Preparing for Certifications

Preparing for Certifications

Teacher certification, also called teacher licensure in some states, is earned by completing all of an accredited teacher preparation program at your college, passing any required state certification tests, and completing required paperwork. If you are job searching before completing your teacher education program, you may write “certification expected and the date.”

Teacher certification is valid only in the state in which it is earned. If you are still in school and know that you want to teach in another state, learn that state’s requirements and try to meet them. Moving out of state after graduation may require additional paperwork, courses, and testing for certification in the other state. Some states may even require a fifth year of college for any first teaching certificate.

Though some states have reciprocity agreements with other states, that does not mean you are automatically certified or licensed for any of those states. You still must apply for the new certificate or license of that state. You can see certification requirements for each state by accessing the list of state departments of education at

If you plan to move to another state or country for your first teaching position, make sure that you know the certification requirements for that location. See Links to State Departments of Education for a list of departments of education by state. You also may access state certification and licensure requirements by visiting for links to each state department of education. When planning a move, allow yourself enough time to settle into your new apartment or home and your classroom.

Alternative or Provisional Certification
If you did not complete teacher certification while earning your bachelor’s degree, other options are available. These options vary by state and are usually outlined on each state’s department of education website.

Even if you work in a non-educational setting but dream of teaching, it’s not too late to make the transition. Like any new career, though, further training will be required. There are some job shortages in certain fields (math, science, special education) and in some geographic areas. Some states allow teachers to receive provisional certification to teach, then require that those teachers earn full certification while teaching. Limited alternative certification programs exist in some states. Check your state’s teacher certification website.

Certification Tests
All states now require that you pass certification tests. Thirty-six states use the PRAXIS tests, requiring that education majors (and most minors) pass Parts I and II before student teaching and then pass subject-area specific Praxis tests before graduation. The other 14 states have their own tests. The Educational Testing Services website is where you sign up for various tests such as Praxis and your state department of education website is where you’ll find information on signing up to take state-specific tests.

There are excellent study guides. One of the best is XAMonline. XAMonline’s teacher certification study guides offer an easy-to-understand, in-depth review of the actual content that’s on the test, not just a list of a skills and competencies or study secrets. In addition to a thorough review, the guides include practice tests with up to 125 questions to prepare you for the actual exam. The practice tests include full answer rationales as well as skill reference and rigor for each question, allowing you to quickly flip back and review the relevant content and identify which topics to devote more study time to. XAMonline guides are designed to prepare you for success, on both your certification test and in the classroom.

Other Certification Requirements

Many states require a Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification for all teachers and teachers’ aides. If you need a CPR certification, your state’s website will tell you what level you need. Early Childhood teachers may need Infant CPR as well as Adult/Pediatric CPR. Your state may also require First Aid or other types of emergency preparedness training. Often you can do training in a single day on a Saturday or Sunday or in two or three evenings.

You will find that CPR training is offered online, but you do not have the practice with the manikins or the interactions with and corrections of the instructors. Most states will not accept the online certifications. Instead, go to the Red Cross website to find locations and times as well as registration information. The American Heart Association also offers CPR training for individuals and groups, so check the AHA website. Local fire departments also frequently offer CPR certification training, so call them for information. Look for other classes by typing your state’s name and CPR into Google. Most state department of education websites not only tell what you need, but also give you links to places to receive the certification.

National Board Certification
National Board Certification (NBC) is a voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond state licensure. NBC has national standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. The National Board certifies teachers who successfully complete its rigorous certification process. This is not necessary for getting a teaching position. In fact, you need to teach for a while before you can apply.

If you are considering applying for National Board Certification, consider these 13 tips for teachers. View the programs available for teacher, principal, and higher education from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. National Board certification is at least a three-year process. Learn more about the process.

An alternative for Kappa Delta Pi members is to become a Teacher of Honor. Teacher of Honor recipients are practicing educators with three or more years of professional experience who demonstrate commitment to continuous professional growth and integrity in the classroom. View the criteria or apply to be a Teacher of Honor.

Further Requirements for Administrators
Administrators applying for new positions will need more than a résumé; they will need a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and possibly a personal statement or expanded doctrine of education or statement about their beliefs concerning education in the 21st century. A CV is a listing of all the places you have been published, usually in American Psychological Association (APA) format, all the presentations and workshops you have given, and anything else you have done to help schools or school systems improve.

Administrators should have at least a Master’s degree and in most cases, they also should have some type of certification or licensure for the position. The completion of a Building Level Administrator program at an approved college is usually necessary and is accompanied by the passing of the School Leaders Licensure Assessment.

Additional Requirements for Teaching in Colleges and Universities
If you want to teach in higher education, you will need at least a Master’s degree and need to be working on a doctorate. Larger institutions will not take applicants who have not finished a Ph.D. or Ed.D. You will need a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a Personal Statement or Educational Philosophy Statement. A very well-written cover letter and succinct résumé that shows results will aid your application.

Almost all college faculty have their CVs available on their faculty web pages. If you want to see those of the faculty of a particular school, go to the school’s website and type in the name of the person or the word “faculty” to get a list in the search box. Another place to see CVs is on LinkedIn on each person’s profile. By Googling the person’s name, you will bring up the LinkedIn profile as one of the first three items.

Take a look at some real CVs:
Ronald Marlin Knorr Ph.D., Clemson University – first three pages visible, can download all 10 by scrolling to Download button at bottom of page.

Afra Ahmed Hersi, Ph.D., Loyola University – most of her CV is on her web page. There are a couple of categories like professional affiliations missing. Download Now