Guide to Becoming a Teacher in Alaska

For anyone thinking about pursuing a teaching career in Alaska, has everything you’ll need to get started and succeed. This page outlines the key steps you’ll need to take to reach your goal and secure a teaching position in the nation’s most northern state.

1. Choosing a Program: The first step is to find a teaching program that is right for your budget and long-term career goals.

  • There are hundreds of programs across the nation and several programs in Alaska that can help you obtain the education required to become a teacher. Finding the right program, however, starts with asking the right questions.  Is there a specific specialization you hope to pursue? Is the cost of the program an important consideration for you? Are you concerned about the program’s graduation rate? In what region are you hoping to teach and if so, is there a program in that region?

2. Planning for Licensure in Alaska: In order to obtain a teaching license in Alaska, you will need to complete a teacher preparation program and pass an approved basic competency exam (e.g., Praxis).

3. Entering the Workforce: Once you’ve completed your education and practice teaching and passed the applicable exams, you will be ready to search for a teaching job in Alaska.

  • In many respects, teaching in Alaska is unlike teaching in any other state. While some teachers do teach in one of the state’s larger towns or cities, many others head to remote regions where they may be one of just a few teachers.  For this reason, it is especially essential to consider your options before going on the job market in Alaska. Are you interested in teaching in a town or city or in the bush? If you are interested in becoming a bush teacher, what are your expectations? What makes you the type of person cut out for this unique teaching opportunity? In addition, in Alaska, a high percentage of students identify as American Indian or Native Alaskan and recognizing indigenous histories,,, languages and traditions is a key part of the state’s curriculum, especially in the state’s remotest communities. What is your knowledge of these traditions and are you prepared to work in collaboration with community leaders and traditional educators (e.g., in a dual language school)?


Choosing an Education Program in Alaska appreciates that it is never easy to select an appropriate program. For this reason, we have developed a set of tools to assist you with this daunting task. Using a thoughtful algorithm, we ranked Alaska’s top education programs in 2015. Notably, we designed the algorithm by consulting with students and aspiring teacher and that’s why our rankings truly reflect your concerns. Our team has analyzed expense, student-to-faculty ratios, graduation rates, potential earnings, and over all return on investment.

All the schools on list below are committed to excellence and have shown true dedication to quality education and training. In short, these programs are among Alaska’s and the nation’s very best.

Alaska Pacific University

  • Student to Faculty Ratio 8 :1
  • Total expected expense for a bachelors degree$ 119240
  • Acceptance rate 37.45 %
  • Average state starting salary$ 44166
  • Graduation Rate 46.39 %
  • Median Graduate Debt incurred$ 25125

University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Student to Faculty Ratio 8 :1
  • Total expected expense for a bachelors degree$ 24736
  • Average state starting salary$ 44166
  • Graduation Rate 30.91 %
  • Median Graduate Debt incurred$ 20000

University of Alaska Anchorage

  • Student to Faculty Ratio 11 :1
  • Total expected expense for a bachelors degree$ 24316
  • Average state starting salary$ 44166
  • Graduation Rate 25.54 %
  • Median Graduate Debt incurred$ 20675

University of Alaska Southeast

  • Student to Faculty Ratio 9 :1
  • Total expected expense for a bachelors degree$ 25748
  • Average state starting salary$ 44166
  • Graduation Rate 12.15 %
  • Median Graduate Debt incurred$ 19437.5

Ranking Factors Explained’s ranking data is based upon, IPEDS, and the Carnegie Foundation data sets.

How to Become a Teacher in Alaska

There are three primary pathways to becoming a teacher in Alaska.

  • Pathway 1: If you’ve already completed at least a bachelor’s degree and a teacher preparation program (e.g., a B.Ed or Master of Arts in Teaching) and passed the Praxis exam, and you’ve never before held a teaching license in Alaska, you can apply for an initial two-year teacher certificate.
  • Pathway 2: If you’re already a licensed teacher in another U.S. state, you can apply for an initial/out-of-state teacher certificate.
  • Pathway 3: If you’ve passed the Praxis exam and you’re currently enrolled in a teacher education program in Alaska, you can apply for a initial/program enrollment teacher certificate.

Once you have obtained your initial teaching certificate, assuming you are in good standing, you can apply for a renewal certificate. Notably, additional provisions apply to special education, gifted, preschool and vocational teachers. Also, bear in mind that in Alaska, all teachers must complete three semester hours of approved Alaska studies and three semester hours of approved Alaska multicultural coursework prior to obtaining their teaching license or during their initial two-year period of licensure. This means that anyone coming from out of state will need to complete at least a few additional courses to become a fully licensed teacher in Alaska.

What is the job outlook for teaching careers in the State of Alaska?

Jobs for elementary school teachers are expected to see 9.7 percent growth over the coming decade. Jobs for middle school teachers will grow at a somewhat faster rate of 10 percent. Jobs for high school teachers will grow at a rate of 9.6 percent. In other words, jobs for teachers are expected to grow at a rate that is consistent with the national average across all job sectors.

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Alaska was home to 1,020 kindergarten teachers, 2,950 elementary teachers, 1,370 middle school teachers and 2,290 high school teachers. Over 1000 Alaskans reported teaching at the postsecondary level.

Notably, Alaska continues to make education a major state priority, and this is evident in both per pupil spending and teacher salaries. While the national per pupil spending average is only $10,700 annually, and many southern states spend much less per pupil, Alaska spends on average $18,175 per pupil. Alaska’s teachers also report higher than average salaries. Indeed, Alaska’s teachers make $71,460 annually on average, lagging only behind teachers in New York State.

What resources do teachers have to help them during their careers in Alaska?

  • The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development establishes and enforces education policies across the state, including setting standards for teacher certification. Their website is a major source of information on licensing and teaching in Alaska.
  • The main resource for finding open positions for teachers and school administrators in Alaska is the Alaska Teacher Placement website, hosted by the University of Alaska.
  • Alaska’s teachers are represented by the NEA-Alaska. NEA Alaska, founded in 1922, represents approximately 12,000 educators statewide, and over the years, the organization has played a critical role in fighting for stronger teacher contracts and a better education system across the state.
  • Native Alaskans comprise approximately a quarter of the public school system and in recent decades, a major effort has been made to integrate traditional Native Alaskan knowledge across the state’s curriculum. The Alaska Native Knowledge Network plays a critical role in these efforts. For information on Native Alaskans, including vital curriculum resources, visit the ANKN website.

What online programs are available to potential teachers in the State of Alaska?

Given the geographic size of Alaska, distance learning has a long history that even predates the arrival of digital technologies. Today, the primary hub for online education options is the University of Alaska’s Distance Learning program. Here, students can complete a wide range of degrees in education, including certificates in early childhood education, bachelor-level degrees in elementary education and special education, and master’s degrees in elementary education, secondary education, and educational leadership, among other options.


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