How to Become a Teacher in South Carolina

Learn about teaching certification in South Carolina and what steps to take to begin teaching in South Carolina.

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Updated June 10, 2022

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How to Become a Teacher in South Carolina

To work as public school teachers in South Carolina, individuals must go through a process mandated by the South Carolina Department of Education.

Outside of completing an approved teacher preparation degree, aspiring teachers must also participate in a student-teaching practicum to gain classroom experience. They must also pass a series of exams focused on state requirements.

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Ready to start your journey?

Both first-time students and graduates considering going back to college to earn a teaching degree, teachers in South Carolina can expect salaries in the $50,000 range. Keep reading to learn about the best online college in South Carolina and how to become a teacher in the Palmetto State.

How Do I Become a Teacher in South Carolina?

Teaching certification in South Carolina requires applicants to complete steps as mandated by the state's Department of Education. First-time applicants earn an initial certification that allows them to start work in their approved grade level and content area.

The following rules apply to South Carolina residents who are applying for certification for the first time. Out-of-state educators looking to move their license from one state to the other must follow a different set of steps…

Meet Minimum Education Requirements

The South Carolina Department of Education requires any person planning to seek teacher certification in the state to complete an approved educator preparation program at the bachelor's degree level.

Approved programs must:

South Carolina's State Board of Education (SBE) provides a list of approved in-state educator preparation programs. This helps students pick a program that aligns with certification requirements. The SBE does not currently set any specific requirements for coursework or GPA. It does, however, require applicants to submit official transcripts as part of the certification process.

Gain Student Teaching Experience

As part of the process, those hoping to start teaching in South Carolina must gain student teaching experience. This is typically done through an educator preparation degree, which requires a semester of full-time teaching at an approved primary or secondary school in the area.

Working under a certified teacher's supervision, student teachers can start building their skills in classroom management, lesson planning, assessments and grading, and providing one-to-one support to learners as needed.

These experiences prepare students to take over classrooms of their own after graduation. These prospective teachers also learn to start networking and building a community of fellow educators.

Pass Required Certification Tests

Before receiving initial certification, graduates of educator preparation programs must pass a series of examinations.

Apply for Certification

Applicants must go through several steps within the application process, as outlined by the SBE. These currently include:

How long it takes to complete these steps depends on when the applicant scheduled their exams, whether they need to retake any exams, and the SBE's current processing timeline. Users can check the Educator Portal to see the status of their certification application.

How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in South Carolina?

Teaching in South Carolina requires an active teaching license issued by the South Carolina Department of Education. These licenses expire every five years, and they must be renewed before expiration to remain valid.

South Carolina teachers must complete at least 120 renewal credits within their licenses' five-year time period. In addition to generalist credits, teachers must complete a suicide prevention training and the Read to Succeed endorsement program. 

Teachers in training can earn their remaining credits through standard professional continuing education programming or through classes at a local college or university. One credit of postsecondary coursework, for example, counts towards 20 renewal credits.

Career Outlook for Teachers in South Carolina

Jobs for elementary, middle, and high school teachers working in South Carolina are slated to grow by 3-4% from 2018-2028, compared to these positions' national growth projection of 7-8%. While there may be fewer new teaching job openings during this time span, those looking to start careers in education can expect to see plenty of annual openings as existing teachers move to different positions or retire from the workforce.

These educators earned median annual salaries of $52,000-$56,000 as of 2020. This salary range falls below the national average, but so does South Carolina's cost of living.

Individuals who attend graduate school for their master's in education may earn more advanced credentials and higher salaries.

In-Demand Teaching Careers in South Carolina

Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers educate learners in grades 1-5. In addition to instructing them in basic subjects such as math, science, and language arts, elementary school teachers prepare pupils for the rigors of middle school. They design lesson plans and classroom management strategies and liaise with other teachers and school staff on student needs.

Average Annual Salary: $52,960

Middle School Teacher

Middle school teachers work with students in grades 6-8. These grades on the fundamentals of elementary school and preparing learners for the advanced topics of high school. Middle school teachers provide and grade exams and assignments to assess understanding and progress. They also help students prepare for state-mandated standardized tests.

Average Annual Salary: $54,020

High School Teacher

Educating students in grades 9-12, high school teachers specialize in individual subjects such as history, English, math, or science. They may also teach advanced placement (AP) classes. Aside from teaching these subjects, high school teachers prepare students to enter the workforce or start a postsecondary degree program.

Average Annual Salary: $53,950

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with students who have emotional, learning, mental, and/or physical disabilities. They develop individualized education programs (IEPs) for each student to ensure they receive the specialized support and teaching needed to thrive. They also discuss student progress with other teachers, school administrators, and parents or guardians.

Median Annual Salary: $55,240

Career and Technical Education Teacher

These teachers build practical and applicable skills that directly relate to careers. Whether teaching students how to become auto mechanics or how to work as nail technicians, these educators focus on technical occupational skills. As with other teachers, they create lessons, give assignments, and assess student progress.

Median Annual Salary: $56,570

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in South Carolina

How do I get teaching certification in South Carolina?

In addition to completing a state-approved educator preparation program and participating in student teaching, prospective South Carolina teachers must also pass several examinations.

Once they pass, aspiring teachers can apply with the South Carolina Department of Education to earn their initial certification. They must also pass background checks, submit an application, and pay a nonrefundable fee.

Can I teach in South Carolina without certification?

Anyone applying to teach at a federally funded South Carolina public K-12 school must hold a state-issued teacher license -- no exceptions.

That said, individuals applying for jobs at private or charter schools do not necessarily need certification. Because these schools do not receive funding, the department of education cannot make rules around teaching requirements.

That said, many private and charter schools require applicants to hold certification anyway as a way of demonstrating subject-area competency and an understanding of teaching responsibilities.

How long does it take to become a teacher in South Carolina?

The traditional teacher certification path in South Carolina typically takes a bit longer than four years. Students complete a state-approved bachelor's degree focused on educator preparation. They also pursue a semester-long student-teaching internship.

Prospective teachers must then pass their exams, after which they can apply for certification with the SBE and begin looking for jobs after receiving confirmation.

What can I do with teaching certification in South Carolina?

Individuals who hold a valid and active teaching certification in South Carolina can apply for a variety of jobs. For instance, someone certified as a K-6 school teacher can only apply for jobs in public schools focused on those grades.

However, if this individual wanted to teach middle school or high school, they would need to complete additional training and pass the relevant certification exams. That said, even within their certification areas, teachers can select from available positions at a variety of schools.

How do I become a substitute teacher in South Carolina?

As of 2022, the South Carolina Department of Education does not require substitute teachers to hold certification. Instead, they only require these individuals to possess a high school diploma or GED certificate.

That said, many school districts set specialized rules and regulations. In some cases, these districts may prioritize substitute teaching candidates who hold certification or who previously worked in education. All substitute teachers must pass a background check before starting the position.

Feature Image: Tetra Images / Tetra images / Getty Images

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