State by State Certification Requirements

Obtaining a teaching license can depend on several different factors depending on which state you live in. All states require a Bachelor’s Degree, preferably in Education (although alternative certification processes do exist). Beyond that however, each state has different guidelines and procedures for licensure. That’s why it’s very important for anyone considering joining the teaching profession to familiarize themselves with the various prerequisites required by their sate.

Below are just a few examples of the steps required for certain states.

California
California has a tiered certification system with two different types of licensure: Preliminary and Professional Clear Credential.

The Preliminary license is only valid for five years and you’ll be required to complete not only your Bachelor’s in Education but also a teacher preparation program like student teaching. You’ll also be expected to pass the CBEST or CSET examination, pass a subject matter competency test (CSET/SSAT or Praxis) and complete courses in developing English language skills, the U.S. Constitution and computer technology.

In order to then obtain your Professional Clear Credential you’ll need to complete a Professional Teacher Induction Program and obtain National Board Certification. The Professional Clear Credential is renewable every five years.

New York
In order to become a teacher in New York you will first have to attend an accredited Teacher Preparation Program in New York. Once you’ve finished your classwork you’ll need to actually apply for teaching certification. The testing standards vary depending on the level of education you hope to teach however in general you’ll be expected to  Pass the New York State Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST), the Assessment of Teaching Skills- Written (ATS-W), and the appropriate Content Specialty Test(s)(CST).

New York also offers college graduates with Bacherlor’s Degrees in other fields to pursue a career in teaching via a “Transitional” alternative pathway. In fact, New York is known for aggressively pursuing professionals outside the field of Education for teaching positions. You’ll need to complete a 200 clock hour training course. With that finished you’ll then be able to move onto teaching in a mentoring role while you finish the other required coursework for your full certification.

Texas
During the final year of study for your Bachelor’s Degree in Education you’ll be placed into a student teaching program. During this time you will be paired with a more experienced teacher who will help show you the ropes of the profession. You’ll help create a lesson plan, grade papers and even attend parent teacher conferences.

Once you graduate with your degree you’ll then be expected to also pass the state exams (TExES). All Texas teachers are required to pass the content exam for their desired area of education as well as tests in Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities.

Illinois
The  IBOC has a three-tier certification  system.  After one year of student teaching in Illinois, you may apply for an Initial Teaching Certificate. Teachers with less than 4 years yet meet all of the educational prerequisites can apply for an Initial Teaching Certificate. The ITC is good for four years with a one year additional extension option available.

At this point the next step would be to acquire your Standard Teaching Certificate. In order to accomplish this you’ll need to complete one of the required professional development programs required by the state. This could include any number of things ranging from earning an advanced degree in education or completing as many as post-graduate classwork. After you’ve completed these steps and have at least four years of teaching experience you will get your Standard Teaching Certificate. This certificate is good for four years with renewal options depending on your continued professional development.  

Finally, Illinois also offers a Master Teaching Certificate. In order to obtain this you’ll need to pass the National Teacher Certification tests offered by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

Like many other states, Illinois also offers alternative teaching certification and reciprocity for teachers coming in with licenses from other states.

Florida
If the program you graduated from was approved by the state through the Florida Teacher Education Website you must take the Florida Teacher Certification Examination (FTCE) and pass all three portions.  At which point you will be awarded a Professional Florida Educator’s Certificate.

If the program was not approved or you failed the FTCE you’ll be given a temporary certificate and allowed three years to finish any additional coursework or pass the FTCE exam.  With this completed you will then have to fill out an application and pay a fee.

After that you’ll be mailed Official Statement of Status of Eligibility that will tell you whether you are eligible or ineligible to be granted a temporary or professional certificate. If you are ineligible, the statement will list the steps you need to follow in order to become eligible

Keep in mind however that you still will not receive either your temporary or professional certificate until you begin actually teaching for the state.

Once you find a job you’ll have your fingerprints taken and be awarded your teaching certificate. 

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Barbara treacy, the director of edtech leaders online at the newton, admission essay writing mass.