Some schools in the state may soon face teacher shortages.
Officials say less students are graduating with education degrees, and large numbers of teachers are beginning to reach retirement eligibility.
Alternate route programs are offered by the state department of education for those who have a college degree in something other than education but may want to begin teaching. About 2,500 teaching certificates have been awarded through the program this school year.
"We have fewer graduates coming out of teacher education programs than we once had," said Assiciate Superintendent of Hattiesburg Schools Jimmy Hopkins. "We also have a larger number of educators that are eligible to retire, and that number exceeds the number we're expecting from our teacher education programs."
The alternate route programs vary in length from one to three years. One program allows the student to receive a master of arts in education.