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by Luke Smith,
WES Education Services
September 12, 2022
Licensure is typically required to work as a teacher in primary and secondary public schools. In the teaching profession, this licensure is often referred to as “certification,” but it is required and regulated at the state level.
Because each U.S. state licenses its own teachers, the requirements to teach vary from state to state. Licensing requirements also vary for different teaching specializations. Contact your state for more information on specific requirements.
Generally, as an internationally educated teacher seeking certification in the U.S., you must:
Many states also offer alternative teacher certification programs for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in an area other than teaching. You may qualify for one of these programs if your international degree is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree but does not fulfill the requirements for a degree in teaching. These programs offer opportunities to work as a teacher while completing courses to obtain teaching licensure. Alternative programs may take your non-U.S. teaching experience into account, allowing for faster completion of the program.
A few states have recently passed laws removing the degree requirement entirely for certain groups of potential teachers. Laws regarding educational and other requirements for teaching licensure are changing quickly, so check with your state for the most up-to-date information.
Interstate licensing: the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement is a collection of over 50 individual agreements by U.S. states and Canadian provinces that allows educators to move among participating states and jurisdictions.
Although public schools generally require all teachers to be certified, you may qualify for teaching jobs without a teacher’s license or certification in certain public charter or private schools. Some of these schools, such as Waldorf or Montessori schools, may require their own internal certifications.