Hawaii Teacher Licensing and Certification

The Hawaii Department of Education operates nearly 300 public schools serving youth in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Hawaii is the only state with a single, unified school system. If you are looking for a beautiful place to teach and make a difference in the lives of young people, Hawaii might be the right place for you to pursue a teaching license and eventually employment in Hawaiian schools.

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Provisional License

  • A provisional license will be granted to a candidate who satisfies Hawaii’s requirements. This license is non-renewable and valid for up to three years, and you must reapply each year. To qualify, all prospective teachers must demonstrate that they meet the following qualifications.
  • You must obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Courses for this degree may be completed in the classroom, online or a combination of both. Some colleges are also accredited to offer education teacher certification in addition to the bachelor’s degree.
  • You are required to successfully complete a State-approved teacher education program that will satisfy the performance standards of the Hawaii Board of Education.
  • Hawaii needs an official score report verifying that you received passing scores on the PRAXIS I Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPST) required for all applicants in all licensing areas. The three PPST test areas that examine your skills and knowledge are reading, writing and mathematics.
  • If your teaching field requires a subject area test, you must submit an official score report indicating passage of PRAXIS II subject assessment test. If Hawaii does not offer a subject area test for your license field, submit an official transcript from an accredited institution showing a major in the subject area for which you are requesting licensure.

You must obtain government clearance in the professional fitness check.

Standard License

  • A Standard renewable five year license may be granted to an applicant who has met the requirements for this type of license. To qualify you are expected to provide verification of the following steps, some of which may have been completed to qualify for your Provisional license.

    You are required to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

  • You must satisfactorily complete a State-approved teacher education program that shows that you are likely to satisfy performance standards of the Hawaii Board of Education.

    You must receive passing scores on the PRAXIS I and PRAXIS II exams.

  • You are required to obtain clearance in the professional fitness check.
  • Alternate Routes to Standard Licensure
  • Applicants who have fulfilled the following requirements may also be granted a Standard License:
  • Possess a valid National Board Certification in the subject area for which a license is being sought; and
  • Already hold a valid license from a state that is a part of Interstate Agreement on Qualification of Personnel;


  • Receive clearance in the professional fitness check;


  • Receive the Meritorious New Teacher Candidate (MNTC) designation on a valid teaching license from a state that is a participant in the MNTC program; and
  • Obtain clearance in the professional fitness check;


  • Possess a current and un-revoked teaching license from out-of-state; and
  • Complete a State-approved teacher education program;


  • Pass all State-required licensing tests – at a minimum, a content knowledge test — taken in the State that issued the valid license with which you are applying for a Hawaii teacher’s license. For test(s) not taken, the applicant must comply with requirements set by the Board; and
  • Receive clearance in the professional fitness check.

Emergency Hiring

Some schools cannot find qualified teachers in certain subject areas, such as math and science, and some schools have large non-English-speaking populations that create a need for bilingual teachers. Emergency hiring is one way to provide students with much needed teachers. In Hawaii, some grade levels, subject areas or locations are lacking qualified educators. These include geographically isolated schools, special education classes, elementary schools, and math and science classes.

An applicant who does not meet all of the requirements for a state of Hawaii license may be employed by the Hawaii Board of Education for one year at a time, but renewable for four years, provided that he or she:

  • Possesses a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, but may not have completed a student teaching program;
  • Submits an official transcript bearing the institution’s seal;
  • Demonstrates active pursuit of licensing by enrolling in an appropriate course of study; or
  • If the Teacher Education Program has been completed, the applicant takes the required PRAXIS tests.
  • Obtains clearance in the employee suitability background check, also known as professional fitness check.

Out-of-State Applicants

  • To become a teacher in Hawaii, out-of-state teacher applicants must meet the following requirements:
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in a field related to your chosen subject area;
  • Possess an out-of-state teaching license that is clear of any defaults;
  • Verify having taught under the license for three of the last seven years in the state where you received the license; and
  • Be willing to obtain a Hawaii teaching license within three years.

Other Alternate Routes to Certification

  • Students who are interested in exploring alternative routes to becoming an educator or who are switching careers, will find that Hawaii has a variety of nontraditional methods that can lead to a teaching credential. Some of these alternate routes are:
  • RISE, a one-year, intensive program that leads to a special education teaching credential;
  • The Alternative Program for Shortage Areas, which fills specific needs in Hawaii’s education field.
  • Troops to Teachers is a US Department of Education and Department of Defense program that helps eligible military personnel begin new careers as public school teachers, where they can offer their skills, knowledge and experience are most needed, while also providing employment to veterans.
  • Hawaii also encourages online teacher education courses, which are available through many colleges and universities.