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Hawaii Teacher Certification and Career Guide

All public and charter school teachers in Hawaii must have a valid teaching license issued by the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB). The main steps for the traditional path to teacher certification in Hawaii 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 Hawaii.

Table of Contents

Steps to Become a Teacher in Hawaii
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 Hawaii

This section describes the process for the traditional pathway to teacher licensing in Hawaii. Hawaii uses a tiered system for licensing:

  • Provisional License (3-Year): For new teachers with less than three years of experience who have completed a state-approved teacher education program (SATEP).
  • Standard License (5-Year): For teachers with at least three years of full-time teaching experience in a pre-K-12 position within the last five years.
  • Advanced License (10-Year): For teachers with at least five years of experience within the last eight years. Advanced License holders must also have an advanced degree, be nationally certified, or be a designated Hawaii Teacher Leader.

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 Hawaii.

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

All licensed educators in Hawaii must complete at least a bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited college or university. The bachelor’s degree major will depend on the grade level and subject they wish to teach. They must also complete a state-approved teacher preparation program (SATEP), usually as part of their bachelor’s degree. Hawaii also accepts accredited out-of-state EPP programs that lead to licensure in their respective states.

You can compare key metrics for state-approved teacher preparation programs on our Hawaii 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 EPP, all hopeful Hawaii teachers must complete a student teaching placement, or clinical experience, typically as part of their SATEP. Student teaching allows aspiring educators to gain hands-on teaching experience under the guidance of an experienced mentor before they assume full responsibility for their own classrooms. Hawaii offers three ways for students to fulfill the student teaching requirement:

  • Complete at least 450 hours of supervised clinical experience in student teaching, internship, or residency through the SATEP.
  • Demonstrate teaching proficiency through a combination of work experience and observation by the SATEP.
  • Pass an HTSB-approved performance assessment in combination with other requirements as deemed by the SATEP.

3. Pass the required Hawaii teacher exams.

Hawaii State Seal Candidates in an SATEP will be directed to the appropriate tests by their preparation provider. Students completing an EPP in another state must complete several Praxis exams (administered by ETS) to prepare for licensure:

  • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics
  • Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT)
  • Praxis content test(s)

4. Apply for Hawaii teacher certification.

After completing the above steps, students can apply for a Provisional License in Hawaii. The following items must be submitted through the teacher’s online HTSB profile.

  • Complete the HTSB Professional Fitness check
  • Copy of signed Social Security card
  • Copy of government-issued photo ID
  • Official transcripts
  • Demonstrated basic skills and subject area competency and/or Praxis exam scores
  • License fees

For more details on the requirements to apply for a Provisional License in Hawaii, visit the HTSB Provisional License page.

5. Upgrade to a Standard License.

Once teachers have gained at least three years of full-time teaching experience, they can apply for a Standard License in Hawaii. All three years of teaching must have been within the five years before application. To apply for a Standard License, teachers can complete an application on the HTSB portal. All application requirements are the same as the Provisional License, with the additional requirement of submitting proof of employment.

Guide to Other Teaching Pathways

Hawaii Teacher Certification Renewal

Provisional Licenses are valid for three years and are non-renewable. To continue teaching in the state of Hawaii, provisional teachers must upgrade to a Standard License. Standard Licenses are valid for five years and can be renewed. Teachers are eligible to renew their licenses starting January 1 of the year of renewal. All licenses expire on June 30 of the renewal year. To renew a Standard License, teachers will submit the following documents through the HTSB portal:

  • Clear the HTSB Professional Fitness check
  • Proof of at least one year of full-time employment during the current license period
  • Copy of signed Social Security card
  • Copy of government-issued photo ID
  • Satisfactory evaluation during the term of the license being renewed (submitted by school of employment)

Advanced Licenses, which are valid for 10 years, follow the same renewal process, though additional documentation is needed to confirm that teachers meet one of the three Advanced License requirements (have an advanced degree, be nationally certified, or be a designated Hawaii Teacher Leader). If a teacher no longer meets the requirements for an Advanced License, they can apply for a Standard License during the renewal window.

Adding Subjects or Grades to a Certificate

After becoming licensed in Hawaii, teachers can only work in the subject and grade level corresponding to their license, though occasional, temporary exceptions are made. To add a teaching field to a current Hawaii teaching license, teachers must demonstrate competency through content knowledge and experience in the new area. There are several pathways to prove content knowledge to add a new teaching field to a current teaching license in Hawaii:

  • Complete a SATEP in Hawaii or in another state with clinical experience
  • Complete 30 semester hours of education in the new field from a regionally accredited college or university (15 semester hours must be upper division)
  • Pass an approved licensure test such as Praxis, ACTFL, etc.
  • Become a National Board Certified Teacher
  • Hold a Hawaii Advanced License and complete 30 semester hours in the new field (no experience verification required)
  • Hold a Hawaii Advanced License and pass an approved licensure test (no experience verification required)

Teachers will also have to demonstrate experience through one of the following routes:

  • Complete an SATEP in the same grade level as the new endorsement
  • Work for one year (at least half-time) in the new teaching field (must have been in the last five years)
  • Work for at least three of the last five years in the new teaching grade level in a full-time capacity
  • Pass the appropriate Praxis PLT exam

Visit the HTSB website for a list of all available license fields. HTSB’s Adding a Teaching Field guide provides more details on adding a teaching endorsement to a current teaching license in Hawaii.

Hawaii Teaching License Reciprocity

Hawaii honors out-of-state teaching licenses from all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). To earn a Hawaii teaching license with a valid out-of-state certificate, teachers will submit an application for the Provisional, Standard, or Advanced License, depending on their experience and qualifications. The teacher’s out-of-state license will be accepted as proof of competency, replacing the SATEP and Praxis exam requirements. The following documents must be submitted to apply for a Hawaii license with an out-of-state credential.

  • Proof of clearance of the HTSB Professional Fitness check
  • Proof of at least one year of full-time employment during the current license period
  • Copy of signed Social Security card
  • Copy of government-issued photo ID
  • Copy of current, valid out-of-state license

More details about reciprocity are available on the HTSB License and Permit Information page.

In addition to regular teaching licenses, Hawaii offers a variety of licenses and permits for administrative and support roles.

  • Administrator License: Prospective vice principals and principals in Hawaii must hold a valid Administrator License. Administrators are certified through the Hawaii Certification Institute for School Leaders (HICISL), which offers specialized programs to earn an Administrator License. Numerous tracks requiring different levels of experience and education are available to help individuals meet the licensing requirements. Currently employed teachers can qualify to participate in Track A of the HICISL program with four or more years of K-12 teaching experience with satisfactory performance evaluations.
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Permit: CTE Permits allow professionals without a Standard License to teach in a CTE classroom, as long as no licensed teacher is available. CTE Permit holders must receive a recommendation from the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) or Hawaii State Public Charter School (HIPCS), and have at least three years of industry experience.
  • Teacher Leader License: A teacher leader is an educator who has been trained in one or more leadership roles to support teaching and learning. To qualify, teacher leaders must complete an SATEP in teacher leadership, hold a teacher leader license in another state, pass the Praxis Performance Assessment for Teacher Leaders (PATL), hold National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification, or complete an approved teacher leadership program.

Hawaii also offers a variety of other limited-use permits and licenses through HTSB for student teachers, CTE teachers, and emergency hires, each requiring a combination of education and practical experience to qualify. Hawaii school counselors, school librarians, and reading specialists must complete an SATEP in their area to apply for a Provisional, Standard, or Advanced License. Licensing options and requirements for administrative and other support roles can be found on the HIDOE Licensure and Certification page and the Add a Teaching Field page.

Hawaii Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

Projected Job Growth

9.1%

Growth in Teaching Jobs in HI through 20302*

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Hawaii had 292 operating public K-12 schools during the 2017-2018 school year.3 These schools employed a total of 12,033 teachers and enrolled 180,837 students, with an average student-to-teacher ratio of 15:1.3

Overall, teacher job prospects through 2030 in Hawaii are similar to national averages, with Hawaii elementary school teachers having a stronger job outlook than other US elementary school teachers. Job growth for Hawaii preschool teachers is expected to be 16.4% compared to 18.4% nationally; for Hawaii elementary teachers 9.2% compared to 7.4% nationally; and for high school teachers, 9.3% compared to 13.7% nationally.2

The table below provides a detailed comparison of job growth prospects and salary levels for Hawaii teachers.

TypeNumber Employed in HI4Average Annual Openings in HI2HI Proj. Job Growth 2020-20302Average Annual Salary in HI425th Percentile Wages in HI575th Percentile Wages in HI5
Preschool Teachers1,05014016.4%$43,570$33,280$55,410
Preschool Teachers, Special Education2012.5%
Kindergarten Teachers4703808.7%$55,960$45,670$70,520
Elementary School Teachers3,4001509.2%$63,220$60,640$74,060
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Special Education70509.7%$36,800$28,420$30,160
Middle School Teachers1,800$60,800$46,910$73,040
Middle School Teachers, Special Education3010%
Middle School Teachers, Career/Technical Education
Secondary School Teachers9,8002709.3%$60,790$53,350$63,580
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education690$69,560$56,530$76,770
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education

*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 Hawaii

Hawaii is facing several teacher shortages for the 2023-2024 school year. According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2023-2024, Hawaii has the following teacher deficits:

During the 2022-2023 school year, Hawaii identified 108 unfilled teaching positions.7 A further 2,405 teachers were underqualified for their classroom assignment, which includes teachers assigned to classrooms outside their certification field on a temporary or emergency basis.7

Additional Resources

Hawaii Teacher Interviews

Related Articles

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How do I become a substitute teacher in Hawaii?

Answer: Substitute teachers in Hawaii are required to complete a Substitute Teacher Certification program. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree or higher to participate and will need to complete a Substitute Teacher Certification program before submitting an online application through the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE). Applicants without a bachelor’s degree may be hired by exception but must have a high school diploma and also complete the Substitute Teacher Certification program.

Question: How many private schools and private school teachers are in Hawaii?

Answer: According to data from the 2019-2020 school year, there were 165 private schools in Hawaii serving a total of 41,191 students.8 3,756 full-time teachers were employed by private schools.8 Private school teachers are not required to be licensed in Hawaii, although individual schools may set their own licensing requirements. Applicants should always check with individual schools to find out specific teacher requirements.

References:
1. Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB): https://hawaiiteacherstandardsboard.org/
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, Hawaii: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_hi.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