Monday, March 16, 2009

Teaching Certificates Provide Career Options

For those who face layoffs, unemployment or are simply looking for a new professional direction in their lives, a career in teaching may just be the answer. A minimal time and financial investment can earn you a teaching certificate from Rio Salado College, and before you know it you’ll be in front of the classroom.

All you need to get there: a computer.

More and more, community colleges and universities are offering online classes to meet the needs of their diverse student populations. Taking classes online allows students to continue working so they aren’t losing income, and to take classes at their convenience.

“Taking online classes at Rio Salado was a very practical way to go,” said Steve Blattman, who left his computer job at a Valley telecommunications company, where he worked for 11 years, before mass layoffs began.

“The flexibility was wonderful,” Blattman said. “At the time, I was a stay-at-home dad and it made things so easy.”

Blattman parlayed his prior job skills and love of working with people into a new line of work.

“I spent a lot of time at that job instructing people informally with regard to computers, an experience I enjoyed, so I decided to pursue a career move to teaching,” Blattman said.

Nine months later Blattman received his teaching certificate in secondary education and landed a job teaching math at North High School in Phoenix.

Single mother Ann Elizondo recently decided to pursue a teaching certificate online so that she could still care for her three young children.

“Taking classes online allowed me to earn my teaching certification with minimal time away from my children,” said Elizondo, who now works as a special education teacher in New Mexico while also pursuing a Ph.D. degree in literacy.

Recently, marketing manager Mark Byrne-Quinn found himself reevaluating his career after he was laid off from a Scottsdale technology firm.

“The job was not fun anymore,” said Byrne-Quinn. “We used to make great products but recently it was all about making more money.”

Disenchanted, Byrne-Quinn decided to try his hand at teaching. The father of three was accepted into a Teacher-in-Residence program, where students who currently posses a bachelor's degree in a non-related education area are employed in a classroom while simultaneously completing their certification requirements.
“I am still working on certification,” said Byrne-Quinn, who teaches math at Red Mountain High School in Mesa. “I currently have an Intern Certificate that allows me to teach while I am completing my coursework.”

While high quality teachers are always needed, the job market looks especially bright for math and science instructors, areas in which the Arizona Department of Education cite a severe teacher shortage.

“I would recommend teaching as a career path for anyone wanting to change careers,” said Elizondo. “Doing so enabled me to provide a stable and secure life for my family.”

For working adults who wish to obtain a teaching certificate, Rio Salado College offers an online teacher education program in early childhood, elementary, secondary and/or special education. More information can be found at