Teacher Certification in North Carolina, NC

North Carolina has approximately 2700 public schools and 100 charter schools. The school system employs more than 103,000 teachers who educate about 1.5 million K-12 students. North Carolina has a strong commitment to improving schools, and the state consistently receives high ratings for setting academic standards, assessing student performance and providing equitable resources. Since 2001 North Carolina has hired approximately 10,000 new teachers who are designated as “highly qualified.” Teachers give the schools’ working conditions and competitive salaries high ratings, according to the 2010 Working Conditions Initiative Survey.

Requirements for Licensure

All teachers must be licensed by North Carolina if they want to teach in the state. North Carolina offers two standard teaching licenses and some alternate routes to licensure.

Standard Professional 1 (PS1) Educator’s License

To apply for a Professional Educator’s License PS1), you must qualify as one of the following:

  • North Carolina Teacher with 0-2 Years of Teaching Experience


  • An Out of State Teacher with 3 or more Years of Teaching Experience


  • A Lateral Entry Teacher in North Carolina

To satisfy basic qualifications for this professional educator’s license, an applicant must:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college.
  • Complete a North Carolina-approved education program at a regionally accredited college or university.


  • Complete another state’s approved alternative route to licensure and meet the federal requirements to be designated as a “Highly Qualified” teacher.

The Standard Professional 1 (PS1) Educator’s License
is valid for 3 years.

Standard Professional 2 (SP2) Educator’s Licenses

The Standard Professional 2 license is intended for:

  1. North Carolina teachers who have 3 or more years of teaching experience.


  • Fully licensed and “Highly Qualified” teachers from another state:
    • Who have three or more years of teaching experience.  
    • Who meet North Carolina’s PRAXIS testing requirements.
  • or  
    • Who have attained National Board Certification offered by the National Board For Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

The Standard Professional 2 Educator’s license (SP2) is valid for 5 years. It must be renewed every five years to ensure that licensed teachers continually update their professional knowledge and technical competency.

How to Apply for a Standard Professional Educator’s License in North Carolina

Professional employees in all public schools must hold a professional educator’s license specifying the subject and/or grade level they teach. Applicants must complete the following steps:

  • Step 1. Application
    • Complete the Application for a North Carolina Professional Educator’s License
  • Step 2. Prior Licensing
    • Provide your license from another state, if applicable.
    • or
      • Provide verification that you have completed an approved Teacher Education Program. This recommendation must come from an official at the institution where the approved education program was completed.
  • Step 3. Transcripts
    • Submit original transcripts for each of your degrees and any coursework you have completed not listed on your transcript.
    • Submit verification of “Highly Qualified” status, if applicable and official transcripts verifying coursework being used to meet “Highly Qualified” requirements.
  • Step 4. Test Scores
    • Passing test score(s) from the National Teacher Examinations (NTE) and PRAXIS tests should be submitted.
  • Step 5. Verification of Teaching Experience
    • Form-E must be completed if you have prior K-12 teaching experience. You must submit one form for each employer from wherever you claim teaching experience. These forms are used to verify Professional Educator Experience.
  • Step 6. International Verification
    • If you have earned a degree from another country you must provide an evaluation from an international education evaluation service with a copy of a current work authorization visa, permanent resident card or US passport.

Highly Qualified Teachers

Starting in 2006, all teachers of Core Academic Subjects were required to be Highly Qualified. As of March 2009, “Highly Qualified” teachers taught 97.8 percent of North Carolina’s public school classes.

  • The federal definition of a Highly Qualified teacher is one who:
    • Is fully certified and/or licensed by the state.
    • Holds at least a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution.
      • Demonstrates competence in each core academic subject area the teacher teaches.
      • Has an academic major or the equivalent in the content area

Elementary teachers must pass the PRAXIS II state test.

Middle school and high school teachers can be designated “Highly Qualified” by passing the PRAXIS II state test; having an academic major or the equivalent in the content area; having a graduate degree in the content area; or by having National Board Certification in the subject area.

Alternative Licensure Routes Acceptable in North Carolina

Troops to Teachers

The purpose of Troops to Teachers is to assist eligible military personnel who want to transition to new careers as public school teachers in targeted schools. Stipends may be available to teachers who make a three-year commitment to teach in schools serving a high percentage of students from low-income families.

Lateral Entry

Lateral Entry or alternative entry refers to the non-traditional education routes professionals can take to enter the teaching profession. The Lateral Entry program is meant for college graduates who want to leave their current career and enter the teaching profession. Lateral entry allows qualified individuals, to begin teaching, while earning a Professional Educator’s license. The NC Dept of Public Instruction authorizes lateral entry professional educator’s licenses on a provisional basis in licensure areas that correspond to the individual’s academic study.

  • http://www.ncpublicschools.org/licensure/beginning/
  • http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/licensure/steps/