The process of becoming a licensed elementary teacher in North Carolina begins with certification. Receiving your license to teach in the state ensures that you have met all requirements and recommendations from the state and federal government regarding your preparedness as a teacher.

Step 1 Enroll in a Teacher Education Program. North Carolina requires that potential teachers have completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and have completed a teacher certification program prior to beginning instruction.

Teacher certification programs are designed to instill upon students the fundamental methodology and skills to become a successful teacher. Classes may range from regular subject-area classes, developmental and psychology related courses, to fieldwork inspired courses meant to give you valuable experience in the classroom.

Step 2 Get a criminal history background check. North Carolina does not require its future teachers to go through the background check process. On the application, you will be required to disclose if you have had any arrests or criminal convictions on your records. While this will not automatically disqualify you for a job as a teacher in the state, you will have to supply additional information (such as court documents) on the circumstances and severity of the crime.

Some schools, however, will require you to get a background check in order to work with its students. These background checks are meant to ensure that you are a safe candidate to work directly with children. Because each school is different, a representative will most likely walk you through the process of going through the background check.

Step 3 Take the Praxis examination. North Carolina requires future elementary teachers to take several examinations to prove their readiness for the classroom. These tests assess both content and methodology knowledge. Taken before applying for the final certification (and often required by a teacher preparatory program before beginning fieldwork), these exams typically serve as a final educational wrap-up.Both of the exams are administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Registration information, including locations of tests and online registration, can be found on ETS’s website.

Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core)

All teachers, no matter their subject area or grade level, must take the ETS-administered Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators examination. This five-hour exam is broken up in to three subject areas: Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. You may elect to take the test in one try ($135) or to break the test up in to the different sections ($85/each). On the ETS website, test-takers can find both free and paid study guides and test breakdowns. To pass, you must score a 156 in Reading, 162 in Writing, and 150 in Math.

The alternative option is to take the Praxis I: Math, Writing, and Reading exams in place of the Core examinations. Like the Core exam, these tests will assess your understanding of basic concepts and knowledge in the subject areas. To pass the Praxis I examinations, you must score a 176 in Reading, 173 in Writing, and 173 in Mathematics. Information regarding the Praxis I exams can be found on each individual test page for Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. The prices are the same: $85/each or $135/combined exam.

Praxis II: Elementary Education: Instructional Practice and Applications

To become an elementary teacher in the state of North Carolina, you must additionally pass the Elementary Education: Instructional Practice and Applications exam. This two-hour, 90-question exam is designed to cover your ability to teach language arts, science, mathematics, and social studies. Questions may range from how to develop lesson plans to how to teach specific concepts or develop certain learning benchmarks with students of different academic levels. To pass, you must score 161. The test costs $139. ETS has also provided test-takers with free and paid resources on its testing page.

Step 4 Get the required Experience. Student teaching and fieldwork experiences are one of the most important steps in becoming an elementary teacher. Student teaching prepares you for dealing with the real-life, in-the-moment situations that occur in actual classrooms. It challenges you to work with an active audience of children, to assist their supervising teacher in curriculum planning, and to foster relationships inside a school.

Most student teaching placements in North Carolina are facilitated by the teacher program in which you are enrolled. For many programs, you will apply to student teach or begin fieldwork after you have completed your coursework. This semester-long experience comes at the end of your education program to ensure that you have enough background knowledge to work successful in the school.

Ready to get in the classroom? An outstanding student teacher should find a placement that challenges him or her to work with a diverse group of students, along with finding a mentor or supervising teacher who is extremely knowledgeable and experienced. Making sure you are prepared to work starts with reviewing the basics of being a professional by showing up every day on time or early, staying as late as needed, and dressing to impress. Taking student teaching seriously will open up a ton of experiences and opportunities that will greatly improve your skills and abilities for the real classroom.

Step 5 Complete required documentation and Apply for Certification. Ready to apply for your North Carolina teacher license? As a new teacher, you will apply for a Standard Professional I license, which is recommended for new teachers who have zero professional teaching experience.

The first step is to apply for the license via the application form found on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. With the application and your $55 application fee (paid by check, money order, certified check, or credit card), you will submit your official (original copy) transcripts. All items should be mailed to:

NC Department of Public Instruction
Licensure Section
6365 Mail Service Center
Raleigh NC 27699-6365

Processing times vary, but if your application is accepted, you should receive confirmation of your license within 1-2 months.