Veterans often have a difficult time finding jobs after leaving the military for a variety of reasons, ranging from employers with unconscious hiring biases to soldiers themselves having skill sets that do not easily translate to the civilian workforce. One potential career path that would provide veterans with the ability to continue doing meaningful work is the role of educator.
For over 25 years, the Troops to Teachers Program has enabled military members with a baccalaureate degree or higher to complete a teaching certification process and become an academic subject teacher for kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Military members who wish to use their unique experiences and knowledge to transform young lives can do so through TTT, and they can even get started while still on active duty.
How to transition to teaching through TTT
All current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces interested in a career in teaching can receive counseling, referrals and job assistance through TTT.
Though a bachelor's degree or higher is required to teach elementary or secondary school, becoming a vocational or technical instructor requires only the equivalent of one year of college and six years work experience in the technical or vocational field in which you wish to teach.
Those who qualify and choose to participate in TTT can receive stipends of up to $5,000 to defray the cost of teacher certification training. There are also bonuses of up to $10,000 available to those who teach in high-needs schools. In order to receive a stipend or bonus, a program participant must commit to teaching for at least three years at targeted schools, typically located in low-income areas.
It's important to keep in mind that Troops to Teachers is not a teacher certification program itself, but rather a program that works through a network of state offices to provide participants with certification counseling, certification tuition funds and referrals for employment leads.
Participants can use an Alternative Certification Program or University Teacher Preparation Program to complete their certification. According to The Balance, those stationed in Europe would likely benefit the most from ACP, since it allows individuals to complete their teaching certification through online courses.
There are 31 state TTT offices operating across the country, providing placement assistance for the more than 50 states and territories that are part of the program. These offices will help military members with state certification requirements, though participants can also use the TTT website to speak with representatives and receive alternative certification information.
A history of serving in uniform and in the classroom
The Troops to Teachers program began in 1993, as a response to the military downsizing of the early nineties and a way to transition service members to a rewarding and vital teaching career. In the last 26 years, more than 20,000 veterans have made their way from the military to the classroom, becoming teachers and establishing the program's credibility and reputation through their impressive performances in the classroom.
"School systems are finding former military members to be very valuable assets," John Gantz, director of the TTT program, told The Balance. "They bring leadership skills, a concern for their students [similar to their troops] and a lot of experience to the classroom."
Over the course of the program, schools have also noticed a higher retention rate from former military members than from teachers who just finished college.
Service members who would like to learn more about the Troops to Teachers Program can obtain more information from their state TTT office, or by visiting www.ProudToServeAgain.com.