The Arizona Teaching and Certification Resource

Like most states, the Arizona teacher certification process requires anyone wanting to teach in the state to obtain an official teacher certification from an accredited institution. The Arizona Department of Education oversees the certification process and has its own distinct requirements, which are outlined on this page.

Arizona teaching certificates are offered in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, special education, arts education Pre K-12 (art, drama, dramatic arts, music), and career and technical education.

How to Become a Teacher in Arizona

To obtain an Arizona teacher certification, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, preferably in the education field. Additionally, the state’s department of education requires specific coursework based on the desired teaching area of focus. In order to qualify for certification, applicants must complete 45 semesters of education courses from an accredited institution or a state board approved teacher preparation program. However, if applicants already hold a degree in another field outside of education, there are a few alternative options for becoming a teacher in Arizona.

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As far as required coursework, in the case of elementary education, 18 hours of the 45 must be held in practicum settings in grades K-8. For secondary certification, 30 semester hours of education courses must be completed, including at least 8 semester hours of practicum in grades 7-12. For special education, 45 semester hours of education courses must be completed, with 21 of them in practicum settings serving students with disabilities.

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Arizona

For anyone wanting to become a certified teacher in Arizona, it’s imperative to complete a number of mandatory hours in a teaching institution accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the US. These six agencies are overseen by the US Department of Education, but work on a regional scale, dividing US states accordingly.

Arizona institutions are overseen by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, (NCA), which is responsible for accreditation in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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The Arizona Department of Education approves state-wide educational institutions, (both campus-based and distance learning programs) based on the accreditation from the NCA. Anyone evaluating Arizona teachers certification programs, should confirm that their choice of schools is in good standing with the NCA. When considering an online teaching certification program that may be headquartered in another part of the country (for example, Brandman University Online based in Irvine), it should also be certified by one of the six regionally accredited bodies.

Additionally, two national accreditation bodies, approved by the US Department of Education, have been highly regarded in the field of teacher certification. Accreditation by the NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) and TEAC (Teacher Education Accreditation Council) are not required for schools to operate, but are considered distinguished markers of excellence in terms of curriculum, staff, operations and facilities meet rigorous standards. However, as of July 2013, these two organization have been consolidated under the name, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness or CAEP. Under the new name, the accreditation process will be similar to the two previous organizations and will continue to strive for excellence in the world of educator training.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Arizona.

Quick Guide

Arizona Teacher Education Requirements

In most cases, anyone looking for an Arizona teacher certification must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Teaching certifications must be earned at an accredited institution, recognized by the state of Arizona. However, there are additional steps to the certification process.

In Arizona, anyone with an out-of-state teacher certificate may be eligible to teach in the state under certain circumstances. As far as reciprocity, Arizona has a standard policy with every state that offers a comparable teaching certificate in Arizona. If you hold a teaching certificate in another state, you must apply for a Reciprocal Provisional Teaching Certificate. Because reciprocity policies can differ from state to state, it’s always best to check with the appropriate contact at the Department of Education before pursuing Arizona educator certification.

Teachers who are eligible for reciprocity and meet all of the requirements may be issued a provisional initial teacher certificate, which is valid for three years, and then renewable for another three years. After holding the provisional certificate, teachers may apply for a standard Arizona teacher certification.

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Arizona Teacher Outlook as of 2012
The Occupational Supply & Demand System projects 3,366 annual teaching, library and other education-related job openings in Arizona through 2018. The National Center for Education Statistics shows there were 54,696 public school and 4,220 private school teachers in Arizona in 2008 and 2007, respectively. The average teaching salary in the state is $47,553, the 3rd highest average in the nation and the average starting salary is $31,888 (NEA, 2012). The NEA also reports a shortage of foreign language, math, special education, bilingual, science and ESL teachers across Arizona. Another source of relevant information is the Arizona Education Association which provides the latest news on issues regarding education and teaching in the state of Arizona.

Arizona Teacher Testing Requirements

arizona-state-sealIn November 1997, the Arizona State Board of Education implemented rules regarding the evaluation of educators applying for educator certification Arizona. To ensure that all certified teachers has the necessary knowledge to teach in Arizona, all applicants must pass a test of subject knowledge, the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment (AEPA) and a test of professional knowledge known as the National Evaluation Series (NES).

For elementary education, applicants must submit a passing score on the Professional Knowledge: Elementary portion and the Subject Knowledge: Elementary portion of the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment. Alternatively, they may submit passing scores of comparable exams from another state or agency.

For secondary education, applicants must submit a passing score on the Professional Knowledge: Secondary portion and the Subject Knowledge: Secondary portion of the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment or another comparable exam from another state or agency.

For special education, there are several certification areas and several tests that may be taken to meet requirements. Applicants must submit passing scores on the Professional Knowledge and Subject Knowledge exams in their desired certification in special education.

If an applicant has taken an equivalent of the AEPA exam in another state, they may be exempt from taking the Arizona version. Anyone who has taken and passed a comparable out-of-state-exam may request a waiver when applying for the Arizona teaching certificate.

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Additional Arizona Teacher Certification Requirements

Effective January of 2008, all aspiring teachers applying for an Arizona educator certificate are required to have an Identity Verified Prints (IVP) fingerprint clearance card. Subsequently, all teaching applications must be submitted to the Arizona Department of Education with the clearance card. The IVP card can be obtained by contacting the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) and applicants should contact local law enforcement agency or a private fingerprinting service for fingerprinting.

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Arizona Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once you have completed all the requirements for Arizona teachers licensing as stipulated by the Arizona Department of Education, you must send in all of the information. The Arizona Teacher Certification Office gets a lot of applications in June, July and August, so it’s recommended to send in all information three to four months in advance of your estimated date of employment. The required steps to become a teacher in Arizona are as follows:

  1. An Arizona Identity Verified Prints (IVP) Fingerprint Card
  2. Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree
  3. Proof of teacher program completion at an accredited teacher preparation school
  4. Completed application for teaching certification in Arizona
  5. Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee
  6. Passing score on the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments

Arizona State Department of Education
1535 West Jefferson, Bin 11
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Executive Director: Vince Yanez
Tel: (602) 542-5057
Fax: (602) 542-3046
Email: stateboardinbox@azed.gov

Visit the Arizona Department of Education for further details on Arizona teacher certification.

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Arizona Teacher Salary and Jobs

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers 6,520 $25,880
Kindergarten Teachers 2,690 $42,540
Elementary School Teachers 24,140 $42,800
Middle School Teachers 9,980 $43,300
Secondary School Teachers 15,040 $43,420

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

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Arizona Teacher Interview

Interview with Chyleen Lauritzen, President of the Arizona State Music Teachers Association

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Arizona

Question: How do you become a substitute teacher in Arizona?

Answer: To become a substitute teacher in Arizona, you need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university of college. You must also pass a background check and then apply for the state’s substitute certificate. Once you have the certificate, you can apply to individual districts.

Teaching and Education Programs

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1. Arizona State Department of Education: http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/
2. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000

Page edited by Charles Sipe.