Georgia Teacher Certification Information

Earning an education degree is the first step toward a fulfilling career as a teacher. An online teaching degree allows paraprofessionals to gain the credentials necessary for earning a teaching license while continuing to work full time. Students pursuing an education program online receive the same quality education as in on-campus classes.

All education programs in the state of Georgia that lead to teacher certification are approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). Students who are enrolled in an education program outside of Georgia may still seek teaching certification in Georgia if their academic program is approved by the college or university's state and prepares its graduates for state certification. Students residing in Georgia who are enrolled in an out-of-state online program may have the option of completing their student teaching requirements at a Georgia school.

GaPSC provides three induction pathways for students seeking initial teaching certification. Graduates of an education program in Georgia qualify for the first induction pathway; graduates of an out-of-state program who completed their student teaching in Georgia qualify for the second induction pathway; and graduates who completed their entire program including student teaching in another state qualify for the third induction pathway. While certification requirements differ across states, GaPSC provides alternative routes to certification for out-of-state or international educators.

Acquiring Georgia teaching certification allows educators to teach in Georgia public schools. To be eligible for certification, educators much have at least a bachelor's degree. Students currently pursuing their degree in education may apply for a pre-service certificate allowing them to complete clinical practice requirements and seek employment in a Georgia school.

Teacher certification requirements vary by state, and a license earned in one state does not automatically transfer to another. Educators with state licensure from another state seeking a teaching position in Georgia may qualify for interstate reciprocity. Although this does not guarantee certification, it does reduce the number of steps required to become certified. In addition to completing an initial certification application for the state of Georgia, educators from other states must also submit an experience verification form that documents relevant work experience over the previous year. GaPSC stipulates additional requirements specific to Georgia, including a special education course requirement, an ethics assessment, and content assessments. Some of these requirements may be waived based on previous experience. Most teacher educator programs fulfill the content pedagogy assessment.

How to Get a Teaching Certificate in GA

Even with a degree in education, students are not qualified to teach in a Georgia school system until acquiring certification. GaPSC-approved programs adhere to standards that prepare students for teacher certification, and students must begin fulfilling certification requirements prior to graduation. The following steps provide an overview of the process for earning a teaching certificate in Georgia. Students may visit GaPSC for more detailed information on the Georgia Department of Education teacher certification process.

  • Provide proof that you hold a bachelor's degree

    All applicants must have a bachelor's degree. Students enrolled in a teaching program approved by GaPSC apply for a certificate of eligibility, which transfers to certification upon employment. Those who do not have a bachelor's degree in education may become certified by completing an educator certification program at an approved college.

  • Hold a 2.5 GPA

    Students who earned their bachelor's degree within 10 years of applying for teacher certification must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be considered. Minimum GPA requirements do not apply to students with a bachelor's degree earned more than 10 years prior to pursuing certification or to those with a graduate degree.

  • Complete approved student teaching hours

    Students enrolled in a GaPSC-approved educator program complete a teaching residency as part of their degree requirements. Also known as student teaching or clinical practice, this internship experience lasts for an entire semester. Bachelor's students work full-time at a school or similar learning environment. Applicants for a GA teaching certificate must provide documentation of completed student teaching hours when they submit official college transcripts.

  • Receive a passing grade on required exams

    Candidates for teaching certification in Georgia must complete a series of tests through the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE). This battery of tests replaces the PRAXIS. The first test that teacher candidates face is a basic skills assessment required for admission to a Georgia education program. Certification applicants also complete a content assessment that tests subject area knowledge. GACE content assessments vary by type. Examples of potential content areas include birth through kindergarten, English, and middle grades science. In addition to content assessment, applicants must complete an ethics assessment that includes modules derived from the Georgia Code of Ethics of Educators.

  • Pass background clearance by Georgia:

    Teachers must undergo a criminal background check in order to teach at a public or private school in Georgia. Educators must complete a criminal background check every five years to renew their certification. Additionally, students seeking a pre-service certificate prior to graduation must complete a background check. School systems pay for the background check as part of the hiring process.

  • Submit application for teaching certification

    Students seeking initial teacher certification must submit an online application, which is available on the GaPSC website. In addition to completing an initial certification application, candidates must provide official college transcripts, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a copy of a photo ID. Graduates of a Georgia education program submit an approved program completion form. Teachers who earned their degree from a state other than Georgia must submit an experience verification form. All documents may be submitted through the applicant's online GaPSC account.

  • Payment of all fees

    Candidates for certification pay a $20 processing fee upon submission of an application. This fee is waived for initial certification. Students seeking enrollment in a GaPSC-approved program must complete an admissions assessment that costs $78. Educators also pay $30 for the Georgia educator ethics assessment and $123 for content examination.

Student Teaching in Georgia

Student teaching is a field experience that requires students to work full-time in a school for an entire semester. Students enhance their knowledge of theories and practices acquired through their degree coursework. Students enrolled in an online program receive faculty supervision through their program's online learning platform.

Students must acquire pre-service certification prior to student teaching in Georgia. The application for a pre-service certificate is available through GaPSC. Students submit their completed application to their program's educator preparation provider (EPP). Students must also complete Georgia's program entry educator ethics assessment. Student teachers should submit proof of completion and a notarized Verification of Lawful Presence form to their EPP.

Once all required documents have been submitted, the EPP corresponds with GaPSC to complete the student's pre-service certification. GaPSC conducts background checks on applicants and issues pre-service certificates to qualifying students. If a student has a criminal history, GaPSC conducts an investigation and determines the student's eligibility. The pre-service certification process usually occurs at the beginning of the student's program, ensuring a seamless transition into clinical practice. The pre-service certificate is valid for five years, allowing recent graduates to pursue a teaching position in the Georgia school system prior to achieving professional certification.

The student's EPP selects appropriate student teaching placement sites and identifies mentor teachers who will guide students in their clinical practice. Once students receive their pre-service certificate, they receive a placement with a school matching their career interests. Students also receive instruction from a program supervisor who ensures the efficacy of a student's experience with the placement site. Under the supervision of their mentor teacher, student teachers gradually acquire more responsibilities in the classroom.

According to the table above, Georgia teachers earn a salary slightly lower than the national average, with a difference of approximately $6,000. However, the cost of living in Georgia is also below the national average. Teachers with more experience generally receive higher pay.

As the following table illustrates, elementary school teachers' annual earnings closely mirror the national average. Primary and secondary teachers earn similar incomes, with secondary teachers earning roughly $4,000 more annually. Middle school and secondary teachers bring home earnings that exceed the national average, while preschool teachers' annual wages fall below the national average by nearly $25,000. This disparity in pay reflects differences in educational levels. While some privately operated preschools do not require employees to possess a postsecondary degree, preschools offered through public school systems require preschool teachers to have a bachelor's degree or higher. Public schools typically pay higher salaries than private schools.

Employment and Annual Wage for Teachers in Georgia by Teaching Level
Occupation Employment Annual Mean Wage
Preschool Teachers 13,280 $29,920
Kindergarten Teachers 6,360 $52,630
Elementary School Teachers 51,990 $54,890
Middle School Teachers 27,240 $56,410
Secondary Teachers 25,600 $56,420

Excludes Special Education Teachers, May 2016

College students have access to a wealth of financial aid resources, including grants and scholarships that do not require repayment. Georgia features several scholarship programs available to its residents who are pursuing careers in education. The following scholarships can help reduce the cost of college attendance.

Georgia Association of Educators Foundation - College Junior/Senior Scholarship for Future Teachers

Who Can Apply: Available through the Georgia Association of Educators, this scholarship supports junior and senior college students majoring in education. Students must be enrolled in an accredited teaching program at a Georgia college.

Amount: $1,000

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Georgia Association of Educators Foundation - Certified Educators Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Offered by the Georgia Association of Educators, this scholarship is limited to Georgia educators who are pursuing an advanced degree in teaching. Eligible applicants are certified to teach in Georgia public schools.

Amount: $1,000

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Charles McDaniel Teacher Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Full-time students enrolled in a teaching program at a Georgia college may apply for this scholarship. Students must have junior or senior status with a minimum GPA of 3.25 to be considered. Eligible applicants must have attended a Georgia high school. This scholarship requires school nomination.

Amount: $1,000

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Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) features scholarships for educators, school personnel, and college and high school students. All scholarship applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or better and agree to teach in Georgia for at least three years. Applicants must be active PAGE members.

Amount: $1,000

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Georgia HOPE Teacher Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: This scholarship requires students to commit to teaching in underserved communities in Georgia. One year of service is equivalent to $2,500 of HOPE funding. Applicants must be Georgia high school graduates who are enrolled in a HOPE-eligible Georgia college. Students who earned a GED or equivalent are also eligible.

Amount: $1,500 to $3,000

View Scholarship Inspire Our Future Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Open to students pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree in education, this national essay contest consists of a prompt requiring a 500-700 word response. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and must be currently enrolled in an accredited school.

Amount: $500

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  • Georgia Department of Education: The state's official governmental organization for the advancement of education, GaDOE administers a variety of services to teachers, students, and families. This comprehensive organization consists of six divisions that emphasize areas such as teacher development, technology services, and school improvement. Teachers benefit from the organization's professional learning programs, including ongoing leadership conferences emphasizing student achievement and community partnerships. This site offers information about state learning standards, curriculum development, and student assessments.
  • Teach Georgia: Featuring all available teaching positions within the Georgia public school systems, this database allows certified teachers to easily upload resumes and apply for jobs. The site also includes upcoming job fairs throughout the state. Managed by GaPSC, this site also offers career resources for educators. Online resources include information on Georgia teacher certification, ethics for Georgia educators, and teacher salaries.
  • Georgia Science Teachers Association: This organization advocates for Georgia science teachers and collaborates with science organizations to advance science education. A proponent of phenomena as a teaching tool, the Georgia Science Teachers Association uses the Science Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) to guide curriculum development. This site provides detailed explanations of phenomena-focused instruction and includes several resources to assist science teachers in lesson planning.
  • Georgia Historical Society: Founded more than 150 years ago, this organization promotes knowledge of Georgia and American history through its education programs and ongoing research. The Georgia Historical Society provides teachers with access to educational resources including online exhibits, publications, and research services. Students gain inspiration from the society's collection of manuscripts, photographs, and maps. The society features teacher guides that adhere to the social studies state standards for eighth graders. The guides include access to primary sources along with background information for teachers.
  • Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning: With resources for teachers and families, this website offers a variety of strategies to enhance the early school experiences of Georgia preschoolers. The pre-kindergarten teacher resource list includes state-approved curricula, professional guidelines, and an overview of the state's Planning Educational Activities for Children initiative. Education students benefit from this site's learning resources, which include topics in classroom management, room set-up, and daily routines.

Networking Opportunities in Georgia

As technology continues to alter the academic landscape, the possibilities for innovative teaching strategies are expanding. Not only do teachers use technology in the classroom daily, they now have the opportunity to seek the support of fellow educators while gaining exposure to new ideas and perspectives on teaching. From contemporary classroom management to navigating educational policies, Georgia educators who join networks find the support needed to promote lifelong learning.

Georgia STEM Teachers

Open to K-12 STEM teachers in any of Georgia's public, private, or charter schools, this organization promotes collaborative teaching relationships. The group discusses innovative lesson planning guided by best practices. Teachers who attend meetups hosted by this organization gain insights into the latest technology used in STEM instruction. Teachers also have the opportunity to interact with educators who teach similar subjects.

Acceler8K12: Atlanta

Comprised of more than 150 Georgia educators and business professionals, this Meetup group supports K-12 Atlanta schools by connecting progressive thinkers in education. These meetings foster brainstorming, resource sharing, and problem solving. Previous meetup topics include bridging the gap between education and employment and achieving goals through 4.0 fellowship programs.

Cool Cat Teacher

This LinkedIn account features the work of Vicki Davis, an educator currently working in Camilla, Georgia. Davis documents her teaching experiences in a BYOD classroom. She hosts a podcast five days a week and participates in online conferences. With over 16,000 LinkedIn followers, Davis' account presents many networking opportunities for new and aspiring educators.

Stay Informed

Teach Junkie
This online community includes a blog, newsletter, and classroom activities for kindergarten through fifth grade students. Developed by a kindergarten teacher to connect teachers with free classroom resources, this site offers tips on classroom management and organization in addition to numerous creative lesson plan ideas.
Teach for Us
Created for Teach for America teachers, this website allows members to share their teaching experiences in underserved urban and rural school environments. The site houses blogs managed by Teach for America teachers, alumni, and their sponsors. Educators comment on daily teaching challenges and inspirations, as well as articles from Scholastic Book Clubs.
Pearson Teaching and Learning Blog
Operated by Pearson assessment and publishing company, this blog features resources for primary, secondary, and postsecondary teachers. The site includes more than 22 pages of scholarly articles with topics in areas such as peer relations, education technology, and inventive spelling. Pearson offers state-specific learning resources, including science, literacy, and world languages for Georgia educators.
Feed the Teacher
This bilingual Twitter feed poses provocative questions that challenge teaching norms. It provides links to articles that address issues of inequality in education, controversies surrounding educational technology, and holistic learning. Managed by a Google-certified innovator, this Twitter feed includes tips for using Google Classroom and features articles on the use of artificial intelligence in schools.
The 1:1 Classroom
Written by a third grade teacher who works in a classroom in which every student has a digital device, this blog features study techniques, math and spelling games, and reviews of professional development books. This blog frequently provides recommendations for manipulatives and educational software to enhance learning.