Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teaching Certification in North Carolina

North Carolina licenses teachers in a number of categories, including elementary, middles grades, secondary, exceptional child, and K-12 special subjects. Teachers must complete a bachelor's degree and a teacher preparation program. Programs approved for licensure in other states are acceptable, but a new teacher will be responsible for meeting state-specific testing requirements, either before or after initial licensure. Bachelor’s degrees must come from regionally accredited institutions.

Teaching Areas

Middle grade credentials are issued for grades 6-9 in core academic subjects (mathematics, language arts, science, social studies).

Secondary school (9-12) teaching areas include general science and social studies as well as a number of science and social science disciplines (e.g. biology, chemistry, history, anthropology, economics). Teachers may be credentialed in mathematics, language arts, or any of multiple languages, including Italian, Chinese, and Latin.

Multiple world languages are offered as credentials at the K-12 level. The following are among the other K-12 specialty teaching areas:

  • Speech communication
  • Music
  • Art
  • Physical education

Exceptional child teaching areas include general curriculum, adapted curriculum, and severe/ profound disability, among others.

There are a number of career and technical fields, including computer programming, digital media, drafting, welding, allied health, and family and consumer education specialties.

Some teaching areas are add-on only. Teachers can, for example, pursue an elementary add-on math credential.

It is often easier for licensed teachers to add teaching areas than it is to achieve the first license. Teaching areas may be added by testing or coursework. Those who opt for additional education may complete a license-qualifying program or 24 semester hours of coursework. Out-of-state teachers who meet requirements for their primary teaching area may also receive the endorsements listed on their out-of-state certificate, provided there is a comparable category in North Carolina; it will not be necessary to test for all of them.

The Department of Public Instruction has provided a list of approved educator preparation programs, or EPPs (

Lateral Entry for Training

North Carolina has an alternative training program pathway, termed lateral entry. Individuals hired under the lateral entry pathway must work for three years under provisional licensing before they qualify for a higher license. They must meet subject area testing requirements at an early stage – it is a requirement for employment. The hire completes a teacher preparation program while working. The hiring organization is a partner in the process.

Lateral entry candidates may opt to use the services of a Regional Alternative Licensing Center (RALC) when planning their programs. In fact, they may wish to contact a RALC before they secure employment and receive their provisional license. A student who follows a RALC plan may pursue coursework through various accredited universities, including online ones. It does not all have to come from the same school. A provisional licensee may enroll in a university program without RALC involvement.

The Assessment Process

Candidates can expect to take more than one assessment along the way.

A prospective educator will need to take the Praxis CORE upon program entry unless exempt; high SAT or ACT scores can provide exemption. The Praxis CORE includes general academic skills; it covers reading, writing and math.

Elementary education and exceptional child general curriculum students need to take the Pearson Foundations of Reading test and General Curriculum test. State-specific information is available from Pearson Education.

The Praxis II is used for middle grade and secondary certifications and for K-12 specialties. Exceptional Child: General Curriculum candidates have a Praxis test requirement as well as the two Pearson tests.

ETS has provided state-specific information about Praxis tests ( Candidates can view required assessments for their subject area, along with minimum scores. Candidates who test in North Carolina can have their scores sent directly to the licensing authority.

ETS notes that many secondary candidates are required to take the Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7–12. Some North Carolina programs have transitioned to a portfolio-based pedagogy assessment.

Although North Carolina participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement, it does not have complete reciprocity; there are jurisdiction-specific requirements. Out-of-state licensees with three or more years of experience can generally be licensed at the continuing level. They do still need to pass the licensing examinations required in North Carolina unless they hold National Board certification; National Board certification is performance-based.

Elementary and exceptional child: general curriculum students who were licensed in their state on the basis of licensing examinations that did not include reading or math sub-tests can be licensed at the initial level in North Carolina, but can expect to complete some additional coursework before they qualify for the higher license.

The Application Process

North Carolina has an online credentialing system; applicants will find instructions once they have created an account.

Experience verification and other forms can be downloaded from the website of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (

International education must be evaluated for equivalency. International transcripts must be translated.

Additional Information

North Carolina teachers are credentialed by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Licensure Section ( Applicants with questions can call 919-807-3310 or (within North Carolina) 800-577-7994. Additional contact information is available on the Licensure Section home page.