By Linda T. Kennedy
If you’ve always wanted to be a teacher in Texas, but worried about pay, student loan debt, or whether or not your work would be valued, here are five good reasons those aren’t reasons to hold back now:
- Money. Forbes magazine recently named Houston, Austin, and San Antonio among the 10-best-paying cities for teachers. The demand for teachers will continue growing here statewide, at a rate of 6,000 teaching positions annually over the next 7 years, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Look at what the teacher’s job projections are for your specific region here.
- You’re bilingual, technology-inclined, or love math, science, or special education. These academic discipline areas currently lack qualified teachers statewide, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Perkins Loan borrowers who are full time teachers in these academic areas, or any other field of expertise where the state educational agency determines there is a shortage of qualified teachers, can qualify for a cancellation of up to 100 percent of their loan.
- Teaching without student loan debt. There is more than one way to earn student loan forgiveness as a teacher. For instance, by teaching in elementary and secondary schools designated by the U.S. Department of Education as having a high concentration of students from low-income families. If you choose to teach in one of these designated schools (find the designated schools for Texas in the Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory) and meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to 100 percent of your Federal Perkins Loan. Read about more ways to qualify for student loan forgiveness as a teacher here.
- Job Security. Most places in Texas need more teachers in all subjects, particularly rural areas. Texas has more schools in rural areas than any other state in the United States, according to data from a March 2017 Texas Rural Schools Task Force Report. Rural schools, as classified by the Texas Education Agency, accounted for 459 of the 1,247 school districts in Texas, including charters, juvenile justice, and state schools for the deaf and blind or visually impaired. So, if you’re interested in teaching in Texas, the Task Force is creating ways to recruit and keep you in the rural Texas classroom.
- Alternative routes to licensure and education programs. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) says there are alternative certification programs (ACP) that may allow you to teach while completing your certification requirements. According to TEA, if you have a bachelor’s degree or higher, you can complete the requirements through university coursework. You may also be able to earn an advanced degree in addition to completing the requirements for a certificate. But only certain universities, such as WGU Texas, can help you participate in an ACP program.
WGU Texas is succeeding at preparing new teachers for the classroom. In NCTQ's annual Teacher Prep Review, WGU was one of just 7 schools to earn the highest overall quality score for its undergraduate secondary teacher prep programs.
"We are proud to see that our efforts for preparing well-qualified teachers continue to be recognized," said Dr. Angie Besendorfer, Academic Vice President of WGU's Teachers College. "WGU's program focuses on demonstrating mastery of the skills and knowledge that teachers need to excel, ensuring that all graduates are classroom-ready on day one."