How to Become a Teacher in Kentucky

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How to Become a Teacher in Kentucky

Prospective teachers in Kentucky must have a bachelor's degree and complete an approved student teaching preparation program. There are various pathways for alternative routes to Kentucky teacher certification for prospective teachers. These include demonstrating outstanding work performance in non-teaching academic areas, participating in a local training program, having at least six years of active duty as a veteran, having at least five years of full-time teaching experience at the college level, and having experience with Teach for America.

Kentucky also requires teachers to complete ongoing educational programs while participating in a multi-level ranking system. The ranking system lets teachers advance to higher levels of educational certification, beginning at Level III and advancing to level I. As teachers participate in educational programs, their rank increases.

How to Complete the Teacher Preparation Program in Kentucky

The Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) of Kentucky maintains separate divisions for the state teacher preparation program and educator certification program. Qualified candidates for Kentucky teacher certification programs must first complete a Kentucky teacher preparation program. Kentucky teacher preparation programs offer several options for prospective teachers, including a variety of program types, multiple program levels, and multiple pathways to completion. Program completion options include earning teaching undergraduate degrees, enrolling in teaching post-graduate programs, participating in student teaching and teaching internships, and participating in job-related professional training. Teacher preparedness programs are available for multiple teaching grade levels and various teaching disciplines.

Besides the many certification program options, Kentucky certification programs offer online and in-person learning options. For example, the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Education offers in-person and online degree programs. UK's online teaching degree and certification curricula offer primarily advanced degree programs and advanced certifications with limited program options, while the in-campus options provide more program flexibility to earn undergraduate, graduate, advanced degrees, and certificates.

Kentucky Teacher Education Requirements

Kentucky teacher certification requires educators to complete a bachelor's degree and teacher preparation program approved by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board. Teacher preparation programs incorporate student teaching.

Kentucky teacher certification requirements also support new teachers through the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP). KTIP assists new teachers in the classroom during their first teaching year. It also requires recency prerequisites for educators, which states applicants complete teacher preparation or six hours of graduate credit within five years preceding their application. Candidates who do not meet the graduate credit requirement are issued a one-year temporary certificate, under the condition they complete the graduate credit within a year.

Alternative Teacher Certifications in Kentucky

There are multiple alternative routes to certification for Kentucky teachers. Eligibility for all alternative Praxis teacher certification exams in Kentucky requires a minimum bachelor's degree and the following qualifications:

1. Exceptional Work Experience

Bachelor's degree, 2.75 GPA, and related work experience in non-teaching environments.

2. Local District Training Program

Bachelor's degree, 2.75 GPA, passing tests in chosen certification content area, and employment offers through a local school or district.

3. College Faculty

Teaching professionals with a master's degree and five years of college teaching experience.

4. Adjunct Instructor

Bachelor's degree and qualifications in academic content areas with proficiency in a chosen field. Leads to part-time contract teaching and not professional teacher certification.

5. Armed Services Veterans

Six years of service, honorable discharge, and bachelor's degree in a qualified field with a 2.75 GPA.

6. University-Based Alternative

Bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA may qualify for entry in a teacher preparation program and internship program to earn professional certification.

7. Institute Alternative

Bachelor's degree in a teaching content area, minimum 2.75 GPA, and proficiency in academic skills tests may qualify for initial teacher certification.

8. Teach for America (TFA)

Bachelor's degree, 2.5 GPA, and U.S. residency status. TFA places qualified individuals in disenfranchised areas with two-year commitments leading to educational opportunities.

The Kentucky Teacher Test Requirements

Kentucky teacher certification requires prospective educators to pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators and the Praxis Subject Assessments. Out-of-state candidates are exempt from Praxis testing in Kentucky if they have a valid teaching certificate and two years of teaching in the discipline and grade level on their certificate. The following lists provide details for each Praxis test.

Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators

  • Wide-ranging assessments that measure skills and specific content knowledge
  • Required for admission in state-approved teacher preparation programs
  • Basic skills test on core academic knowledge of Reading, Writing, Mathematics
  • Required passing scores; Reading (156), Writing (162), Mathematics (150)

Praxis Subject Assessments for Kentucky Teacher Certification

  • Measures general and subject-specific content knowledge for beginning teachers
  • Measures candidate knowledge in each subject and grade level prospective teachers plan to teach
  • Praxis passing scores vary by subject matter and grade level
  • Passing scores valid for five years for teacher certification from the date of test completion

Additional Requirements for Kentucky Teacher Certification

Kentucky school district superintendents require all new teachers applying for Kentucky teacher certification to submit to state and federal background checks. Kentucky teacher certification requirements state all individuals employed within six months of hire in another school district and who had submitted to national and state background checks are exempt.

The Kentucky Teacher Licensing Application Procedure

Procedures for Kentucky teacher certification are set by the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) of Kentucky. All candidates trained in Kentucky are required to:

  • Complete and submit EPSB approved education program verification of achievement
  • Download a C-A application from their EPSB online account
  • Submit all undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Verify full-time grade-level teaching experience with district superintendent or personnel manager
  • Complete and submit Praxis assessments for all areas of certification preferences
  • Pay all required certification fees through online ePay services, no other payment options are accepted

All completed documents must be submitted through your EPSB account and the Online Document Submission portal, except for official transcripts. Transcripts must either be mailed or sent electronically.

Mail official transcripts to:

KDE Certification

300 Sower Blvd. 5th Floor

Frankfort, KY 40601

Electronic transcripts accepted directly from the university transcript source should be sent to KDELicensure@education.ky.gov. Transcripts sent by applicants are not accepted."

Emergency Teaching Certificate in Kentucky

For those wondering, how do I get an emergency teaching certificate in Kentucky--Kentucky offers no-fee certification in emergency substitute teaching. Applications are handled through Kentucky school districts, and certification is handled through the EPSB. Individuals interested in substituting for multiple school districts need to first apply to districts they intend to serve. All applicants must then apply to EPSB for a one-year emergency substitute certification for each school district they are seeking employment in.

Applicants must first meet the minimum requirements before applying to school districts.

  • Complete 64 college credit hours of coursework with a minimum 2.5 GPA: or
  • Complete a bachelor's degree program in any subject matter from an EPSB locally approved program or a nationally approved institution. Bachelor's degree recipients are not required to meet GPA limits.

Once the minimum requirements are met, applicants need to complete the following:

  1. Apply with a school district, or districts to complete the application process.
  2. Apply for Emergency Substitute Teaching Certification through your EPSB website account.
  3. Re-apply for certification through EPSB after one year.

Kentucky Credentials for Out-of-State Teachers

The Kentucky teacher reciprocity program is provided through membership of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement. Through this teacher reciprocity program, out-of-state teachers can qualify for teaching certification in other states. Equal certification is not guaranteed or accepted from all states, cases are reviewed individually. Out-of-state teachers must meet specific guidelines to qualify for the NASDTEC agreement. All out-of-state teachers seeking positions in Kentucky must be recommended through their state-accredited college or university after completion of their state-approved teaching program and must satisfy all conditions of their state GPA, testing, and internship requirements.

Professional Development and Advancement of Kentucky Teachers

Kentucky teachers must apply for certification renewal after a five-year period from initial certification. Kentucky teacher certification renewal is the sole responsibility of the certificate holder. Certification must be renewed every five years to teach in Kentucky. Certification renewal requires:

  • Completion of CA-2 application through your EPSB account
  • Completion and verification of three years of classroom teaching during the first five-year certification period or (6) semester hours of additional graduate-level coursework; verification of classroom teaching must come from the district superintendent; official transcripts satisfy coursework verification
  • Submission of certification renewal application fee through epay

Kentucky educators interested in advancing their careers may complete rank change and supplementary certifications as part of their renewal process. The three-level Rank system progresses from Rank III to Rank I:

Rank III - First advancement level. Beginning teachers with a four-year EPSB approved program or equivalent studies.

Rank II - Regular teaching certificate holders with a master's degree in a subject matter approved by Kentucky EPSB or equivalent continued education and meets all requirements of Rank III.

Rank I - The highest achievable rank. Regular teaching certificate holders with a master's degree in a subject matter approved by Kentucky EPSB who have completed 30 hours of graduate coursework or equivalent continuing education and meet all requirements of Rank II.

Employment Outlook and Opportunities for Teachers in Kentucky

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) retains an online registry with Kentucky Educator Placement Services (KEPS) to provide access to Kentucky teacher employment opportunities and placement in school districts. When certification is required for positions, superintendents must notify the KDE 15 days before the position is filled. KEPS program offers information on all subject and grade level vacancies in all school districts to teachers and prospective teachers. The table below provides data on the student-to-teacher ratio from the 2020-21 school year provided by the KDE. Kentucky Educator Placement Services reports that data collected from the KDE shows a positive Kentucky teacher outlook for opportunities.

Students Enrolled Teachers Employed Student to Teacher Ratio
638,236 42,525 16:01

Source: Kentucky Department of Education (School Year 2020-21)

Kentucky Teacher Employment and Salary

Kentucky school system teacher salary is based on several factors, including teaching grade level, teaching experience, teaching certification level, and individual Kentucky school district pay scale.

Grade Level Teacher Employment Numbers Average Salary
Kindergarten 2,470 $52,920
Elementary 18,170 $52,950
Middle School 7,710 $53,900
High School 11,680 $55,740

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020)

Areas of Teacher Shortages in Kentucky

The U.S. Department of Education predicts teacher shortages in 2022-23 in the following subject areas for Kentucky schools. The subject areas encompass all elementary, middle, and high school grade levels state-wide. Shortages in support staff are also predicted across all grade levels and districts.

  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Early Childhood
  • English as a Second Language
  • Academically Advanced
  • Career and Technical Education
  • World Languages
  • Core Subjects
  • Art and Music Education
  • Health and Physical Fitness
  • Special Education
  • General Shortages

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Retirement Benefits for Kentucky Teachers

Teachers' Retirement System Kentucky (TRS) is a statewide pension plan for Kentucky public school teachers. TRS offers a defined benefit plan which means it calculates the length of employment and salary earned at the time of retirement to determine the pension benefit amount. The plan includes disability retirement benefits, retiree health insurance, spousal survivorship, and life insurance benefits. The retirement pension benefit is a lifetime payment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I get an alternative teaching license in Kentucky?

    Kentucky has eight (8) alternative pathways to certification. All routes require candidates to have a minimum bachelor degree or graduate degree from an approved educational program and institute before qualifying for non-traditional teaching certification. Specific information and qualifying factors can be accessed at the Kentucky Department of Education website. https://education.ky.gov

  • Do you have to pass the Praxis test(s) to teach in Kentucky?

    All prospective educators in Kentucky must pass both the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators and the Praxis Subject Assessments. Out-of-state teacher applicants do not need to take the test if they have a valid teaching certificate and have completed two years of teaching the subject matter and grade level listed on their certificate.

  • Is there a teacher shortage in Kentucky?

    Yes, there is a teacher shortage in Kentucky. The U.S. Department of Education reports teacher shortages in all elementary, middle, and high school grade levels across all Kentucky school districts.

  • Can you teach in Kentucky without teaching certificate?

    Yes, there are alternative pathways to teaching in Kentucky that does not require a teaching certificate. Regardless of traditional or nontraditional certification methods, all teaching candidates must have a bachelor's degree. If following an alternative pathway, all candidates must also meet requirements of that pathway.

  • How long does a teaching certificate last in Kentucky?

    Kentucky teaching certification is valid for five years after initial certification, and every five years following. Certification renewal is the sole responsibility of the certificate holder.