Start Here to Become a Teacher

Mapping a path into teaching?
Stop looking. Start here.


About Start Here

The success of teachers hinges on the quality of their preparation, yet there is little guidance on where to start. By exploring different routes into the classroom and sharing advice from real teachers, Start Here equips future educators for the journey.

What You’ll Learn

  • Pros and cons of various pathways into teaching, including loan info

  • The real deal on teacher salaries and benefits

  • Tips for landing your first teaching job

  • Specific guidance for selecting a teacher prep program

  • A list of the top 120 undergraduate teacher prep programs in the U.S.

(c) Emma McDonald Photography

(c) Emma McDonald Photography



This book is the essential guide to ensuring teachers make an informed choice. Research combined with guidance from current teachers is the winning formula.
— Celine Coggins - PhD, Founder, Teach Plus

About the


Kate Walsh has served as president of NCTQ since 2003. Previously, Walsh worked at The Abell Foundation, the Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Core Knowledge Foundation. She also started a boarding school in Kenya, East Africa; founded one of the nation's premier STEM programs; and started the first alternative certification program for teachers in Maryland. A long-time resident of Baltimore, Walsh also served on the Maryland State School Board.

Prior to joining NCTQ, Dan Brown served as Co-Director of Educators Rising, as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, and as a National Board Certified high school English teacher in Washington, DC. He is the author of the rookie teaching memoir The Great Expectations School . Brown holds an M.A. in Teaching of English from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.F.A. in Film and Television from New York University.


About NCTQ

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization that works to ensure that every child has access to an effective teacher. We research and evaluate issues related to teacher quality, and provide practitioners and policymakers with the evidence and guidance needed to fight for improvements in their states, regions, and communities.

As part of this work, NCTQ has reviewed teacher preparation programs for more than ten years, evaluating their quality against what research shows is best practice in how to prepare teachers for the classroom. Learn more about NCTQ’s Teacher Prep Review.