The Kentucky Teaching and Certification Resource

The Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) oversees the state’s teacher certification process. The traditional process for earning Kentucky teacher certification is outlined in detail below for those looking to learn how to become a teacher in Kentucky.

How to Become a Teacher in Kentucky

Kentucky requires prospective teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program. Once they have passed the educational requirements, prospective teachers must pass the Praxis exam for each area of certification being sought before gaining Initial Certification. Depending on eligibility, there are alternative pathways to become a teacher in Kentucky for those who have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher preparation program.

The Initial certificate must be renewed every five years by completing three years of classroom teaching or gaining six hours of graduate credit. In addition, teachers in Kentucky can work towards more advanced ranks in the state’s three-tier rank system. New teachers who completed a four-year program and get their Initial Certification earn Rank III status. In order to advance to Rank II status, they must complete ongoing education, earn a master’s degree, or earn initial National Board Certification as a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). The highest rank, Rank I, is earned by completing an approved master’s degree and 30 semester hours of additional graduate work or continuing education. Teachers can also earn Rank I by achieving NBCT certification.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Kentucky

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in KY through 20301

Perhaps the most important step to earning Kentucky teacher certification is completing an approved and accredited teacher preparation program. Completing a program at an institution approved by the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) is a requirement for licensure for prospective teachers. You can compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Kentucky schools page.

Out-of-state schools must have regional accreditation from one of the six regional accreditation agencies overseen by the US Department of Education as well as approval from that state’s Board of Education for the preparation of teachers. Schools that do not meet these requirements will not qualify graduates for Kentucky teacher certification.

Additionally, accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is highly respected. CAEP was formed by the consolidation of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and is seen as a mark of quality teacher preparation curriculum in the education sector.

Kentucky Teacher Education Requirements

Kentucky State SealAs with most states, Kentucky requires that candidates for Kentucky educator certification complete a bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program that includes student teaching. Students who are able to commit to full-time study may be interested in Kentucky’s Option 9 program, which allows teacher candidates to earn a bachelor’s degree and complete student teaching in just three years while working in a staff position in an approved school district. All new teachers receive additional assistance through the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) during their first year of employment. Kentucky also carries a recency requirement, meaning that applicants must have completed teacher preparation or graduate credit within five years of applying for a certificate; those who do not meet this requirement must complete six semester hours of graduate credit under a one-year temporary certificate.

Kentucky Teacher Testing Requirements

Kentucky uses the Praxis series of tests for prospective educators. All prospective educators must pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exams (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics). Note that the Praxis Core exams are commonly required as a condition of admission to a Kentucky-based teacher education program. All individuals pursuing a Kentucky educator license must also complete the Praxis Subject Assessments in each content area for which they are seeking certification as well as the Principles of Learning and Teaching test for their targeted grade range.

Additional Kentucky Teacher Certification Requirements

Like most US states, Kentucky requires new teachers applying for a Kentucky teaching license to complete a state and federal background check. For current instructions on completing this requirement, refer to the Education Professional Standards Board.

Kentucky Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once prospective educators have completed all of the requirements stipulated by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board, an application for a teaching certificate must be submitted. The following documentation is required:

  • A completed teacher certification application form.
  • Official transcripts from all graduate and undergraduate coursework.
  • Verification of full-time classroom teaching experience at the appropriate grade level(s).
  • Passing scores on the Praxis exams for the endorsement areas sought.
  • Verification of completion of a Kentucky teacher preparation program from an approved school, including the school’s recommendation for a license for the applicant.
  • Non-refundable application fee.

Applications should be completed online using the Kentucky Educator Credentialing System (KECS) portal. Transcripts should be mailed to:

Office of Educator Licensure and Effectiveness
Division of Educator Preparation and Certification
300 Sower Blvd, 5th Floor
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

Visit the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) for further details on becoming a certified teacher in Kentucky.

Kentucky Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

There were approximately 684,017 students enrolled in Kentucky’s 1,539 K-12 public schools during the 2016-2017 school year (which is the most recent data available for this statistic).1 During the same timeframe, there were an estimated 42,028 public school teachers in the state, giving a student-to-teacher ratio of 16:1.1

Projections call for 330 average annual job openings for kindergarten and elementary school teachers; 570 average annual job openings for middle school teachers; and 840 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in Kentucky through 2030 (not including special or career/technical education teachers).2 Excluding special and career/technical education teachers, the average annual salaries for teachers in the state are $54,050 for kindergarten teachers, $55,020 for elementary school teachers, $55,650 for middle school teachers, and $57,300 for secondary school teachers, as of May 2021 (the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)).4 Visit the Kentucky Education Association (KSA) for current news for education professionals in the state.

TypeNumber Employed4Average Annual Salary4
Preschool Teachers2,720$40,120
Preschool Teachers, Special Education50$54,220
Kindergarten Teachers2,410$54,050
Elementary School Teachers17,340$55,020
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School4,380$54,900
Middle School Teachers7,720$55,650
Middle School Teachers, Special Education1,040$53,700
Middle School Teachers, Career/Technical Education1,040$53,700
Secondary School Teachers11,790$57,300
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education1,450$55,030
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education240$59,450

Teacher Shortages in Kentucky

According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2022-2023, Kentucky broadly has the following shortages4:

  • Academically Advanced (Gifted Education); Pre-K-12
  • Art and Music Education (Arts & Humanities), Pre-K-12
  • Career and Technical Education (General), 6-12
  • Core Subjects (Elementary Education), 1-5
  • Early Childhood (General), Pre-K, K
  • English as a Second Language (General), Pre-K-12
  • General Shortages (General), 9-12
  • Health and Physical Fitness (General), Pre-K-12
  • Language Arts (English & Communications), 6-12
  • Mathematics (General), 6-12
  • Science (General), 6-12
  • Social Studies (General), 6-12
  • Special Education (Exceptional Children), Pre-K-12
  • Support Staff (Guidance and Counseling; Library/Media Specialist; Psychologist; Speech Language Pathologist/Audiologist), Pre-K-12
  • World Languages (General), Pre-K-12

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How do I become an elementary teacher in Kentucky?

Answer: Becoming an elementary teacher in Kentucky in a public school requires certification from the state. You must have a bachelor’s degree and complete a teacher education program in elementary education at an accredited university. You must also pass state exams for teaching practices and basic skills and participate in student teaching. Private schools may have other requirements.

Question: Is there a teacher shortage in Kentucky?

Answer: According to a teacher shortages report by the US Department of Education, teachers are needed in numerous areas in Kentucky for the 2022-2023 school year, including math, science, special education, world languages, language arts, and more.4

Question: How much does a teacher in Kentucky make?

Answer: The average annual salary for preschool through high school educators in Kentucky is $59,460.4 The highest-paid teachers in the state are high school teachers, particularly those in career and technical education.4

1. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
2. National Center for Education Statistics, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Kentucky: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ky.htm
4. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/