North Carolina Alternative Teacher Certification

Teaching candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education and have not completed a teacher preparation program may pursue North Carolina alternative teacher certification. Alternative certification programs are designed for career switchers who are otherwise qualified to teach. Continue reading to learn how to become a teacher in North Carolina through alternative routes.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

To be eligible for North Carolina alternative certification, candidates must have either a relevant degree or 24 semester hours of coursework in a core area with a 2.5 GPA. Candidates must also pass the appropriate North Carolina State Board of Education approved exams for the pathway followed to licensure.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in North Carolina

North Carolina only maintains one alternative pathway to licensure, Lateral Entry, which is described below. Candidates must also complete an approved teacher preparation program as part of the lateral entry process. Alternative teacher preparation programs typically lead to a post-graduate certificate but may also lead to a master’s degree.

Lateral Entry

To qualify for certification under the Lateral Entry pathway, candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Candidates must have 24 credit hours in a teachable subject or have passing scores on the Praxis Subject Assessments or the Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum. Additionally, candidates must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5 or have five years of relevant experience. Those with higher GPAs and/or high scores on standardized testing may also qualify. If these requirements are met, the candidate can seek employment in a school district. The school district must recommend the candidate for a lateral entry educator’s license.

Once a candidate has secured employment and a lateral entry license, he or she has three years to complete an approved teacher education program and earn the Standard Professional 1 (SP1) Professional Educator’s license. Candidates also have the option of completing a program with the assistance of one of the North Carolina Regional Alternative Licensing Centers (RALC). RALCs do not replace teacher preparation programs, but provide assistance in determining the requirements that must be met to earn licensure based on the candidate’s background.

Testing Requirements for North Carolina Alternative Certification

As mentioned above, candidates for certification under lateral entry must either pass the Praxis content-area exams or the Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum exam, depending on the grade levels they would like to teach. In some cases, candidates who have exceptional scores on the SAT or ACT and a GPA of 3.0 or better may have the testing requirement waived. However, these candidates will still be required to complete a North Carolina State Board of Education approved teacher preparation program.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

A candidate may also be certified to teach in North Carolina through reciprocity. Candidates following this route must have a standard teaching license that is active in another state with three years of teaching experience. To earn the Standard Professional 2 (SP2) Professional Educator’s License, a candidate must also pass the NC State Board of Education exams or hold National Board Certification. For further details, consult our guide to interstate reciprocity.

Additional Resources

Schools with Alternative Certification Programs in North Carolina

Because the alternative certification process is complex, we have researched and provided specific school programs below for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree outside of education and want to become a teacher. We recommend you request information from one or more of these specific programs:

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1. North Carolina State Board of Education: https://www.dpi.nc.gov/educators/educators-licensure