Should You Earn a Gifted and Talented Teacher Certification?
by Mary Jacob McKinley
Teachers choose from a long list of certificates to add to their teaching credentials, including the Gifted and Talented certification (GATE). But is this extra credential worth the effort? Will it help you to reach your students more effectively and make you more attractive to employers?
The short answer is yes, but you’ll want to consider a few variables you jump in. We’ll walk you through the options and benefits of getting a GATE certification, plus offer advice on marketing your GATE certification when you apply for your next job.
An overview of the Gifted and Talented certification
The gifted and talented education certification prepares teachers to help gifted students reach their potential in academics or the arts. Teachers learn how to identify and recommend gifted students for the program, how to communicate with parents and administration about these students, and how to prepare differentiated lesson plans and assessments.
Benefits and considerations to becoming GATE certified
Here are a few perks to pursuing your GATE certification, as well as some factors to consider.
- Teach the top students
If you want to teach the academic achievers, then you will need to be a certified gifted teacher. Gifted teachers teach in all types of classrooms, but are often utilized in honors, dual credit and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
- Create differentiated lessons
The GATE certification for teachers covers differentiation thoroughly, from lesson plans to grouping and assessments. If you have taught for a few years, this should be a refresher. If you are new to teaching, this will give you a multitude of options to help students reach their potential.
- Keep up on your continuing education credits
Each state requires teachers to maintain continuing education credits. The GATE certification counts toward the renewal credits, if the course is graduate level.
- GATE certification can help you stand out
If there is a shortage of gifted teachers in your school district, the certification could help fill a need and can be a bargaining chip in the hiring process. Administrators may require the certification or may only hire teachers who already have it. If you’re already GATE certified, make sure to highlight this qualification on your teaching resume. (Check out our tips on how to write a resume that will impress the administration.)
- Financial investment
The cost of the courses will vary, but most are on par with other education courses. The GATE certification might not earn you a raise right away, but it can help you fulfill the state renewal requirements, which will likely lead to a bump in pay in the long run.
- You’ll be challenged in the classroom
Gifted students demand your time and energy. They will have thoughtful questions and test your expertise in your subject area. Differentiating courses is time-consuming — it will stretch your resources and will challenge you to grow as a teacher.
Options for getting certified
The GATE certification involves courses on “Understanding the Nature and Needs of Gifted Students” and “Curriculum and Instruction for Gifted Students.” You can add on more courses or the program you choose may require additional coursework.
Here are a few ways you can get certified:
- Collegiate campus programs
Many colleges offer GATE certification courses on campus. These programs vary in length from six to 18 credit hours.
- Online programs
A variety of online programs exist for the GATE certification. These courses cover the same material and require the same amount of time but provide more flexibility. Make sure the program is accredited and find one that works for your schedule. Out-of-state student fees can apply to online courses, so be mindful of that.
- Add-on to a master’s program
If you are already enrolled in a master’s program, some colleges offer GATE as an add-on certification. Check your program’s course catalog for availability.
- On-campus through the district
Some school districts host the classes at a local school campus with a local administrator proctoring the courses for a college.
For information about teaching gifted students in your state, check out the National Association for Gifted Children website. The “Gifted by State” section provides a link to each state’s education agency, making it easier to learn about the requirements in your area.
Marketing your GATE certification
Once you’ve earned your GATE certification, use it as a selling point in your teaching application. If you’re new to GATE, your cover letter can explain why you earned your certification and what you hope to achieve in the classroom. Both new and veteran gifted educators should include their teaching philosophy in the “summary” section of their resume.
Here are some other tips for creating a stand out GATE application:
- Highlight your gifted and talented experience on your resume
Include the GATE certification on your resume, as well as the date you completed the program. Note prior experience working with GATE students, as well as any research, after-school programs or special projects you completed in the field. Some schools actively seek gifted teachers, and this will be a bonus.
- Mention GATE in your cover letter
Use keywords like “differentiation” and “gifted and talented education” to stand out. Write about examples from your classroom or lesson plans that describe how you differentiate for the students. Check out cover letter templates that demonstrate how to create a cover letter that will catch an administrator’s eye.
If you’re hoping to use your GATE certification to land a new job, our Resume Builder can help you create a well-written resume that will get you noticed.