The Arizona Teaching and Certification Resource
To become a certified teacher in Arizona, candidates must meet set requirements based on the grade level and subject(s) to be taught. The Arizona Department of Education Certification Unit oversees the teacher certification process within the state, which is outlined on this page for those who want to learn how to become a teacher in Arizona.
How to Become a Teacher in Arizona
To obtain Arizona teacher certification, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and typically must complete a teacher preparation program. Additionally, the Arizona Department of Education requires specific coursework based on the desired teaching area of focus. Arizona uses a two-tier system in which educators first apply for the Initial 3-Year Provisional Certificate appropriate to the area of teaching focus and then advance to a 6-Year Standard Certificate after earning teaching experience.
Requirements for educator certification in Arizona are highly specific based on grade level. There are also alternative routes for becoming a teacher in Arizona.
Early Childhood Education, Birth to Grade 3
To qualify for initial licensure in Early Childhood Education, candidates must have completed a bachelor’s degree plus either an approved teacher preparation program focusing on early childhood education or have completed a bachelor’s degree with 37 semester hours of early childhood education courses plus at least 8 semester hours of practicum.
Elementary Education, Grades K through 8
To be eligible for initial licensure in Elementary education, candidates must have completed a bachelor’s degree plus either a teacher preparation program focused on elementary education or 45 semester hours of education courses plus at least 8 semester hours of practicum.
Secondary Education, Grades 6 through 12
The requirements for initial licensure in Secondary Education are completion of a bachelor’s degree plus either a teacher preparation program in secondary education or 30 semester hours of education courses in addition to at least 8 semester hours of practicum.
For all endorsement areas, after two years of successful teaching under a provisional license or earning National Board Certification, candidates may apply for the renewable Standard certificate in their licensure area. You can read more about these requirements, as well as review requirements for specialty areas such as physical education and STEM subjects, through the Arizona Department of Education.
- I want to be a teacher in Arizona, but don’t have a degree: Earn an Education Degree
- I want to be a teacher and have a degree, but not in education: Learn about Arizona’s Alternative Certification Process and Programs
- I have a teaching degree and am interested in more education: Learn about Master’s Degree Education Programs or Doctorate Education Programs and Information.
- I am already certified and want to teach in another state: Learn about Teacher Certification Reciprocity.
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Arizona
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in AZ through 20262
To become a certified teacher in Arizona, it’s imperative to complete a teacher preparation program at a school that is either approved by the Arizona Board of Education or holds regional accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the US. These six agencies are recognized by the US Department of Education. You can find a list of approved educator preparation programs in Arizona through the Arizona Department of Education. You can also compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Arizona schools page.
Additionally, programs may be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP was formed through the merger of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). CAEP accreditation is considered a distinguishing marker of excellence in teacher training.
Arizona Teacher Education Requirements
Those pursuing traditional Arizona teacher certification must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and complete an approved teacher preparation program. Both the bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program completed must be at a regionally accredited institution. If a school attended is located in Arizona, it is highly recommended that that school be on the Arizona Board of Education’s approved programs list. Candidates who attend schools that do not meet these accreditation standards will be required to complete additional education at appropriately approved schools to make up any deficits.
Arizona Teacher Testing Requirements
To ensure that all certified teachers have the necessary knowledge to teach in Arizona, all applicants for teacher certification must pass a test of subject knowledge as well as a test of professional knowledge. These exams are written to be specific to the grade level(s) and subject endorsement(s) the candidate is seeking. You can find a list of required exams for each grade level and subject area through the Arizona Department of Education.
Additional Arizona Teacher Certification Requirements
All aspiring teachers applying for an Arizona educator certificate must complete a criminal history records check. This background check must be completed through the Arizona Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AZAFIS). Note that fingerprint cards for educators must completed through the Identity Verified Print (IVP) clearance card.
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 apply for a license. Candidates must submit:
- An Arizona Identity Verified Prints (IVP) fingerprint card
- Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree
- Proof of teacher program completion at an approved teacher preparation school
- Passing score on the appropriate Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments
- Completed application for teaching certification in Arizona
- Payment of non-refundable application fee
Completed applications should be mailed to:
Arizona Department of Education
PO Box 6490
Phoenix, AZ 85005-6490
Visit the Arizona Department of Education for further details on Arizona teacher certification.
Arizona Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
There are about 2,309 public schools in Arizona, with an estimated 1,123,137 K-12 students enrolled in public schools during the 2016-2017 school year.3 With about 48,220 public school teachers, Arizona has a student-teacher ratio of 23:1.3
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast 1,740 average annual openings for elementary teachers, 820 average annual openings for middle school teachers, and 1,400 average annual openings for secondary school teachers in Arizona through 2026.3 The average salary for elementary school teachers in Arizona is $44,430, for middle school teachers $43,560, and for secondary school teachers $48,610.4 Another source of relevant information is the Arizona Education Association which provides information on issues regarding education and teaching in the state of Arizona.
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||310||$42,830|
|Elementary School Teachers||22,510||$44,430|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||2,850||$44,590|
|Middle School Teachers||11,330||$43,560|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||1,560||$44,490|
|Secondary School Teachers||17,200||$48,610|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||2,390||$50,190|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||820||$51,430|
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Teacher Shortages in Arizona
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, Arizona broadly has the following shortages5:
- English as a Second Language (Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language), Pre-K-12
- Language Arts (English), 6-8
- Mathematics (Basic and Advanced Mathematics), 6-8
- Science (Biological Sciences, Physical Science, Physics), 6-12
- Social Studies (History), 6-8
- Special Education (Cognitive Disabilities, Early Childhood, Emotional Disabilities, Hearing Impairment, Intense Intervention, Severely and Profoundly Handicapped), Pre-K-3
- Special Education (Cross Categorical), Pre-K-12
Arizona School District Requirements
If you would like to learn more about the specific requirements for becoming a teacher in Arizona cities, navigate to the city page below. On this pages, you will find a step-by-step description of how to become a teacher in Phoenix’s public school district, information on substitute teaching in the city, and private and charter school information.
Arizona Teacher Interview
- Former President, Arizona State Music Teachers Association, Chyleen Lauritzen
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How do you become a substitute teacher in Arizona?
Answer: To become a substitute teacher in Arizona, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university or college. You must also pass a background check and then apply for the state’s substitute certificate. The substitute certificate allows a candidate to substitute in K-12 classrooms for a maximum total of 120 days in a school year.
Question: How much do Arizona teachers make?
Answer: According to the BLS, elementary school teachers in Arizona earn an average of $44,430 per year, middle school teachers earn an average of $43,560 per year, and high school teachers earn an average of $48,610 per year.4
Question: What types of teachers are needed in Arizona?
Answer: For the 2021-22 school year, Arizona reports teacher shortages in the following areas: special education, English as a second language (ESL), math, science, special education, language arts, and social studies.5
1. Arizona Department of Education, Certification Unit: https://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. National Center for Education Statistics, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Arizona: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_az.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/