Skip to main content

Preparing to Teach

Your students can’t wait to meet you. Here’s how we prepare you for that memorable moment.
On This Page

The Preparation Process

The best way to become a teacher is to bring equity into the classroom. The best way to create a world where all children learn, lead, and thrive is to advocate for the most marginalized children outside of the classroom. We teach you how to do both during our one-of-a-kind teaching and leadership training. 

Here’s how we will support you as you prepare for the first day of school and beyond.

A graphic explaining the three months Teach For America uses to prepare its corps members



Onboarding starts the day you accept your TFA offer and continues into your first few months of teaching. Over several months, you will receive teacher training, obtain your initial teaching certification, and learn ways to center equity in the classroom. Onboarding ensures that you can successfully transition into the classroom and provide a learning environment where all students have the opportunity to thrive. 



 What to expect during this time

Regional onboarding: During this time, you will connect with staff from your placement region. Your regional teams will provide you with everything you need to know to teach on the first day of school. This includes:

  • A list of required exams
  • Steps to complete your initial teaching certification
  • Advice for getting hired by your district/school
  • Other required actions to get qualified for teaching

National onboarding: Around the same time, you’ll participate in our national Pre-Service training. Here, you and other incoming corps members across America will learn how to incorporate and elevate racial equity in education, starting in your classroom. This includes:

  • Best practices for providing students with a high-quality education 
  • Tools to pursue a lifetime commitment to advancing educational equity and excellence

What you can expect from us

To help you stay on top of important milestones, your regional Teach For America staff will help you smoothly transition into your classroom. Support from your region includes:

  • Guidance for identifying and registering for exams
  • Certification exam prep resources (practice tests, study guides, practice problems, tutoring, etc. note: exam prep differs by region.)
  • Resume workshops
  • Interview prep sessions
  • Mock interviews
  • Scheduled interviews
  • Building regional context and network
  • Consistent communication from your region

What we need from you

While we support you in various ways as you take steps to become a qualified teacher, your responsibilities during the onboarding process include:

  • Prepare for TFA summer training
  • Study and pass teacher certification tests and subject-area exams 
  • Meet and maintain certification requirements within timelines
  • Obtain your initial teaching certificate
  • Submit paperwork in the weeks and months after joining the corps
  • Prepare and engage in interviews scheduled by Teach For America
  • Go through a hiring process to secure a teaching position 
    • Hiring timelines vary from region to region. Some corps members are hired before Pre-Service training, others during or after
  • Secure employment as a full-time teacher by your school, district, or charter organization in your assigned community
  • Take part in your school or district's orientation sessions 
  • Attend, fully engage in, and successfully meet the expectations of Pre-Service training and practicum
  • Get to know your new community and fellow corps members




Our Pre-Service training will prepare you to provide your students with a high-quality education and to pursue a lifetime commitment to advancing educational equity and excellence. Throughout the summer and into the fall, you will build relationships with a network of systems-change leaders. Your learning will be focused on concepts that sit at the heart of our work, including culturally relevant pedagogy, anti-racist teacher leadership, universal design for learning, and social-emotional learning. You will engage in continuous and critical self-reflection and immediately put the lessons you learn into action in the classroom and beyond.



Pre-Service training is rigorous—but it pays off. You will establish a strong foundation that you will continue to hone throughout your time as a corps member. You will also build context and confidence that will help you quickly acclimate to your teaching environment when the school year begins.

You will begin your full-time summer training in partnership with other corps members, alumni, and staff from across our network. You will engage in experiences like planning and rehearsing lessons, participating in group discussions, watching videos and models of teaching, and learning new concepts and practices through collaborative adult learning experiences.

Summer Training start dates. Regions in the first start wave of training begin on Thursday, May 25th and regions in the second start wave begin on Thursday, June 8th.  You can view a list of regions by start date using this chart.


  Self-guided training

     Live online training


   During the school year

Getting Qualified to Teach

Getting Qualified to Teach

Get your initial license

This is what you need to teach on day one. To receive your initial license, you’ll be required to pass your grade level and subject exam. This may vary by region.

Get your full certification

While you can start teaching with your initial license, most states require you to be working toward your full certification. During your first year of teaching, you will enroll in a certification program at a university, partner organization, or with TFA. Most certification programs are completed within 2 years. 

getting qualified to teach

Getting Hired at Your School

Getting Hired at Your School

As a corps member, you will be hired as a full-time employee by your school, district, or charter organization—not Teach For America. Your salary and benefits will be the same as other beginning teachers working for your employer.


getting qualified to teach

What to expect during this time

Each region has partnerships with local school districts that hire Teach For America corps members. In order to gain employment as a teacher, you will need to go through a hiring process which may include applying for open teaching positions and interviewing with principals and other staff within these partner schools.

The timeline for when you'll be hired varies widely from region to region. Hiring usually takes place between the time you join the corps and before the school year starts in the fall.

What you can expect from us

Regional Teach For America staff will support you during the hiring process by:

  • Sharing information about hiring timelines
  • Matching you with open teaching positions
  • Supporting you with resume review
  • Conducting interview practice

What we need from you

During this time, you will be responsible for: 

  • Preparing your resume and cover letter
  • Applying for open teaching positions
  • Interviewing with school principals
  • Completing hiring paperwork

Compare regions to see average salary ranges for teachers across different regions.

Salary & Benefits

Salary & Benefits

As a corps member, you’ll receive a salary and benefits from the school district, charter school, or pre-K center where will you work as a full-time teacher. You are not an employee of Teach for America and thus are not paid by Teach for America.


salary & benefits

What to expect during this time

You’ll be paid the same as other beginning teachers working for the same employer. Salaries typically range from $33,000 to $58,000, depending on where you teach.

While urban areas tend to offer higher salaries, the cost of living is also higher. Salaries in rural areas tend to be lower, but you’ll likely spend less on rent and other expenses.

Also as a full-time teacher, you are entitled to medical benefits through your employer. Plans and costs vary, depending on where you teach.

Most employers offer:

  • Medical, dental, and vision care
  • Referral-free access to doctors
  • Routine preventative care
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Employee assistance and wellness programs
  • Family-planning services
  • Vaccinations (e.g., flu shots)
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement benefits, typically employer-supported pension plans or 403(b)

Depending on where you teach and when the school year begins there, you can expect your first paycheck between late August and late September. This means it can take from 3-6 weeks after the start of the school year to receive your first paycheck.

What you can expect from us

There are several financial support programs available to ease your transition into the classroom and help with moving expenses and certification costs. In addition to a full salary from your school or district, we offer:

  • Baseline Transitional Financial Support to assist all corps members so that you can focus on your transition and preparing for students
  • Need-based financial support packages
  • Access to AmeriCorps benefits including federal funding to help pay off student loans and cover some of the costs incurred while earning your teaching certification

What we need from you

You can compare regional salaries with our compare regions tool. Select regions on the map that interest you and view expected first- and second-year salary ranges in the chart below the map. You can also compare other costs like certification and living expenses.

Getting Set Up

Getting Set Up

As with any new job, you should prepare for expenses that might arise before your first paycheck. You should anticipate expenses specific to becoming a teacher, as well as those related to moving to your region and initial living expenses.


getting set up

What you can expect from us

Upon your acceptance to the corps, you will be able to talk with your regional team for guidance on housing. Corps members can choose to live wherever they would like during their corps experience. If you receive a need-based funding package from TFA, you can use it toward these moving costs. 

What we need from you

Corps members will incur teaching-specific expenses, including testing, background checks, and more. Including the cost of certification, you should anticipate general living costs before, during, and after Pre-Service training. This can include rent, travel to and from your region, car expenses, moving expenses, and more. 

You should plan to pay for these expenses out-of-pocket. View cost ranges with the compare regions tool, or by visiting each region’s page.

Our Financial Incentive Programs

Your Financial Commitment

There are financial costs you will need to meet to become a corps member. Teach For America is committed to helping you navigate this. See our financial support programs below.

Initial license & testing

FT certification

Moving costs

Housing (rent, utilities)

Transportation (driving, public)

Living (food, sundries)

Transitional loan & grant

We want you to be able to focus on training and student impact, not worry about finances. In addition to earning a full salary and benefits from your district, TFA provides baseline transitional financial support to help you get settled in your new community as well as need-based transitional grants and no-interest loans to help corps members make it to their first paychecks. Need-based packages are based on an applicant's demonstrated need, the cost of living in the assigned region and their stipend amount. Your Transitional Financial Support may be used for such expenses like travel to your region, rent and other basic living expenses during summer training, and testing or application fees.

  • Need-based aid

    Our pursuit of equity involves helping our incoming corps members who have a greater financial need with their transition prior to receiving their first paycheck. TFA offers need-based funding packages for those who qualify in addition to the baseline transitional financial support. The need-based financial support packages are commonly used to supplement housing start-up costs and living expenses, onboarding costs, miscellaneous needs during the summer, and other costs as you settle into your region. You must submit an application to be considered for need-based financial support.

  • Americorps (student loan assistance)

    During one or both years of your corps service, you may be eligible to enroll as an AmeriCorps member. AmeriCorps members are eligible to receive federal funding to help pay off student loans and cover some of the costs incurred while earning your teaching certification. Learn more about AmeriCorps eligibility.

  • Black Educators Grant

    This is a donor-funded, multi-year initiative, specifically targeted to increase recruitment and retention of Black teachers in the classroom. This grant is a one-time $600 grant for our incoming corps members who self-identify as Black educators. The grant can be used to assist with any expenses during the transition or at the corps member’s discretion.

Emergency support

Even when you become a corps member and start receiving your first paycheck, we understand that unexpected things in life happen. TFA is committed to supporting you with the financial stress that is often associated with emergencies and natural disasters. If you’re experiencing significant financial challenges that could impact your ability to continue with your corps commitment, we ask you to be in touch with us.  We can discuss how to best meet your needs.