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For those looking to become a certified teacher in New York, the process, which is overseen by the New York Department of Education Office of Teaching Initiatives (OTI), is fairly straightforward. The traditional routes to becoming a teacher in New York are described below. For information on alternatives to traditional certification in the state, see our guide to alternative teacher certification in New York.
How to Become a Teacher in New York
To become a New York teacher, a candidate must meet the requirements stipulated by the Office of Teaching Initiatives. Like most states, New York requires that all state teachers hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a New York teacher certification program, and pass the required content examinations. Upon meeting the requirements for certification, an applicant may be issued an initial certificate, which is valid for five years. This entry-level certificate leads to the professional certificate, which is an advanced level license that is continuously valid, assuming the teacher completes the appropriate number of professional development hours every five years.
The most direct, traditional route to New York teaching certification is to complete an approved teacher preparation program at a New York college or university and be recommended for certification by the certification officer at that university, which is known as an institutional recommendation. For more detailed information on the New York teacher certification renewal process, contact the OTI or continue reading.
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in New York
In addition to requiring all new teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree, New York requires prospective teachers to complete an approved teacher preparation program at an accredited institution. You can find a list of approved teacher preparation programs, known as NYS Registered Programs, through the New York State Education Department. To compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs, use the sortable table on our New York schools page.
Programs in other states that hold accreditation from one of the six regional accreditation agencies overseen by the US Department of Education may also be acceptable. New York will not issue a teacher certification to those who have not completed a program at an accredited school, so it’s best to confirm accreditation before making a decision.
Additionally, many schools seek accreditation from the national accreditation organization, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP accreditation is not mandatory for schools, but due to its highly-regarded reputation for stringent standards, most schools apply for its official accreditation.
New York Teacher Education Requirements
The minimum education requirement to earn New York teacher certification is a bachelor’s degree. Candidates should also complete an approved teacher preparation program, also known as an NYS Registered Program. However, candidates who attended teacher preparation programs out-of-state may be eligible for an educator’s certificate if the program completed is deemed comparable to an approved program in New York. Such a program may be completed as part of the candidate’s bachelor’s degree or as a post-graduate certificate or master’s program.
New York Teacher Testing Requirements
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There are several exams that are required for obtaining a teaching license in New York. The first is the Educating All Students (EAS) test, which measures direct teaching skills and knowledge. All prospective teachers must also pass the edTPA, which measures teaching performance and instructional practice. Those teaching core subjects must also pass the appropriate Content Specialty Test (CST).
Additional tests, such as the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST), the Bilingual Education Assessments (BEAs), or the Communication and Quantitative Skills Test (CQST) may be required depending on the candidate’s educational background and content area and grade level(s) to be taught. You can find more specific information through the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations website.
Additional New York Teacher Certification Requirements
Like all US states, New York requires that anyone applying for teacher certification in the state submit to a federal and state criminal history background check. The digital fingerprinting process should be completed through IdentoGO before sending in the teacher licensing application packet.
New York Teachers Licensing Application Process
Once all of the requirements for New York teacher certification have been completed, applicants should submit their application to the Office of Teaching Initiatives using the online TEACH portal. The office receives most applications in June, July, and August, so it’s recommended to send in all information three to four months in advance of your estimated date of employment. The required steps to obtain a New York educator certificate are as follows:
- Verification of background clearance by the state.
- Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree.
- Proof of completing a teacher preparation program at an approved school.
- Passing scores on the required examinations.
- Completed application for teaching certification in New York.
- Payment of non-refundable processing fees.
Visit the New York Department of Education website for further details on New York teacher certification.
New York Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
There were an estimated 2.7 million public school students enrolled in New York State’s 4,798 public schools during the 2016-2017 academic year.3 This gave New York an overall student-to-teacher ratio of 13:1 based on an estimated 209,151 public school teachers during the same time period.3
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that there will be 6,180 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 3,190 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 5,160 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in New York from 2016 to 2026.2 In New York, elementary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $83,010, middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $83,490, and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $85,300, excluding special education.4 The New York State United Teachers federation provides further information on standards, employment opportunities, and education news of interest in the state.
TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual SalaryPreschool Teachers30,790$48,630Preschool Teachers, Special Education4,860$83,010Kindergarten Teachers6,120$79,410Elementary School Teachers82,590$83,010Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School18,790$77,840Middle School Teachers39,950$83,490Middle School Teachers, Special Education10,970$83,050Secondary School Teachers74,830$85,300Secondary School Teachers, Special Education17,420$86,330Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education4,480$76,000
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Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Teacher Shortages in New York
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, New York broadly has the following shortages5:
- Career and Technical Education, 7-12
- English as a Second Language (Bilingual Education), Pre-K-12
- Health and Physical Fitness (Health Science), Pre-K-12
- Language Arts (English), 7-12
- Language Arts (Literacy), Pre-K-12
- Science, 7-12
- Social Studies, 7-12
- Special Education, Pre-K-12
- World Languages, Pre-K-12
According to the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), enrollment in the state’s teacher preparation programs has decreased by 53% since 2009.6 In addition to fewer new teachers becoming certified, the New York State Teacher Retirement System (NYSTRS) expects that about a third of current teachers could retire within the next five years.6 These two forces, among others, combine to create teacher shortages in the disciplines listed above across the state, varying by district. Districts that are more racially diverse and those with higher rates of child poverty tend to have the most trouble recruiting and retaining qualified educators.
In response to the shortage crisis, the governor of New York announced in 2022 a plan to incentivize the teaching profession and to accelerate the certification process for teachers, not only to address the current shortages but to ensure that enough teachers are in the pipeline to prevent future shortages.7 Actions planned to combat the shortages include waiving the income limit for retired teachers in order to incentivize them to rejoin the workforce; expanding alternative teacher certification programs; and accelerating the certification process to allow provisionally approved teachers to begin teaching sooner.7
New York School District Requirements
If your goal is to become a teacher in New York City, check out our How to Become a Teacher in New York City page. On this page, you can find the step-by-step process for becoming an NYC teacher, information on private and charter schools in NYC, and NYC school district contact information.
- New York City
New York Teacher Interviews
- Math Teacher and TEDx Speaker, Jose Vilson
- Instructional Coach, Marisa Kaplan
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What degree is required to teach early childhood education in New York state?
Answer: There are several requirements to become certified in early childhood education in New York State. The first requirement is to earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from an approved teacher preparation program in the state. The second requirement is passing the New York State Teacher Certification exams in Academic Literacy Skills and Educating All Students, as well as the Content Specialty Test – Multi-Subject: Teachers of Early Childhood and the edTPA Early Childhood. Prospective teachers must also complete the Dignity for All Students Act Workshop.
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Question: How do I become a substitute teacher in New York?
Answer: Substitute teachers in New York state are not required to hold certification, and no statewide substitute teaching certificate is currently offered. Certain districts may prefer certification or candidates who are currently working towards certification. For example, the New York City Board of Education does issue a substitute license, which candidates must hold to teach on a substitute basis. For the NYC substitute license, a bachelor’s degree is required as well as nomination by a local school district. In all other districts, those who are not certified may not work as a substitute for more than 40 days in a school district per school year.
Question: How do I become a high school teacher in New York?
Answer: To become a high school teacher in New York, you must be certified by the state. This requires a bachelor’s degree and completion of a teacher preparation program. You must also pass basic skills and teaching skills tests. You also must participate in student teaching in a secondary classroom and pass a background check.
Question: How do I become a kindergarten teacher in New York?
Answer: You must be certified through the state for K-6 education to work as a kindergarten teacher in New York. Certification requirements include holding a bachelor’s degree, proof of completion of a teacher preparation program, and two student teaching experiences, as well as passing the state’s battery of exams for teacher certification.
References: 1. New York Education Department: http://www.nysed.gov/ 2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm 3. National Center for Education Statistics, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp 4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, New York: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ny.htm 5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports 6. New York State United Teachers, “The Teacher Shortage:” https://www.nysut.org/resources/special-resources-sites/look-at-teaching/why-teach/teacher-shortage 7. New York State, “Governor Hochul Announces New Investment in New York’s Students, Teachers and Schools:” https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-announces-new-investment-new-yorks-students-teachers-and-schools