Georgia, GA Teacher Certification

The United States faces increasing demand for high-quality, effective public school teachers. Georgia’s public schools do not have a sufficient number of qualified preschool through grade 12 teachers to meet their needs, nor do they have sufficient ethnic diversity to reflect the current student population. As is the case in many states, Georgia also has serious teacher shortages in the sciences and mathematics.

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How to Become a Teacher

You will need at least a four-year degree to become a teacher. Depending on your major and the grade level you want to teach, you may have additional requirements.

Many of the University System of Georgia teacher preparation institutions offer four-year programs and graduate programs leading to initial certification.

If you have an undergraduate degree, but not in Education and want to teach now or in the future, you can still prepare to become a teacher. Many of our institutions offer post-baccalaureate programs and Master of Arts in Teaching for those who do not have a teaching degree.

After you finish your teacher preparation program, you will need to obtain a teaching certificate. The official teacher licensing body in Georgia is the Professional Standards Commission. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission offers different types and levels of certification, routes to certification and rules and procedures for applying for certification.

The University System of Georgia has developed the Teacher Career Center — an online one-stop shop that offers information and resources for interested individuals.

What to Teach

Choose the grade level in which to earn your certification. While some areas of specialization provide certification levels ranging from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, specific steps are required to the different grade levels.

  • Certification levels are divided into four categories:
  • Early Childhood Education (pre-kindergarten through fifth grade)
  • Middle Grades Education (fourth grade through eighth grade)
  • Secondary Education (high school)
  • Preschool through Grade12

Choose Your Subject

Think about how much demand there will be for your skills and knowledge once you graduate. Some subjects are considered “critical need areas,” and pursuing these areas may be beneficial for you. For middle school, you will need to choose two subject concentrations to teach. For high school teaching, you will need at least one subject concentration. Once you know which subject you want to teach, your next step is to select a teacher preparation program.

Routes to Certification

Traditional Routes:

Obtain a Georgia certificate by completing a state-approved educator preparation program at a college or university.

If you do not have a Bachelor’s degree, look for a program in which you can earn a college degree along with the state certificate.

If you have already finished your degree, your next step is to complete the requirements needed to obtain an educator certificate.

Educators who move to Georgia with an out-of-state certificate must meet Georgia’s certification requirements through reciprocity procedures.

Traditional initial programs must be completed prior to public school employment.

Georgia Teaching Certificates

The initial educator certificate is the Non-Renewable Certificate. This requires completion of initial pre-requisites that enable the teaching candidate to learn on the job as a classroom teacher while progressing through the remaining certification requirements. Non-renewable certificates are usually valid for 5 years.
After your receive your Non-Renewable Certificate, the next step is to follow the path to the Clear Renewable Certificate, which is a full, professional certificate.The Professional Standards Commission (PSC) issues Clear Renewable Teacher Certificates after all requirements for professional licensure in the field have been met, including any applicable special Georgia requirements. The certificates are valid for five years, and they may be renewed. You can obtain the Clear Renewable Teacher Certificate by completing a college’s or university’s approved teacher preparation program or through reciprocity of a professional certificate from another state.

Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE)

All teaching candidates must register for and pass the required Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) exam.

The purpose of the GACE is to assess the knowledge and skills of prospective Georgia public school educators. All candidates applying for an educator license or certificate are required to earn passing scores on the GACE exam, which consists of assessments that measure knowledge and skills in relation to established standards. Candidates for approved teacher preparation programs in Georgia must also pass a basic skills test in reading, writing and mathematics.

Many GACE tests are now offered online in addition to the regularly scheduled paper-based test administrations. Preparation materials are also available online at the official GACE website

Alternative Routes

Alternative routes are particularly useful during periods of high need, when there are teacher shortages, such as those the US is facing in academic fields such as math, science, foreign language and special education.

You can obtain a Georgia educator certificate while working as teacher. This route is designed for people who already have degrees, along with various life experiences. This certificate is also useful for former educators who want to return to the classroom, even though their certificates or licenses have expired. Initial eligibility requirements lead to a Non-Renewable Certificate, and additional requirements are completed while the individual is teaching in a Georgia public school. Upon completion of all requirements, the teacher will be issued a Clear Renewable Certificate.

The International Exchange Teacher route allows a teacher who is certified in another country to obtain a Georgia certificate. These international exchange certificates are valid for three years.

The Permit route allows non-certified individuals to obtain a Georgia permit to teach in special restricted circumstances, for example the permit allows performing artists, retired teachers and native foreign language speakers to teach temporarily in Georgia classrooms.

The Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (TAPP) Program
offers a non-traditional preparation route to educator certification. Required coursework is completed through a combination of online and face-to-face coursework. The non-renewable TAPP intern certificate, which is valid for two years, is granted to educators who complete the Georgia TAPP program.

US Department of Education Transition to Teaching Programs:
Georgia Teaching Force Program

If you are thinking about changing your career and becoming a teacher, Georgia offers some alternate routes to take to achieve your goals. Some basic steps include:

  • Determine if you meet the minimum qualifications to pursue a teaching position and to enter a certification program. You can find information about approved alternative pathways to certification for college-educated individuals who have a Bachelor’s degree and would like to pursue a teaching career but have not completed traditional teacher preparation programs. You can enroll in a program that provides transitional teachers with the skills necessary for becoming classroom educators.
  • Select a content area in which you already have a concentration of completed college courses. Check your level of knowledge and review content required for certification. To refresh your knowledge, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission website offers online resources and links for self-assessments your chosen content area(s) considering.

You can enroll in a program that provides transitional teachers with the skills necessary for becoming classroom educators. A Candidate Support Team (CST) works with each potential teacher and evaluates the level of knowledge and skills the transition teacher possesses. Throughout this process, candidates offer evidence of their knowledge and skills in all 24 teaching competencies. If all requirements are met, including a minimum of one year of mentoring/coaching, then successful transition teachers are recommended by the Candidate Support Team for Georgia Clear Renewable Certification.

Online Master’s Degrees in Teaching

Georgia also offers a new online master’s degree in teaching that is geared toward people who are changing careers, want to teach the sciences and math and who already have bachelor’s degrees in mathematics or one of the sciences. A group of University System of Georgia (USG) institutions have come together to share resources and faculty expertise to offer this online degree program completely online.

Troops to Teachers: a Department of Defense Program

This alternate route to teacher certification is managed by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) in Florida. The purpose of the Troops-to-Teachers program is to assist eligible men and women who have served as members of the US Armed Forces and are now seeking careers as teachers in public schools.

The PACES Program: Preparing Alternatively Certified Educators for Special Education

The PACES certification program is a two-year program that prepares candidates in a co-teaching model for a special education general curriculum certification.