Georgia Teacher Certification and Career Guide

All public school teachers in Georgia must be certified according to the standards established by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). The main steps for the traditional path to teacher certification in Georgia are:

  1. Complete a state-approved bachelor’s degree with a teacher preparation component.
  2. Complete a student teaching placement.
  3. Pass the required teacher certification exams.
  4. Apply for a teaching certificate or license.
  5. Upgrade your license.

Continue reading to learn more about the traditional certification pathway in Georgia.

Table of Contents

Steps to Become a Teacher in Georgia
Teacher Certification Renewal
Adding Subjects or Grades to a Certificate
Teaching License Reciprocity
Related Licenses
Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
Additional Resources
Frequently Asked Questions

How to Become a Teacher in Georgia

The following steps outline the traditional pathway for teacher certification in Georgia. Georgia uses a tiered certification system for teachers. The tiered system includes the following credentials:

  • Pre-Service Certificate (5-year): For students currently enrolled in an education preparation program to complete their field experience or student teaching in a Georgia school.
  • Induction Certificate (5-year): For teachers who have completed a teacher preparation program and passed the required Georgia assessments.
  • Professional Certificate (5-year): Includes the Standard Professional Certificate and the Performance-Based Professional Certificate. For teachers who have at least three years of approved teaching experience under an Induction Certificate.
  • Advanced/Lead Professional Certificate (5-year): The fourth tier includes the Advanced Professional Certificate for teachers with at least 10 years of experience and the Lead Professional Certificate for teachers with at least five years of experience who meet other requirements.

If you are a bachelor’s degree holder who has yet to complete a teacher preparation program, check out our guide to alternative teacher certification in Georgia.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree that includes an approved teacher preparation program.

To earn a teaching certificate in Georgia, all candidates must earn a bachelor’s degree from a nationally-accredited college or university. The bachelor’s degree major will vary depending on the grade level and subject of certification sought. As part of the degree, candidates must complete an educator preparation program that is approved by the GaPSC.

You can compare key metrics for state-approved teacher preparation programs on our Georgia schools page. You can also read about two important accreditations to consider, institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation, on our teaching schools guide.

2. Complete a student teaching placement.

As part of their educator preparation program, prospective teachers must complete a student teaching placement or clinical practice, referred to as a culminating residency in Georgia. Student teaching placements last for at least one semester, and are an opportunity to be fully involved in the teaching process. Through the student teaching placement, candidates will demonstrate their ability to manage a classroom under the guidance of a certified teacher.

3. Pass the required Georgia teacher exams.

Georgia-state-sealGeorgia has its own set of certification exams, called the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE). The GACE exams are broken into four assessment groups: content assessments, performance-based assessments, ethics assessments, and licensure assessments.

To qualify for an Induction Certificate, candidates must complete the content assessments corresponding to their desired certification area and the GACE Educator Ethics Assessment. The GACE homepage offers details on which exams applicants need to take, as well as resources to prepare for the exams and a portal to register for a test and check exam scores.

4. Apply for Georgia teacher certification.

Once the above steps have been completed, candidates can apply for an Induction Certificate in Georgia. Applications must be submitted online through the MyPSC portal. In addition to the online application, applicants must submit the following items:

  • Official transcrips
  • Verification of completed educator preparation program
  • Passing GACE assessment scores
  • Non-refundable processing fee

GaPSC has more details about the application process for Georgia certificates on its Application Forms and Procedures page.

5. Upgrade to a Professional Certificate.

To continue to teach in Georgia, teachers must upgrade their certification until they earn a Professional Certificate. Teachers with an Induction Certificate can apply to upgrade to a Professional Certificate once they have three years of teaching experience. For more details on how to upgrade a certificate, you can review the Certificate Upgrade Advisor page.

Guide to Other Teaching Pathways

Georgia Teacher Certification Renewal

Induction Certificates can typically not be extended. Professional Certificates are valid for five years and are most commonly renewed by completing an individualized Professional Learning Plan or Professional Learning Goal in cooperation with their Georgia local unit of administration (LUA) supervisor. In addition to the personalized plan, teachers must also complete any outstanding Special Georgia Requirements, such as missing content or ethics assessments, that were outlined in the initial certification process. As part of the renewal process, teachers are also required to complete the Personal Affirmation Questions (PAQs) on their MyPSC account. Teachers not employed at a Georgia LUA can renew their license by meeting one of the following requirements:

  • Take six semester hours from an accredited college or university
  • 10 professional learning units (PLUs) from an approved program
  • 10 continuing education units (CEUs) from an accredited college or university
  • 100 hours of BFTS-approved trainings
  • Retake and pass the related GACE content assessment(s)
  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification

Renewal applications can be submitted through the MyPSC portal starting on December 1 of the expiration year. For more details on renewing a Professional Certificate in Georgia, visit the Certificate Renewal page on the GaPSC website.

Adding Subjects or Grades to a Certificate

Once certified, you can only teach in the grade and subject area listed on your certificate, though occasional, temporary exceptions are made. To add a grade or subject area to a current certificate, teachers can take the GACE content assessment in their desired endorsement area or by completing an advanced degree or educator preparation program in the desired field. Certain areas, such as elementary education and special education, can only be added by completing a state-approved educator preparation program or additional degree program. Specific details on adding endorsements to a Georgia teaching certificate are available on the GaPSC Add a Field/Endorsement page.

Georgia Teaching License Reciprocity

Georgia offers interstate reciprocity with all 50 US states and Washington DC. There are several pathways to apply for a Georgia teaching certificate with an out-of-state license, depending on the teacher’s experience. Teachers with less than three years of experience can apply for an Induction Certificate, which also requires passing the GACE Educator Ethics Assessment. Teachers with three or more years of out-of-state teaching experience can apply for a Professional Certificate. In this case, GACE exams may be waived if the applicant presents passing scores on similar content assessments. Out-of-state teachers must complete an online application through the MyPSC portal and include:

GaPSC’s Out-of-State Educators page provides additional information about reciprocity in Georgia. You can learn more about transferring a teaching certificate or license between states on our guide to certification reciprocity.

In addition to standard teaching certificates, Georgia offers a variety of credentials for support staff and paraprofessionals. Examples include:

  • Educational Leadership Certificate: Georgia has a two-tiered Educational Leadership Certificate, which prepares professionals to work as principals, superintendents, and other leadership positions within the Georgia school system. Certification requirements include passing the GACE Educational Leadership Assessment, completing an approved preparation program, and holding a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Additional assessment, education, and experience requirements may be required depending on the position.
  • Paraprofessional License: Paraprofessionals in Georgia must hold a Paraprofessional License, which requires at least an associate’s degree, two years of college coursework, or a passing score on the GACE Paraprofessional Assessment with a high school diploma or GED. Once certified, paraprofessionals can work in any preK-12 setting.
  • Standard Professional School Psychology Certificate: To work as a psychologist in a preK-12 setting, Georgia requires a Standard Professional School Psychology Certificate. To qualify for certification, applicants must have an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree or higher in School Psychology, a National Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential, or proof of completion of a National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)-approved School Psychology program. Additionally, candidates must pass the GACE School Psychology Assessment, or provide proof of passing an equivalent out-of-state exam or five years of experience.

Additional service certificates for school counselors, audiologists, media specialists, school nutrition specialists, and others are available. A complete list of certificates and licenses is available on the Service page of the GaPSC website. More details on the two-tiered certification process for the Educational Leadership Certificate are available on the Educational Leadership page.

Georgia Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in GA through 20302*

Data on the 2017-2018 school year compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported approximately 2,307 operating schools, with 116,021 teachers and 1,768,642 students.3 The overall student-teacher ratio in Georgia is around 15:1.3

Overall, job prospects in Georgia through 2030 are similar to national projections, with preschool and kindergarten teachers having the strongest projections. Job growth for Georgia preschool teachers is projected at 21.6%, compared to 18.4% nationally; for Georgia elementary teachers, 10.2% compared to 7.4% nationally; and for Georgia high school teachers, 10.6% compared to 13.7% nationally.2 The table below provides a detailed comparison of job growth prospects and salary levels for Georgia teachers.

TypeNumber Employed in GA4Average Annual Openings in GA2GA Proj. Job Growth 2020-20302Average Annual Salary in GA425th Percentile Wages in GA575th Percentile Wages in GA5
Preschool Teachers11,0001,51021.6%$38,300$28,160$46,590
Preschool Teachers, Special Education3603014.8%$65,660$58,840$74,640
Kindergarten Teachers3,66045010.8%$64,310$50,060$76,420
Elementary School Teachers46,4503,64010.2%$65,070$49,800$76,690
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Special Education7,66050010.2%$67,570$58,550$78,780
Middle School Teachers28,0102,53010.1%$67,470$50,640$78,900
Middle School Teachers, Special Education3,82022010.3%$71,840$58,720$80,580
Middle School Teachers, Career/Technical Education4807010.4%$67,040$48,240$80,010
Secondary School Teachers24,6002,02010.6%$67,520$51,060$77,910
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education2,71023010.4%$65,390$50,740$77,590
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education3,0901707.6%$62,840$50,470$71,700

*The estimated job growth average is based on projections for mainstream kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers. Projections for other categories, such as special education and career and technical education, may be higher or lower than the average.

Teacher Shortages in Georgia

Like many states across the US, Georgia is facing a number of teacher shortages. According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2023-2024, Georgia has designated the following deficits:

In addition to these shortages, Georgia reported just over 3,000 unfilled teaching positions during the 2019-2020 school year.7 13,299 teachers in Georgia during the 2021-2022 school year were considered underqualified, which includes teachers assigned to classrooms outside their certification field on a temporary or emergency basis.7

Additional Resources

Georgia Teacher Interviews

  • Former President, Georgia Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Sharon Taylor

Related Articles

Teacher Quote: “Be prepared for anything. While my best friend was getting her degree, she swore she would never need geometry because she would never teach it. Her first teaching assignment included three geometry classes. Anything can happen and it’s best to be ready.” -Sharon Taylor, President of the Georgia Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What are the requirements to be a substitute teacher in Georgia?

Answer: Substitute teachers in Georgia must have at least a high school diploma or GED, but priority is given to substitutes with higher qualifications such as a bachelor’s degree or a valid or expired teaching certificate. Substitute teachers without a valid teaching certificate must complete at least four hours of initial substitute teacher training provided by the local unit of administration (LUA).

Question: How many private schools and private school teachers does Georgia have?

Answer: During the 2019-2020 school year, NCES reported 858 private schools in Georgia, employing 17,031 full-time teachers and serving 145,135 students.8 There are no statewide certification requirements for private school teachers, although schools may set individual certification requirements.

1. Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC): https://www.gapsc.com/Home.aspx
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, 2017-2018: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Georgia: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ga.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
6. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports
7. Teacher Shortages in the United States, Tuan D. Nguyen et al.: https://teachershortages.com/
8. National Center for Education Statistics, Private School Universe Survey, 2019-20: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/tables/TABLE15fl1920.asp