The Rhode Island Teaching and Certification Resource

Educators in Rhode Island are required to be certified in order to be eligible to work in the public school system. The state’s Department of Education oversees the certification process, which is outlined below to help you learn how to become a teacher in Rhode Island.

How to Become a Teacher in Rhode Island

To be eligible for Rhode Island teacher certification, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and complete a teacher preparation program approved by the state. Candidates must also pass the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) as well as the Praxis Subject Assessments for the endorsement areas sought.

Candidates who have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher preparation program may be interested in alternative teacher certification in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island uses a tiered system of teacher licensure. First-time teachers who meet the qualifications are issued an Initial Educator Certificate. Candidates may advance to the next level of licensure, which is the Professional Educator Certificate, by completing three years of teaching under the Initial certificate and earning successful evaluation ratings for their teaching practice. Candidates who have a strong performance record of effective teaching as demonstrated by periodic evaluations and at least five years of teaching experience may advance to the highest level of licensure in Rhode Island, the Advanced Educator Certificate.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Rhode Island

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in RI through 20262

For aspiring teachers one of the most important steps towards teacher certification in Rhode Island is completing an approved teacher preparation program through a regionally accredited school. The Rhode Island Department of Education provides a list of approved programs for those planning their education. You can compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Rhode Island schools page.

Prospective educators also must be sure to earn a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school. There are six regional accreditation agencies overseen by the US Department of Education. Schools offering online teacher certification programs should also be regionally accredited according to the school’s headquartered state.

Additionally, schools may hold accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP accreditation is recognized for its rigorous standards for teacher preparation.

Rhode Island Teacher Education Requirements

Candidates for Rhode Island teacher certification must have at least a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program. The education completed must include at least 60 hours of field experience and 12 weeks of student teaching. The field experience requirement is for each certification area sought. In addition, candidates must have graduated from the program completed no more than five years prior to the submission of the application for a teaching credential.

Rhode Island Teacher Testing Requirements

Rhode Island State SealRhode Island has adopted the Praxis series of tests to ensure that prospective educators are knowledgeable in both teaching skills and content areas. Prospective educators must typically pass the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) and Praxis Subject Assessments for the grade level(s) and subject(s) they wish to teach in order to qualify for Rhode Island teacher licensure. In some cases, such as certification in early childhood education, taking two or more of the appropriate Praxis subject assessments may substitute for the Principles of Teaching and Learning Exam. Check the Rhode Island Department of Education website for details on testing requirements.

Additional Rhode Island Teacher Certification Requirements

Rhode Island requires that candidates pursuing teacher certification disclose any criminal history, including misdemeanor offenses. While a background check is not required to apply for teacher licensure, individual school districts may require state and federal background checks as a condition of employment.

Rhode Island Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once all steps towards Rhode Island teacher certification are complete, candidates must provide the following documents to apply for licensure:

  • Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree.
  • Verification of teacher program completion at an approved school.
  • Passing scores on the required content and subject exams.
  • Completed application for teaching certification in Rhode Island.
  • Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee.

Completed applications may be sent to:

Rhode Island Department of Education
Office of Educator Excellence & Certification Services
255 Westminster St, 4th FL
Providence, RI 02903

Visit the state’s Department of Education website for further details on Rhode Island teacher certification.

Rhode Island Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

In the 2016-2017 school year, there were 315 public schools in Rhode Island, serving approximately 142,150 K-12 students.3 With an estimated 10,688 public school teachers during this timeframe, Rhode Island had a student-to-teacher ratio of 13:1.3

Estimates suggest that there will be 240 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 130 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 250 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in Rhode Island through 2026.2 Elementary school teachers in Rhode Island earn an average annual salary of $71,990, while middle school teachers earn an average of $72,180 and secondary school teachers an average of $71,440, excluding teachers in special education.4 The National Education Association – Rhode Island provides information regarding state education policy and public education employment opportunities.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers1,120$32,400
Preschool Teachers, Special Education90$70,590
Kindergarten Teachers560$65,530
Elementary School Teachers3,520$71,990
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School430$70,720
Middle School Teachers1,660$72,180
Middle School Teachers, Special Education240$70,990
Secondary School Teachers4,410$71,440
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education310$74,600
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education140$74,740

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4

Teacher Shortages in Rhode Island

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

  • Art and Music Education (Art, Dance, Music, Theatre), Pre-K-12
  • Career and Technical Education (Business Education, Career Clusters), 7-12
  • English as a Second Language (Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language), Pre-K-12
  • ESL Specialist/Consultant (General), Pre-K-12
  • Health and Physical Fitness (Health Science, Physical Education), Pre-K-12
  • Language Arts (Reading Resource Specialist), Pre-K-12
  • Language Arts (English), 5-8
  • Mathematics (General), 5-12
  • School Nurse Teacher (General), Pre-K-12
  • Science (General), 5-8
  • Science (Chemistry, General Science), 7-12
  • Science (Physics), Pre-K-12
  • Social Studies (General), 5-8
  • Special Education (General), 5-12
  • Special Education (Adaptive Physical Education; Deaf/Hearing Impairment; Severely and Profoundly Handicapped), Pre-K-12
  • Special Education (Early Childhood), Pre-K-2
  • Special Education (Elementary Special Educator), 1-6
  • Support Staff (Education Technology, Library/Media Specialist; Psychologist), Pre-K-12
  • World Languages (General), Pre-K-12

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What are the requirements to become a high school teacher in Rhode Island?

Answer: To become a high school teacher in Rhode Island, you must be certified through the state. The requirements for certification include holding a bachelor’s degree with a major in a teachable subject and completing an approved program for teacher education. You must also spend at least 12 weeks of student teaching and pass the Praxis subject assessments at the secondary level for the subject(s) you wish to teach.

Question: Is there a teacher shortage in Rhode Island?

Answer: According to the US Department of Education, Rhode Island has reported teacher shortages for the 2021-22 school year in areas such as English as a second language (ESL), math, science, social studies, special education, physical education, and many more.5

Question: How much do Rhode Island teachers make?

Answer: Rhode Island teacher salaries vary based on grade level taught and other factors. The average annual salary for teachers from elementary through high school (excluding special and career/technical education) is $71,870.4

1. Rhode Island State Department of Education: https://ride.ri.gov/teachers-administrators/educator-certification
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 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Rhode Island: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ri.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/