The South Carolina Teaching and Certification Resource
The traditional pathway to South Carolina teacher certification is completing a bachelor’s degree that includes a teacher preparation program. The South Carolina Department of Education oversees the certification process, which is outlined below to help you learn how to become a teacher in South Carolina.
How to Become a Teacher in South Carolina
To meet the basic eligibility requirements for teaching certification in South Carolina, candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, pass the required Praxis assessments, and complete a background check. Additionally, prospective teachers must complete an approved South Carolina teacher preparation program, which is typically included in the bachelor’s degree curriculum for traditional route educators.
If you already hold a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher preparation program, you may be eligible for licensure under one of the alternative teacher certification routes in South Carolina.
South Carolina uses a tiered license structure for educators. Those who meet the minimum certification requirements above are eligible for the Initial Educator Certificate, which is valid for three years and is not renewable. Candidates must complete continuing education, earn satisfactory teacher evaluations, and pass a pedagogical knowledge assessment (usually the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching) to advance the license to a Professional Certificate.
- I want to be a teacher in South Carolina, but don’t have a degree: Earn an Education Degree
- I want to be a teacher and have a degree, but not in education: Learn about South Carolina’s Alternative Certification Process and Programs
- I have a teaching degree and am interested in more education: Learn about Master’s Degree Education Programs, Education Specialist Programs, or Doctorate Education Programs
- I want to explore substitute teaching: Learn about Substitute Teacher Opportunities
- I am already certified and want to teach in another state: Learn about Teacher Certification Reciprocity
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in South Carolina
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in SC through 20262
Completing an approved South Carolina teacher preparation program is one of the most important steps to earn South Carolina teacher certification. Programs located in South Carolina that do not have this approval will not qualify graduates for licensure. You can see a list of approved programs through the South Carolina Department of Education. You can also compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our South Carolina schools page.
Out-of-state programs must hold accreditation from one of the six regional accreditation agencies overseen by the US Department of Education. Out-of-state schools offering online programs must be accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies and be approved by that state’s teacher licensing authority as well as that state’s Board of Education for the preparation of teachers. You can read more about program approval requirements here.
Additionally, schools may be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP accreditation is viewed as a marker of excellence in the education field.
South Carolina Teacher Education Requirements
In order to earn certification to teach in the state of South Carolina, candidates must complete a teacher education program from an accredited college or university that is approved by the state board of education, complete a student teaching internship, hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and provide a letter of recommendation for a teaching license from a teacher preparation program official. Alternative routes to certification in South Carolina are also available.
South Carolina Teacher Testing Requirements
The South Carolina State Board of Education requires that teachers seeking certification earn passing scores on the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) and Praxis subject assessments. The Praxis series is designed to assess candidates’ knowledge of teaching fundamentals as well as their level of expertise in the subject area they plan to teach. You can find out which specific exams are appropriate to the subject(s) you wish to teach through the South Carolina Department of Education. Note that teacher candidates will also typically complete the edTPA portfolio-based assessment during their teacher preparation program; acceptable scores on this exam can in some cases be substituted for the PLT exam.
Additional South Carolina Teacher Certification Requirements
South Carolina law states that all prospective teachers must submit fingerprints for a state and federal background check. South Carolina is moving to electronic fingerprinting for all state residents, though out-of-state residents may still submit a manual card scan. Refer to the application procedures for more information on completing this process.
South Carolina Teachers Licensing Application Process
Once the requirements for South Carolina educator certification have been completed, candidates must send an application to the Educator Licensure Office. The following documentation is required:
- Completed electronic fingerprint process.
- Official, sealed transcripts from each college or university attended.
- College Recommendation Form signed by designated teacher preparation program official.
- Passing scores for the required Praxis II content area exams.
- Passing score on the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) in the grade level(s) for which endorsement is sought.
- South Carolina Licensure Application.
- Payment of the application fee.
Visit the state’s Department of Education for further details on South Carolina teacher certification.
South Carolina Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
There were 1,252 K-12 public schools in South Carolina during the 2016-2017 school year with an estimated student population of 771,250.3 During this timeframe the state had approximately 50,789 public school teachers, resulting in a student-to-teacher ratio of 15:1.3
Estimates suggest that there will be 1,720 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 730 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 1,150 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in South Carolina through 2026.3 Elementary school teachers in the state earn an average annual salary of $51,240, middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $52,520, and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $54,400.4 The South Carolina Education Association is a useful resource for educators interested in working in South Carolina.
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||160||$48,110|
|Elementary School Teachers||22,530||$51,240|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||3,040||$56,960|
|Middle School Teachers||8,360||$52,520|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||1,170||$53,320|
|Secondary School Teachers||15,310||$54,400|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||1,480||$55,560|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||1,150||$52,900|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Teacher Shortages in South Carolina
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, South Carolina broadly has the following shortages5:
- Art and Music Education (Art, Dance, Music, Theatre), Pre-K-12
- Career and Technical Education (Agricultural Science and Technology; Business, Marketing and Information Technology (BMIT)), 9-12
- English as a Second Language (English as a Second Language), Pre-K-12
- Health and Physical Fitness (Physical Education), Pre-K-12
- Language Arts (English), 5-12
- Language Arts (Literacy), Pre-K-12
- Mathematics (General), 5-12
- Science (General), 5-12
- Social Studies (General), 5-12
- Special Education (All Exceptionalities; Speech and Language Impairment), Pre-K-12
- Support Staff (Library/Media Specialist), Pre-K-12
- World Languages (Chinese, French, German, Spanish), Pre-K-12
South Carolina Teacher Interview
Interview with Bridget Pearsall, South Carolina Math Teacher
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How can you become a substitute teacher in South Carolina?
Answer: The state of South Carolina does not require certification for substitute teachers; the only requirement is that prospective substitutes have at least a high school diploma. However, individual school districts set their own requirements and may prefer to hire substitutes who are state certified.
Question: How much do teachers in South Carolina make?
Answer: Teacher salaries in South Carolina vary based on many factors including grade level taught, teacher qualifications, and location. On average, elementary through high school teachers in the state (excluding special education and career/technical education) earn $52,720 per year.4
Question: Is there a teacher shortage in South Carolina?
Answer: According to the US Department of Education, South Carolina reports teacher shortages in many areas for the 2021-22 school year.5 These disciplines include English as a second language (ESL), language arts, health and physical fitness, special education, mathematics, science, and social studies.5
1. South Carolina Department of Education: https://ed.sc.gov/educators/
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, South Carolina: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sc.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/