Arizona Teacher Certification: How to Become a Licensed Teacher in Arizona

Teaching License Updated July 20, 2015

As a potential educator, you have several routes to choose to obtain your Arizona teaching certification. Depending upon where you are in your educational and professional careers, one of these options is likely to meet your goals admirably.

Requirements for certified teachers in Arizona

An Arizona teaching certification is available to you if you hold a bachelor’s degree and have completed a state-approved teacher preparation program. In Arizona, many colleges provide undergraduate programs that include teacher preparation coursework while you are earning your degree. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree and would like to begin teaching, then you are simply required to finish a teacher preparation program. These programs can take as little as one year to complete.

Teaching candidates in Arizona are also required to submit to a series of tests in order to receive certification. The state’s tests are known as the Arizona Educator Exams (AEPA or NES).

All candidates in Arizona must take a Professional Knowledge Test to become certified. You will be given either an elementary or secondary focused test, depending on what grade level you would like to teach. These tests allow you to demonstrate your overall knowledge of the educational process and the role that teachers play in forming the lives of young people.

Subject Knowledge Tests are also required of most teaching candidates. These tests are geared toward specific subject matter in a certification area in which you would like to teach. You may test for additional subject knowledge areas throughout your career.

A majority of candidates are also required to take a Constitutions of the United States and Arizona assessment. The candidate’s knowledge of the principles and provisions of both the federal Constitution and the Arizona state constitution are tested in this examination.

Applicants are also required to submit an Arizona Fingerprint Card so that officials may perform a detailed criminal background check.

Arizona jobs for licensed teachers

All first-time applicants for teaching licenses in Arizona are issued an Initial Three-Year Provisional License. This applies whether you are seeking certification for early, elementary, or secondary certification. After the three-year period, the initial license may be converted to a six-year Standard License. The Standard License must be renewed every six years, and teachers are required to complete a minimum number of continuing professional education credits during each license period in order to maintain their certification in good standing.

If you plan to teach a subject designated as a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) by the U.S. Department of Education, you might be eligible for student loan deferment or cancellation. The following TSAs have been approved for Arizona for the 2015-2016 school year:

  • Elementary Level
    • English as a Second Language (ESL)/Bilingual Language Education (BLE)
  • Middle Grades
    • English as a Second Language (ESL)/Bilingual Language Education (BLE)
    • Foreign Language
    • General Science
    • Mathematics
    • Reading Specialist
    • Special Education
    • Visual Arts (Art)
  • Secondary Level
    • Earth Sciences
    • Economics
    • English as a Second Language (ESL)/Bilingual Language Education (BLE)
    • General Science
    • Geography
    • Physical Science
    • Physics
    • Reading Specialist
    • Special Education
  • Multiple geographic areas

A full and current list of TSAs for each state is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

Teaching license reciprocity in Arizona

Arizona participates in a teaching license reciprocity agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). When you apply for a teaching certificate in one state using an existing license from another, the “destination state” is actually recognizing your credentials as verification that you are qualified to teach. You must still meet all requirements before you can teach there.

Fortunately, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure streamlines this application process and expedites the goal of teaching in your new state. For more information, see Teaching License Reciprocity Explained.

Disclaimer: Licensing requirements are subject to change. Please visit your state board of education to check for recent revisions to teaching license requirements.

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