up for the Oklahoma General Education Competency Examination (OGET). This is a four-hour text that includes multiple choice and constructed response sections.

After you've passed the OGET, you can take the Oklahoma Subject Area Competency Examination(s) related to your field of study and work experience.

Passed the tests? Congrats! But you're not done yet.

You must now complete an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation background check and a Federal Bureau  of Investigation fingerprint-based criminal history check. You'll receive a fingerprint card that you can take to your local sheriff's department for completion or to the State Department of Education offices near the State Capitol. You'll need to mail in the card, along with the application for the Teacher Competency Review Panel, your current resume (again), a written explanation of why you want to be a teacher and a $100 application fee.

Yes, you read that right.

You'll need to go before the review panel for an interview. But, as a former painfully shy person, I can tell you it's not that bad. The panel consists of one person and the interview is short and friendly. At least, that was my experience.

Once you've been approved by the review panel, you'll receive your license. Viola!

 

 

 

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

  1. Did you have to do the 18 semester hours or 270 PD clock hours to get your standard certificate??

    1. Hi Becky!

      I did not have to do the semester hours or the PD clock hours. My original alt. certification letter told me that I had to, but then the ODOE sent me a letter a few months later telling me that I did not. I called them to verify this and they confirmed that I did not have to do the extra hours. I recommend you call the state and ask them to confirm your requirements.

  2. I recently called the OK State Department of Education to inquire about this program. One area that I am confused about is the post-baccalaureate work that you must do. The woman told me that I had to have at least 1 hour of post-baccalaureate work. I am not sure what this means entirely. Can you help?

    1. Hi Christian!

      Thank you for asking. The lady at the OSDE is saying that you need to has an hour of graduate classes. I think you might be able to substitute professional development CEUs for that, but you’ll have to confirm with the state.

      I was told that I needed X number of credits or PD hours, but then I received a letter stating that I did not need to complete any additional training. I confirmed this through the OSDE.

      I recommend you call them back and ask them what you need to do to fulfill that requirement.

      I hope this helps!

      Michelle

  3. Thank you for your info. I’m a teacher of 34 years and things have changed so much. So I have some questions. My daughter in law is graduating this Dec. 2013 with a bachelors degree in human family science Early care concentration, minor in psych. She took a on line degree program from NSU TALEQUAH OK. Her advisor advised her to go the alternative route for certification in early childhood. But some people said she could not do it without the 18 education hours. She has worked in the public school for 10 years as a paraprofessional/teachers aid. We was hoping this would count for her 270 clock hours. Since you understand alternative we was wanting your opinion. Thank you

  4. I was so happy to read this post. I have been thinking of becoming a teaching since May and after reading this I sent in my paperwork today. My question is how long did the overall process take you? I am hoping to have my certification by this next school year but am not sure if I am being too ambitious to believe the process is able to go so quickly.

    1. Hi Holly!

      Thank you for your question. I’m pretty sure I sent my application in sometime during the summer of 2009 and received my approval by the end of August. I took the OGET in September, the first OSAT in December and the second OSAT in February 2010. I received my license sometime between then and the beginning of the 2011/12 school year. I don’t remember exactly when though. I could probably dig up those records, but grades are due Tuesday and I’ve got a ton of papers to grade… still. I hope this helps though.

  5. Hi, you stated you held a bachelors in journalism and now you teach. What area do you teach in now? The reason I ask, is I have a bachelors degree in business administration and now find myself wanting to teach Elementary education.

  6. Do you know if they reject a lot of applicants? I recently sent my application in and I am in the waiting process. I am in desperate need of a career change so I was just curious. I too have a degree in business administration with a minor in history.
    Also, if they send you a letter of approval do they just state what you tests you can take? Can you qualify for more than one test?

    1. Hi Lorena!

      I have no idea whether or not the SDE rejects applicants. I imagine they do if applicants don’t meet the all the stated alternative certification qualifications.

      One of the qualifications is to have “an area of Oklahoma certification for a Secondary Certificate, Elementary/Secondary Certificate, or a Career and Technology Education Certificate,” according to the SDE. You can find the list of certification areas on the CEOE website. You’ll need to click the OSAT Testing Requirements headline to see the certification areas.

      It looks like, if someone has a business administration degree, you should be able to obtain a Business Education certificate. Since you have a history minor, you should do well on the history OSATs, as well. That will make you more valuable to a school.

      1. This thread has been so helpful in helping me understand different avenues for the Alternative Teaching Certificate. I have recently been thinking about getting my teaching certification. I agree with your comment on the Post-Baccalaureate Certification costs and time. I met with an advisor this week, and it will end up costing so much additional money and time.

        I wanted to reply on this message thread because I too have a BBA but with a Finance Major. So I am trying to determine which certification tests I could take, and what areas that would allow me to teach in. Would it be all the tests listed under the Mathematics section as well as the Business Education certificate?

        Do you know if this would allow me to teach at the Elementary level? That is the part I am confused on. I have heard that with this Alternative Teaching Certificate you can only teach at the Secondary level.

        I look forward to hearing your response.

        Thanks
        Erin

        1. The OSAT you initially take must correspond to your bachelor’s degree. However, once you pass that, you can take any other tests. As a journalism major, I was required to pass the Journalism OSAT. But once I did that, I was able to take the English OSAT, as well.

          I am still researching your elementary education question, and will get back to you when I find an answer. Thank you!

  7. I was so happy to see this post! I received my BA in Liberal Arts-English last spring and I’ve since been working as a journalist for a local newspaper. I enjoy my work, but I have always dreamed of being a teacher. I was looking online on how to become certified and your post was the only thing that was easily understood. I do have a couple of questions. Will I need to complete a residency program? And does the 2 years of related experience need to be after college or can related experience obtained during college count? I’ve only had my BA for 11 months, but my experience in journalism, copy writing and technical writing goes beyond that.

    1. According to my teaching certificate, a resident teacher committee was required during my first year of teaching. However, I taught at a very small school. My mentor teacher had one foot in retirement, and her room was in a separate building, so I don’t feel like I really received as much mentoring from her as I’m sure I needed. The principal only set foot in my room a handful of times, though he seemed willing to answer my questions when I went to his office to ask them. Most of my assistance came from teacher mentors whom I found on my own. All that said, the school is required to provide the residency program committee during your first year.

      I think the related experience must be at a professional level. I worked for a local newspaper during my college years, so I counted that experience. I did not count my experience on the college newspaper staff.

      1. Were you paid during your residency? I’ve heard it both ways. I won’t count writing for the college newspaper as experience, but I did work as a freelance copywriter for a year during college. I wrote marketable descriptions for an online bath & body care company. Would this be considered work-related experience by the committee?

        1. As an alternatively certified teacher, I did not have to complete a residency. That said, I knew I needed classroom experience and references in order to be hired, so I subbed in my local school district for a couple of years. I did receive payment as a sub. My first teaching job was a full – time paid position.

          1. Oops! Sorry I didn’t answer that question. I’m watching my daughter’s softball game, and she’s playing catcher right now. Proud mama!

            Yes, I would absolutely count your copy writing experience.

  8. So, I have a bachelors of Science in Environmental Health and Safety Management.. Does this mean I’ll be able to teach in the state of Oklahoma? I’ve been researching this and I’m confused on whether I qualify to take any exam or certification test to become a teacher.
    Would calling a school in my school district be any help to me?

      1. Thank you for taking care of Mike, Becky. I’ve been swamped with next year’s yearbook contracts and state testing. I think three Mondays have hit me at once today.

  9. Hello, thanks for the information. I have been in youth ministry for 15+ years, considering a career change into teaching. My bachelors is in Theology, but I am a teacher. Do you know if this would “transfer/crossover” to a teaching area for the program. Thanks for any help or advice.
    -Cole

    1. Hi Cole!

      At a cursory glance, I can’t see a clear path for your degree to crossover into a certification area for the State of Oklahoma. If you’d like to look, you can see more information about the additional paths to alternative certification. You can also contact someone in the Teacher Certification department at (405) 521-3337 ext. 212.

      That said, have you considered teaching at a Christian school? With your particular degree, you may qualify for an Association of Christian Schools International certification. You can look at their certification documents here.

      I hope this helps!

  10. I have so many questions! First I was trying to go the traditional route but that fell through. As part of that route though they had me already take the OGET and OSAT. Will I have to retake these since I am now doing alt. cert.? Also I have now turned in my last application and had my fingerprints taken at the the dept. of education, background check has been run, checks paid, will they be sending me a letter or something telling me what to do next? How much longer can I expect this to take until I am finally certified?

  11. I tried to post before, but I am unsure if it posted. I have 3 primary questions. 1. I was trying to do the traditional route and that fell through. But they made me take the OGET and OSAT before I had to quit. Will I need to retake them? 2. I have already submitted my last application when I went in to scan my fingerprints, will they send me a letter or call me when it’s time to do the interview? 3. Do you think this will all be done by this coming school year? Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Sarah! You should not have to retake the OGET and OSAT, and yes, they’ll contact you when it’s time to schedule your interview. It’s been several years since I did this, but I think you should have enough time. If not, and if you’re needing certification to take a teaching position in the fall, your school can seek emergency certification for you while you wait for the alt. certification. Thank you for stopping by and asking your questions. I have I’ve helped!

  12. I am also seeking this path right now! I took the OGET early this month and get my results in August. I have my OSAT in English scheduled for September with expected results in October. Do you think I would be able to send everything in and get my interview done and definitive answer in time for a job in January? I’m nervous about being able to find a job as an ELA teacher midway through the year. Do you know if those positions are at all easy to come by? Or would I be better off trying to seek an emergency certificate starting teaching next month? I worry if I start teaching now while I’m still testing that I could struggle with balancing the stress of being a new teacher and having to pass the OSAT.
    One last question: do you know of any good OSAT English study aids? I can’t seem to find anything apart from the one provided by the CEOE. Thanks!

  13. I’m still in college right now, and am wanting to get done the fastest way I can since I’m older. If I graduate with a General Studies Bachelors what would that make me eligible to teach? I am a paraprofessional with years of experience with Sp-ed/ELL kids, and o have subbed the last 6 months before I started college
    Thanks for your help!

  14. Are you able to become a principal if you got your master’s degree in Education Leadership even if you have an alternative standard certificate?

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