Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Alaska

The foundation for Alaska teaching certification is an approved program at the bachelor's level or higher. The individual will need to meet additional requirements at a later stage. Professional certification is granted after two years of experience.

Out-of-state professionals may provide a state recommendation as opposed to an institutional recommendation. Alaska has pathways in place to put educators in classrooms before all requirements have been met.

Educational Requirements

The prospective teacher must complete a bachelor’s degree and a state-approved program. These two requirements may be met simultaneously or separately. The education curriculum may be completed post-baccalaureate or as part of higher level degree or teaching program. Education programs include supervised practice.

In addition to the standard education fare, Alaska teachers must have coursework in Alaska studies and Alaska culture. The Department of Education has a list for students whose programs did not include this component ( Alaska has a recency requirement for academic coursework: six credit hours in the prior five years. The certification office notes that the Alaska-specific coursework applies.

Alaska mandates four additional short trainings: sexual abuse, suicide awareness and prevention, alcohol and drug related disabilities, and dating violence awareness and prevention.

Alaska maintains a list of approved teaching schools operating within its borders. In-state students may complete bachelor's level programs in early childhood, elementary (K-6 or K-8), special education, or secondary. A student who pursues secondary education in conjunction with a bachelor's degree through the University of Alaska will also have a content area major: a double major. Degrees are also available from in-state schools in K-12 music or P.E.

Alaska teachers may have one or multiple endorsements. The total number of endorsements available is quite broad. Alaska has provided a list. Assuming that other standards are met, the teacher will be issued an endorsement that is consistent with his or her academic preparation. Endorsements may be granted to experienced professionals on the basis of alternate requirements.

Endorsement may be added based on completion of a new degree with qualifying major or minor, a specific endorsement program, or two years of teaching experience. There are some stipulations on what can be earned through what method. Elementary education or special education, for example, cannot be met through teaching experience. A teacher who wishes to add an endorsement based on experience will need to complete an examination in his or her new endorsement area.

Technical and vocational teaching represents a special case with its own set of requirements.

Examination Requirements

A prospective teacher will pass two examinations en route to full certification. The first is a basic competency test. The Praxis I is one option. There are a number of other accepted tests, including some that are used in other states (

The second is specific to the teaching area. Alaska utilizes Praxis II examinations (

The licensing agency notes that students who qualify on the basis of out-of-state education will need to satisfy examination requirements in their jurisdiction.

Out-of-state teachers receive initial certificates with endorsements reflecting what shows on their current certificate. Those who are certificated in multiple jurisdictions are asked to select which they wish to use for their initial Alaska endorsement.

Experience Requirements

To be issued a certificate at the professional level, a professional will two years pf experience.

There are limits on re-issuance of an initial certificate. A teacher holds this status just three years. Alaska does, however, have a process by which educators can gain re-employment certification.

Master Certification

A teacher who holds National Board certification may be issued a Master Certificate.

The Application Process

Some steps must be carried out in advance. Prospective Alaska teachers must have background checks processed through the Alaska Department of Public Safety. Fingerprints can be made at any of many locations throughout the United States; Alaska accepts a standard FD-258 applicant card. The Department has provided information about having fingerprints made in rural Alaska (

Forms can be downloaded from the website of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Learning ( They include detailed information. Full licensure at the professional level requires all of the following:

  • Transcripts demonstrating degree all required coursework
  • Documentation of required trainings
  • Verification form showing completion of a state-approved program
  • Official score reports of basic competency exam and content area exam
  • FD-258 fingerprint card

The fee is $200. In most cases, the applicant will also be required to pay a $60 background check processing fee. (There are limited instances where the applicant will already have clearance).

Applicants applying at lower levels have lesser requirements. An initial certificate may be two years or three years. In order to be issued a three-year certificate at the onset, the individual will need to have met the Alaska studies and Alaska culture requirements.

Out-of-state licensees will document a current credential. They will receive initial certificates with endorsements that reflect what shows on their current certificate. Those who are certificated in multiple jurisdictions are asked to select which they wish to use for Alaska endorsement. Those who did not pass a basic competency exam in their jurisdiction can do so after receiving an initial credential.

The Department addressed a common concern of those in the "lower 48": how the teacher can ensure that the process is progressing smoothly while he or she is in transit to Alaska to take a particular job. Applicants may include contact information for the employing district. Contact information can be updated.

Applicants must sign that they have read information noted as important. Application forms must be notarized or, when this is not possible, witnessed by a postmaster.

Program Enrollment Certification

A prospective teacher can be issued a certificate based on program enrollment. The school district must make a request. This option is not available for special education teaching.

Additional Information

Teaching certification is handled by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development ( The Teacher Education and Certification Office can be reached by telephone at (907) 465-2831 or by email at ' '.

The University of Alaska-Fairbanks has provided an overview of certification requirements ( but refers would-be educators to the Department of Education for clarification. Standards and procedures change from time to time.