How to Become a Teacher in Hawaii

Find out how to become a teacher in Hawaii, including the requirements and process for teaching certification in Hawaii.

portrait of Bethanny Parker
by Bethanny Parker

Updated June 10, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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How to Become a Teacher in Hawaii

To receive your teaching certification in Hawaii, you must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited on-campus or online college and complete a state-approved teacher education program. The teacher education program must include student teaching.

Teacher certification is required to become a teacher in Hawaii. Substitute teacher certification and paraeducator certification entail different requirements than teacher certification.

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Due to a nationwide teacher shortage, teachers are in demand. This shortage is even more pronounced in Hawaii due to the state's high cost of living. The cost of living in Hawaii is the highest in the country — nearly double the national average — so many teachers simply can't afford to live there. Hawaii has the highest teacher turnover rate in the nation.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, educational instruction and library professionals in Hawaii earned an average annual salary of $56,660 as of May 2020.

How Do I Become a Teacher in Hawaii?

Those wondering how to become a teacher in Hawaii should first look toward teacher licensure. To become licensed, you must have a bachelor's degree and attend a state-approved teacher education program. Then you must apply for your license through the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB).

Substitute teachers must either complete a state-approved teacher education program or have a bachelor's degree and complete a substitute teacher certification program. Paraeducators must have either 48 credits of baccalaureate-level courses, an associate degree, or a certificate with a minimum score of 459 on the ParaProAssessment.

Prospective teachers can also gain licensure through a state-approved alternative licensure program. Out-of-state educator licenses are also valid for those who have taught for at least three of the past seven years. Educators in Hawaii may have completed a teacher education program in another country as well.

Those with less than three years of teaching experience start with a provisional license, which is not renewable. The standard license requires three years of teaching experience within the last five years, and the advanced license requires five years of experience within the last eight years.

Meet Minimum Education Requirements

The minimum education requirements for teaching certification in Hawaii vary depending on the type of teacher licensure you seek.

Many degrees can lead to teacher licensure in Hawaii. Examples include:

Gain Student Teaching Experience

A Hawaii state-approved education program can set policies for demonstrating proficiency through clinical experience according to one of the following options:

Most state-approved teacher education programs require student teaching. During this experience, student teachers practice the skills that make good teachers. These include strong verbal and written communication skills, listening skills, teamwork, patience, and planning.

Pass Required Certification Tests

Applicants who complete out-of-state teacher preparation programs must pass the following tests in addition to completing the other requirements for licensure:

Apply for Certification

You can apply for your Hawaii teacher licensure through the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board. The first step is to create your HTSB profile. If you already have one, log in, view your profile, and go to the licenses/permits tab.

Depending on whether you have previously been licensed to teach in Hawaii, you should select either "start new application," "convert license/permit," or "add teaching field."

Make sure you complete all of the steps and save them after each section. Click the "submit" button at the end to submit your application. During the application process, you will have a chance to upload any documents needed to process the application. There is no application fee.

How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Hawaii?

To renew your Hawaii teacher license, you must log in to the HTSB website and go to your profile. Then click the license/permits tab, followed by the "renew license" button.

You can renew your license between January and June of the year in which it expires. During the renewal process, you will be asked to upload documentation. Upload only the documents you are asked for. There is no fee for renewing your license.

Career Outlook for Teachers in Hawaii

Due to a teacher shortage, demand for teachers in Hawaii is high. During the 2018-19 school year, more than 1,000 emergency hires and long-term substitutes filled gaps in Hawaii classrooms. If you're considering teaching in Hawaii, now is a good time.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national median pay for teachers as of May 2020 ranged from $59,140 for career and technical education teachers to $62,870 for high school teachers.

Having a master's degree in education or a related field can increase your salary as a teacher. Teacher's with a master's degree earn an average of $7,358 per year more by the time they reach the top of the pay scale. This is a good reason to consider going to graduate school.

In-Demand Teaching Careers in Hawaii

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers teach young students from about age 5 to about age 10 or 11. These educators create lesson plans and teach a variety of subjects, including math, science, social studies, and reading. Most kindergarten and elementary school teachers work with the same group of students all day long.

Median Annual Salary: $60,660

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers teach older students, from about sixth grade to eighth grade. These teachers create lesson plans for the subject or subjects they teach. Some middle school teachers teach the same subject to different groups of students all day long, while others teach two or more different subjects.

Median Annual Salary: $60,810

High School Teachers

High school teachers teach ninth through 12th grades. They build on the foundation taught in elementary and middle school to help prepare students for life after high school. Most high school teachers specialize in a certain subject area. Some may teach multiple subjects, especially those who work in small schools.

Median Annual Salary: $62,870

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers teach students with special needs. They typically work in small classrooms with just a few students. This allows these educators to spend more time with each student. Special education teachers help develop individualized education programs for each student.

Median Annual Salary: $61,500

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers teach vocational subjects such as cosmetology, culinary arts, and construction trades. They may work in high schools or vocational schools. They typically work with older high school students (juniors and seniors) who are preparing for their future careers.

Median Annual Salary: $59,140

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Hawaii

How do I get teaching certification in Hawaii?

Teaching certification in Hawaii requires a bachelor's degree and completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program. The teacher preparation program can be in state or out of state. The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board publishes a list of approved Hawaii-based educator preparation programs.

Students taking an out-of-state teacher preparation program must make sure the program is approved in the state in which it is offered. These students must also take the appropriate Praxis exams to demonstrate their knowledge.

Can I teach in Hawaii without certification?

Under most circumstances, you cannot teach in Hawaii without a license. You may be able to get an emergency hire permit allowing you to teach if no licensed teacher is available for the subject area. The emergency hire permit is good for one year and expires on June 30. It may be reissued twice.

Due to the teacher shortage, many openings have been filled by emergency hires in recent years. This may be a good way to get into teaching if you don't have a degree, but since the permit can only be renewed twice, it is not a good long-term solution.

How long does it take to become a teacher in Hawaii?

You must have a bachelor's degree to become a teacher in Hawaii. That typically takes four years. However, you may be able to graduate more quickly if you take extra classes each semester or attend classes during the summer.

Once you have your bachelor's degree, you can apply for your teacher's license through the HTSB. Keep in mind that it can take up to six weeks to process your application, so you'll want to make sure you allow plenty of time before you need to start working.

What can I do with teaching certification in Hawaii?

If you have your teaching certification in Hawaii, you can teach in the Hawaii public school system. Unlike most states, Hawaii has just one school system that covers the entire state. Once you have your teaching license, you can apply to any open positions in the Hawaii school system.

If you have a standard limited license in computer science or CTE, you are limited to teaching in the field in which you are licensed. No additional fields can be added to the standard limited license.

How do I become a substitute teacher in Hawaii?

To obtain substitute teacher certification, you must complete either a state-approved teacher education program or a bachelor's degree and a substitute teacher certification program. Once you have done this, you can apply for substitute teacher certification through the HTSB portal.

If you have less than a bachelor's degree, you may be able to work as a substitute teacher under exceptional circumstances. For example, if no certified substitute teacher is available to fill the position, the school may be able to hire someone without a bachelor's degree.

Feature Image: monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

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