The North Carolina Teaching and Certification Resource

For anyone looking to become a teacher, North Carolina is a fantastic state for educators. Aspiring teachers must obtain North Carolina teacher certification to teach in public schools. The North Carolina State Board of Education oversees the certification process, which is outlined in detail below for those looking to learn how to become a teacher in North Carolina.

How to Become a Teacher in North Carolina

Anyone pursuing a North Carolina teacher certificate must hold a bachelor’s degree and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program in North Carolina. Additionally, there are required examinations and a background check that must be submitted before applying for teacher certification.

Teachers in North Carolina must hold certification for the subject or grade level they wish to teach. Teaching certificate areas include birth through kindergarten, elementary (grades K-6), middle grades (grades 6-9), secondary grades (grades 9-12), special subjects (K-12), exceptional children (K-12), and vocational education. There are also alternative routes to certification in North Carolina for those looking to change careers.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in North Carolina

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in NC through 20242

One of the most important steps towards North Carolina teacher certification is completing an approved teacher preparation program at an accredited school. You can see a list of approved programs here. Regional accreditation is also important, especially for those who attend a teacher education program out of state. US schools are accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies, which are overseen by the US Department of Education. North Carolina schools are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Those pursuing teacher certification in North Carolina should confirm that any teacher education program offered is from a regionally accredited school that has State Board of Education approval. Additionally, out-of-state or online schools offering teaching programs should be accredited by the corresponding regional agency.

In addition to regional accreditation, schools may also look for accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Although CAEP accreditation is not mandatory, it is considered an indication of quality teacher education.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in North Carolina.

North Carolina Teacher Outlook
The North Carolina Department of Commerce projects 1,427 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 654 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 835 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in North Carolina through 2022.3 These projections include both new and replacement positions. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 82,640 elementary, middle, and high school teachers in North Carolina, excluding special education.4 Elementary school teachers in North Carolina make an average annual salary of $43,200, while middle school teachers make an average annual salary of $43,040 and secondary school teachers make an average annual salary of $44,520.4 Visit the North Carolina Association of Educators for updates on education policy in North Carolina.

North Carolina Teacher Education Requirements

The most common pathway to North Carolina teaching certification is the completion of an approved teacher education program from an accredited college or university, typically as part of a bachelor’s degree in a core subject. It is also possible to earn certification after earning a bachelor’s degree through alternative routes.

North Carolina Teacher Testing Requirements

North Carolina State SealThe testing requirements for North Carolina teacher certification include the Praxis Subject Assessments for middle, secondary, and K-12 licensure areas. Those seeking certification under Exceptional Children: General Curriculum must take the Pearson Test for North Carolina: Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum. Candidates who are applying for a North Carolina teaching certificate must have already met the minimum passing score on the appropriate exams at the time of application.

Additional North Carolina Teacher Certification Requirements

Unlike most states, North Carolina does not require fingerprinting or a background check in order to be eligible for a North Carolina teacher certification. However, some individual school districts may require the process as part of their employment criteria.

North Carolina Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once applicants have completed the required education and testing, they may apply for certification. The supporting documents needed include:

  • Application for a North Carolina Professional Educator’s License.
  • Verification of completion of an approved teacher education program.
  • Original transcripts for each degree and any coursework completed not listed on transcript.
  • Evidence of passing test score(s) on the NTE/Praxis.
  • Payment of non-refundable processing fees.

The North Carolina Board of Education uses an online licensure system. Visit the Department of Education for further details on North Carolina teacher certification.

North Carolina Teacher Salary and Jobs

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers10,250$27,900
Preschool Teachers, Special Education1,110$50,590
Kindergarten Teachers4,500$41,840
Elementary School Teachers40,980$43,200
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School9,950$45,240
Middle School Teachers18,700$43,040
Middle School Teachers, Special Education3,260$44,250
Secondary School Teachers22,960$44,520
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education4,350$46,170
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education5,010$47,940

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.4

North Carolina Teacher Interview

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in North Carolina

Question: How do I become a substitute teacher in North Carolina?

Answer: To be a substitute teacher in North Carolina, you must apply to the district in which you hope to work. The state does not require substitutes to hold teacher certification, but individual districts may have different requirements.

Question: How do I become an elementary school teacher in North Carolina?

Answer: To become an elementary school teacher in North Carolina, you must be certified by the state. Certification requires a bachelor’s degree and the completion of a teacher preparation program approved by the state. You also must complete at least ten weeks of student teaching in an elementary classroom.

Question: What are the requirements to become a high school teacher in North Carolina?

Answer: To be a high school teacher in North Carolina, you need to get a certificate from the state. To qualify, you need to have a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program. You must also participate in at least ten weeks of student teaching in a secondary setting.

Teaching and Education Programs

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1. North Carolina State Board of Education: http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/licensure/beginning/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. NCCareers.org: https://www.nccareers.org/employmentprojections/occupation_employment_projections.html
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, North Carolina: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm