How to Become a Teacher in Puerto Rico


How to Become a Teacher in Puerto Rico

There are traditional and non-traditional pathways for candidates to become teachers in Puerto Rico. Traditional certification requires a degree and teacher program completion earning a Teacher Certificate or a Teacher's Life Certificate; both certificates qualify for public and private teaching positions. Non-traditional pathways include Provisional Teacher Certificates, which allow candidates to teach while pursuing program requirements.

Accredited private school candidates need a teaching certificate in subject area expertise. Licensed private school candidates need a teaching certificate or provisional teaching certificate. Puerto Rico teaching jobs include:

  • Universities - prefer international teachers with an approved degree, and experience in subject matter expertise.
  • International schools - are private schools that follow the American bilingual curriculum. Certification is a requirement for teaching, including teaching English.
  • Public schools - have Spanish speaking classes, bilingualism and English instruction qualify English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, and subject area teachers for employment.
  • ESL- PRDE recruits Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certified teachers in all school institutions.

Puerto Rico Teacher Certification Programs

The Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) oversees all teaching certification guidelines while the General Education Council (GEC) oversees all teacher program guidelines through the Standards and Procedures for Assessing Performance of Teacher Preparation Program (SPAPTPP). The SPAPTPP assesses teacher preparation programs and determines whether the program's financial, policy, and curriculum objectives meet Puerto Rico's teaching standards.

Teaching candidates should review the Puerto Rico teacher certification requirements and GEC teaching program requirements to understand how to become a teacher in Puerto Rico. By doing so, candidates can verify program coursework meets requirements of grade level, subject area, and public or private school teaching goals. The most common method to meet Puerto Rico Department of Education teacher certification standards is by completing a bachelor's degree through a teaching program.

Teaching candidates must also meet admission requirements which include an assessment of academic proficiency, biographical data, and proof of successful completion of prior course work. Additionally, applicants must meet a program admission policy for non-resident transfer and for non-traditional teaching requirements.

Public and private school teaching candidates must meet program requirements from an accredited institution to teach Puerto schools. Private school teacher candidates can also use provisional teaching certificates if the candidate can show additional criteria has been satisfied as required by the General Education Council. The University of Puerto Rico Humacao offers National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accredited programs. A bachelor's program in English Elementary or a Secondary Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Education K-3 with a minor in Special Education are available, which includes coursework in teaching English in elementary and secondary institutions.

Education & Prerequisite Coursework for Puerto Rico Teachers

Puerto Rico teacher certification requires candidates to meet guidelines from approved teacher programs, including coursework, student teaching, and fieldwork. Teacher certification candidates need a two-year Bachelor of Arts majoring in elementary school teaching to teach in elementary schools or a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Education, or equivalent, to teach in secondary schools. Coursework must meet standards that demonstrate knowledge and skills in subject expertise. Public and private teaching program requirements also include student-teaching for classroom experience and internships where candidates teach various ages and cultural backgrounds. Candidates seeking multiple grade licensure need clinical experience at each level. Private school teaching candidates must meet experience requirements that match the institution's academic standards. A four-year master's degree or doctorate degree in teaching areas will also meet educational requirements to become a teacher in Puerto Rico.

Required Tests for Puerto Rico Teachers

Teaching candidates must meet Puerto Rico teacher certification through coursework, tests, and professional credentials. TEFL/TESOL certification credential is required for non-resident teaching candidates who plan to teach English to non-English speaking students. Since the Praxis exam is not a requirement in Puerto Rico, most licensed teachers must take the Pruebas para la Certificacion de Maestros (PCMAS), a subject matter-based teacher certification test for all candidates wanting to become teachers in Puerto Rico. PCMAS testing is required for all types of teaching certificates, including Traditional and Provisional, Teacher's Certification, and Teacher's Life Certification.

TEFL/TESOL Certification for Teaching in Puerto Rico

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is English instruction taught in countries where English is a secondary language. TEFL certification is recognized internationally, and a major qualifying factor for how to become a teacher in Puerto Rico. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification enables teaching as a first language in non-English speaking countries or second languages in English-speaking countries.

Information for both TEFL and TESOL certifications is accessed through a variety of online programs and offered in classroom settings. Candidates should explore program qualifications and verify program accreditation. Prospective employers require a minimum 120-hour TEFL/TESOL certification instruction and 6-8 hours of monitored and graded teaching practice. Scores are determined by 50% passing or a C grade, 67% passing with credit or B grade, and 83% passing with distinction or A grade. TEFL/TESOL certification is a lifetime certificate and can be upgraded through additional training or specialized certification courses. Puerto Rico teacher certification requires completion of one English teaching certification.

Praxis Requirements for Puerto Rico Teachers

Unlike required Praxis testing within the United States, Puerto Rico does not require taking the Praxis Core due to language testing barriers. However, Praxis Puerto Rico testing is accepted in international schools from teaching candidates transferring from the United States. Praxis testing is accepted by PRDE from non-resident candidates transferring from other countries who meet all PRDE testing standards.

Currently, an interstate agreement allows for Puerto Rico teacher certification reciprocity through the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). Puerto Rico's teacher certification reciprocity agreement allows teaching candidates to transfer teaching certifications from other countries to Puerto Rico for teaching opportunities. Additional qualifications may apply to teaching candidates, depending on their education, language, and teaching program endorsements.

Other Requirements for Puerto Rico Teachers

Besides education, exam, and for non-resident teachers, English language skill requirements, teaching candidates must meet additional standards to become a teacher in Puerto Rico. Candidates need to be citizens of the United States, be authorized to work in the United States, exhibit good moral standards through verification of zero instances of crimes against children, be at least 18 years of age, and show proof of COVID vaccination. Working visas are required for non-resident teachers.

Puerto Rico Teacher Licensing Application Procedure

Puerto Rico teacher certification requires teaching licensing applicants to gather and submit all necessary documentation for review and approval. To acquire Puerto Rico Department of Education teacher certification applicants must provide official transcripts to the Department of Teaching Certification division in San Juan, a completed employment application, proof of COVID vaccination, provide a birth certificate and criminal background check from Puerto Rican police, and an ASUME certification, which affirms that no child support is owed by the applicant. Applicants should submit all application documents to the Regional Education Office where the candidate plans to teach. United States citizens can submit to an employee registry but must provide proof of certification, teaching experience, academic achievement, and passing test scores.

Alternative Routes to Certification for Puerto Rico Teachers

Puerto Rico teacher certification can be obtained through non-traditional pathways for candidates who have not yet qualified for a traditional teaching certification. Candidates wanting to become a teacher in Puerto Rico can become a teacher of record after a six-month training period while enrolled in a teacher preparation program. Alternative teaching program studies include mentoring, coursework, and eventual program completion earned towards teaching credentials. Non-traditional teaching candidate positions are offered for all grade levels and subject areas, contingent upon program completion.

Teaching candidates can also earn certification without an educator preparation program and without standard certification by obtaining a Provisional Teacher Certificate, which lets bachelor's degree candidates teach while fulfilling the requirements of a teacher preparation program. Educators are not considered official teachers while working under a provisional certificate until all requirements are satisfied. Candidates can obtain a provisional certificate by completing a master's degree, a teacher certification program, and a teaching assistant program. Provisional certification is valid for three years and issued only on an emergency basis per certified teacher shortages.

Puerto Rico Educator Professional Development & Advancement

There are several opportunities for individuals who have earned Puerto Rico teacher certification. Opportunities for current educators are available through state programs and through university continuing education programs. Puerto Rico offers a Teachers' Life Certificate for fully certified teachers who have taught in public schools or in accredited private schools for at least 50 months. Other development and advancement opportunities are available for non-resident educators who are TEFL/TESOL certified, and subject area certified. Teacher preference for TEFL/TESOL certified individuals is based on a combination of English language and subject expertise skills.

The University of Puerto Rico, in partnership with the University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla, has implemented a recruitment, retention, and professional development plan for current and future educators. Professional development strategies for current educators include providing information on teacher education programs and workshops, and on promoting program opportunities for teachers to consider additional certifications in special education, multimedia technology, and ESL programs for career advancement.

Puerto Rico Teacher Salary & Employment Outlook

Puerto Rico teacher salary is based on multiple factors. Public or private teaching institutions, rural or urban locations, subject area certification, teaching grade level, teaching experience, teaching certification level, and TEFL/TESOL certifications in English language skills, all impact teacher salaries when becoming a teacher in Puerto Rico.

Grade Level Teacher Employment Numbers Average Salary
Kindergarten 1,210 $31.830
Elementary 12,150 $35,230
Middle School 7,710 $33,870
High School 9.040 $34,150

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

There are 1,120 schools in Puerto Rico serving 345,815 students through 27,476 currently held teaching positions. Puerto Rico school systems hire year-round, specifically for ESL schools and international schools since English certified teachers are in high demand. Puerto Rico teaching opportunities for TEFL/TESOL certified teaching applicants may be available through a TEFL/TESOL program.

Multiple teaching opportunities are available on the PRDE website and through online job board announcements. Puerto Rico also offers teaching benefit packages that include health insurance, vacation days, sick days, and educational program completion bonuses. Private institutions may also provide paid flights to non-resident teachers.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much are teachers paid in Puerto Rico?

    Puerto Rico teacher salary is based on several factors such as public or private teaching institutions, rural or urban locations, subject area certification, teaching grade level, teaching experience, teaching certification level, and TEFL/TESOL certifications in English language skills.

  • What do you need to be a teacher in Puerto Rico?

    To become a teacher in Puerto Rico, prospective candidates must be able to show their readiness to teach in the content area and grade level that they intend to teach. Candidates must be licensed in the territory of Puerto Rico and be able to read, communicate and converse in Spanish.

  • Can you teach English in Puerto Rico?

    To teach English in Puerto Rico, a prospective candidate must be TOEFL certified and be able to demonstrate their ability to read, write, and converse in both Spanish and English.