There is a lot of debate about the importance of your GPA in the job market. But for teaching jobs, the answer is clear: GPA does matter!
GPA matters in your teaching degree program
Any road to a teaching job starts with teacher training. And if you are pursuing an education degree, your GPA determines whether you’ll graduate.
You’ll need to maintain a certain minimum GPA in your classes. In fact, most teacher education programs set two separate GPAs. First, you must have minimum GPA for your studies as a whole. This is the cumulative GPA you can see on your transcripts. Within that whole-degree GPA, you’ll also need to meet a minimum GPA for your teacher education classes. This GPA requirement is higher.
So for example, your university might require you to have a 3.0 GPA for all of your classes combined (including electives). And your school might also say that your GPA for your teacher education classes needs to be a 3.5.
Those numbers are above just hypothetical, though. GPA requirements within teaching degree programs are different at different campuses. And average program requirements also differ by state. This is because university teacher education departments work closely with their local state licensing boards.
So you’ll want to talk directly to your university’s teacher training department to find out the GPA requirements. Or if you’re not sure where you want to study teaching yet, you’ll need to look up average program requirements in the state where you’d like to get licensed. For instance, Minnesota teacher prep programs have an average total GPA requirement of 2.57, with an average 3.31 requirement for GPA in teacher education classes.
GPA matters in alternative certification programs for teachers
Alternative certification programs do not usually train teachers through traditional university coursework. So you seldom have to worry about GPA during program training.
However, your GPA does matter when it comes to actual acceptance into an alternative certification program. Alternative programs for teacher training only accept people who already have a bachelor’s degree. And these programs will look at your undergrad GPA when you apply.
In most cases, alternative certification programs require an undergrad GPA of at least 2.5, and may ask for up to a 3.0. Alternative certification programs can sometimes consider applicants who don’t meet their minimum GPA requirements. Take the New York City Teaching Fellows alternative route to teacher certification. NYC Teaching fellows requires a 3.0 GPA. But this program will consider candidates with lower scores if such candidates are acceptable to the partner university that provides classroom training to program participants.
GPA matters for getting a state teaching license
State teacher licensing boards themselves also set GPA requirements. GPA regulations for teacher licensing can vary a lot from state to state.
Let me give you a few examples of state criteria for GPA. The Missouri Department of Education requires an overall GPA of 2.75 and a GPA of 3.0 for a teacher training classes and content area classes related to the license. To teach in Louisiana, you need an overall GPA of 2.5. And the state of New Jersey requires a GPA of at least 2.75, with a preference for a 3.0 GPA.
Moreover, certain states–such as Pennsylvania–can have very complicated GPA requirements. Pennsylvania balances GPA standards with Praxis score benchmarks. The higher your Praxis score, the lower your GPA requirement. This is a complicated setup, with different GPA and scoring rules for each type of state license. You can see how this works on the state’s official table for teacher certification and testing scores (page 2 of the linked document).
Does GPA matter for getting a teaching job at an individual school?
Individual K-12 don’t usually look at the GPAs of their applicants. If you already have a license, schools know that you must have met the GPA standards of your certification program and your state licensing board. However, you still may face additional GPA requirements for jobs at prestigious private schools or jobs with highly competitive public school districts.
Always aim for more than the minimum GPA
The minimum GPA requirements you face are just that: minimum. To make sure you get your teaching license and have as many work opportunities as possible, you need to aim higher. Working toward your best possible GPA ensures that you won’t accidentally fall short of the minimum requirements. It also opens the door to teaching jobs in states and schools that have higher GPA requirements than the ones you currently face.
It pays to be a diligent student. Learn that lesson and apply it now, so you can share that wisdom with other young learners in the future.