Teacher Professional Development Certificates Options in 2024 – Free and Paid

Published On: February 22nd, 2024·By ·

Teachers know that learning doesn’t end when you step outside a classroom. We learn and grow our entire lives. That’s why teachers must pursue professional development throughout their careers. These courses help them stay up-to-date with new and emerging technology, curriculum changes, and the latest research in child development. 

In addition, the teaching profession is constantly evolving. Consider the stories from our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents from their school days. The strategies and techniques for discipline, classroom management, lesson planning, and instruction have drastically changed. It takes a commitment to lifelong learning to stay on top of it. 

Our guide highlights the various professional development options and how they can help elevate a career in education.  

Asian school teacher with students raising hands.

Why Teachers Seek Professional Development

Teacher professional development empowers educators to meet the evolving needs of their students and progress as an educator. While teachers learn from their peers and their students, courses in professional development provide outside knowledge in a focused space that hones skills, freshens up strategies, and adds new tools. 

As educators enhance their careers through professional development, they gain value as a teacher. It opens potential benefits such as:

  • Increases salary
  • Provides an edge in the hiring market
  • Inspires greater success in the classroom
  • Broadens your network
  • Creates a more fulfilling and satisfying career

Professional development resources are numerous and come in many forms. Online options are becoming increasingly more attractive than in-person classes and conferences. Advantages include:

  • Greater affordability
  • Heightened flexibility, allowing educators to fit in their training around their jobs and family
  • Many offer certificates and degrees
  • Some provide opportunities to interact with teachers in different states and countries

What Is a Teacher Professional Development Certificate?

A teacher professional development certificate provides documentation that an educator has completed a series of courses on specialized skills and knowledge. The documentation can come in various forms, such as:

  • Paper or digital certificate 
  • Paper or digital diploma
  • Badge
  • Micro-credential 

These can be used or displayed on:

  • Resumes
  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Email signatures 
  • Online profiles, such as LinkedIn
  • Provided on-demand to potential employers, school boards and administration, parents, or PTAs

Teacher professional development certificates allow educators to grow and advance in their careers, boosting their credentials and the profile of the school they work in. They also assure students, parents, and the greater community that teachers and schools are committed to providing quality education.  

Teacher Professional Development Certificate Options

Educators who want to obtain certification in professional development have more options than ever before. However, not all professional development certifications are of the same caliber. Consequently, not all carry the same weight or respect with school districts and colleagues. 

We looked through the numerous online professional development resources and certificates on offer and are highlighting some of the best. We examined the materials and courses on offer, their duration, cost, flexibility, and other benefits. 

1. Simple K12 

Simple K12 is the leader in providing online professional development for K-12 teachers. Their flexible service provides live and on-demand training sessions, workshops, webinars, and access to shared and downloadable resources. 

They have a variety of flexible membership plans, including a free option for those curious to explore what Simple K12 has to offer:

  • High-quality and up-to-date training created by teachers for teachers
  • Interactive learning experience
  • Anytime access to their extensive library of training content
  • 30-minute virtual training sessions
  • 60-minute hands-on learning workshops
  • Progress reports and tracking 
  • 24/7 online support
  • A community network of peers to share ideas and collaborate
  • Certificates of completion 

Simple K12 offers a broad range of courses and training aimed at various grade levels, subject areas, and specialties to ensure the numerous needs of educators are met. 

Some of their wide offering of topics include:

  • Technology integration
  • Collaborative learning
  • Classroom management
  • Gamification & game-based learning
  • Virtual learning
  • Career and technical education

2. Alison

Alison is a free online teaching and education platform that provides courses and support through their website and app. Participants can work towards professional development certificates by taking CPD-accredited, 2–5-hour long courses on topics such as:

  • Working with students with special needs
  • Autism awareness and support
  • Identifying child abuse and neglect
  • Instructional planning for successful teaching

Once the course is completed, participants can purchase a certificate for $22-$43 to showcase their new knowledge. There are also paid membership options for those who want to view content ad-free and have access to features such as their CV builder. 

3. EdWeb Net

EdWeb is an award-winning learning network that provides free, live webinars for educators worldwide. They keep archived recordings, so the webinars can be watched anytime, providing maximum flexibility to learn and earn certificates. 

Certificates are earned after a minimum of 40 minutes of attending or watching a webinar, and there may be a corresponding quiz. 

EdWeb provides many topics, including:

  • Math fluency
  • Equity and access for students with learning disabilities
  • STEM
  • Differentiated instruction

Check if EdWeb is approved in your state by using their handy, interactive map

4. MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare allows the public to tap into MIT’s Open Educational Resources, such as lecture notes, exams, videos, and teaching material. Teachers also benefit from the interactive Educator Initiative Page explicitly curated for educators. Tools and materials can even be used in the classroom. 

The only drawback to this vast wealth of world-class resources, courses, and knowledge is that you can’t earn any credit or certification. 

5. TeachersFirst

TeachersFirst is an online platform that provides educators access to an extensive collection of classroom and professional resources in addition to professional learning tutorials. Membership is free, but certificates are only available on specific modules to keep down costs. 

Professional learning tutorial topics include:

  • Classroom management
  • Rubrics
  • Differencing instruction
  • IT and technology

See their FAQ page to find out more about how to register for specific workshops and if they are approved for professional development in your state. 

6. Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek

40 Hour Teacher Workweek is the brainchild of Angela Watson, a former classroom teacher. Course objectives are to help education professionals avoid burnout and attrition by providing them with the tools and time management skills to create a sustainable career. 

Prices for courses start at $39 for the condensed, six-week teachers’ Fast Track program. You can also purchase access to summits and presentations for under $20. Material is provided in video, PDF, and audio format. Other course programs available include:

  • Leadership, designed for school administrators
  • Full-year, to give teachers full support
  • Instructional coaching, to assist coaches in streamlining workflow

7. Professional Learning Board

Professional Learning Board ® has provided flexible, online professional development to teachers across the United States for nearly 20 years. They offer some free professional development courses in addition to their tailored offerings, which are categorized by state renewal requirements

Course packages vary, from as little as 5 hours for $39 to as long as 150 for $875. There are numerous topics on offer, including: 

  • Classroom collaboration
  • AI in education
  • Bullying prevention and policies
  • Reflective teaching practices
  • Classroom technology

8. The Heritage Institute

The Heritage Institute offers online and email-based professional development that allows teachers to work at their own pace over 6 months. They provide one-on-one engagement with experienced instructors, personalized feedback on coursework, and a collaborative learning environment. 

Course packages range from 20 hours to 60, costing $140-$380. The numerous topics include:

  • Classroom management
  • Challenging students
  • Leadership
  • STEM

9. Bureau of Education & Research

The Bureau of Education & Research (BER) offers professional development events and courses through live online and in-person events, recorded events, on-site presentations, and on-demand online courses. 

Online courses cost around $159 and take 5-6 hours, with 90 days to complete all the video clips, activities, and supporting documents in order to receive their certificate. The over 100 courses available cover many topics, including:

  • STEM
  • Flipped learning
  • Differentiated instruction
  • Classroom management & discipline

Free Teacher Professional Development Certificates

There are free online professional development options for teachers that will grant certificates or credits upon completion. We’ve highlighted three to consider. 

1. National Geographic’s Online Courses for Educators

National Geographic’s online courses for educators offer free webinars, training videos, and digital resources, including materials that can be used in the classroom. While they don’t provide teachers with certificates, educators can get credit.  

Webinar topics include:

  • Engaging students in meaningful learning activities
  • Making your screen come alive
  • Practical ideas for teaching academic vocabulary online
  • Tips for teaching writing online

2. Modern Classrooms Project

Modern Classrooms Project aims to transform classrooms to fit modern students’ needs and empower communities. They offer a free online course and virtual mentorship for educators and provide schools and districts with partnerships. 

Their free modern classroom course is self-paced and takes 5-10 hours to complete. Once it is finished, a certificate is provided. 

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University surveyed educators that had completed the course, revealing:

  • 85% found teaching more enjoyable
  • 85% found they were more optimistic about the future of education
  • 94% planned to continue using practices from the course

3. Friday Institute

The Friday Institute provides free, on-demand courses divided into modules. Registration is required for all open courses. Certificate hours vary depending on the course and certificates are available upon completion. 

Examples of courses offered include:

  • Social and emotional learning
  • Amplifying statistics and data science in classrooms
  • Learner agency in practice
  • Leading with purpose 

You can join their free mailing list to stay up-to-date with their latest course offerings and collaborations. 

Other Professional Development Options

Professional development for teachers isn’t exclusive to certification courses. Career enrichment that can impact classroom performance can be found through many other resources. 

A few examples of other professional development options to consider:

  • Teacher workshops: Broaden skills by taking courses of interest that could inspire students. Examples include photography, poetry, chess, coding, and juggling. 
  • Teacher seminars and conferences: Seminars and conferences are an excellent way to expand your network and be exposed to new ideas. Consider TEDTalks, listening to lectures by scientists and researchers, or attending an education conference outside your local area. 
  • Teacher podcasts: the world of podcasts is vast. Find content for your classroom or career, such as Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers and 10 Minute Teacher Podcast with Cool Cat Teacher. 
  • Teacher books: Reading books can help teachers explore a particular topic, such as black holes, or help a career, such as Habits of Highly Effective Teachers by Marie Amaro.  
  • Teacher networks: Joining a teacher network, such as a union, can provide you with support and advocacy and provide ways to meet others in your profession. 
  • Shadowing: Pick up tips, strategies, and tools by shadowing professionals you admire. 
  • Pursuing a degree: Consider getting a master’s or a complimentary diploma. Additional qualifications can improve pay and open new doors to advance your career. 

Improve Your Teacher’s Skills and Knowledge 

Teachers have a plethora of options, both paid and free when it comes to professional development certificates. Flexible, online, in-demand training makes it easy to improve your skills, expand your tools, gain new strategies, and enhance knowledge while continuing to work and balance personal commitments. 

Ready to elevate your educational career? Check out Simple K12 and gain access to their comprehensive course library developed by experts. Whether you are just starting your career or have 20 years of experience, Simple K12 has resources that will meet your needs. Don’t wait to start working towards a more fulfilling and impactful teaching career. 

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