About NC Licensing
Who needs a license in North Carolina?
All professional employees of public schools must hold a license for the subject or grade level they teach or for the professional education assignment that they hold.
In what areas are licenses issued?
Licenses are issued in administrative, supervisory, student service, and teaching areas. The teaching areas encompass birth through kindergarten, elementary (K-6), middle grades (6-9), secondary grades (9-12), special subjects (K-12), exceptional children (K-12).
How do I apply for my teaching or school professional license?
You need to complete forms from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). You can find required forms, supporting material, and mailing instructions from WCU’s Teacher and School Professional Licensure by selecting your specific license area or licensing situation.
Where do I send my license application forms?
You can send your license application forms and supporting material to the CEAP licensure specialist the semester you are completing your degree or certification/alternative licensure program requirements.
How much does it cost to apply for a license?
There is a DPI fee of $55.00 for in-state applicants. You may pay by personal check, money order, or certified check made payable to the Department of Public Instruction. You may also pay by Visa or MasterCard.
How do I add an area to my license?
Currently, if you hold a clear teaching license with no restrictions, you can add an additional teaching area to your license by satisfying Praxis II testing requirements for the additional area or completing a state approved teacher education program that leads to licensure in that area, or by completing 24 hours in the subject area with a grade of C or better int he subject area.
Individuals adding administrative and/or student services areas must satisfy the Praxis II testing requirements for these areas in addition to completing an approved teacher education program.
What if I want to teach in another state?
North Carolina has "reciprocity agreements" with more than 40 other states. Reciprocity applies to the extent that out-of-state education programs are equivalent to in-state standards and guidelines for approved education programs. Certain testing requirements specific to a state may not be covered by reciprocity and would need to be met before a clear license could be issued.
Reciprocity does not guarantee that all areas of licensure will transfer directly from one state to another, but applicants will receive the closest comparable area(s). In some cases, grade level definitions (e.g., NC elementary grades K-6 and secondary grades 9-12) may differ from other states and such a difference may be reflected on a license.
Check with the Department of Public Instruction or Department of Education in the new state to find out how you can apply your credentials there.
Can an initial SP I license be renewed?
No. It is converted to an SP II license or validated by an employing LEA. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will issue an SP II license after they receive verification and recommendation by the LEA that the individual has completed the requirements to have their initial SP I license converted to a continuing SP II license.
Will my SP II license ever need to be renewed?
Yes. The renewal process ensures that professional school personnel (SP II license holders) continually update their professional knowledge and technical competencies. Each license holder is responsible for knowing and satisfying license renewal requirements. Failure to renew a license may make an individual ineligible for employment. North Carolina SP II licenses are issued with five-year dating cycles. At the end of a five-year cycle, the license holder must apply to the Department of Public Instruction for renewal by submitting documentation verifying that renewal has been earned. Update or Renew Your License.
State Testing Requirements
What is the Praxis II?
Praxis II Subject Assessments measure knowledge of specific subjects that K–12 educators will teach, as well as general and subject specific teaching skills and knowledge. Before you register for a test, confirm our state testing requirements.
Are there testing requirements for my initial license?
Currently, the NC Department of Public Instruction requires qualifying Praxis II scores to accompany initial teaching license applications for students who major in elementary education or special education. Effective July 1, 2014, all completers of an approved teacher education program must pass identified (Praxis II and/or Pearson) licensure tests. This is a licensing requirement, not a graduation requirement. Be sure to confirm our state testing requirements before you register for a test. Mail or fax your qualifying scores (originals or legible, unaltered copies) to the CEAP licensure specialist.
When should I take the tests?
Tests can be taken any semester but waiting until you near the end of your program will increase your the success of passing the tests. Be sure to confirm our state testing requirements before you register for a test. Tests are offered during specific testing windows so select a test date early enough so you will have your qualifying score(s) when you need to apply for your license. Mail or fax your scores (originals or legible, unaltered copies) to the CEAP licensure specialist.
What are the Pearson North Carolina Foundation of Reading | General Curriculum Tests?
The Foundations of Reading test for NC assesses proficiency in and depth of understanding of the subject of reading and writing development. The test reflects scientifically based reading research and is aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
The General Curriculum test for NC assesses proficiency in and depth of understanding of each of the elementary subject matter required for an elementary teaching license in North Carolina. It is a test of general content knowledge including language arts, history and social science, science and technology/engineering, and mathematics.
Who needs to take the Pearson tests?
Effective October 1, 2014, all elementary education (K-6) and special education general curriculum program completers and out-of-state* elementary education (K-6) and special education general curriculum teachers shall be required to pass the North Carolina Foundation of Reading | General Curriculum Tests.
* Out-of-state licensed teachers with three or more years of successful teaching experience may teach for one year in North Carolina while meeting this requirement.
Can WCU use the transcripts I submitted when I applied to the university to go with
my license application?
No. DPI requires original transcripts that have not been altered in any way so we are unable to use transcripts that were submitted as part of the university admission process.
How do I contact the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI)?
DPI can be reached by phone at 800.577.7994 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. When emailing, please include your full name and last four digits of your social security number. See also DPI's Contact Us.
When should I start applying for jobs?
Most students start applying for positions towards the end of the semester they are completing their Internship II/Student Teaching. However, hiring policies may differ from county to county as to whether they want applicants to have a license in hand to offer an interview or will interview knowing the candidate has been recommended for a license. You should check school system websites or contact the county you are interested in directly to inquire about their policy.
How do I find the licensing requirements for states other than NC?
Check the State Department of Education listings for contact information.
Transition to your First Position
What is a Standard Professional I License (SP1)?
An SP1 license is a three-year license which allows the teacher to begin practicing the profession on an independent basis in North Carolina. To be issued a Standard Professional I license, an individual must complete an approved teacher education program and meet the federal requirements to be designated "highly qualified".
What is the Beginning Teacher Support Program (BTSP)?
SP1 licenses are issued to teachers with fewer than three years of appropriate teaching experience in the initial licensure area. individuals who hold an SP1 license must participate in this three-year induction period with formal orientation, mentor support, observations, and evaluations prior to recommendation by the LEA for a continuing SP II license.
What is a Standard Professional II License (SP II)?
An SPII license is a continuing license that allows the teacher to serve on an on-going basis. A Standard Professional II license must be renewed every five years. An individual holding an SPII license does not have to be teaching at the time they apply for their license renewal.
What is a lateral entry license and how do I get one?
A lateral entry license is issued to individuals who have not completed an approved teacher education program but have been hired by an LEA to be a full-time teacher. The LEAs follow a set of guidelines to be able to apply to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for lateral entry licenses on behalf of their qualified new hires if the situation warrants that type of license. Lateral entry licenses are usually in effect for three years to allow license holders time to complete state teacher education program and testing requirements.
Can I substitute paid teaching for my internship/student teaching requirement?
Currently, lateral entry teachers (individuals holding a license with a program code 4L or LL) can substitute paid full-time teaching (one academic year or 180 days) for internship/student teaching. Internship or student teaching may not be waived or met by employment in a private school, in a grade or area other than the licensure area requested, for less than full-time teaching for a full academic year, or for the role other than a teacher. Understand that if you have internship/student teaching waived and you wish to pursue your MAT degree, you will still need to complete the required number of credit hours for the master's degree.
To substitute paid teaching experience for internship/student teaching, your principal needs to submit our Verification of Teaching Experience form and your satisfactory summative evaluation used by your school demonstrating a proficient level in all the NC Professional Teaching Standards. The paid teaching experience needs to be within the three (3) year period prior to when you apply to clear your lateral entry license. Links to forms and complete licensure instructions are located on our Teacher and School Professional Licensure webpages by selecting Alternative Routes to Teacher Licensure.
Do I need a license to substitute teach in NC?
No state license is required to substitute teach in North Carolina. Contact each LEA you would like to teach in, as they may have requirements for substitutes.