How to Find a Teaching Job in Alaska

How to Find a Teaching Job in Alaska

Alaska is known for having a high demand for qualified and enthusiastic teachers. Due to the rural nature of some of the teaching positions in Alaska, as well as several other factors, teacher turnover in Alaska can be high.[1] Though finding a teaching position in Alaska may not be too difficult, it will be useful to prepare yourself for the position properly and know what to expect when teaching in this state.

Getting the Necessary Credentials

Earn a bachelor’s degree in education from an accredited university. To teach in Alaska, you will need a bachelor’s degree, preferably in education. You should take a four year education program at an accredited university and graduate with high marks.[2]
If you earn a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education, you can still qualify to teach in Alaska. However, you will need to take the alternative teacher certification program.

Do a teacher’s preparation program. Like other states, Alaska requires prospective teachers to complete a teacher preparation program. Most teacher education programs have two elements: curricula and field work. In the curricula portion, you will learn about teaching fundamental skills, develop your own style of pedagogy (the science of teaching), and prepare your students to use their learned skills in the real world.[3]
Most teacher education programs also contain a fieldwork component. This could be a teaching internships at a school, acting as an assistant for a teacher in the classroom, doing field observations in a classroom setting, or a combination of all three.
Alaska does not require specific coursework or require a specific number of credits, but the state does require its applicants to have fieldwork experience. To qualify for the teaching certificate in Alaska, you will need to complete approved coursework in Alaska Studies and Multicultural/Cross-cultural Communications.

Pass the teacher certification exams. To be a certified teacher, you will need to pass the Praxis 1/PPST (Pre Professional Skills Test) or an equivalent competency exam. You will also need to pass the Praxis II Content Area Exam.[4] You can check the Education Department website for your state for more information on the teacher certification exams for your state.[5]
You can take study prep courses for these exams to ensure you do well on them. Once you have completed your undergraduate course work, completed the teacher training program, and have passed the teacher certification exam, you can apply for your teacher’s certification.

Get your teacher’s certification. You should try to get a certification through the state of Alaska to improve your chances of getting hired in the state. However, most schools will still consider teachers who have out of state certification.[6]
You will need to submit an application for the certification. The application should include your official undergraduate transcripts and teacher training transcripts, a completed fingerprint card for a background check, proof of a passing score of teacher certification exams, and a non-refundable fee.[7]
You will likely receive proof of your certification in the mail and/or online. You can then use this certification to apply for teaching positions.

Do an alternative teacher certification if you do not have a degree in education. The state of Alaska received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to create the Alaska Transition to Teaching (AKT2) program. This program provides individuals with the opportunity to receive their teaching certification in the event they do not have an undergraduate degree in education. Another key element of the program is assisting candidates who are interested in transitioning into teaching but cannot afford to leave their current job. Candidates are selected through the program and complete an online course as well as a four-week summer fieldwork program.[8]
To qualify for the program, you must have a bachelor’s degree and pass the required teacher certification exams.
The AKT2 program requires candidates to make a two year commitment to teaching in a rural school district.

Enroll in a specialized teaching program if you are in the military and want to teach. Alaska is also a participant in the Mountain Pacific Region Troops to Teachers Program, which supports military personnel who want to transition into teaching.
You can find out more information on the program and opportunities through the program in Alaska on the program website.

Looking for Teaching Positions

Keep in mind the estimated salary for teaching positions in Alaska. The state is known as one of the top three highest paying states for teachers. Elementary school teachers can earn an average salary of $69,000 and secondary school teachers can earn an average salary of $68,000. However, the salary estimates vary from town to town and area to area in Alaska due to population density and competitiveness in the job market.[9]
In Anchorage, Alaska, the biggest city in the state, elementary school teachers earn a median salary of $54,635 (as of February 2016), and their salaries can range from $44,755 - $64,802.[10]
Your salary may also fluctuate based on the education level you are teaching. For example, elementary school teachers may make a higher salary than a preschool teacher.[11]
You can access an interactive map with details on the salary estimates for key cities in Alaska online.[12]
Most teaching positions in Alaska come with full health benefits, including dental plans, long-term health insurance, and long-term disability aid.

Look at the Alaska Teacher Placement online database. This database was created by the Alaska Teacher Placement organization. It is located online and allows you to access open teaching positions by district and/or by city. You can also filter your search based on certain types of positions, such elementary school teaching, secondary school teaching, and high school teaching.[13][14]
You can try to search for teaching positions in Alaska through other online job sites. However, the Alaska Teacher Placement database may allow you to find results faster and easier.

Attend an Alaska Teacher Placement job fair. The Alaska Teacher Placement organization puts on job fairs for prospective teachers in major cities across the United States. Check the Alaska Teacher Placement organization’s website to see if a job fair is coming to a major city near you.
You can also attend job fairs put on by the Alaska Teacher Placement organization in Anchorage, Alaska. [15]

Join the NEA-Alaska association. The NEA-Alaska association was founded in 1922 and services Alaska’s 12,000 teachers. It focuses on supporting teaching professionals in Alaska and promoting the importance of education in Alaska.[16]
More information on the association and its services can be found on its website.[17]

Focus on subjects or disciplines with a teacher shortage. You may increase your chances of landing a teaching position if you focus on subjects or disciplines that are suffering from a teacher shortage in Alaska. Mathematics, science, social studies, and special education are all considered teacher shortage subjects.[18]
Another option of focus could be teaching positions offered at private schools in Alaska. There are over 70 private schools in Alaska, serving 6,757 students. Most private schools are Christian or Catholic, with a teacher to student ratio of one teacher for every twelve students.

Knowing What to Expect of the Position

Be aware of the small town pace in Alaska. The largest city in Alaska, Anchorage, has an estimated population of 300,000 people. The other cities in Alaska, such as Fairbanks and the capital city of Juneau, each have an estimated 30,000 people.[19] So even if you land a teaching position in one of the larger cities in the state, it may still take time to get used to the small town pace.[20]
Some teachers who get positions in rural Alaskan towns can struggle with the isolated and secluded nature of the area, especially when it is only possible to enter and leave the area by plane or boat.[21]
You may also experience difficulty with the long dark winter days in certain areas of Alaska as well as the distance of family and friends if you are not native to Alaska. There may not be very much nightlife or happenings in more remote towns in Alaska. Many of these factors can lead to a high turnover of teachers working in Alaska.[22]

Expect higher living costs in Alaska. Because Alaska is only accessible by boat or plane, many of the goods are exported into the state. This leads to high prices for food and amenities, as well as higher rent prices. This can vary depending on the population density of the city or town you are teaching in in Alaska.[23]
Often, educational institutions try to offer competitive wages to its teachers to help cover the high living costs in Alaska. You should keep the higher living costs aspect when you are applying and considering teaching positions.

Try to commit to staying in a position for at least two years. Though it can be a challenge to teach in Alaska, many teachers succeed by staying positive, being creative with their class work, and by making an effort to get to know their students. Teachers who commit to staying in their position for at least two years often succeed at building relationships with their students and with the community.[24]

Learn more about the Native culture in Alaska. Out of state teachers can find it challenging to teach students from Alaska Native villages, as they are not well acquainted with the language and culture of the Native population. The state is currently trying to train and hire more local teachers, but this also means the opportunities are there for out of state teachers. As an out of state teacher, if is important that you make an effort to learn more about the Native population in Alaska, as this will help you to connect with many of your Native students.
You can do this by reading up on the history of the Native people in Alaska and by making an effort to meet community leaders in the Native population. Be open to learning more about their customs and their culture, as this will then allow you to better integrate into the community.
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