Texas Teacher Certification and Career Guide

To become a certified teacher in Texas, candidates must meet the requirements set by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The steps for the traditional path to teacher certification in Texas, in summary, are:

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree with a state-approved teacher preparation component.
  2. Complete a student teaching placement.
  3. Pass the required teacher certification exams.
  4. Apply for a teaching certificate or license.

Continue reading to learn more about the traditional certification pathway in Texas.

Table of Contents

How to Become a Teacher in Texas

This section covers the traditional steps to teacher certification in Texas. If you are a bachelor’s degree holder who has yet to complete a teacher preparation program, check out our guide to alternative teacher certification in Texas.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree that includes an approved teacher preparation program.

To be eligible for Texas teacher certification, candidates must complete a TEA approved educator preparation program (EPP) and hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an institution accredited by an agency recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The bachelor’s program you pursue will depend on the grade level and subject you wish to teach.

You can compare key metrics for state-approved teacher preparation programs on our Texas schools page. Our teaching schools guide covers all you need to know about important accreditations to consider, including institutional and programmatic accreditation.

2. Complete a student teaching placement.

As part of your program, you will also complete a student teaching placement, sometimes called an internship. This is typically a full-time, semester-long placement during which you will have opportunities to lead a classroom while paired with an experienced teacher. To meet the requirements for state certification, the student teaching placement should be at the grade level and in the subject you wish to teach. Some programs may offer longer student teaching placements or the opportunity to pursue more than one placement.

3. Pass the required Texas teacher exams.

Texas State SealAfter completing an approved educator preparation program, prospective teachers must pass the Texas teacher certification exams. Passing these exams demonstrates their teaching skills and content area knowledge. The Office of Educator Testing oversees the testing process for state teachers. The requirements vary based on the content area and grade level to be taught. Each teacher candidate should receive authorization and guidance about which tests to take from their educator preparation program.

Texas uses tests unique to the state, the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program (TExES). Only prospective teachers who receive authorization may sit for these exams.

4. Apply for Texas teacher certification.

Once all requirements for Texas educator certification are met, applicants must apply for a teaching certificate through the TEA office. Applicants must use the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS), which requires a TEA Login (TEAL). The required documents to apply for teacher certification in Texas include:

  • Transcripts from all colleges attended
  • Verification of completion of an educator preparation program from an approved school
  • Passing scores on the appropriate certification exams
  • Fingerprint based background check
  • Payment of non-refundable processing fees

Visit the TEA website for additional information on Texas teacher certification.

Guide to Other Teaching Pathways

Texas Teacher Certification Renewal

Texas teachers must renew their certificates every five years. To renew a standard teaching certificate, you must complete 150 hours of continuing professional education (CPE). Note that the 150-hour requirement is in total, even if you have multiple classroom certificates. TEA will email you with instructions for renewal approximately six months before your certificate expires. All required documentation and the renewal application must be submitted through your TEAL account.

Adding Subjects or Grades to a Certificate

Once you receive your teaching certificate, you will only be eligible to work as a teacher in the grade levels and certification areas listed on your certificate, though occasional, temporary exceptions are made. In Texas, candidates who hold a valid classroom teaching certificate can qualify for additional certifications by passing the appropriate subject area exams.

Texas Teaching License Reciprocity

Reciprocity in Texas is available for experienced teachers with out-of-state certification. Educators must create a TEAL account and provide:

  • Official transcripts from all colleges attended
  • Copies of out-of-state teaching certificates
  • Verification of licensure tests taken
  • Documentation of two years of school experience in the certification areas

After a credential review, the TEA may issue a non-renewable One-Year Certificate. During the year the certificate is valid, teachers must complete the Texas teacher certification exams. Eligible teachers may apply to have some or all of the exam requirements waived. For additional information on reciprocity refer to the TEA website. You can learn more about transferring a teaching certificate or license between states on our guide to certification reciprocity.

In addition to standard classroom teaching certificates, the TEA issues credentials in a variety of support and administrative areas. These include:

  • Educational Aide Certificate: Educational aides can assist classroom teachers. To apply for this certificate, aides must have a high school diploma or GED and be employed by a school district.
  • Principal Certificate: This certificate is for principals and related administrative roles. Applicants must have a relevant master’s degree that includes an approved principal preparation program, plus a teaching certificate with at least two years of full-time teaching experience. They must also pass the state’s principal certification exam.
  • School Counselor Certificate: Prospective school counselors must complete a master’s degree in school counseling that includes educator preparation in school counseling and pass the state’s school counselor certification exam. As of 2023, Texas school counselors are no longer required to have classroom teaching experience.

Additional certifications are available for school librarians, educational diagnosticians, and reading specialists. In general, candidates for these and other advanced certificates must complete a master’s degree and an educator preparation program in their desired certification area and pass the relevant exam. In many cases, candidates must also hold a teaching certificate with two to three years of classroom teaching experience. For more information, visit the TEA website.

Texas Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in TX through 20302*

According to the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the state of Texas has a student-to-teacher ratio of 15:1.3 During the 2017-2018 school year, there were 8,909 public K-12 schools in Texas, which enrolled a student population of over 5.4 million with about 356,877 teachers.3

Job prospects through 2030 are stronger in Texas than the expected national averages, with job growth for Texas elementary teachers projected at 13.2% compared to 7.2% nationally; for Texas middle school teachers, 13.1% compared to 7.8% nationally; and for Texas secondary school teachers, 13.7% compared to 7.8% nationally.2

The table below provides a detailed comparison of job growth prospects and salary levels for Texas teachers.

TypeNumber Employed in TX4Average Annual Openings in TX2TX Proj. Job Growth 2020-20302Average Annual Salary in TX425th Percentile Wages in TX575th Percentile Wages in TX5
Preschool Teachers35,0804,15026%$39,620$28,320$51,630
Preschool Teachers, Special Education3105020.8%$63,300$59,600$74,430
Kindergarten Teachers14,1501,89013.9%$59,560$54,130$63,180
Elementary School Teachers141,42011,71013.2%$59,790$55,880$63,010
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Special Education15,9901,40013.3%$60,870$57,080$63,420
Middle School Teachers66,5805,80013.1%$59,800$56,110$63,310
Middle School Teachers, Special Education7,35078013.1%$61,280$57,370$63,420
Middle School Teachers, Career/Technical Education1,52014013.2%$61,880$58,820$64,140
Secondary School Teachers105,8908,29013.7%$61,210$56,600$63,470
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education11,6301,21013%$61,780$57,320$64,330
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education12,8601,06013%$62,170$58,490$64,030

*The estimated job growth average is based on projections for mainstream kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers. Projections for other categories, such as special education and career and technical education, may be higher or lower than the average.

Teacher Shortages in Texas

Most of the US is dealing with an educator shortage. According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2023-2024, Texas has designated the following deficits:

According to recent research, there were over 1,800 unfilled teaching positions in Texas during the 2022-2023 school year.7 A further 49,000 teachers in the state were considered underqualified for their position, which includes teachers assigned to classrooms outside their certification field on a temporary or emergency basis.7

Texas School District Requirements

If you are interested in exploring more about how to become a teacher in one of the major Texas cities, you can find information on our city pages below. These pages discuss the step-by-step process for becoming a teacher in each city school district, the requirements for becoming a substitute teacher, and provide contact information for the public school district. You can also find a list of popular and well-known private and charter schools in each city.

Additional Resources

Texas Teacher Interviews

Related Articles

Teacher Quote: “Be prepared to work a lot! This is a great job to have but there is always something else to be done. Working with kids is an awesome gift and will definitely be the best part of your job.” -Lindsay Noren, Texas Third Grade Teacher

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How much do teachers make in Texas?

Answer: Excluding special education, on average elementary teachers in Texas earn $59,210 per year; middle school teachers earn $59,080 per year; and high school teachers earn $60,470 per year.4 Teacher income varies based on experience and the employing school.

Question: How do I become a high school teacher in Texas?

Answer: To become a high school teacher in Texas, you must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and finish a teacher preparation program approved by the state. You must also pass the state’s certification exams for the subject areas you will be teaching. Once these are complete, you can apply to the state for a certificate, complete the required background check, and apply for jobs in schools.

Question: What are the requirements to become an elementary school teacher in Texas?

Answer: To become an elementary teacher in Texas, you must earn a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program. Once those are complete, you must pass the exam for elementary instruction and the subject areas you will be teaching. Finally, you must complete the state application for certification and pass a national criminal background check.

Question: How do I become a kindergarten teacher in Texas?

Answer: To become a kindergarten teacher in Texas, you must be certified by the state. Certification requires a bachelor’s degree, completion of an educator preparation program, and passing scores on the required certification exams. You must also complete a background check before you can work in a school.

Question: How many private schools and private school teachers are there in Texas?

Answer: According to the latest statistics available, as of the 2019-20 school year, there were 1,738 private schools in Texas, with 28,563 full-time teachers and 246,706 students.8 Texas law does not require private school teachers to be certified, though schools may prefer to hire teachers with state credentials. Check with private schools in your area to confirm requirements.

1. Texas Education Agency, Texas Educators Certification: https://tea.texas.gov/texas-educators/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, 2017-2018: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Texas: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tx.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
6. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports
7. Teacher Shortages in the United States, Tuan D. Nguyen et al.: https://teachershortages.com/
8. National Center for Education Statistics, Private School Universe Survey, 2019-20: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/tables/TABLE15fl1920.asp