How to Become a Teacher in Kentucky

Kentucky educators need a teaching certification to work at public schools. Our guide walks through how to become a teacher in Kentucky.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Updated June 10, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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How to Become a Teacher in Kentucky

Teachers in the Bluegrass State educate young learners in math and reading. In Kentucky's middle schools and high schools, these educators teach language arts, social studies, science, and world languages. Kentucky teachers need a certification to work at K-12 public schools.

Kentucky reports a high demand for teachers. Prospective teachers must meet certain requirements, including a bachelor's degree. The commonwealth approves teacher training programs in the state, including online teaching programs. Prospective educators can also return to college to gain teacher training.

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Ready to start your journey?

Our guide walks through how to become a teacher in Kentucky. This page lists the requirements for education, student teaching, and exams to earn certification.

How Do I Become a Teacher in Kentucky?

Teaching is a rewarding career. Like other states, Kentucky requires teachers to hold state-issued certification. The process for how to become a teacher in Kentucky starts with teacher training. Most candidates first earn a bachelor's degree in education. However, the state offers several other paths to teacher certification.

In Kentucky, the Department of Education manages the public school system. The Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) approves educator preparation programs and issues teacher certifications. Prospective teachers must understand the process based on their education, experience, and subject area. After earning certification, teachers may work in Kentucky's K-12 public schools.

Meet Minimum Education Requirements

In Kentucky, educators must hold a bachelor's degree to earn a teaching certification. The Kentucky Department of Education requires candidates to complete an approved educator preparation program.

A bachelor's in education from an accredited school can meet this requirement. During an undergraduate teaching degree, learners study teaching methods, assessment strategies, and curriculum development. They also gain subject-specific knowledge based on their certification field. Programs incorporate student teaching experience to strengthen practical skills as well.

Candidates who complete their degrees outside of Kentucky must attend an approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited institution. Kentucky also accepts state-approved alternative training programs.

Candidates for certification must submit official transcripts showing their degree and completion of an educator preparation program.

Gain Student Teaching Experience

Teacher certification in Kentucky requires classroom experience. Educators typically meet this requirement through teacher training programs.

At approved Kentucky teacher training programs, learners complete a one-semester student teaching experience. Student teachers must spend at least 70 full days in the grade level and content area where they plan to pursue certification.

Before undertaking student teaching, Kentucky programs require at least 200 hours of field experience in K-12 school settings. Candidates in out-of-state programs typically fulfill this requirement through their undergraduate degrees. Kentucky also offers alternative pathways that incorporate classroom experience.

Pass Required Certification Tests

As in other states, teachers must pass certification tests to qualify for licensure in Kentucky. Kentucky uses the Praxis exam to assess educator preparation.

Testing requirements vary depending on the certification type. For example, elementary educators take the Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 exam. They also take an elementary education test that includes sections in reading and language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.

At the secondary level, educators pass subject area examinations and a general learning and teaching exam. For instance, middle school math teachers must pass the middle school m mathematics assessment. Prospective teachers can review the Praxis list to learn more about required tests.

Apply for Certification

After meeting the education, testing, and experience requirements, educators apply for certification. Applicants must create an EPSB account to submit their documents online. Educators upload an application, official transcripts, and test scores. They also pay an $85 certification fee.

Kentucky also offers nontraditional pathways to certification. These application processes vary by pathway. For example, Kentucky offers certifications based on exceptional work experience, local district training programs, and university-based alternative route programs. College faculty can also qualify for a secondary teaching certification with a master's degree and at least five years of college-level teaching.

How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Kentucky?

After earning teacher certification in Kentucky, educators must maintain their credentials. In Kentucky, teaching certification remains valid for five years. This means every five years, educators must renew their certification.

In order to renew, educators submit an application for certification renewal. They must also demonstrate at least three years of classroom teaching during the past five years. In lieu of the classroom teaching requirement, candidates can complete six credits of graduate coursework.

Applicants need either official graduate transcripts or a signature from their district superintendent verifying their teaching experience. Educators pay $85 to renew certification. This same fee applies to applications to reissue lapsed certifications. Applicants submit their forms online through their EPSB accounts.

Career Outlook for Teachers in Kentucky

What's the career outlook like for teachers in Kentucky? What kinds of teaching careers report the highest demand?

Kentucky faces a teacher shortage, projecting 93,000 available teaching jobs by 2030. This would give certified educators more options on the job market.

Demand for teachers in Kentucky varies depending on location and teaching area. The U.S. Department of Education reports shortage areas by county in the commonwealth. Shortage areas include early childhood education, special education, language arts, science, math, and other fields.

Kentucky educators can increase their earning potential with a master's in education. Teachers often qualify for higher salaries after completing some graduate courses or a master's degree. Educators considering going to graduate school can research the salary schedule in their district.

In-Demand Teaching Careers in Kentucky

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers educate children with disabilities. These teachers design individual education programs for each student and work closely with families and administrators to help learners achieve their goals. Many special education teachers bring training in particular disabilities, such as hearing or visual impairments, autism spectrum disorders, or physical impairments.

Median Annual Salary: $61,500

Career and Technical Education Teacher

Career and technical education teachers typically teach at the secondary level, focusing on technical or vocational skills. Common career and technical courses include agricultural education, business, health science, transportation, and manufacturing. Educators pursuing careers and technical education jobs complete a different certification process.

Median Annual Salary: $59,140

Science Teacher

Science teachers specialize in areas like earth science, physical science, biology, chemistry, and physics. They generally teach at the secondary level, where they educate middle schoolers and high schoolers in core science topics. Kentucky science teachers complete Praxis exams in their content areas to earn teacher certification.

Average Annual Salary (March 2022): $48,760

Math Teacher

Math teachers educate learners in basic numerical literacy and more complex topics like geometry, algebra, and precalculus. At the secondary level, math teachers prepare students for the workforce or higher education. Kentucky math teachers pass a certification exam in middle school or high school mathematics, depending on their teaching area.

Average Annual Salary (March 2022): $51,390

ESL Teacher

English as a second language teachers educate students whose native languages are not English. Also known as English language learner teachers, these educators cover basic English grammar and literacy while also teaching subject-area content in English. In Kentucky, ESL teachers must pass an exam to add an ESL endorsement to their certification.

Average Annual Salary (March 2022): $46,310

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Kentucky

How do I get teaching certification in Kentucky?

Prospective teachers apply for certification through the Education Professional Standards Board. Kentucky certification requires a bachelor's degree and completion of an educator preparation program. Dozens of approved educator preparation programs are offered through Kentucky colleges.

Candidates with out-of-state teaching degrees from regionally accredited institutions also qualify. Those who do not have teacher training may complete alternative programs. After meeting the education requirement, applicants must pass certification exams. The teaching certification application costs $85 in Kentucky. The credential remains valid for five years.

Can I teach in Kentucky without certification?

Teaching at Kentucky's public K-12 schools requires certification. Educators can pursue no-traditional pathways to certification. For example, Kentucky grants certification to educators with classroom experience who did not complete formal teacher preparation programs. Kentucky also offers pathways to certification for veterans and those in Teach for America programs.

Outside of the public school system, educators can teach at private schools in Kentucky without certification. However, public schools typically offer higher salaries. For example, high school teachers at public schools earn an annual median salary of $63,400, while those at private schools make $58,550.

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

Becoming a teacher in Kentucky takes several years. Kentucky educators must hold a bachelor's degree, which generally takes four years to complete for full-time students. Education majors in undergrad study teaching methods and gain classroom experience as part of their student teaching practicum.

After earning a bachelor's degree, graduates pass Praxis exams and apply for certification. Kentucky offers several other pathways to certification, including an option for educators with master's degrees and college teaching experience. Candidates with a bachelor's degree, a minimum 2.75 GPA, and exceptional work experience can also apply for certification.

What can I do with teaching certification in Kentucky?

Teaching certification in Kentucky qualifies educators for public school teaching jobs. Kentucky's elementary schools require elementary education certification. Secondary-level teachers need certification in their subject area.

Kentucky also offers certification endorsements in areas like English as a second language and gifted education. The Kentucky Educator Placement Service maintains a list of job openings in the state. Educators can search for jobs based on location, grade level, and subject. In Kentucky, teacher certifications remain valid for five years. Educators must renew their certification to continue working as teachers.

How do I become a substitute teacher in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, EPSB issues a certificate for substitute teaching. Candidates for this certificate must be eligible for teaching certification in the state or have previously held teaching certification in Kentucky. All substitute teachers must complete a bachelor's degree. Applicants for substitute teaching certification should submit an application and pay a fee online.

A five-year substitute certification costs $15. Kentucky also issues substitute certifications to applicants with teaching licenses or certificates in other states. These candidates must submit official college transcripts that show a minimum 2.45 GPA. They should also provide a copy of their out-of-state teaching certificate.

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