Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Utah

Education is a broad field. Utah teachers are recognized in number of licensing areas of concentration. Often these correspond to grade bands at the early childhood, elementary, or secondary level. Categories such as special education, preschool special education, and deaf education are recognized as areas of concentration. Many teachers have endorsements, further delineating what they are qualified to teach. Secondary teachers must hold one or more endorsements; elementary teachers may or may not hold them.

Educators must meet program and assessment requirements for their area of concentration. They must clear background checks. There are multiple pathways to licensure.

Ultimately, standards are set high. Utah has a tiered licensing system. Level 2 is an expectation for those who stay in the field. Utah has an induction program, Early Years Enhancement (EYE).

The Optional Level 3 license represents a high level of achievement, typically met by earning National Board certification. It can also be granted on the basis of doctoral education.

Paths to Licensure

The traditional path for a prospective teacher is to complete a program through a Utah school. A student who does not yet have a bachelor’s degree will need to earn one. Program and degree requirements may be met simultaneously. Individuals with degrees may select from traditional or nontraditional programs. Options will depend on prior education as well as career goals. Some professionals become teacher of record before completing program requirements. Like individuals who complete traditional programs, they need to prove themselves in the field to achieve Level 2 licensure.

Degree holders with plans to teach a secondary subject may apply through the Alternate Routes to Licensure pathway. They will apply for a specific endorsement. A degree holder might be approved for a subject unrelated to his or her major but would need to take subject tests beforehand ( A person can also achieve elementary education or special education through this pathway; they will need 27 semester hours of applicable content coursework at the onset. This can include a range of liberal arts and sciences courses. Utah places stipulations on the number of units that are creditable in each category and, in some categories, on the course content.

Requirements to complete the Academic Pathway to Teaching pathway are slightly different. Again, a candidate will need a college degree at the onset. The individual can select elementary K-6 or secondary 6-12 secondary with an endorsement area. The candidate will need to demonstrate content area knowledge at the onset.

Areas of Concentration and Endorsement

Programs are available in a wide variety of areas, corresponding with areas of concentration and endorsement. Elementary credentials may be issued for grades K-6 or grades K-8. Teachers who hold credentialing for elementary grades 1-8 can pursue an additional endorsement that will allow them to teach kindergarten.

Utah recognizes multiple science and social studies disciplines at the secondary (grades 6-12) level. Most special education endorsements are K-12. Teachers can teach middle school on the basis of elementary 1-8 or secondary 6-12 credentialing, provided they are endorsed in the subjects they wish to teach.

Utah issues some endorsements that don't stand alone. They may be attached to another credential.

A teacher can find requirements for various endorsement areas on the website of the Utah State Board of Education (

Teachers sometimes work under a State Approved Endorsement Plan while pursuing a needed endorsement.

The Assessment Process

Teachers can expect to take multiple assessments before they achieve licensure at Level 2. In most cases, these will be computer-delivered. The Praxis Core may be required at program admission as a demonstration of general academic skills.

Subject area assessments will be required prior to licensure. Prospective educators can expect to complete at least one. Most assessments are part of the ETS Praxis series.

World languages candidates take the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI).This requirement is waived only in the case of out-of-state teachers who have considerable successful experience -- four years. The OPI is offered by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Special education candidates have multiple options. Candidates seeking will take a subject examination as well as a special education assessment; it might be at the elementary or middle level. Those who are employed will seek the guidance of their LEA in making assessment decisions. Otherwise the educator preparation program will be the prime source of guidance.

An additional pedagogical test will be required prior to progress to Level 2. ETS offers the Principles of Learning and Teaching test four levels.

The Utah State Board of Education has provided a list of assessments and minimum scores, listed by teaching area. It was updated in Fall of 2018. ETS, the organization that administers the Praxis, maintains Utah-specific pages with information about scores. Candidates who test in Utah can have their scores sent directly to the licensing authority.

The Application Process

Utah has an online system, Comprehensive Administration Credentials for Teachers in Utah Schools (CACTUS).

There is a simplified process for graduates of Utah schools. The program handles many steps, but the prospective licensee will need to log on to make sure that his or her file is completed and institutional recommendation has been issued. The candidate will need to complete the ethics review. There is a background check requirement.

Utah does not currently charge fees for licensing. However, third party assessments do carry fees.

Out-of-State Licensees

Out-of-state licensure is recognized as a separate pathway ( Some will need to take Colorado assessments. Pedagogy and subject examination requirements can be waived on the basis of four years of experience. Utah can also accept assessments that are "reasonably equivalent".

An experienced out-of-state teacher can be credited with some experience, but can expect to spend at least a year at Level 1.

Out-of-state teachers will include copies of all licenses they have held. They will verify experience if applicable. There is a special form for documenting an expired license. The licensing authority will seek transcripts from all colleges. Those who completed alternative programs will document completion and also include course descriptions.

Application forms can be found on the website of the State Department of Education (

Additional Information

Information about educator licensing is available from the Utah State Board of Education ( The licensing tem can be reached at (801) 538-7740. Additional contact information is available online (