Teaching Careers Updated November 5, 2019

Teaching License Reciprocity Explained

By Eric Gill October 23, 2012

There are a lot of reasons to transfer your teaching credentials and license from one state to another. But, regardless of the reason for the move, when a teacher chooses to transfer from one state to another, obtaining appropriate teaching credentials is a top concern.

State teaching certification and licensing vary widely from state to state. Teacher license reciprocity allows candidates with out-of-state credentials to receive proper certification after meeting state-specific requirements.

Clarifying teaching license reciprocity

Whatever your motivation for moving to another state, you will need to transfer your teaching credentials. Start by asking these two important questions:

  1. Can you work in other states with the teaching certificate from your current state?
  2. If not, can you apply for a teaching certificate in a new state using your current teaching license?

License reciprocity — the ability to practice your vocation in one state based on certification in another — has different meanings for different professions. For teachers, license reciprocity does not mean you can automatically transfer your existing certificate from one state to another and then start teaching.

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. For example, you must still apply and meet all teaching certification requirements for the new state.

What is NASDTEC’s Interstate Agreement?

Fortunately, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure streamlines the application process and expedites the goal of teaching in your new state.

The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Training (NASDTEC) is a collection of over 50 individual agreements by states and Canadian provinces. These agreements outline which incoming state educator certificates will be accepted. Some form of authorization will allow the inbound certificate holder to legally teach for a designated time period, or provide services for completion of additional requirements before the educator can teach.

NASDTEC is not a guarantee for full reciprocity. Many states do not immediately accept teaching credentials from other states. For instance, Georgia affirms with its agreement that it will accept credentials from Connecticut, but it does not imply that Connecticut will accept teaching credentials from Georgia.

Some jurisdictions consider themselves “full reciprocity” and do not have additional requirements. However, many jurisdictions do call for additional requirements to be completed for educators coming from other states or jurisdictions. These are known as Jurisdiction Specific Requirements (JSRs). The educator may have to complete JSRs such as coursework, assessments, or classroom experience before receiving a full professional certificate in a new state. JSRs may often vary dependent upon the educator’s years of experience.

The best information on JSRs and reciprocity should be obtained through contacting the intended jurisdiction. See NASDTEC’s map to connect to jurisdiction homepages.

States participating in the NASDTEC agreement generally follow the same guidelines for recognizing out-of-state teaching licenses, but each state has specific requirements that must be met before you can teach there.

What do I need to know when applying for a teaching certificate with license reciprocity?

If you’re relocating to another state and wish to continue teaching, you must follow that state’s licensing procedures. A great source for checking all state teacher licensure requirements is the Educational Testing Service PRAXIS web page.

There are several standard requirements for obtaining your teaching certificate in all states. Whether you’re applying in one of the participating NASDTEC states or another location, you should be prepared for the following steps to ensure your application for teacher certification will be processed as quickly as possible.

  1. Bachelor’s degree: Nearly all states require a bachelor’s degree to become a teacher. When you apply for a teaching certificate based on an existing license, you should have your original college transcripts available to send with your application.
  2. Background check: States differ, but you should be prepared to submit to a full-scale background check, including criminal and FBI, state and child protective services checks, and U.S. citizenship verification.
  3. Teaching tests: Be prepared to provide verification that you passed your state’s teaching tests. More than 40 states require one of the Educational Testing Service PRAXIS examinations. Some states recognize teaching tests from other testing services, and many states will allow a temporary grace period — such as one year — before requiring applicants to pass their state’s specific teaching tests. In Nebraska, for instance, you can apply for a temporary license that gives you up to six months to meet all of that state’s requirements while you teach.
  4. Teaching experience: States vary as to how much on-the-job experience they require before issuing a teaching license. Nebraska, for example, requires two years of teaching experience to qualify for the standard teaching license, which is valid for five years. All states request written verification from specific qualified individuals attesting that you have met the transferring state’s teaching experience requirements.
  5. Master’s degree: Most states recognize a graduate degree in place of specific grade-level, curriculum, and job experience requirements. If you have a master’s degree or higher in education, you should check your new state’s requirements to see if an advanced degree can be applied in lieu of specific on-the-job teaching experience.
  6. Specialization distinctions: You should be aware that states have different requirements for certification at different grade levels (e.g., K-4, middle school, and high school); various subject areas like math and science; and qualified disciplines such as special education.

Fees: Be prepared to pay an application fee, as well as any required fees for obtaining college transcripts, background/credit checks, and document transfer costs.

Teacher license information by state

Whatever your reasons for transferring to another state, be sure to identify the correct guidelines and appropriate steps to qualify for teacher certification. Select from the list below to learn about license reciprocity policies in your state and the state(s) in which you are interested in teaching.

Alabama Alaska Arizona
Arkansas California Colorado
Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia
Florida Georgia Hawaii
Idaho Illinois Indiana
Iowa Kansas Kentucky
Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi Missouri Montana
Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire
New Jersey New Mexico New York
North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania
Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota
Tennessee Texas Utah
Vermont Virginia Washington
West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

Disclaimer: Education policies are subject to change. Check with the department of education in your state for updates to license reciprocity policies.

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