Maryland Teacher Certification Guide
How to Become a Teacher in Maryland
There are a number of paths an individual can take to become a teacher in Maryland, but each of them begin with earning a bachelor's degree at an accredited institution. It is required by all 50 states that certified teachers hold a bachelor's degree or higher. Prospective teachers taking the traditional steps to getting a teaching certification in Maryland will follow their bachelor's degree in education with participation in a state-approved teacher preparation program, after which they will complete the required state testing and apply for their certification. For individuals whose bachelor's degree is not in education, there are still several options for obtaining an alternative teaching certification, some of which may allow candidates to teach while completing certification requirements. Alternative teaching license options in Maryland include the Resident Teacher Certificate (RTC), the Conditional Certificate (COND), and certification issued after transcript analysis. Individuals seeking teaching certification through alternative pathways must also complete the same required testing as individuals following the traditional pathway.
Teaching Certificates Available in Maryland
The state of Maryland requires all candidates for teaching certification to hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and complete a Maryland-approved teacher preparation program, as well as achieve the required Praxis passing scores. Once an individual has fulfilled the requirements for initial certification, they will begin their teaching career on the first of four certification tiers available in Maryland. In Maryland's system, teachers attain higher level licensure as their educational and professional experience accumulates. Each of the following license types is valid for up to five years:
- Professional Eligibility Certificate (PEC) - Applicants are eligible for this tier if they have met all certification requirements and are not presently employed by any school or district in Maryland.
- Standard Professional Certificate I (SPC I) - This certification is issued to teachers who meet all certification requirements and are employed at a Maryland public school.
- Standard Professional Certificate II (SPC II) - To attain this certification, teachers must engage in 3 years of satisfactory professional work, complete six semester hours of required coursework/credits, and submit a plan for achieving the final tier of certification (APC).
- Advanced Professional Certificate (APC) - After meeting the requirements for the SPC, candidates for this certification level must either earn a master's degree; complete at least 36 hours of post-baccalaureate coursework, with a minimum of 21 of those semester hours being graduate-level credits; or achieve National Board Certification and complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of accepted graduate-level credits.
Traditional Paths to a Maryland Teacher Certification
The determining factor in whether an individual takes the traditional pathway to becoming a teacher in Maryland or an alternative one is the area in which they earn their bachelor's degree. Individuals who obtain a bachelor's degree in education follow the traditional route and take the following steps to gain a teaching certificate in Maryland:
- Earn a bachelor's degree in education while maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.0.
- Complete a Maryland-Approved Program (MAP) for teacher preparation. These programs typically require a student-teaching practicum of 600 classroom hours under the supervision of an approved mentor.
- Take and pass the required Praxis tests for teachers (see below).
- Submit application for certification and complete the required background testing and fingerprinting process.
To become a teacher in Maryland, prospective teachers are required by the State Department of Education to demonstrate proficiency in a basic skills assessment and content test(s). Typically, candidates for certification will take the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam, which is graded on a 100-200 point grading scale. In some cases, SAT, ACT, or GRE scores may be accepted in its place. Candidates will then need to pass the relevant Praxis content and knowledge exam for their intended grade level and/or subject area.
The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators consists of the following three exams:
- Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading - This Praxis reading test lasts 85 minutes and contains 56 selected-response questions. The passing score is 156.
- Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing - The Praxis Core writing test consists of one 40-minute selected-response section containing 40 questions as well as a 60-minute constructed-response section containing two essay/short-answer questions. Candidates must score at least 162 to pass.
- Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics - This exam is 90 minutes long and contains 56 selected-response questions. Examinees must score a 150 or higher to pass.
The passing scores for content exams vary by subject area. Candidates who do not achieve a passing score on their first try must wait at least 28 days to retake Praxis test.
Maryland Teaching Certificate Alternative Path
For individuals who wish to become a teacher in Maryland but hold a non-educational bachelor's degree, there are alternative paths to obtaining a teaching certification. These opportunities allow individuals to change career paths without having to invest time and money into getting a second bachelor's degree. The alternative paths to become a teacher in Maryland include:
- Resident Teacher Certificate (RTC) - These types of alternative preparation programs are a collaboration between school districts and participating colleges and universities that allow individuals to teach while completing coursework, typically resulting in a master's degree.
- Conditional Certificate (COND) - In some rare situations in which a local school system cannot find a certified candidate for an open teaching position, the school system may request a conditional 2-year certification for an individual who does not yet hold a teaching certification.
- Transcript Analysis - In some cases, individuals who do not meet the traditional certification criteria may be eligible for teaching certification in specific secondary subjects by undergoing a transcript analysis process. This rigorous process involves a thorough review of the candidate's college transcripts to determine if they have significant mastery of knowledge in their content area.
No matter which of the above routes prospective teachers choose to pursue, they will need to pass the same Praxis exams as are required of individuals who take the traditional path to teacher certification in Maryland. As with the traditional pathway, candidates who scored high enough on the SAT, ACT, or GRE exams may be eligible to use those scores in place of the basic skills testing requirement usually fulfilled by the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exams.
Maryland Specialty Certifications
Some individuals may wish to pursue one of the following Maryland specialty teaching certifications:
- Early Childhood Education - Candidates for this certification must meet the minimum degree requirements and attain a passing score on both the Praxis Test for Early Childhood Education and the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood exams.
- Elementary School Teacher - This certification also requires passing scores on two Praxis exams: the Elementary Education: Instructional Practice and Applications test and the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching Grades K-6 test.
- Secondary School Teacher - Candidates for a Secondary School Teacher certification in Maryland must pass the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching for Grades 7-12 test, as well as the Praxis exam that corresponds with the subject area in which they wish to teach.
- Substitute Teacher - To become a substitute teacher at the middle and high school levels in Maryland, a high school diploma is often all that is needed. Individuals who have received a bachelor's degree or higher will be required by their hiring school to submit their official transcripts. Substitute teachers in Maryland must be at least 18 years of age and have completed high school at least two years prior.
- Physical Education (PE) - This certification requires a passing score of at least 70% on the Praxis Physical Education Content Knowledge 5091 and falls in standard with the physical education requirements used nationwide.
- Special Education - Individuals pursuing certification and/or teaching positions in special education in Maryland must achieve a passing score on the Praxis Special Education Core Knowledge and Applications.
- English as a Second Language - The state of Maryland requires a passing score on the Praxis English to Speakers of Other Languages to receive certification.
Gaining a Teaching Certification in Maryland with an Out-of-State Teachers License
For individuals who hold an out-of-state teaching license and have already completed an approved teacher preparation program in their current state, it is typically possible to obtain a Maryland teaching certificate without having to undergo a strenuous recertification process. In these cases, understanding teacher certification reciprocity is vital. It is important to know that a teaching license issued in one state will not automatically be recognized in another state, and teachers must apply for a new license to work in any state other than the one in which they are currently licensed. Teaching certification reciprocity instead provides guidelines for which qualifications are accepted from state to state and often allows teachers to teach with a temporary license while fulfilling any additional requirements of their new state.
Individuals who are applying for a Maryland teaching certificate with an active out-of-state license must create a portal account on the Maryland State Department of Education website and submit the required documentation either online or by mail. These documents are then evaluated by the Certification Branch to ensure all requirements are met and the candidate is eligible for certification. Candidates are then notified of the Branch's decision by email.
Additional Requirements for a Maryland Teaching License
In addition to the various education and professional criteria that candidates must meet in order to obtain a teaching certification in Maryland, the state's teaching certification requirements also mandate both state and federal background checks for all teaching certificate candidates, as well as all current teachers or staff in Maryland schools. This requirement is intended to ensure the safety of all students in K-12 schools and other childcare institutions. As such, any individual seeking teacher certification in the state of Maryland will be asked to consent to a fingerprinting and comprehensive background check process. These background checks must be repeated at least every five years (some circumstances may require more frequent background checks), and run each individual's identifying information and fingerprints through a number of criminal, sex offender, and child abuse/neglect registries both in-state and nationwide. This includes registries in the candidate's current state of residence and any previous states in which they have resided within the last five years. Candidates who are currently enrolled in teacher preparation programs should look to their program advisor/leader for the most up-to-date process information for completing their required background checks as part of the teacher certification application process.
Application Process for a Maryland Teaching License
The application process for obtaining a Maryland teacher certification requires candidates to begin by creating a portal account on the Maryland State Department of Education website to submit the required documentation. Any documents received prior to account creation will be discarded. Once a candidate has created their portal account, they must submit the following documents:
- Official transcripts stating the degree conferred, as well as the date of conferral. For candidates on the traditional pathway who participated in a Maryland Approved Program, the MAP statement of completion should also be included.
- Score transcripts for the basic skills tests and content exams.
- A completed application for certification, which can be found on the MSDE website.
- Original Verification of Experience form(s). This document is only required for candidates who have at least two years of satisfactory teaching experience in another state, and should include the subjects and grades taught by the candidate.
- A cover letter that includes the candidate's full name, mailing address, last four digits of their SSN, personal email address, and the intended area of certification.
Documentation can be submitted electronically to email@example.com or via mail to the following address:
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Transcripts must be received directly from the college/university or from an official e-transcript service. Student copies in unopened mailers may be accepted. Unofficial transcripts will not be accepted.
Each application incurs a $10 processing fee. Completed application packets are reviewed by the Certification Branch, and candidates will receive notification on the Branch's decision via email within 8 weeks.
Information for Certification Renewal, Professional Development Programs, Outlook and Salary Information
The process of renewal for a Maryland teaching certificate varies depending on the individual's employment status. The renewal requests for candidates who are under employment contract in a Maryland school system, a private school that services special education students, or a State institution are processed by the employer. Candidates who are not employed at any of the previously mentioned institutions must submit the following documents in order to request renewal of their teaching certificate:
- A cover letter that contains the candidate's full name, email address, phone number, and the last four digits of their SSN, as well as a statement requesting the certificate renewal.
- Official transcripts confirming the completion of six semester hours of acceptable credit in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) within the last five years.
- Continuing Professional Development programs for Maryland teachers must be approved by the Maryland Department of Education and are earned through a regionally accredited college/university. Per the definition of an "acceptable credit" by the MSDE, these credits must relate to a school assignment, be earned during the five years prior to the certificate being awarded, and be earned in required reading coursework if applicable.
The outlook for the availability of teaching jobs in Maryland in the coming years is promising, with some sources predicting job growth of 7.5% through 2026. Broken down, this is expected to amount to 1,100 average annual openings for elementary school teachers, 620 average openings for middle school teachers, and 830 average annual openings for secondary school teachers for the years 2016-2026. As of 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the following average annual Maryland teaching salaries by grades:
- Elementary school teachers: $71,060
- Middle school teachers: $69,710
- Secondary school teachers: $72,610
While these salaries may vary based on location and teacher qualifications, Maryland's tiered teacher certification system incentivizes teachers to continue to advance their educational and professional experience, which in turn will result in a higher salary as this experience accumulates.