The North Carolina Teaching and Certification Resource

Aspiring teachers must obtain North Carolina teacher certification to teach in K-12 public schools in the state. The North Carolina State Board of Education oversees the traditional 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 20262

One of the most important steps toward North Carolina teacher certification is completing an approved teacher preparation program at an accredited school. You can see a list of approved programs through the North Carolina DPI. You can also compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our North Carolina schools page.

Regional accreditation is also important, especially for those who attend a teacher education program out of state. US schools should be 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 (SACSCOC).

Those pursuing teacher certification in North Carolina should confirm that any teacher education program offered is from a regionally accredited school that has approval from the North Carolina DPI. Additionally, out-of-state or online schools offering teaching programs should be accredited by the corresponding regional agency and approved by the board of education for the state in which they are located.

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.

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 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, individual school districts will likely require candidates to complete the background check 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 Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

During the 2016-2017 school year, there were approximately 2,624 public schools operating in North Carolina, with a student population estimated at over 1.5 million.3 With 100,219 public school teachers during this school year, North Carolina had a student-to-teacher ratio of about 15:1.3

Projections suggest that there will be an annual average of 3,040 job openings for elementary school teachers, 1,420 job openings for middle school teachers, and 1,740 job openings for secondary school teachers in North Carolina through 2026.2 These projections include both new and replacement positions. Elementary school teachers in North Carolina make an average annual salary of $46,500, middle school teachers make an average annual salary of $47,050, and secondary school teachers make an average annual salary of $47,580.4 Visit the North Carolina Association of Educators for updates on education policy in North Carolina.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers16,110$28,260
Preschool Teachers, Special Education580$50,490
Kindergarten Teachers3,320$46,490
Elementary School Teachers40,830$46,500
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School7,080$47,760
Middle School Teachers18,640$47,050
Middle School Teachers, Special Education2,950$49,180
Secondary School Teachers25,240$47,580
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education4,350$48,820
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education4,810$50,680

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4

Teacher Shortages in North Carolina

According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, North Carolina broadly has the following shortages5:

  • Core Subjects (Elementary Education), K-5
  • Mathematics (General), 6-12
  • Special Education (Exceptional Children), K-12

North Carolina Teacher Interview

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

1. North Carolina State Board of Education: https://www.dpi.nc.gov/educators/educators-licensure
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, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, North Carolina: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports