North Carolina Teacher Certification Guide

Lesson

How to Become a Teacher in North Carolina

Prospective teachers who want to know how to become a teacher in North Carolina should be advised that first they must earn a bachelor's degree in education and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program to get a license. The educator certification program typically takes four years to complete whether on-site or online. Courses will include educational theory and fieldwork related to the subject they wish to teach.

Further, candidates must pass:

  1. the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE) - the basic skills test that measures proficiency in the fundamental knowledge required to begin teaching.
  2. an assessment exam in their choice of subject

Finally, the Pearson Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum tests are required for candidates who wish to be certified in Elementary Education (K-6) and Exceptional Children: General Curriculum (K-12).

There are two types of educator licenses in North Carolina: the Standard Professional 1 (SP1) is the initial license for teachers with under two years of experience and is valid for three years. The Standard Professional 2 (SP2) license is for teachers who have three or more years of experience and is valid for five years.

Candidates can find a list of state-approved educator programs in the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) website. The NCDPI also oversees the license renewal process and is responsible for administering the public school laws for Pre-K through K-12 public schools.

In this article, we will delve into the education requirements for teachers in North Carolina, explain the different exams, and look at the license application process and teacher salary.

Pre-Requisite Education & Teacher Certification Programs

The education requirements for earning a teacher's license in North Carolina include completing a bachelor's degree and a state-accredited teacher preparation program (see the NCDPI website). Typically, North Carolina teacher programs are part of the bachelor's degree.

Besides the theoretical coursework, aspiring teachers must also partake in two empirical components

  1. observe an experienced teacher in a related grade level or subject area
  2. teach in a classroom in a related grade level or content area

Performance is typically monitored by an official from the program.

Those who have not completed the teacher program but hold a relevant undergraduate degree can get into teaching through an alternative route. NC alternative teacher certification must have 24 credit hours or a bachelor's degree in the subject area they wish to teach or have passed the relevant exams (Praxis Subject Assessments or Pearson's Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum). Further, an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5 or five years of relevant experience is required.

Required Exams for North Carolina Teachers

To become a teacher in North Carolina, prospective candidates must pass the Praxis CORE test, a Praxis Subject Assessment, and the Pearson Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum exams.

The Praxis Core test measures a candidate's basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics that are essential to begin teaching in any grade level. Allows entry into a teacher preparation program.

The Praxis Subject Assessment test (also called the Praxis II) is taken by candidates who wish to teach in middle (6-9) or secondary (9-12) school, and K-12 including Exceptional Children: General Curriculum.

The Foundations of Reading test gauges a candidate's knowledge and aptitude in subjects of reading and writing development. The General Curriculum test evaluates an individual's understanding and skill in elementary subject matters necessary to obtain an elementary teaching license in the state.

We will explain each of these tests in detail in the following sections.

Praxis Core Exams

Passing the Praxis Core is imperative for prospective teachers in North Carolina who want to get into a teacher certification program. The test is made up of three subtests: Reading, Writing, and Mathematics.

The Praxis Reading test requires the candidate to analyze and integrate documents as well as tackle select-in-passage questions. The test is 85 minutes long and includes 56 questions. The passing score is 156.

The Praxis Core Writing test requires the examinee to evaluate explanatory and argumentative writing and includes selected-response questions. Candidates have 100 minutes for the test: 40 minutes for the questions and 60 minutes for two essays. The passing score is 162.

The Praxis Math Core test covers 56 questions that include numeric-entry and selected-response questions. Candidates have 90 minutes to attempt the questions score at least 150 to pass.

The Core subtests are delivered by computer and candidates have the option to take them individually on separate days or combined in one sitting.

Praxis Subject Assessments

The Praxis Subject Assessment tests are computer-administered and details are as follows:

Elementary school certification

Candidates who wish to teach in elementary school must pass the Elementary Education: Content Knowledge for Teaching Mathematics CKT Subtest.

Certification Area Test Code Qualifying Score
Elementary Education (K-6) Elementary Education: Content Knowledge
for Teaching Mathematics CKT Subtest
7813 150

Middle school certification

Those who wish to teach in middle school must pass the test in one of the four subjects listed here:

Certification Area Test Code Qualifying Score
Language Arts (Middle Grades) Middle School English Language Arts 5047 164
Mathematics (Middle Grades) Middle School Mathematics 5164 157
Science (Middle Grades) Middle School Science 5442 152
Social Studies (Middle Grades) Middle School Social Studies 5089 149

Secondary school certification

Prospective teachers who want to teach in secondary school must pass in any one of the 14 subjects:

Certification Area Test Code Qualifying Score
Anthropology
(Secondary)
Social Studies: Content Knowledge 5081 158
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
Biology
(Secondary)
Biology: Content Knowledge 5235 150
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
Chemistry
(Secondary)
Chemistry: Content Knowledge 5245 152
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
Earth Science
(Secondary)
Earth and Space Sciences: Content Knowledge 5571 136
Economics
(Secondary)
Social Studies: Content Knowledge 5081 158
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
English
(Secondary)
English Language Arts: Content Knowledge 5038 167
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
Geography
(Secondary)
Social Studies: Content Knowledge 5081 158
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
History
(Secondary)
Social Studies: Content Knowledge 5081 158
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
Mathematics
(Secondary)
Mathematics 5165 159
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
Physics
(Secondary)
Physics: Content Knowledge 5265 133
Political Science
(Secondary)
Social Studies: Content Knowledge 5081 158
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
Science
(Comprehensive, Secondary)
General Science: Content Knowledge 5435 151
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
Social Studies
(Comprehensive, Secondary)
Social Studies: Content Knowledge 5081 158
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157
Sociology
(Secondary)
Social Studies: Content Knowledge 5081 158
AND
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 157

All grades certification

Certification areas that cover all grades, such as Physical Education and Speech Communication, requires tests in one of the following nine subjects.

Certification Area Test Code Qualifying Score
Academically/Intellectually Gifted (K-12) Gifted Education 5358 157
Art (K-12) Art: Content and Analysis 5135 161
Health and Physical Education (K-12) Health and Physical Education: Content Knowledge 5857 160
Health Specialist (K-12) Health Education 5551 156
Music (K-12) Music: Content and Instruction 5114 162
Physical Education (K-12) Physical Education: Content Knowledge 5091 152
Reading (Bachelor's Level, K-12) Teaching Reading: K-12 5206 156
Reading (Graduate Level, K-12) Reading Specialist 5302 165
Speech Communication (K-12) Speech Communication: Content Knowledge 5221 143

Praxis II exams are also available in other subject areas such as World Languages, Special Education, Career & Technical Education, and Special Service Personnel.

Pearson Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum

Those seeking to teach Elementary Education (K-6) and Exceptional Children General Curriculum (K-12) in North Carolina must pass

  1. the Pearson Foundations of Reading - gauges knowledge of reading and writing development. The computer-based test (CBT) is four hours long and includes 100 multiple-choice questions and two open-response assignments. The passing score is 229.
  2. the Pearson General Curriculum test - evaluates skill and knowledge in elementary subjects. The computer-based test is two-and-a-half hours long with an extra 15 minutes a tutorial and non-disclosure agreement. The passing score is 227. The test is used as a multi-subject exam across the country; however, those seeking licensure in North Carolina may only take the Mathematics subtest.

How to Apply for a North Carolina Teaching License

To apply for a North Carolina teaching license, candidates must create an online licensure system account with the NCDPI and submit there. This site is also where a teacher can renew their North Carolina teaching license and update contact information.

Official papers to go along with the application include college transcripts, verification of teacher education program completion, and the test scores from Pearson or Praxis. The processing fee is $70. If all the criteria are fulfilled then the candidate will be given their initial or SP1 license, which is non-renewable and valid for three years.

Teaching license renewal (getting the SP2 license) involves completing eight units of renewal credit (80 clock hours) of professional development. Courses can be taken at NCDPI, in school systems, universities, community colleges, and workshops related to the certification area. The credits must be earned before the expiration date of the initial teaching license. Candidates can then obtain their SP2 license, which is valid for five years.

Out-of-State Educator Certification

Out-of-state teachers are eligible to teach in North Carolina subject to certain criteria. North Carolina offers both the SP1 and SP2 certification to out-of-state teachers through its National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) reciprocity agreements. Forty-five states have signed the out-of-state reciprocity agreement with North Carolina.

The criteria for eligibility remain more or less the same. Candidates must have completed a teacher preparation program, passed the required exams, and hold a valid license in their original state. Those with less than three years of experience can apply for the SP1 license and those with more can apply for SP2 certification.

Job Outlook and Earning Potential

Teachers in the state have good potential to earn. As per May 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average teacher salary in NC is $53,340. Elementary school teachers earn an average salary of $50,130 per year, while middle and secondary school teachers earn about $51,450 and per year.

The pay increases with greater experience. Additionally, teachers who have a master's or higher degree, mentor new teachers or become a National Board Certified teacher may be paid greater salaries.

The following table show how much money teachers make in North Carolina across different grade levels according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Occupation Annual Mean
Wage
Preschool Teachers $30,680
Preschool Special Education Teachers $54,120
Kindergarten Teachers $49,540
Elementary School Teachers $50,130
Kindergarten/Elementary School
Special Education Teachers
$51,650
Middle School Teachers $51,450
Middle School Special Education Teachers $52,970
Middle School Career/Technical Education Teachers $55,440
Secondary School Teachers $51,460
Secondary School Special Education Teachers $52,910
Secondary School Career/Technical Education Teachers $54,360

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there a shortage of teachers in NC?

    According to a report by the United States Department of Education, there is a shortage of teachers in North Carolina in all core subjects (Grades 1-5), Special Education (Grades 1-12), and Mathematics (Grades 6-12).

  • How are teachers licensed in North Carolina?

    Aspiring teachers must hold a bachelor's degree in education and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program to obtain their initial teacher's license. They must pass the Praxis Core test to get into the program. Further, candidates are required to achieve qualifying scores in the Praxis II subject assessment test and the Pearson's Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum exams.

  • Does NC require Praxis Exams?

    Yes, North Carolina requires Praxis Exams for all new teachers. Some teachers may be exempt from all or portions of the Praxis Exam I based on their SAT or ACT scores.

  • How much do teachers make in NC?

    New teachers in NC make an average of around $45,000-$46,000 per year. This amount can vary by school district and institution.