Employer Perceptions of Accelerated Teaching Degree Graduates

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Accel­er­at­ed teach­ing pro­grams are par­tic­u­lar­ly valu­able in fill­ing teacher short­ages in sub­jects like spe­cial edu­ca­tion, math, and sci­ence, as well as in rur­al areas.
  • School dis­tricts increas­ing­ly val­ue these accel­er­at­ed degrees, espe­cial­ly when can­di­dates have strong con­tent knowl­edge and rel­e­vant real-world expe­ri­ence.
  • Grad­u­ates may face skep­ti­cism regard­ing their accel­er­at­ed edu­ca­tion but can over­come this by demon­strat­ing strong teach­ing skills and con­tin­u­ous pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment.

An accel­er­at­ed teach­ing degree is an ide­al way for some­one like you to tran­si­tion into a career in edu­ca­tion. Typ­i­cal­ly, qual­i­fi­ca­tions for these pro­grams include a bachelor’s degree, and with about a year or so of extra stud­ies, you can gain the qual­i­fi­ca­tions need­ed to become a cer­ti­fied teacher.

Master’s degree pro­grams are also avail­able — spend a year or two in grad­u­ate school com­plet­ing the require­ments to become a teacher, and you’ll grad­u­ate with a high­er degree that pays more mon­ey. What’s not to like about that?!

The big ques­tion is this: Do employ­ers val­ue these degrees? After all, you don’t want to invest your time and mon­ey in get­ting a degree that won’t help you achieve your goal of becom­ing a teacher!

The short answer is yes, employ­ers val­ue these degrees. Accel­er­at­ed teach­ing degrees have become much more com­mon in recent years, espe­cial­ly in dif­fi­cult-to-fill sub­jects like spe­cial edu­ca­tion. Teach­ers with a fast-track teach­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion are also pop­u­lar in geo­graph­ic areas where teach­ers are hard to come by, such as small, rur­al communities.

But are short-term teach­ing pro­grams right for you? Let’s find out!


The Basics of Accelerated Teaching Degrees

Sev­er­al path­ways are avail­able for becom­ing a teacher in a short time­frame. Use the teach­ing degree com­par­i­son below to learn more about each:

Type of CredentialCre­den­tial Description
Accel­er­at­ed Bachelor’s DegreeFast-track bachelor’s pro­grams can be fin­ished in about 3 years rather than the tra­di­tion­al 4 years. You may also be able to earn a sec­ond bachelor’s degree in 1–2 years. These pro­grams focus on basic knowl­edge and skills for teach­ers, includ­ing cur­ricu­lum and instruc­tion, ped­a­gogy, class­room man­age­ment, and stu­dent teaching.
Accel­er­at­ed Master’s DegreeTyp­i­cal­ly a Mas­ter of Arts in Teach­ing (MAT), these degrees are ide­al if you already have a bachelor’s degree. The pro­gram focus­es on build­ing rel­e­vant teach­ing skills like those out­lined above. Expect to spend about 15 months com­plet­ing a degree like this, which includes a full stu­dent teach­ing experience.
Accel­er­at­ed Teach­ing Cer­tifi­cate ProgramThese pro­grams are avail­able for peo­ple with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a non-teach­ing field. Earn­ing a cer­tifi­cate usu­al­ly takes 1–2 years, though, in many states, you can teach with an emer­gency cer­ti­fi­ca­tion while you com­plete the accel­er­at­ed teach­ing program.

In each case above, you must com­plete cer­tain course­work require­ments and par­tic­i­pate in a stu­dent teach­ing expe­ri­ence. The num­ber of cred­its you have to com­plete varies from one type of pro­gram to the next and depends in part on the type of degree you already have. Fur­ther­more, the num­ber of stu­dent teach­ing hours you’re required to com­plete varies from state to state.

Com­pared to a tra­di­tion­al teach­ing degree, these pro­grams take far less time, have a much faster pace of learn­ing, and tend to focus more on pro­fes­sion­al teach­ing skills rather than con­tent-area knowl­edge. But, it’s the pro­fes­sion­al teach­ing skills that you’re like­ly lacking.

For exam­ple, let’s assume you have a bachelor’s degree in his­to­ry and want to become a social stud­ies teacher. Teach­ing career readi­ness pro­grams like the fast-track options described above are ide­al for blend­ing your sub­ject-mat­ter exper­tise with accel­er­at­ed train­ing to lead a class­room effectively.

Employer Needs in the Education Sector

Accord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion, all 50 states face teacher short­ages in at least one con­tent area. The areas of great­est need are sci­ence, math, and spe­cial education.

With these short­ages, states are increas­ing­ly turn­ing to accel­er­at­ed teach­ing pro­grams and alter­na­tive means of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to fill teach­ing vacan­cies. To do so, though, can­di­dates for these pro­grams must meet rig­or­ous stan­dards like those in tra­di­tion­al teacher edu­ca­tion programs.

School dis­tricts often require new teach­ers to deeply under­stand the con­tent area in which they’re seek­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Some­one with an account­ing degree, for exam­ple, might be an ide­al can­di­date for an accel­er­at­ed teach­ing degree in math.

Aside from hav­ing the nec­es­sary con­tent knowl­edge, school dis­tricts look for teach­ers with the fol­low­ing skills and attributes:

  • Abil­i­ty to devel­op cur­ricu­lums, plan lessons, and assess stu­dent learning.
  • Apti­tude for mak­ing mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions between class­room learn­ing and the real world.
  • Abil­i­ty to form pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ships with col­leagues that enhance stu­dents’ learn­ing experiences.
  • Desire to take on lead­er­ship roles, such as serv­ing on com­mit­tees, direct­ing aca­d­e­m­ic depart­ments, and assist­ing with extracur­ric­u­lar activities.
  • Apti­tude for cre­at­ing a wel­com­ing, sup­port­ive class­room envi­ron­ment that’s inclu­sive of all students.

The skills and abil­i­ties list­ed above is not a com­pre­hen­sive list, of course. To be an effec­tive teacher, you need a vast range of aca­d­e­m­ic knowl­edge, class­room man­age­ment skills, orga­ni­za­tion­al skills, and an under­stand­ing of pedagogy.

Perceptions of Accelerated Degree Graduates

Employ­er per­cep­tions of teach­ers depend on class­room per­for­mance. Whether you earn a tra­di­tion­al or accel­er­at­ed teach­ing degree, how you han­dle your­self in the class­room, the qual­i­ty of your teach­ing, and the per­for­mance of your stu­dents are the ulti­mate bench­marks of what your employ­ers think of you as an educator.

There are cer­tain­ly some ben­e­fits of accel­er­at­ed edu­ca­tion that grad­u­ates of short-term teach­ing pro­grams can bring to the table, though:

  • Real-world expe­ri­ence in the con­tent area (e.g., a pro­fes­sion­al artist becom­ing an art teacher).
  • Enhanced abil­i­ty to man­age time and be orga­nized due to the fast pace of the accel­er­at­ed program.
  • New per­spec­tives on teach­ing and enthu­si­asm for education.
  • Demon­strat­ed com­mit­ment to con­tin­ued learn­ing and improv­ing oneself.
  • Imme­di­ate avail­abil­i­ty to fill high-need teach­ing positions.

While hir­ing trends in edu­ca­tion point toward using an increas­ing num­ber of teach­ers with alter­na­tive or accel­er­at­ed cre­den­tials, there are still some reser­va­tions among school dis­trict offi­cials when mak­ing these hir­ing deci­sions, main­ly because of the following:

  • The poten­tial lack of under­stand­ing of advanced teach­ing methods.
  • The need for addi­tion­al train­ing, sup­port, and/or mentorship.
  • The skep­ti­cism from col­leagues with tra­di­tion­al teacher training.
  • The poten­tial for burnout after com­plet­ing a rapid-pace train­ing program.

Fur­ther­more, a Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas study rais­es con­cerns about stu­dent per­for­mance in class­rooms led by teach­ers with accel­er­at­ed degrees. The study found that stu­dents per­form bet­ter in every sub­ject when taught by teach­ers with a tra­di­tion­al teach­ing degree from a uni­ver­si­ty. How­ev­er, school dis­tricts can reap many ben­e­fits by hir­ing accel­er­at­ed degree graduates.

Benefits of Hiring Accelerated Degree Graduates

The great­est ben­e­fit you’ll pro­vide a school sys­tem as a grad­u­ate of an accel­er­at­ed pro­gram is quick inte­gra­tion into the work­force. Rather than wait­ing four or more years for a cre­den­tialed teacher, dis­tricts can hire you in as lit­tle as a year or two.

A sec­ond ben­e­fit is the imple­men­ta­tion of updat­ed teach­ing meth­ods and tech­nolo­gies. Fast-track pro­grams often incor­po­rate cut­ting-edge teach­ing and learn­ing meth­ods that you can then use in your class­room to enhance the learn­ing expe­ri­ence for your stu­dents. Many accel­er­at­ed teach­ing pro­grams also heav­i­ly depend on online learn­ing, so the tech­no­log­i­cal skills you gain in your pro­gram can trans­late into a bet­ter and more thor­ough use of edu­ca­tion­al tech­nol­o­gy in teaching.

If you’re will­ing to spend extra time and mon­ey get­ting a degree to teach, you like­ly have a high lev­el of enthu­si­asm for edu­ca­tion. This pos­i­tive out­look is invalu­able to your future employ­ers, col­leagues, and stu­dents, as teach­ers who come to school each day ready and excit­ed to work often get more out of their stu­dents in the classroom.

Challenges Faced by Accelerated Degree Graduates

After com­plet­ing your accel­er­at­ed teach­ing pro­gram, you’ll need to over­come some dis­tinct chal­lenges:

  • Neg­a­tive per­cep­tions and stereo­types about teach­ers with accel­er­at­ed train­ing might lim­it your attrac­tive­ness in the teach­ing job market.
  • Gaps in train­ing and expe­ri­ence (e.g., lack of teach­ing practicum expe­ri­ences or trun­cat­ed stu­dent teach­ing placements).
  • Poten­tial require­ment for addi­tion­al train­ing to earn licen­sure or certification.

Of course, any first-year teacher must also nav­i­gate being “thrown into the fire,” per se. The first few years can be daunt­ing and over­whelm­ing as you fig­ure out the intri­ca­cies of being an inde­pen­dent class­room teacher.

Best Practices for Graduates to Enhance Employability

In look­ing at edu­ca­tor employ­ment trends, it’s easy to see that school dis­tricts try to pri­or­i­tize hir­ing the best-qual­i­fied teach­ers. Earn­ing the appro­pri­ate cre­den­tials is the first step, but there are oth­er strate­gies you can use to make your­self a more attrac­tive teach­ing candidate:

  • Take the ini­tia­tive to get addi­tion­al train­ing and expe­ri­ence (e.g., sub­sti­tute teach­ing while you earn your accel­er­at­ed degree).
  • Find an addi­tion­al men­tor (aside from your stu­dent teach­ing super­vi­sor) who can help you devel­op fur­ther as an edu­ca­tor and vouch for your skills and abil­i­ties in the classroom.
  • Pre­pare for job inter­views ahead of time by par­tic­i­pat­ing in mock inter­views, get­ting assis­tance prepar­ing your resume, and famil­iar­iz­ing your­self with com­mon edu­ca­tion­al hir­ing prac­tices so you know what to expect when called for an interview.
  • Focus on net­work­ing by attend­ing teacher job fairs and join­ing orga­ni­za­tions like the Nation­al Edu­ca­tion Association.

As accel­er­at­ed teach­ing degrees become more and more com­mon, the need for stu­dents like you to stand out from the crowd will become increas­ing­ly impor­tant. By focus­ing on your prepa­ra­tion — both aca­d­e­m­ic and pro­fes­sion­al — and being will­ing to go the extra mile to acquire the nec­es­sary teach­ing skills, you can become the stand­out can­di­date you hope to be.