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Can You Become a Teacher Without a Teaching Degree

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Teaching can be a very rewarding profession, but there is a lot of effort and preparation that one must put toward it before getting their first job. Knowing how to administer curriculum and subject matter knowledge is one part of the teaching experience, but instructors also need to know how to talk to and deal with students. Part of this training involves classroom management skills, and interpersonal skills that people can develop naturally over the course of years can also play a part in one’s success as a teacher.

Although some form of training is something that nearly every institution throughout the world will expect from its applicants, some prospective teachers wonder precisely what type of degree they might need to get in order to turn their passion for instruction into a viable career. Namely, they would like to know if a degree that is specific to the field of education is necessary in order to gain the qualities of a skilled teacher. We will do our best to answer this question in the following sections of this post. In doing so, we will list or discuss some of the most common ways that students might plan their career paths in education, and we will include what alternatives might be possible when one doesn’t wish to study education in particular.

Do You Need Training in Teaching To Help Students?

Many people start their paths as students already looking toward teaching in the future. For most of these people, an educational path that focuses on courses that relate to teaching materials in a classroom setting is a natural choice. However, that is not the case for everyone. Indeed, there are older people with different degrees or bases of knowledge who may wish to switch careers and go for teaching later in life. In any case, these individuals may wonder if they have no hope of getting into teaching due to a lack of specific degrees or areas of study.

Fortunately, one does not always need a degree that is specific to the field of education in order to become a qualified teacher. That is not to say that you do not need any degree at all, however. Most of the institutions that you’ll encounter will expect you as a candidate to have some formal training in some kind of field, and this training should come with a degree of its own. While the degree may not seem important on paper, particularly if you don’t need some kind of special one for teaching, most places looking to hire teachers will be able to tell that you have some skills or knowledge that can transfer to the field. One of the ways in which they do this is to look at whether you hold any kind of degree at all. Although degrees can denote particular specializations, they also tell prospective employers that you have sat through courses to obtain general knowledge that could be useful in a teaching environment.

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Which Degree Should You Get To Be an Instructor?

The specific degree requirements that one would need to hold in order to be a professor can vary from one region to the next. Different institutions may have their own criteria for assessing who has enough qualifications to be an expert in the subject matter of their choice both in and out of the classroom. Your degree need not be specific to teaching, but you will have to have some sort of certification that a college or university could bestow on you.

In the USA, most institutions of learning will want their teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree that ties them to some field in order to be eligible for any kind of position in education. This is a program that will typically take a minimum of four years to complete. You may be able to finish it in less time than that, but a college or university will want to see that you’ve attained at least this level of certification before they offer you a position to teach somewhere. If you already hold this kind of degree, you may be able to get a teaching job without specializing in education. Even if not, many places offer programs that can help you get the appropriate certification to complement your degree relatively quickly.

Although it is less likely, it may be possible to obtain some kind of position that relates to education even if your degree is just at the associate level. While it may be almost impossible to get a full teaching position if this is your only degree, there are other paths that may be open to you. For example, some places of learning may need assistants for their full-time teachers. Others may allow holders of associate’s degrees to teach some content at the preschool level, and still, others might look for substitute teachers that they will take with this kind of degree.

How To Use the Degree You Have Already To Become an Expert Educator

One of the most common ways that you can use a current degree to become a knowledgeable instructor is by filling a particular gap in the system. In 2022, there are some places in the United States that are dealing with some massive shortages of those with teaching qualifications. Some states are feeling the effects of this worse than others, and some schools may lack teachers in particular subjects more than others. In any case, many states or schools are willing to provide certification for those who hold degrees in non-teaching fields.

Similarly, if you have a certificate in any kind of subject that correlates to an area that is experiencing a shortage, the state may be willing to grant you a temporary emergency license. This kind of program is something the school wants to do in order to get you in the classroom and teaching students as quickly as possible. However, you can still apply to go through a certification process set forth by the state of your choice, and you can do this even if you don’t have a degree that helps out in an area with a shortage.

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Can I Get Teaching Approval With a Bachelor’s Degree?

Yes, it is possible to get licensure to teach students with just a bachelor’s degree. Most commonly, you can offer to take a kind of alternative program that can train you to become a competent teacher in a relatively short amount of time. You may still need to go through an exam portion at the end of your alternative studies in order to prove that you have mastered the basic material that an institution requires of all its teachers.

How Long Should This Process Take With Just a Bachelor's?

The amount of time it can take to get your certification to teach when you hold a bachelor’s degree may vary from one program to the next. Typically, you can find a program that will provide you with the appropriate certification to teach a room full of students after about a year of study. Part of the reason for this relatively short frame of time is that you will build on the knowledge you already obtained when you pursued your original bachelor’s degree. The school will have you teach in the subject area in which you already majored as part of your studies. You’ll just need to add some additional training and knowledge to your repertoire in order to become a competent teacher first.

How Do I Secure a Teaching Position When I Hold a Master's Instead?

Because a master’s degree is a higher, more focused level of study than other degrees at a lower level, it may be even easier to find teaching work when you hold such a degree. Many universities would like to hire people with advanced knowledge and skills in specific subject areas to teach content to students. You may still need to pass some formal exams to demonstrate some concepts, but it should be relatively quick and easy to find jobs in the classroom with this degree in hand.


Teaching can be a complex profession, and current shortages in some areas have led many schools to look for possible candidates who may not hold degrees in education. If you do not, and if you have a desire to help students learn, you may be eligible to teach content in a classroom without spending years trying to acquire a second degree in education to go with the one in your chosen field.

Still not sure? Check our post and find out how much do you get paid teaching in the USA.

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