The Arkansas Teaching and Certification Resource
In order to become a teacher in Arkansas, candidates must earn a bachelor’s degree and meet specific education requirements, which vary based on the grade level and subject(s) taught. Arkansas has also implemented a performance-based certification system for state educators. Arkansas teacher certification is overseen by the Office of Educator Effectiveness and Licensure within the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.
How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas
In order to pursue teaching certification in Arkansas, the state requires candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program. Additionally, all applicants must complete a background check and pass the Praxis Basic Skills and Pedagogical Assessments and the Praxis Subject Assessments corresponding to the endorsement areas sought.
Teaching applicants who complete all of the requirements are eligible for an Initial Arkansas Teaching License. Those who hold a bachelor’s degree but have not yet completed a teacher preparation program may be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Arkansas.
The Initial Teaching License is valid for three years and is considered a period of induction for new teachers. During the induction period, new teachers are typically assigned an experienced teacher as a mentor for their teaching practice and professional growth. A five-year, renewable Standard Teaching License is available to teachers who have completed the required induction for novice teachers and a performance assessment. Teachers must also complete professional development hours for each year during which they teach in an Arkansas public school.
- I want to be a teacher in Arkansas, 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 Arkansas’ Alternative Certification Process and Programs
- I have a teaching degree and am interested in more education: Learn about Master’s Degree Education Programs, Education Specialist Programs, or Doctorate Education Programs
- I want to explore substitute teaching: Learn about Substitute Teacher Opportunities
- I am already certified and want to teach in another state: Learn about Teacher Certification Reciprocity
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Arkansas
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in AR through 20262
To pursue teaching certification in Arkansas under the standard route, it is important to complete an approved teacher preparation program. You can see a list of approved educator preparation programs in Arkansas through the Arkansas Department of Education. To compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs, use the sortable table on our Arkansas schools page.
Programs that are located out-of-state or delivered online must be accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the US Department of Education. Completing a program that is not appropriately accredited may prevent you from being eligible for teacher certification unless you complete a second program.
Arkansas also requires teacher preparation programs to be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP accreditation serves as a standard of teaching excellence in the educational field and is recognized by the US Department of Education.
Arkansas Teacher Education Requirements
Arkansas requires all teachers in the state to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the traditional route for acquiring Arkansas educator certification requires completion of a state-approved teacher education program from a CAEP-accredited college or university. These programs typically include a major in elementary education, special education, or secondary education with a particular content focus. Additionally, all teachers must take a three-credit-hour course in Arkansas history to qualify for a standard license.
Arkansas Teacher Testing Requirements
As in many other states, the Praxis exam series is required for teacher certification in Arkansas. Candidates first take the Praxis basic skills and pedagogy tests. Next, prospective teachers will need to pass the appropriate subject-area assessment(s) for the endorsement area they are seeking. The Praxis Subject Assessment is an advanced test of professional knowledge and subject-area content knowledge. Content-area tests are usually taken toward the end of a teacher preparation program. Some teacher preparation programs will also require students to take the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam, though this test is not a licensure requirement in Arkansas.
Candidates who are seeking endorsement in elementary education (K-6) and/or special education (K-12) must also pass the Arkansas Foundations of Reading assessment. For further details on required assessments, visit the Arkansas Department of Education website.
Additional Arkansas Teacher Certification Requirements
The Arkansas Department of Education requires an Arkansas State Police, FBI, and Child Maltreatment Central Registry background check for all prospective educators. Fingerprinting can be done at the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education or through any approved Live Scan location.
Arkansas Teachers Licensing Application Process
To apply for Arkansas teacher certification, you must complete the required steps above and provide the following documentation:
- Proof of completion of a bachelor’s degree and an approved teacher preparation program.
- Passing scores on the Praxis Basic Skills Assessment, Pedagogical Assessment, and Subject Assessment(s) for the endorsement area sought.
- Completed application along with payment of non-refundable fees required by the Department of Educator Licensure.
The Arkansas Department of Education recommends that candidates apply online for their teaching certificate. However, candidates may contact the department to request a paper application. Paper applications should be sent to:
Office of Educator Licensure
Arkansas Department of Education
Four Capitol Mall, Rooms 106-B and 107-B
Little Rock, AR 72201-1071
Visit the Arkansas State Department of Education for full details on how to become a teacher in Arkansas.
Arkansas Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
During the 2016-2017 school year, approximately 493,449 students were enrolled in the 1,090 public schools in Arkansas.3 An estimated 35,730 teachers were employed in the Arkansas public school system, giving a student-to-teacher ratio of 14:1.3
Projections call for 980 average annual openings for elementary school teachers, 470 average annual openings for middle school teachers, and 780 average annual openings for secondary school teachers in Arkansas through 2026.4 The average annual salary for elementary school teachers in the state is $48,560, for middle school teachers $49,570, and for secondary school teachers $51,780.4 The Arkansas Education Association, the largest active union for education professionals in the state, provides up-to-date information on career opportunities for educators.
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||450||$46,870|
|Elementary School Teachers||12,400||$48,560|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||1,290||$49,740|
|Middle School Teachers||5,650||$49,570|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||920||$50,790|
|Secondary School Teachers||11,480||$51,780|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||1,290||$51,430|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||1,350||$54,210|
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Teacher Shortages in Arkansas
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, Arkansas broadly has the following shortages5:
- Art and Music Education (Art), K-12
- Mathematics (Basic and Advanced Mathematics), 7-12
- Science (Chemistry, Physics), 7-12
- Special Education (Generic Special Education), K-12
- Support Staff (Library/Media Specialist), K-12
- World Languages (French), K-12
Arkansas Teacher Career Interview
- Former President, Arkansas Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French, Sue Mistric
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How do I become an elementary teacher in Arkansas?
Answer: You must be certified through the state to become an elementary teacher in Arkansas. The state requires that you earn a bachelor’s degree and complete a teacher preparation program in elementary education. Arkansas also requires that you pass the Praxis exams for elementary education and a criminal background check.
Question: What are the requirements to become a substitute teacher in Arkansas?
Answer: Arkansas does not have minimum requirements to become a substitute teacher in the state, nor do they offer certification for subs. Instead, individual schools and school districts determine the requirements for substitute teachers in Arkansas.
Question: Does Arkansas need teachers?
Answer: Yes, according to the US Department of Education, Arkansas reports teacher shortages in the subjects of art and music, chemistry, French, physics, mathematics, support staff, and special education for the 2021-22 school year.5
1. Arkansas Department of Education: https://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/Offices/educator-effectiveness
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, Arkansas: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ar.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/