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Did you know that in the 2021–2022 school year, there were nearly 1,000 open teaching positions in districts all over South Carolina? (1) If you have a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to start teaching right away through an alternative certification program. 

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What is alternative teacher certification?

In a nutshell, alternative certification lets you teach in your own classroom and earn a salary, while you finish your teaching certificate. You’ll enroll in a teaching program, take coursework outside of school hours and implement what you’ve learned in your classroom during the day.

At the end of your program, you’ll earn your standard teaching certificate. That makes you a fully certified teacher! 

How does alternative certification work?

To pursue alternative certification, you’ll need an alternative route certificate. This lets you teach while you earn a standard teaching certificate. 

To get your alternative route certificate, you’ll need to enroll in a teaching program and secure a job as a “teacher of record” (a.k.a. classroom teacher) in a school. You’re also not on your own! Your teaching program and hiring school district can help you complete the process. 

Who should consider alternative certification? 

In a standard certification program, you typically spend most of your time taking classes, with a supervised, unpaid student teaching experience toward the end. But that may not work with your lifestyle!

Alternative certification could be a good option if you’re changing careers, have a bachelor’s degree in a teaching subject (like English or math) or have experience with students (such as a paraprofessional role).

Are you a school staff member? Our School Staff page has more information and resources just for you! 

Steps to an alternative route certificate

Some teaching programs will have you complete these steps in a different order, so you should check about your program's specific process. But in general, here’s what you’ll need to do:
  1. 1

    Make sure you’re eligible.

    To qualify for alternative certification, you’ll need to meet a few requirements. You should:

    • Have a bachelor’s degree. (Note: If you plan to get certified in a Career and Technical Education field, you may be able to use work experience in place of a degree.)
    • Meet any GPA and coursework requirements. Most teaching programs will require a minimum GPA, as well as a certain number of college credits in your future teaching subject. Check with the programs you’re interested in to find out their requirements.
    • Pass any required tests. Most teaching programs require a passing score on the Praxis content test for your teaching subject. Our free test prep vouchers and South Carolina Testing Guide can help you prepare! 
  2. 2

    Decide what you want to teach and choose the teaching certificate you want to earn.

    The teaching certificate you earn will depend on the subject and grade level you want to teach. The TeachSC Certification Guide has a full list of your options! 

  3. 3

    Make sure your teaching subject is available through alternative certification.

    Each teaching program offers its own set of certification options. You should check with individual programs to see if they have the certification area you want. You can find this information with the TeachSC Program Explorer!

  4. 4

    Apply to teaching programs and enroll.

    In South Carolina, you’ll need to enroll in a teaching program that is specifically for alternative certification. (You can see a list of your options in the next section.)

    The TeachSC Application Guide and application checklists can help you apply! 

  5. 5

    Complete a background check.

    You'll need a background check before you can teach in a classroom. Create an account in the SC Educator Portal and follow the background check instructions.

  6. 6

    Apply for a statement of eligibility.

    A statement of eligibility is a document that says you’ve been approved to teach with an alternative route certificate. Your program staff can help you complete the steps to get this document. 

  7. 7

    Apply for teaching jobs.

    The CERRA (Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement) job board is a great place to start looking for job openings. Your teaching program may also be able to help you with this step!

    Visit our Resume Guide for tips to craft your resume, plus a free downloadable template. 

  8. 8

    Your district will submit a confirmation of employment to the Department of Education on your behalf.

    Once the Department of Education receives this confirmation, they will review it and issue your alternative route certificate.

    For some teaching programs, you’ll complete additional steps or training to get your alternative route certificate. Check with your program to find out about their process.

  9. 9

    Start teaching!

    Once you have your alternative route certificate, you’re ready to step into the classroom and start your new career.

Where can I find alternative certification programs?

South Carolina has alternative certification programs across the state. Check out these options in the TeachSC Program Explorer:
  • Columbia College logo
  • American Board logo
  • CarolinaCAP logo
  • Converse College logo
  • CTE logo
  • GATE logo
  • PACE logo
  • Teachers of Tomorrow logo
  • TeachCharleston logo

You can learn more about these programs and others at the South Carolina Department of Education’s Alternative Route Certification Guidance page

Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions about alternative certification in South Carolina? We’ve got answers!

Talk to a coach

A TeachSC coach can help you decide if alternative certification is right for you. Set up a 1:1 coaching session for free!

References

  1. “South Carolina Annual Educator Supply & Demand Report: November 2021.” Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement. https://www.cerra.org/uploads/1/7/6/8/17684955/2021-22_supply_demand_report__1_.pdf