New York, NY State Teacher Certification

Public schools in New York State employ more than 220,000 teachers to educate over 2,700,000 students in grades K–12, according to the 2010 New York State Report Card. New York has a variety of schools, from community-centered neighborhood schools to theme-based schools devoted to the study of technology, the performing arts, science, the humanities, etc.

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Teachers in New York

The New York Department of Education is looking for intelligent, motivated and dedicated teachers who are prepared to be inspiring educators. The application process is very competitive with at least six applications received for each open position.

High Need Schools

New York is seeking teachers willing to work in high-need schools. High-need schools often have high percentages of English language learners and students with special needs. The Department of Education may offer financial incentives to teachers in high-need schools.

Choosing Your Subject Area and Grade Level

  • Once you decide you want to be a teacher, you need to choose a subject area or specialty, for example, math, language arts or special education.
  • New York state certificates specify grade levels, so you need to choose from: early childhood (birth to grade two), childhood (grades 1-6), middle childhood (grades 5-9), adolescent (grades 7-12) or all grades (pre-K-12).

Types of Certificates

New York State offers numerous types of Teaching Certificates, each of which specifies:

  • The level of certification, which depends on the teacher’s educational background and teaching experience.
  • The certificate title, which is based on the teacher’s chosen subject area and/or grade level.

Internship Certificate

The Internship certificate:

  • Is issued to students who have completed at least half of an approved graduate teacher education program leading to Initial teacher certification.
  • Allows the holder to serve an internship in a public school.
  • Is issued to recommended students at the request of their college or university
  • Is granted to students who have a guaranteed offer of employment in a school district.
  • Is valid for two years.
  • Leads to an Initial certificate.

Initial Certificate

The Initial Certificate:

  • Is the entry-level teaching certificate.
  • Is issued to individuals who have completed a teacher preparation program or equivalent coursework and experience.
  • Is valid for five years.
  • Leads to: Professional Certificate.

Professional Certificate

The Professional Certificate:

  • Is the advanced-level certificate for classroom teachers.
  • Is issued in specific subject/grade titles.
  • Is continuously valid on a five-year cycle with completion of required professional development hours.
  • Requires:  
    • A Master’s degree
    • Three years of full-time teaching experience, of which one year includes mentored experience.
    • Ongoing professional development.
    • Three years of full-time experience, the first year of which must include mentored experience.

Pathways to Teacher Certification

  • New York State offers a number of routes or preparation Pathways, depending on your background and preferences.
  • Before choosing the best preparation pathway by which you will become a teacher, you must select the appropriate certificate by category, subject area, grade level, title, and type.  
    • Select an appropriate pathway.
    • Complete the requirements for your certificate.
    • Submit an application with supporting documents to the New York State Education Department

Teacher Preparation Pathways include the following:

  • Approved Teacher Preparation Program
    • A person may complete a Teacher Education Program in a New York college or university.
    • College Graduate candidates, who possess a bachelor’s degree, may enroll in a state-approved Graduate Program at a New York State college or university. This program usually includes an internship in a K-12 school. After graduation, the institution usually recommends candidates for their first teaching certificate.
  • Alternative Teacher Preparation Program
    • New York State also offers an Alternative Preparation model aimed at non-teaching career professionals.
      • Colleges offer Alternative programs that feature an accelerated introductory component, followed by paid employment, with mentoring, coursework and other support from the college and school district.
      • Career Change candidates who fit this profile often study at their own pace in order to fulfill the requirements for a teaching certificate.
      • Applicants must:
      • Earn a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 2.5.
    • Satisfy semester hour requirements.
    • Meet specific liberal arts and sciences general core, content core, and pedagogical core competencies for the certificate being sought.
    • Pass the New York State Assessment Tests
    • Apply directly for a Certificate to the New York State Education Department’s Office of Teaching Initiatives.

National Board Certificate
A teacher who holds a certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) may obtain a New York State certificate in a comparable title, without meeting any additional education or testing requirements, through the National Board Pathway.

Distance Learning

Many states offer the option of meeting educational goals through distance-learning coursework. New York’s Office of Teaching Initiatives does not endorse any specific distance-learning programs, but approved online programs and coursework may be considered.


  • Applicants who hold a certificate from another state, or who have completed an approved program that would lead to a teaching certificate in another state, may be eligible for a certificate through interstate reciprocity.
  • The Conditional Initial Certificate is based on Reciprocity. It can be applied for by applicants who are certified or licensed in another state or country and are interested in teaching in New York City.
  • Applicants who have completed alternative teacher preparation programs in other states are required to have at least three years of full-time teaching experience under the certificate.


  • The New York State Teacher Certification Examination Program is designed to help insure that teachers have the necessary knowledge and skills.
  • Individuals seeking a teaching certificate must achieve qualifying scores on assessment tests, depending on their certificate title.
  • The New York State Certification Examinations program includes tests that measure a candidate’s knowledge and skills in:
    • The liberal arts and sciences.
    • Teaching theory and practice.
    • The content area of the candidate’s field of certification.

Fingerprinting and Criminal Background Check

New York State law requires that the Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability conduct fingerprinting and criminal history background checks for applicants for all certification and for all prospective employees of school districts