South Carolina is a great state for those interested in becoming educators in high-need areas. The state faces a growing need for educators, and the number of in-state students choosing undergraduate education programs is decreasing. As a result, South Carolina has launched several initiatives to reform education in the state and encourage teachers to move there. One initiative, TransformSC, supports workforce development and education in growing industries. Other organizations, including CERRA, provide scholarships and professional opportunities for current and future teachers.
Aspiring teachers must follow certain steps in order to become licensed educators in South Carolina. The first step is to earn an undergraduate degree. Students may choose to complete a bachelor’s degree either on campus or online. Online programs have many benefits, including flexibility and low cost. Online students can earn degrees from some of the most respected schools in the country without ever having to leave their homes. This allows them to work full-time or attend to other obligations while earning a degree. Finally, online students can complete student teaching internships in their local communities.
Though teaching license requirements vary by state, many states have similar requirements. South Carolina’s teaching license requirements are relatively standard. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete student teaching, earn a qualifying score on the Praxis, get fingerprinted, and pay application fees. Some students who are enrolled in a program in another state but want to earn a license in South Carolina can do so if they meet state teaching certification requirements. However, those enrolled in programs with lower certification requirements than South Carolina must complete an out-of-state teacher certification application that includes a $105 fee. Out-of-state teachers applying for certification in South Carolina must also complete a Verification of Teaching Experience form.
How to Become a Teacher in South Carolina
In order to become a public school teacher in South Carolina, students must have at least a bachelor’s degree and a teacher’s license. Private school teachers can sometimes still teach without a license, though licensure is certainly beneficial for all educators. The easiest way to become a teacher in South Carolina is to live in the state, attend a teacher preparation program, and earn a South Carolina teaching certification. However, out-of-state teachers can also earn licensure in South Carolina.
Licensure requirements can become a bit complicated for teachers who are certified in other states who move to South Carolina. Teaching licenses do not transfer automatically from state to state. Out-of-state teachers must go through most of the process that first-time teachers go through in order to become certified. As such, they must complete a certification application, pay the $105 fee, get fingerprinted, and submit all transcripts. They must also fill out a Verification of Teaching Experience form. Teaching candidates can track the status of their certification on the South Carolina Department of Education’s website. Out-of-state teachers do not need to retake the Praxis, provided they already earned a qualifying score.
How to Get an South Carolina Teaching Certification
Obtaining a teaching license is one of the most crucial steps toward becoming a public school teacher in South Carolina. Below, we highlight the step-by-step process that students must follow to earn a teaching license in South Carolina. Students can visit the South Carolina Department of Education’s website for more information.
- Provide proof that you hold a bachelor’s degree
All individuals seeking a teaching certificate in SC must already hold a bachelor’s degree. That degree does not need to be in education, since students will take both general and content-specific Praxis exams to prove their knowledge of individual subjects. That said, the Praxis will be easier for students who have a bachelor’s degree in education or a related subject.
- Hold a 3.0 GPA
Applicants who want to earn an SC teaching certificate must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. If candidates have begun graduate coursework, they must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in these courses as well.
- Complete approved student-teaching hours
All candidates must complete student teaching through an approved educator preparation program. The SC Department of Education does not list a minimum number of required student teaching hours for SC teaching certification. We go into more detail about student teaching in South Carolina later in this article.
- Receive a passing grade on required exams (Praxis)
The Praxis is a set of two standardized tests that all prospective teachers must pass in order to earn their South Carolina teaching certification. The two exams are the Principles of Learning and Teaching test and a content-area specific Subject Assessment test. Students can check the qualifying scores for South Carolina on the ETS website. Certain students with unique circumstances can pursue alternative certification paths.
- Complete the electronic fingerprint process
In order to meet the fingerprinting requirement, students seeking teaching certification in SC must go through the MorphoTrust USA process. Students must make their own appointment at a MorphoTrust IdentoGO center. Out-of-state students must ask MorphoTrust for a fingerprint card and then send them that card for evaluation. Students who have their fingerprints rejected will have to be fingerprinted again, although they do not have to pay the second time.
- Submit application for teaching certification
South Carolina’s application for teaching certification is a standard form that students can mail in or complete online. All applicants must submit this form at least six months prior to their proposed student teaching start date. The form inquires about a student’s background, experience, and Praxis scores. Students must include a $105 application fee and must complete the fingerprinting process to complete their application.
- Payment of all fees
The application fee for a teaching certification in South Carolina is $105. Students pay this fee when applying for student teaching. Teachers who are applying to transfer an out-of-state credential must also have to pay a fee of $105.
Student Teaching in South Carolina
Student teaching is essentially a teaching internship. Students are placed in a local school and conduct limited teaching activities under the supervision of a licensed teacher. Students also receive guidance from a faculty member from their program. In most cases, students will only lead lessons under the supervision of a licensed teacher and will not have to take control of the classroom by themselves. However, student teachers will still have the opportunity to plan lessons and practice classroom management, curriculum development, and other skills. Educator preparation programs will already have placement sites available and will help pair students with licensed teachers.
This process can differ slightly for online programs. Students in online programs generally arrange student teaching sites in their communities with the approval of their school’s faculty. Online students complete the same number of on-site hours and have the same student teaching experience as students enrolled in traditional programs. Many online programs also have connections for student teaching placements at schools throughout South Carolina.
Student teaching is generally the final course in an educator preparation program. Students prepare for their student teaching experiences by completing theory coursework and doing well in the courses throughout the rest of their program.
Students seeking their SC teaching certificate must ensure that their program is regionally accredited and approved by South Carolina’s Department of Education for certification. Students can apply for student teaching in South Carolina in the fall or spring semesters.
Career Outlook for Teachers in South Carolina
South Carolina educators make a lower annual salary than their peers nationwide. However, average teacher salaries for South Carolina educators rank 32nd when adjusted for cost of living. South Carolina offers a unique opportunity for educators to have a significant impact on children in a high-need area.
Aside from preschool teachers, educators in South Carolina make around the same annual mean wage regardless of which age of students they teach. Secondary teachers and kindergarten teachers currently make the highest average salaries, with elementary school and middle school teachers following close behind them.
|Occupation||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Elementary School Teachers||21,450||$48,480|
|Middle School Teachers||9,070||$50,190|
Excludes Special Education Teachers, May 2016
Scholarships for South Carolina Teaching Students
Since teaching is such a high-need field, there are many scholarships — both nationally and in South Carolina — that incentivize talented students to become teachers. South Carolina is a particularly high-need area, meaning the state is fertile with scholarships for teaching students. Below, we highlight a few of the best.
- South Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics Preservice Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This award is open to all students who have participated in student teaching at a South Carolina college within the past academic year and are committed to becoming a math teacher somewhere in the state. Applicants must have completed at least 12 credits of math courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered.
- Florence Nelson Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be rising seniors or fifth-year students majoring in education. They must also be members of the South Carolina Council of the International Reading Association. Rising seniors who enroll in a fifth year may apply for the renewal of their award.
- Mary A. Kelly Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Mary A. Kelly Scholarship caters to graduate students enrolled in education programs at South Carolina colleges. Applicants must have been members of the South Carolina Council of the International Reading Association for at least a year. Applicants must also have two years of classroom experience.
- South Carolina Teacher Loans
Who Can Apply: South Carolina residents who are majoring in education at a South Carolina college can apply for these student loans. This program is unique because students who commit to teaching at a public school in South Carolina can receive loan forgiveness.
- CERRA Teaching Fellows
Who Can Apply: CERRA Teaching Fellow awards are open to high school seniors in South Carolina who want to become educators. Award winners commit to teaching for at least a year for every year they receive the award. For example, a student who receives a fellowship every year of a four-year program must teach for four years in South Carolina.
Amount: Up to $24,000
- TEACH Grants
Who Can Apply: TEACH is a federal aid program that provides awards to students who commit to teaching high-need subject areas in schools that serve low-income students. To qualify for TEACH Grants, applicants must first meet basic eligibility criteria for federal aid.
Amount: Up to $4,000
Resources for Teachers in South Carolina
- South Carolina Department of Education: SCDE oversees public education in South Carolina, ranging from elementary school to college. Their mission is to “provide leadership and support so that all public education students in South Carolina graduate prepared for success.” SCDE administers and monitors certification and educator preparation programs throughout the state. Teacher candidates can view their certification status and required forms on the organization’s website.
- CERRA: CERRA was founded in 1985 by the South Carolina General Assembly. The state’s educator pool was drying out at the time, and the state wanted to centralize its teacher recruiting efforts. As a result, the organization’s mission is to recruit, retain, and advance South Carolina educators. CERRA offers teacher mentoring and access to the ProTeam program, which encourages middle school students to become teachers when they eventually enter the workforce.
- South Carolina Consortium for Gifted Education: SCCGE was founded in 1978 as a means to provide professional development for all gifted teachers. SCCGE collaborates with SCDE and individual school districts to give educators chances to learn from experts in gifted and talented education. The consortium also hosts workshops, an annual conference, and other meetings throughout the year.
- South Carolina Montessori Alliance: SCMA advocates for Montessori education in South Carolina. The alliance represents educators from public Montessori schools, private Montessori schools, and Montessori trainers. SCMA accomplishes this mission primarily by providing a list of Montessori-related resources to teachers. The alliance also hosts an annual conference dedicated to exchanging ideas and keeping up with the field’s latest trends. The conference has a different theme each year.
- South Carolina Career Information Center: SCCIS’s mission is to provide a continuous stream of education and career-related data to schools in South Carolina. The organization delivers this data through South Carolina’s proprietary SC Occupational Information System (SCOIS), the state’s career resource network. Public schools throughout the state have used SCOIS since 1977. The system allows teachers to tailor education to jobs that will be in demand when students graduate. This practice ensures that students will enjoy better employment opportunities in the future.
Networking Opportunities in South Carolina
Networking is particularly beneficial in the field of education. With a strong professional network, educators can find out about job openings or opportunities at other schools, collaborate with other institutions, or attend professional development workshops. For students, networking can often lead to their first teaching job after graduation. These opportunities can range from more informal teacher meetups to formal annual conferences. Below, we highlight two of the best networking opportunities for South Carolina education majors.
PSTA is a union alternative and the fastest-growing teachers association in South Carolina. The organization’s membership consists of 90% classroom teachers. PSTA’s professional development events allow teachers to interact with each other, discuss their techniques, and learn about opportunities at other South Carolina schools.
SCEA advocates for quality public education in South Carolina. To that end, the organization hosts a six-hour annual conference that allows South Carolina teachers to learn about the latest research in education and the opportunity network with each other. 2017’s conference emphasized issues and assessment.
|Ms. Kirksey is a fourth grade teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. Her tweets primarily center on STEM education and educational technology, in addition to hip hop education. She is a key follow for any educators who are interested in those three topics.|
|Mary Lee Hahn is a fifth grade teacher from Dublin, Ohio. Her Twitter account primarily shares posts from her personal blog. She focuses on poetry, poetry education, and Poetry Month in particular.|
|Dena Simmons holds a master’s degree and a doctorate from Teachers College. She is no longer a teacher; instead, she works as an advocate, giving TED Talks on the education of children of color, bullying, and diversity. Her tweets primarily deal with these topics.|
|Nanette Johnson is a math teacher who founded Open Middle and a blog called Math M Addicts. Her Twitter account combines maxims about teaching with links to challenging math problems for educators to use in their classrooms.|
|Tara Smith is a sixth-grade teacher and writer based in New Jersey. She teaches reading, writing, and social studies. Tara operates a blog called A Teaching Life that focuses on both instructional techniques and overarching teaching philosophy. Her Twitter account shares blog posts and retweets other teachers’ takes on social justice, white privilege, and the nuts and bolts of teaching.|