How to Become a Teacher in North Carolina

Teaching in North Carolina can be a fulfilling career. This guide helps aspiring educators learn how to become a teacher in North Carolina.

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Published on April 14, 2022 · Updated on May 3, 2022

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How to Become a Teacher in North Carolina
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Teaching in North Carolina can be a dynamic and gratifying career. Teachers play a critical role in students' lives by teaching foundational skills and offering guidance. Many people want to become teachers so they can make a real difference in students' lives.

You need the right education and training to become a teacher. North Carolina grants teaching licensure to instructors with a bachelor's degree in education who meet certain requirements.

Aspiring teachers can also take nontraditional routes, like enrolling in online courses in North Carolina or going back to college for a teaching degree after switching careers.

If you're interested in learning how to become a teacher in North Carolina, this guide breaks down what you need to know. Read on to gain insight into the career and salary outlook for teachers and see answers to some frequently asked questions.

How Do I Become a Teacher in North Carolina?

Aspiring teachers in North Carolina first need at least an eligible bachelor's degree in education, and then they should obtain a teaching license in North Carolina. This teaching license allows educators to legally work in public schools.

North Carolina grants two different teacher licenses: The Initial Professional License (IPL) and the Continuing Professional License (CPL). The IPL allows teachers to gain experience in the classroom for the first few years. After three years of teaching, pre-K-12 educators can apply for the CPL, which they then renew throughout their careers.

Aspiring educators also choose between several different teaching license categories in North Carolina. These include:

Meet Minimum Education Requirements

To apply for teaching licensure, candidates need at least an approved bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. This degree must consist of:

Individuals who want to become teachers even though they didn't originally complete an education degree can apply through an alternative route.

To start, these candidates must already have a bachelor's degree. They then enroll in a Professional Educators License program, completing about 30 credits from a university. Those credits cover professional education, pedagogy, and content courses.

Finally, teachers can pursue master's degrees. The state does not require master's degrees for a teaching license, but these degrees can help educators progress in their careers.

Gain Student Teaching Experience

Aspiring teachers who are enrolled in accredited education programs gain student teaching experience as part of their pedagogy requirements. Student teaching is integrated into the degree's curriculum, so students do not need to complete this as an extra obligation.

Student teaching allows education students to gain experience in the classroom, first by observing teachers in a professional setting and then by creating lesson plans and teaching.

The specifics of each student-teaching experience depend on their area of specialization. Elementary school teachers, for example, create lessons across all subjects, while secondary school teachers focus on their specific subject area.

Pass Required Certification Tests

To apply for an IPL, applicants only need to take content area exams if they are applicable to their specialization.

However, after three years, all teachers must apply for the CPL. To successfully convert an IPL to a CPL, teachers must pass exams approved by the North Carolina State Board of Education (NCSBE). Teachers must attempt these exams in their first year of teaching, and they should successfully pass the exams during the third year at the latest.

Required exams include:

Apply for Certification

To apply for the IPL, aspiring teachers should submit the following documents:

Learn about scholarships and financial aid available for students pursuing a degree in education. Not everyone wants to teach for decades. If you're ready to move out of the classroom, these jobs for former teachers can help you find the right path. Professional certifications help workers advance their careers and boost their earning potential. Read more about role-specific certifications in this guide. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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