What are the best professional certifications in educational leadership to earn?
Important professional certifications in educational leadership include the National Board Certification for Educational Leaders (NBCEL) and individual state certifications. The NBCEL, which was established 20 years ago, was the first national certification program for educational leaders. It was created to establish a reliable process that recognizes and retains effective principals.
There are 2 types of state certifications that educators may receive: full and probationary professional certificates. Individuals who have successfully completed certification programs, have earned masters or doctoral degrees and are eligible to take state examinations for certification typically seek full professional certification. Probationary certifications may be given in special cases where students are hired in administrative positions before their professional certification is awarded. In certain states, such as Texas, state certification for principals is mandatory.
These professional certifications are different from certificate programs offered by universities and online programs. They act as professional assessment tools for schools, districts, departments of education and other employers, and are not programs geared toward providing additional advanced training. Successful certification not only strengthens resumes but also allows educators to become eligible for higher salaries and positions.
According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 83% of school leaders expressed interest in this advanced professional certification. Teachers have also recognized the certification of educational leadership as important to creating a reliable culture of learning.
What organizations offer certification in educational leadership?
Some states have their own certification procedures and exams. The Florida Educational Leadership Examination (FELE) assesses competencies and skills in educational leadership, leading to state certification. All principals in Florida are required to be state certified. The examination, which reflects the findings and recommendations of educational professionals, tests educators’ knowledge of instructional leadership standards, ability to integrate instruction design into teaching and learning exercises and ability to manage learning environment standards.
Texas also requires principals to be state certified. In order to receive full certification, they must have a masters degree and pass the Texas Educator Certification examination given by the Texas Education Agency. Departments of education use state certifications to assess the quality of educational leadership in schools, school districts, community colleges and universities.
Can I earn a certification in educational leadership online?
Currently, you cannot receive educational leadership certification through online programs or training. State certification examinations, as well as certification given by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, must be taken in person. In some states, educational leaders are required to take examinations in order to be assessed and certified.
There are, however, many educational leadership online certificate programs that give students and current educators additional training as well as credit for graduate programs. Educational leadership certificate programs are offered by online and traditional research universities and are intended to help students develop best practices in teaching and learning activities.
For educators who are unable to commit to full-fledged masters or doctoral studies, these short-term certificate programs strengthen important leadership strategies that shape collaborative relationships with peers and the greater community. Lastly, these certification programs prepare educators for leadership roles in a range of professional learning communities outside of traditional educational institutions, such as distance learning programs.
Although certificate programs at universities are distinct from professional certification exams, students and educators who are seeking professional certification may benefit from the training offered by these programs. Educational leadership certificate programs are also beneficial for individuals who are interested in pursuing graduate degrees in education, such as a masters degree in educational leadership.
Can I work while studying for my certificate in educational leadership?
Most educational leadership online certificate programs offer more flexibility in terms of time and scheduling than on-campus programs. Many individuals who enroll in these educational leadership certificate programs online are already educators working part time or full time in schools, administrative offices and counseling centers. Thus, it is possible for you to work while you participate in an online educational leadership certificate program.
You can choose from a wide range of job options depending on your interests and program requirements. Many students find part-time jobs that allow for greater schedule flexibility, such as working as baristas, waiting tables or tutoring. There are also paid educational leadership internships and part-time teaching assistant positions, which frequently offer credit toward certificate and graduate programs. Working as you receive your certificate, then, not only allows you to financially supplement your education but also gives you additional experiences within the education field.
At the same time, some online certificate programs in educational leadership tend to have more condensed curricula since these programs are spread over shorter periods of time than traditional on-campus certificate programs. If you decide to pursue this option, being efficient with time is key, as you will need to juggle both work and a rigorous studying schedule.
Are there any brick-and-mortar colleges that offer an online educational leadership certificate program?
There are many traditional colleges that offer online certificate programs in educational leadership. A few examples include University of Minnesota, which is the fourth largest campus system in the U.S., and is currently ranked the 34th best research institution in the country. It offers an online educational leadership certificate program that prepares educational leaders to design and deliver academic programs in both academic and management settings. This is a 12-credit certificate program that prepares students to successfully design, develop and deliver highly organized curricula.
University of Massachusetts is a 5-campus public university system, and was recently ranked as the 39th best university in the world by Times World University Rankings. It offers a leadership excellence certificate program that is constructed through 6 modules and provides 36 hours of hands-on learning over 9 weeks.
University of Wisconsin is considered a “public ivy,” or a public institution that offers an education on par with an Ivy League school. It offers 2 different educational leadership certificate programs online, both of which prepare students for leadership roles in education by honing skills in teaching strategies, techniques and high-impact practices.
What are common assumptions about students who choose to get a certificate in educational leadership?
Certificate programs in educational leadership are typically pursued by mid-career adults who are looking to further their training in education without enrolling in full-fledged graduate programs. They most likely have already completed their BA degrees in a field related to education, with many also having completed their masters degrees.
At the same time, it is not uncommon to have professionals outside of education enroll in certificate programs, as they are looking to shift their careers into education. Many compressed certificate programs in educational leadership allow newcomers to complete necessary requirements over the course of a few months.
Typically, individuals who enroll in certificate programs are looking to advance their positions in education. There is a wide range of educational leadership online certificate programs that prepare individuals to become assistant principals, principals and district superintendents.
At the same time, some individuals from education-related fields enroll in online certificate programs to develop skills in counseling and guidance, library science or financial aid and admissions. These people might continue on in these related fields but may be able to obtain higher positions by completing the certificate programs.
Since many certificate programs in educational leadership are graduate programs, they are often designed for students who already have an advanced degree in education or management. At the same time, there are also top-notch certificate programs that allow individuals who are new to education to take part in their programs, such as the previously mentioned certificate program at University of Massachusetts.
What is the hardest part of the application to an on-campus or online educational leadership certificate program?
Generally, the application process for an on-campus or online certificate in educational leadership consists of several steps. First, formal admission requirements for many programs include mandatory teaching experience as well as a professional teaching certification degree or a masters degree in education.
To save time, applicants should carefully review these admission prerequisites before moving on to the actual application process. For most applications, certificate programs in educational leadership ask you to submit an application which includes a biographical essay that explains why you are applying to the certificate program. Applicants also need to submit supplementary material including all transcripts from postsecondary institutions, a 1-page resume and 2 letters of recommendations.
For most applicants interested in applying to competitive certification programs, the most challenging aspect of the application process is meeting all of the formal admission requirements.
For the certificate in educational leadership programs geared toward applicants who already work in education and are looking to advance their careers, application processes for online and on-campus programs are very similar. Online certificate programs, however, also offer students module-based programs that function as condensed workshops. These programs only require registration and fee payment and do not usually involve an application process.