Best 7 Teacher Certification Programs in Alabama 2024

Published On: March 3rd, 2024·By ·

Alabama, like the rest of the country, has been hit by the teaching shortage. To attract more teachers, they have opened alternative pathways to certification, increased teaching pay, and boosted benefit packages, including health insurance and a fully funded retirement fund. They have also introduced the TEAMS program to further enhance pay in STEM subjects. 

The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) requires a certificate to teach in their classrooms. Traditionally, certification was obtained by obtaining a bachelor's degree geared towards education and completing the teaching preparation requirements.

Alabama's alternative pathways allow candidates with a bachelor's outside of education to switch careers without obtaining a second degree. Instead, they enroll in a teacher's preparation or an alternative master's program, saving time and money. Another bonus to alternative pathways is many of these programs are online. 

Alternative teacher certification programs vary in length, cost, and flexibility. Nor do all programs offer the full breadth of teaching fields, areas, and specialties. To help you find the best option for your needs, we've looked into the various programs available in the state and drawn up a list of the best teacher certification programs in Alabama. 

teacher sitting at blackboard

The Top 8 Teachers Certification Programs in Alabama for 2024 

Alabama is desperate for more quality teachers. To help increase recruitment, ALSDE has approved many alternative certification programs. These programs are typically designed for busy adults who have day jobs and may also have a family. Thus, classes are held online, at night, or on the weekends. 

Some of the best alternative teacher certification programs allow candidates to work for pay while they study on a provisional or conditional teaching certificate. The option makes a career change much more manageable than programs that utilize unpaid internships to complete their fieldwork hours.

Below are the top 8 teacher certification programs in Alabama. Many of these provide a master's, which opens up opportunities for higher pay and career advancement. However, there are also more flexible and affordable options for those who want to get into teaching faster. 

1. Teachers of Tomorrow Alabama 

Teachers of Tomorrow is the top alternative teaching certification program in the United States. The AAQEP-accredited online curriculum has been producing quality educators since 2005. As of 2023, 80,000 teachers have been certified through their flexible, affordable, self-paced program. 

Teachers of Tomorrow allows candidates to work in an Alabama school for pay on a conditional certificate. The program takes 1-3 years to complete, depending on the candidate's schedule. 

There is no application fee, and the flexible pricing plan allows you to purchase modules ($245-$775) as you progress. At the end of 2023, the total program cost is $3,100. 

Teachers of Tomorrow highlights include:

  • Over 200 staff members supporting their candidates
  • Flexible training
  • Researched-based pedagogy
  • Continually updated curriculum
  • Exclusive job fairs
  • Exam preparation resources
  • Scholarship opportunities
  • Recent graduate discount

2. University of West Alabama

University of West Alabama (UWA) offers the traditional pathway to teaching and an alternative teaching certification program. Their online classes can lead to a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or Master of Education (M.Ed). Their program leads to certification in many areas of teaching, including the following:

  • English Language Arts, 6-12 (MAT or M.Ed)
  • Special Education: Collaborative Teacher, K-16 (M.Ed)
  • Biology, 6-12 (MAT or M.Ed)
  • Elementary Education, K-6 (M.Ed)
  • Mathematics, 6-12 (MAT or M.Ed)

The programs take two years. Candidates complete 45-50+ credit hours, depending on the chosen area, and an internship. 

UWA 2023-2024 graduate tuition fees are $429 per credit hour, and the online course fee of $55-$300. There are additional fees to consider, including the $75 application fee. 

3. Auburn University

Auburn University is ranked as Alabama's best college. Their education department offers the traditional pathways to teaching and an alternative certification option within their M.Ed. program. A sample of the many areas in the M.Ed. program include:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • English Language Arts
  • Music Education: Instrumental
  • Science Education: Chemistry
  • Social Science Education: History
  • Spanish Education

The alternative M.Ed. programs require 30-44 credit hours and a minimum of four semesters to complete, with one semester dedicated to a full-time internship. However, some undergraduate courses may also be required depending on the candidate's bachelor's and chosen M.Ed area. 

Graduated 2023 fall tuition fees for Alabama residents is $595 for the first credit hour with $916 student services fees. Veterans and military members may be eligible for benefits or assistance. More information can be found on their general tuition page

4. University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama provides in-person and online courses. Their education department offers teaching degrees through the traditional pathways and an alternative master's program that leads to certification. Candidates can select from a variety of teaching areas, including:

  • Biology
  • Business/Marketing Education
  • Mathematics
  • Music: Choral
  • Physical Education

Courses take around 33 credit hours to complete. The number varies, depending on the area chosen and the candidate's bachelor's degree. In addition to coursework, there is an internship required. 

In-state Fall 2023 graduate fees are $495 per hour, with an additional $60 fee per hour for those enrolled in the College of Education & Human Sciences. They have a tuition calculator to help estimate the total cost of a degree. 

5. Stillman College 

Stillman College is a private school in Tuscaloosa. Their education department offers the traditional pathways to teaching and an alternative route through their Provisional Certificate in a Teaching Field (PCTF) program. 

PCTF comprises 12 course credit hours, all taught through their online system. Candidates can teach in a school provided they meet the state's requirements for a provisional certification. 

PCTF tuition is $495 per course credit hour. However, Stillman alumni can take it for free, provided grant funds have not been exhausted. 

6. University of Montevallo

The University of Montevallo has been serving its state since 1896. The College of Education & Human Development offers in-person programs and has won awards for its online offerings. They offer the traditional bachelor's and master's programs for teaching and an alternative master's degree program for education. 

The alternative master's program is divided into three main categories:

  • Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Elementary School
  • Middle/High School (Secondary)

Within these categories, candidates have options. For instance, secondary certification areas include:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Family and Consumer Science
  • History
  • Mathematics

Full-time students need at least four semesters to complete the programs, including an internship or a full-time teaching job, using a provisional certificate. The latter option is only open to those in the pilot program as of 2023. 

The in-state 2023-2024 graduate tuition fee is $438 per credit hour. However, there are additional fees to consider. Please see their tuition fees page for full details. 

7. The University of Alabama in Huntsville

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) has two academic departments in its College of Education:

  • Department of Curriculum and Instruction
  • Department of Kinesiology

Physical education teachers aside, most K-12 educators fall in the purview of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Alternative pathway seekers can take part in the UAH MAT Program. They offer many areas, including:

  • Chemistry
  • Elementary
  • English Speakers of Other Languages
  • Physics
  • Music: Instrumental

Their master's program requires a minimum of 43 credit hours of graduate coursework. Some undergraduate courses may be required depending on the teaching field and the type of bachelor's degree held by the candidate. 210 hours of field experience is also required to complete the program. 

Full-time graduate tuition is $11,058 for the 2023-2024 school year. However, there are other costs involved, including $1,054 course fees. 

Steps to Obtain the Teacher Certification in Alabama

The process of becoming a teacher varies between states. In Alabama, the steps to certification are as follows 

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree. The United States requires a bachelor's degree to teach in public schools. Those following the traditional pathway usually obtain a degree with a focus on education. Those using an alternative pathway can still become a teacher even if their degree is in an unrelated field. However, having a subject-related degree, such as mathematics or English, can make it easier to become a secondary school teacher. 
  2. Complete a teacher preparation program. Also known as an educator preparation program, these can be offered by a university or through an alternative pathway provider. Those on the traditional pathway often do this step in conjunction with their degree. 

However, those using the alternative pathway often find it easier and cheaper to use a flexible online program that caters to the needs of career changers. 

  1. Pass required exams. Many states require candidates to pass exams before being granted full certification. In Alabama, teachers must pass the relevant Praxis exams for their grade level and field and the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). 
  2. Pass a background check. Many states require educators to undergo a background check to enhance the safety of students and fellow teachers. In Alabama, teaching candidates are fingerprinted, which is used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) to do a background check.
  3. Submit teacher certification to the ALSDE. The appropriate teacher certification form must be filled out and submitted using the TCERT Portal with all supporting documents, including transcripts and proof of passing exam scores. 
  4. Pay the application fee. Application fees are based on the type of certification and whether it is a first-time application or a renewal. 

Cost of Teacher Certification Programs in Alabama

Teacher certification programs in Alabama vary from around $3,100 to tens of thousands. Unfortunately, many programs that initially sound affordable contain many extra fees that can significantly raise the cost. In addition, certification requires paying for the exams, the ALSDE submission fee, and background checks. 

When evaluating teacher certification programs, determine all the fees and inquire if the courses require additional study material or books. Many institutions make their pricing sound lower by framing it as “per credit hour.” However, their program may require 30-55 credit hours to complete. 

Keep in mind that not every program allows candidates to work in a paid teaching position while completing their coursework. Some require unpaid internships, and others count them as “credit hours” that candidates are billed for at the same rate as their coursework. 

Lastly, inquire about scholarships, payment plans, financial aid, and discounts for new graduates, members of the military, and veterans. Every little bit can help make your career change to teaching a more affordable goal. 

Certification Options for Teachers in Alabama

Alabama has a number of certification options for teachers that correspond with their qualifications and education. Generally, the higher a teacher's certification, the higher the pay bracket. Thus, while provisional and conditional certifications are an excellent way to begin teaching, further training will enhance career opportunities and income. 

Provisional Certificate in a Teaching Field (PCTF)

The Provisional Certificate in a Teaching Field (PCTF) allows bachelor's degree holders enrolled in a teacher certification program to teach. The certification is open to most teaching areas, except for:

  • Early education
  • Elementary education
  • Special education
  • Career and Technical education

The certificate is issued in a series of three 1-year certificates in one teaching field, providing three years of validity. Before applying for a regular professional certificate, they must acquire three years of teaching experience. 

Conditional Path to Certification (CCTF)

The Conditional Path to Certification (CCTF) is for candidates enrolled in a teacher certification who want to teach in an area impacted by the teacher shortage, such as biology, physics, or math. 

The CCTF is valid for three years, and candidates can apply for a regular professional certificate after one year. 

Professional Educator Certificate (Class B, A, AA)

The Professional Educator Certificate is the regular teaching certificate used by most professionals. Candidates must satisfy all ALSDE teaching requirements.

The professional certificate is valid for five years and is classified by the teacher's level of education. Bachelor holders have a Class B. A class A is awarded to those with a master's degree. A Class AA is for teachers who have completed a 6-year program.

Higher Education Transitional Certificate (HETC)

The Higher Education Transitional Certificate is a three-year certificate that can only be issued upon the request of a school district's superintendent. The candidate must have a person with a minimum of 72 semester hours of teaching experience at an accredited college or university. 

Candidates may apply for a professional educator certification after a full year of teaching, completing relevant coursework, and passing the necessary exams. 

Emergency Certificate

An emergency certificate can be issued if requested by the school district's superintendent. The school must prove that no qualified teachers are available to fill the role. To qualify, the teaching candidate must have a bachelor's degree or higher. 

The certificate is valid for two years but cannot be upgraded to professional certification. 

Average Salaries for Teachers in Alabama

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average teacher salaries in Nevada as of May 2022 for elementary, middle, and secondary school range from $48,430 – 55,510. 

The breakdown of teacher salaries by grade level is as follows. 

Secondary School:

  • Lowest – $46,710
  • Average – $55,050
  • Highest – $63,200

Middle School:

  • Lowest – $45,860
  • Average – $55,510
  • Highest – $63,890

Elementary School

  • Lowest – $46,210
  • Average – $53,620
  • Highest – $61,910


  • Lowest – $29,630
  • Average – $49,202
  • Highest – $85,210

These figures rank Alabama as average for teacher salaries in the United States. However, since Alabama is ranked #2 for best cost of living, an educator's income goes further than it would elsewhere in the country. 

Teacher salaries vary due to factors such as level of education, certifications, additional skills, and years of experience. The grade level and subjects of an educator can also impact salaries, where areas of higher demand often pay more. Lastly, local income levels heavily influence school district budgets and the pay ranges they can offer. 

According to, the top 10 highest-paying Alabama cities for teachers in November 2023 are the following:

  1. Edwardsville ($56,115)
  2. Fruithurst ($56,115)
  3. Graham (56,115)
  4. Muscadine ($56,115)
  5. Ranburne ($56,115)
  6. Spring Garden ($56,115)
  7. Ryland ($55,028)
  8. Normal ($55,028)
  9. Madison ($55,028)
  10. Meridianville ($55,028)

Job Outlook for Teachers in Alabama

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, job growth in teaching has been around half a percent. While that may not sound like a substantial increase, the growing demand is on top of a teaching shortage, where school districts are struggling to fill existing roles. At the start of 2023, state news coverage reported that there were 1,500 positions still without a teacher. 

The US Department of Education has been tracking the shortage hitting the nation. For the 2023-2024 school year, Alabama was most desperate for teachers in the following areas:

  • Mathematics, PreK-12
  • General Science, Prek-12
  • Special Education, PreK-12
  • Elementary Education in Core Subjects, PreK-6

Historically, from 2020-2022, the state has also had difficulty finding teachers in the following areas:

  • Biology, 6-12
  • Physical Science, 6-12
  • Language Arts, PreK-12

Become a Certified Teacher in Alabama

Becoming a certified teacher in Alabama will lead to a dynamic and rewarding career. The state is desperate for more highly qualified teachers, making it the perfect time to enter the profession. Also, the state's extremely low cost of living allows a teacher's salary to go further than it would elsewhere in the country. 

Alabama has provided several pathways to becoming certified. The most flexible and affordable option is through Teachers of Tomorrow. You can complete the program in as little as a year and can teach for pay as you finish your coursework. 

Don't hesitate to begin making a difference in our nation's next generation. Begin your journey towards a fulfilling vocation. If you have any questions, SimpleK12 is always happy to help. 

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