The North Carolina educational system is projected to add 5,000 teachers at all levels by 2024, according to Projections Central. To earn a North Carolina teaching license, you must hold a bachelor's degree, complete a state-approved teacher preparation program, and pass required exams. The state also allows lateral entry into the teaching profession. This pathway allows individuals with a bachelor's degree to receive a provisional license to teach within their area of expertise while they work to meet the requirements for full licensure.
To earn a North Carolina teaching license, you must hold a bachelor's degree, complete a state-approved teacher preparation program, and pass required exams.
Additionally, teachers who hold a license from another state may qualify for a provisional license in North Carolina. Since licensure requirements vary from state to state, these teachers must still prove they have taken the coursework and passed the exams required by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction before they can be fully licensed to teach in the state.
Students can prepare for North Carolina teaching jobs by earning an online bachelor's degree. However, all state-approved teacher preparation programs involve 10 weeks of student teaching, which cannot be completed online. Students can potentially bypass this requirement by applying for lateral entry, but school districts may prefer to hire candidates with experience in the classroom.
How Do I Become a Teacher in North Carolina?
Most prospective teachers in North Carolina enroll in a teacher preparation program that has been authorized by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI). These programs allow students to earn a bachelor's degree while meeting the coursework and student teaching requirements for becoming a teacher in the state. Upon graduation, students must pass either the Praxis II exam or the Pearson Testing for North Carolina Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum exam, depending on the grade level in which they plan to teach.
Teaching licenses do not automatically transfer from state to state, and no state institutes full teaching reciprocity with North Carolina. Individuals with an out-of-state teaching license can apply for a provisional license to teach in North Carolina. Within two years of receiving this provisional license, these teachers must prove the completion of similar coursework and pass the same exams that the DPI requires. Similarly, lateral entry teachers with a bachelor's degree can apply for a provisional teaching license, but they must also meet the same requirements for full licensure.
Becoming a teacher in North Carolina requires a bachelor's degree. However, an associate degree in an area like education can help you meet some of the coursework requirements for a bachelor's degree and a teaching license. While a master's degree is not required for teaching in state, it may help open up employment and advancement opportunities.
The traditional path to becoming a teacher in North Carolina involves enrolling in a state-approved teacher preparation program. These programs allow students to earn a bachelor's degree, take required courses in education, and gain valuable classroom experience. Most programs include 10 weeks of supervised student teaching in a secondary school setting. Full-time students usually complete these programs in about four years.
North Carolina participates in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification Interstate Agreement.
Alternatively, individuals with a bachelor's degree can apply for a lateral-entry provisional license. Once approved, they may teach for a period of up to two years while they work toward full licensure. Working with the DPI, they develop a list of courses they still need to take in order to meet the educational requirements established by the state. After completing these courses, lateral entry teachers must pass the exam associated with their teaching grade level.
North Carolina participates in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification Interstate Agreement. This allows for individuals who hold a teaching license from another state to apply for provisional licensure in North Carolina. Like lateral-entry teachers, teachers who have licenses from another state must still ultimately meet the educational requirements set out by the DPI to become fully licensed. Individuals who possess a North Carolina teaching license may also qualify to teach in other states, but they will likely need to meet that state's requirements to teach for an extended period of time.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in North Carolina
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Classroom Management and Instruction||This class provides an introduction to the knowledge and skills educators need to lead classrooms. Students explore topics like learning differences, teaching strategies, and developmentally appropriate guidance techniques.|
|Learning Theory||In this class, students examine the various styles of classroom learning. The course emphasizes the development of cognitive skills, the forms of intelligence, and how motivation influences learning.|
|Curriculum Planning||All teachers need to create curricula for their students. This class offers an opportunity to design, implement, assess, and alter a draft curriculum specifically for elementary-age learners.|
Bachelor's Degree in Teaching
|The Science of Learning||Through the examination and application of cognitive and educational psychology, this course explores the ways in which students learn and how educators can best support that learning.|
|Risk and Resiliency||Teachers will invariably encounter students at risk of educational failure. This course helps educators identify the warning signs and teaches them how to work with colleagues and community partners to help students succeed.|
|Schooling in the United States||In this class, students take on a broader perspective about the role of schooling and education in our society. The course covers the opportunities and limitations of different schooling models.|
Master's Degree in Teaching
|Introduction to the Education of Exceptional Learners||All teachers can benefit from a greater understanding of the unique needs of special education students. This course demonstrates the importance of inclusive learning and shows educators how to coordinate services to meet students' needs.|
|Schools, Culture, and Communities||Students do not live or learn in isolation. In this class, aspiring teachers study the influence of family, community, and society on a student's education. The course also helps teachers develop critical communication and collaboration skills.|
|Effective Teaching||Building on a student's practical experience in the classroom, this course explores the instructional techniques employed by exceptional teachers. Topics include assessing student behavior, differentiating learning, and pacing instruction across an academic year.|
How to Get a Teaching Certificate in North Carolina
All teachers in the state must hold licensure from North Carolina's DPI. Teachers receive their license in one of three ways.
First, aspiring teachers can complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. Through these programs, students earn their bachelor's degree, complete required coursework in education, and participate in 10 weeks of supervised student teaching in a secondary classroom setting. Upon graduation, students take an exam associated with the grade level in which they plan to teach. If they pass this exam, students can submit an application and $70 fee to receive their initial license. After three years of teaching, these individuals can apply for a continuing license, which they renew every five years. Renewal costs $35.
Second, individuals with a bachelor's degree can seek lateral entry into the teaching profession. This process begins by applying for a job at the district level within an area of expertise. The district can then recommend an individual for a provisional license. If the DPI approves a lateral entry provisional license, it will also indicate what college-level education courses the applicant must take to meet state requirements. Provisionally licensed educators may teach for up to three years while they complete these classes and take the required exams. Once they meet requirements, these teachers can apply for a continuing license. A lateral-entry license costs $100.
Finally, teachers who hold an out-of-state license may also apply for a provisional license. Like lateral-entry teachers, they have three years to meet the coursework and testing requirements set out by the DPI. This also costs $100. North Carolina teaching credentials may allow you to find an out-of-state teaching job more easily, but it does not automatically qualify you for licensure in another state.
Choosing a Degree Program in North Carolina
Online teaching programs in North Carolina offer more flexibility than on-campus offerings, as students do not need to travel to campus for classes. However, they must arrange in-person student-teaching experiences.
Full-time students usually earn their bachelor's degree in four years, but some online programs may allow students to complete coursework at their own pace, depending on the specialization.
It's important to check that your program is authorized by the North Carolina DPI. If it isn't, or if you are considering a program not located in the state, you will likely need to apply for lateral entry or seek a special exemption.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in North Carolina?
Aspiring teachers can complete a significant portion of the coursework required for a teaching license online. However, all state-approved teacher preparation programs in North Carolina feature a 10-week, student-teaching experience in a secondary classroom setting. Online students must work with their school or program to meet this in-person requirement.
Alternatively, individuals who hold a bachelor's degree may be eligible to teach with a provisional license in their area of expertise. Within three years, these provisionally licensed teachers must take certain courses in education, many of which can be completed online.
Regardless of whether you earn a degree online or on campus, you will need to apply to the North Carolina DPI for a teaching license. When considering lateral entry, or enrolling in a bachelor's program outside the state of North Carolina, make sure to select a program at a college or university with accreditation from a regional agency. The DPI requires that all teachers in the state hold bachelor's degrees from a regionally accredited school. All state-authorized teaching programs in North Carolina hold accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Directory of Teaching Schools in North Carolina
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in North Carolina
Prospective students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA connects students with various federal aid programs, including grants, subsidized loans, and work-study employment opportunities. Students do not need to pay back grant money or earnings from a work-study position. However, students do need to pay back all federal loans, unless they participate in a debt forgiveness program.
Many states, private organizations, and schools also offer scholarships. These awards are made based on demonstrated financial need, community service, and academic achievement. Some scholarships target individuals committed to working in a particular field, such as teaching. Students do not need to pay back scholarships.
Students can also seek out private loans to help finance their education. It is important to note that private loans are rarely, if ever, forgiven. They also typically come with much higher interest rates than federal loans. Before taking out private loans, students should make sure to investigate their grant, scholarship, and subsidized loan options.
Loan Forgiveness for North Carolina Teachers
The federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program rewards individuals who commit to teach in a low-income school or educational service agency. After five years of teaching in this setting, the federal government will forgive up to $17,500 in federal loans.
North Carolina also offers two similar programs. The Forgivable Education Loans for Service program provides up to $20,000 in undergraduate loans for students who plan to work in a critical employment shortage profession. This includes teaching at any public or charter school in North Carolina. The North Carolina Teaching Fellows program also offers loans of up to $8,250 per year for students who plan to serve as STEM or special education teachers in a North Carolina school.
Both of these programs include residency and academic requirements. Students must maintain a certain GPA to continue to receive funding during their undergraduate studies. Typically, one year of postgraduate service forgives one year of loan funding. If students do not meet the service requirements, they must pay back the loan.
Scholarships for North Carolina Teaching Students
While there are only a couple scholarship programs for aspiring teachers in North Carolina, the state offers two forgivable loan programs for students who commit to teaching after graduation. The federal government also partners with schools in North Carolina to provide TEACH grants, which are loans that are forgiven after four years of teaching service.
Forgivable Education Loans for Service $20,000
North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program $8,250
Federal TEACH Grant $4,000
Dottie Martin Teachers Scholarship $500
Epsilon Sigma Alpha Scholarship $500 to $2,500
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in North Carolina
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
While salaries vary considerably based on geographic location, teachers in North Carolina earn about $6,000 less than the national average. According to the Raleigh News Observer, teacher salaries are on the rise. In 2018, the North Carolina DPI estimated that the average salary for a teacher in the state was $51,214, an increase of $1,245 over the previous year. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem to be advocating for continued increases in teacher salaries.
Salaries for kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in North Carolina remain comparable, with those teaching at higher grade levels earning slightly more than those serving younger students. However, preschool teachers earn considerably less than all other teachers in the state. This is in line with national trends, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the median pay for preschool teachers across the country was $28,990 in 2017.
|Elementary School Teachers||$43,900|
|Middle School Teachers||$44,150|
|Secondary School Teachers||$45,220|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in North Carolina
How do I get certified to teach in North Carolina?
How much does a teacher make a year in North Carolina?
How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in North Carolina?
Can you be a teacher without a teaching degree in NC?
Resources for Teachers in North Carolina
- North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Led by the State Board of Education, the DPI oversees all public education within the state of North Carolina. It licenses all teachers, sets educational standards, administers testing, and conducts and disseminates research. It also offers a listing of job opportunities at schools throughout the state.
- North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) The NCAE union represents educators and public school employees throughout the state. In addition to its advocacy on issues like teacher compensation and educational spending, the association provides a number of professional development resources to its members, including support for the National Board Certification exam and leadership training opportunities.
- North Carolina Association of Elementary Educators (NCAEE) The NCAEE works exclusively with professional educators that serve young children in North Carolina. Its annual conference provides early childhood teachers and administrators an opportunity to network, learn about the latest research in the field, and share best practices. It also offers a $1,000 classroom innovation grant program.
- Classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina (CTANC) Founded in 1945, CTANC advocates on behalf of teachers in the state. The group offers up to $1 million in liability coverage for its members, including legal representation, should a teacher become involved in a lawsuit.
- North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) The NCASA offers educational resources to teachers interested in taking on leadership roles in their schools and districts. Through in-person and online training programs, the association helps high-performing teachers prepare for the responsibilities of serving as principals and assistant principals. It also offers trainings on subjects like school safety and building gender inclusive learning environments.