What is a Career Switcher Program?

Those individuals who desire to answer “the call to teach,” have no teaching degree but do have significant life experiences, career successes, or academic backgrounds can now switch to a rewarding teaching career with a Career Switcher Program.

Initially started in 2000 as a response to Senate Joint Resolution 384 and the 1999 Appropriation Act (Item 127D and 129Q), this is now a comprehensive alternative teaching certification program created by the State of Virginia.

Alternative Teaching Certifications

Due to high levels of teacher retirements and attrition, all 50 states in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, are now offering alternative teaching certification. In 2009 The National Department of Education estimated a national need for 1.7 million new teachers by 2017. This appears to be an ongoing projection for teachers and instructors through 2024. Alternative certification programs are currently helping fill these vacancies across the country.

How It Works

  1. Determine if you are qualified. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is required, as is a minimum of five years experience in your field of experience or profession.
  2. Apply via a certified Career Switcher Program provider. This provider will ensure accepted participants meet all Board of Education requirements.
  3. The Assessment Requirements for Virginia Licensure provides details for various teaching specialties and endorsements, as well as required assessments for both the full and provisional licensing programs.
  4. Complete Level 1 Requirements: Within one year, at least 180 clock-hours of instruction and field experience is to be completed, including, but not limited to, the following:
    • Classroom/behavior management
    • Curriculum, instruction, and instructional technology
    • Instructional differences
    • Language skills
    • Reading in the area of specialization
  5. After Level 1 completion, one-year provisional licensing may be awarded, during which time candidates are expected to receive employment in a school accredited by the State of Virginia. This license is effective for three years.
  6. Complete Level 2 Requirements: During the first year of employment, the program provider will provide at least five seminars covering a minimum of 20 instructional hours of intensive preparation. These seminars will address various instructional topics. The candidate will also be assigned a trained mentor.
  7. Complete Level 3, as determined necessary: If needed, an additional year will be conducted by the accredited educational agency. This preparation will address any necessary areas of improvement and may take up to a one-year extension for completion.
  8. After completion of Level 1, Level 2, and (if needed) Level 3, and after the submission of a recommendation from the Virginia educational employer, as well as the provisional licensing program administrator, the license holder will be eligible to apply for a five-year renewable license.

Filling the Need

There are several subject areas where demand for teachers is greater than the supply. A complete Teacher Shortage Areas (TSA) list is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

The need is here. So is the reward of “making a difference” in someone’s life. If the “call to teach” is calling to you, if you wish to pass on your legacy of experience to the next generation, there is a pathway to teach: through a Career Switcher Program.