How to Become an Early Childhood Teacher in Alaska

An ECE Alaska Degree & Career Guide

Requirements for ECE Teacher Certification in Alaska

Teaching is one of the most noble, rewarding experiences. In Alaska, early childhood education allows you to enjoy an excellent career path. However, it will take several steps before you can become a certified educator. This article will walk you through each step and help you understand what you need.

Alaska Steps to Follow for Teachers

According to labor statistics, teachers in the state of Alaska earn higher than the national average. One factor is that the state is the least densely populated and teachers who are willing to teach in the region are scarce.

Scholarships and grant programs are available for financing teacher education. This helps to encourage more professionals in the state to enter the field. This work is heavily in demand, with rural areas in Alaska experiencing a shortage in the number of teachers.

In 2012, there were 670 employed pre-school teachers and the number continues to grow, outpacing the available workers.

The road to becoming a pre-school teacher in Alaska is more flexible than many other states. You need to have a degree or credential and you’ll have to undergo multiple tests, certifications, and necessary educational training. However, entry into the field can be achieved much more quickly in Alaska than in some places.

Step 1. Get Your Certification or Degree

Education is the foundation of your professional career. To become an ECE pre-school teacher in Alaska, you must complete proper educational training. However, unlike most other states, which require a bachelor’s degree at a minimum and are increasing the educational needs for their teachers, Alaska may have available positions for those with lower levels of training. This includes a CDA Credential, Associate Degree, OR a Bachelor’s Degree. This gives you the opportunity to start working right away and earn experience and money while you continue or consider continuing your education.

However, a bachelor's degree is still a basic requirement and you should definitely consider either starting with one or continuing your education until you’ve attained one. We will talk more about this later.

Step 2. Pass Your Exam

After completing your degree and a teacher education program, you must pass a basic competency exam. This exam has certain components where you will prove your basic skills, including reading, mathematics, and writing.

Alaska allows you to use the PRAXIS exam testing Core Academic Skills for Educators (CASE), or a number of other states tests including: Alabama, California, Florida, etc. You can see the specifics of requirements from the state on the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development website.

Step 3. Get Your Certification

You may now start working as an educator after earning certification. Receiving your certification will require the basic application, though there will be differences depending on which degree or certification you earned and where you plan to work. With the basic teacher preparation and bachelor’s degree program, you’ll receive an Initial Techer Certificate that will last for 3 years. You’ll need to take another test during these three years and earn an endorsement.

Step 4. Upgrade Your Certificate

You need to make the best out of your professional practice. Besides fulfilling regular work, further educational training is needed. You’ll need to complete 6 semester credit hours in graduate level courses in order to renew this license, along with completing a few other requirements like, time spent teaching, current employment, etc. In Alaska, your professional teacher certificate is renewed every five years.

Popular Career Choices

  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher

Accredited Alaska Programs

Now that we have highlighted the basic roadmap, it is time to look into the specifics.

The whole process is regulated by the Alaska Board of Education and Early Development. In this section, we will list down the items that you need to pass and inform you on how you can obtain them.

Degree in Early Childhood Education

You must complete a bachelor's degree (or higher) in Early Childhood Education. This will be your primary ticket to a teaching license. A bachelor’s degree is a four-year undergraduate program offered by an accredited academic institution.

If you have a bachelor's degree in another field, you can seek alternative teacher certification. This is an opportunity for those who have completed a higher education degree previously and would like to transition to the educational field. You may return to school and complete a teacher preparation program.

These programs must be approved by the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development. Preparation programs can be completed within a year as a certificate program. It is a combination of undergraduate and graduate education. It also requires you to have a student teaching experience.

Required coursework

In order to acquire certification, you must accomplish the required coursework. Both multicultural coursework and Alaska studies coursework are required. Each area requires at least three semesters.

Some programs do not have Alaska studies. This is especially true if you acquired your degree from a different country or state. It is highly recommended to have units in this coursework, as it will affect your ability to acquire a license.

Considering a master’s degree

A highly recommended option is to pursue a master's degree in education. To maintain your license, you will have to take graduate units, so using those units to attain a master’s will open the doors to better employment opportunities and higher wages. Investment in further education is an excellent option.

Competency Examination

After obtaining a degree or master’s degree, you need to pass a basic competency examination. The test covers reading, writing, and math.

There is no single prescribed exam for you to take. The PRAXIS Academic Skills for Educators exam is a popular option. You can choose from other State examinations such as the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), Washington Educator Skills Test (WEST-B), Michigan Test for Teacher Certification, etc.

You can choose which examination is most convenient for you or closer to your home state.

Initial Certification

In your career as an early childhood educator in Alaska, you will be acquiring multiple certifications.

After passing the competency exam, you must apply for initial certification as a pre-school teacher (PreK-3) in Alaska. A Teacher Certification Application must be completed together with an institutional recommendation.

Here are the following documents that you need to submit:

  • Official transcripts (for bachelor's degree and teacher preparation program)

  • Institutional recommendation (from an official in your preparation program)

  • Fingerprint card (a background check with both the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the FBI is required)

  • Verification for passing basic competency exam

  • Payment of fees

There are two kinds of certifications that you can apply for. To apply for an Initial Three-Year Teacher Certificate, you must complete the required three-semester Alaska coursework. Otherwise, you may only apply for an Initial Two-Year Teacher Certificate.

Therefore, if you would like to apply for an initial certificate with a longer period of validity, make sure that you have passed an Alaska Teacher Preparation Program.

Content Area Examination

During the certification period, you must pass a PRAXIS II content area examination in Elementary Development (K-8). This is a specialized test. Passing this test will give an Alaska teaching certificate in early childhood education.

Maintaining a Professional Teacher Certificate with an Early Childhood Endorsement

Obtaining a certificate in ECE, together with a two-year or three-year teacher certificate, is not the last step in your professional career. This will allow you to gain employment as an educator and acquire teaching experience.

The next step is to apply for and maintain professional certification.

You must prove that you have/are:

  • Presently employed as a pre-school teacher in Alaska

  • Completed a minimum of two years' teaching experience

  • Taken and passed the PRAXIS II examination for your endorsement in ECE

  • Completed a minimum of 6 semester credit hours in higher-level coursework

  • Accomplished the mandatory Alaska coursework

Every five years, your professional teacher certificate is renewed.

You’ll get it upon accomplishment of at least 6 semester credit hours of graduate courses. For this reason, many educators choose to complete a master's degree, allowing them to meet the continuing academic requirements and move up in their career with higher pay rates and a wider scope of opportunities.

A master teacher certificate in Alaska, issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), is valid for 10 years.

Accredited Early Childhood Educator Teacher Preparation Programs

The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education monitors and manages all colleges in Alaska. For those who seek higher education, community and technical colleges are a popular option.

At present, there is a number of accredited ECE teacher preparation programs to choose from. Here are some institutions to consider:

  • Alaska Pacific University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Elementary Education; Bachelor’s, Master’s, & Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
    • The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • University of Alaska Anchorage

    Degrees Offered:

    • Elementary Education (Pre-K-3 & K-6); Bachelor’s & Post-grad Certificate
    • ESL Teaching; Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education in Early Childhood; Post-grad Certificate
    • Early Childhood Special Education Minor

    Accreditation By:

    • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
    • The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • University of Alaska Southeast

    Degrees Offered:

    • Elementary Education (K-8); Bachelor’s, Master’s, & Post-grad Certificate
    • Reading Teacher Education; Master’s & Post-grad Certification
    • Special Education (K-12); Bachelor’s. Master’s, & Post-grad Certificate
    • Educational Leadership and Administration (K-12); Master’s

    Accreditation By:

    • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
    • The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education

Career Options and Salary Info for Teachers

After obtaining a degree, passing examinations, and earning certificates, you may now start your career as a pre-school teacher. There are various fields, work settings, and areas of expertise you can choose from.

In which specific fields would you like to practice? Here are some options for you to consider.

Public Schools –
Public school districts in Alaska provide services for children aged 3-5 years old. Working inside these classrooms, you help provide a positive, safe, and nurturing environment. Your responsibilities include formulating learning activities in a classroom setting. They must be in the context of meaningful play and support relationships among children with unique needs.

Private Childcare –
Private childcare is synonymous to daycare. As a an educator, your primary responsibility is to care for and supervise a child (or multiple children, depending on the setting) with age ranging from six weeks to 13 years of age.

Private Schools –
If you would like to contribute to exceptional and exclusive educational services, teaching in a private school is a good option. Compared to public schools, private education provides unique academic offerings. The class size is also usually smaller. Some private schools offer religion and faith-based learning as well.

Head Start Programs –
Funded by the federal government, Head Start programs are designed for children of low-income families. They promote the school readiness of children up to five years old. The service models of head start programs depend on the local community's needs. All of them aim to meet the social, emotional, and psychological needs of young students.

Community-Based Programs –
Community-based childcare programs can take many forms. The nature of the program depends on the sponsoring community.
Local governments, religious organizations, recreational groups, or even committees formed by parents can sponsor these programs. Due to the nature of sponsorship, these programs are considered to be privately-owned. However, sponsoring committees do not gain profit. All funds are spent towards childcare service.
Each program has objectives and rules specified by the sponsoring community.

Faith-Based Programs –
Some childcare homes integrate tenets of religion into the educational curriculum. Christian faith is common among these programs. Specific practices and religious philosophies are included in promotional materials and handbooks. For example, children are taught prayer, Biblical stories, and creationism. All of these are intended to address the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of children.

Military Programs –
These programs are supported by the Department of Defense. Childcare is generally offered to children who are six weeks to five years old. Depending on the location, extended hours, weekend care, and respite care are offered. These programs generally cater to military families who are in need of care. You can expect to work with children whose family members serve the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marine Corps.

Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in Alaska

Being an educator in Alaska comes with competitive pay rates. Depending on your level of expertise and job title, you can earn as much as $53 per hour.

Your career in ECE can be a stepping stone to more lucrative positions in the field. Take a look at the following table with pay rates according to occupation and experience.

OccupationEntry-LevelMid-CareerLate-Career
Preschool Teacher$29,600$30,500$31,000
Elementary School Teacher$39,500$44,300$57,200
Professor of Education$61,000$70,400$99,000
Elementary School Principal$73,400$78,900$86,500
Special Education Teacher$42,600$49,000$63,300
ESL Teacher$39,300$40,400$50,900
School Psychologist$54,200$61,000$73,200

*Note: Salary information based on an average national rate.

Videos To Help You Find The Right Career Choices

  • A Day in the Life - Preschool Teacher

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOuvns_664c

  • Meaningful Inclusion in Early Childhood

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2wJqDw9B68

  • What makes a good teacher great? | Azul Terronez | TEDxSantoDomingo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrU6YJle6Q4

  • Co-Teaching Model for Special Education

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pIe6CZX6PM

  • Why Special Education?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3YwKIqlCsw

  • Part 1 - High-Quality Kindergarten Today - Background

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XriN7Ks6j84

Alaska Needs Teachers Like You

Now, you may be thinking that there aren’t that many schools in Alaska and your options are very limited. While this is, in part, true it isn’t the whole story. If you are looking to find more options for your schooling, be sure to check out the Western Undergraduate Exchange. Using this agreement between states, you have the opportunity to attend some out-of-state colleges at in-state rates. And better yet, Alaska has already made it clear that you can use most of these states teaching certificate tests in order to gain certification in Alaska. The bottom line is that Alaska needs teachers, and they are willing to be flexible in order to get you into the position as soon as possible!

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