Home What You Need to Know About Teaching Reciprocity

What You Need to Know About Teaching Reciprocity

What you need to know about teaching reciprocity in all 50 states

Reviewed by Jon Konen, District Superintendent

What is teaching reciprocity?

In a nutshell, teaching reciprocity refers to transferring your teaching license credentials to another state, so you can work as a teacher there. This is a complicated topic that we will outline and explain in detail in the following sections of information. We also included quick bullets of info you can use to glance through the state requirements for reciprocity. Keep in mind, these requirements are subject to change, depending on the public policy dynamics at work in each individual state. That is also why you will notice that many states have their own unique teaching certificate reciprocity requirements, and it is not normal for one license to transfer directly to another state, without some kind of new qualification, exam, or other responsibility of the teacher to prove their merit.

The following info will let you know how reciprocity came about, and why it is so unique from state-to-state. We will also guide you to additional resources you can use to make the decision for your future in education. If you find additional info, or think we have missed answering some questions you think are important, please let us know. We want to make our website a hub of useful information for prospective students seeking education degrees and teacher training.

male teacher standing in front of chalkboard

Ready to learn more about requirements for teaching reciprocity by state?

We also offer students a simple way to connect with accredited colleges and universities who can help you qualify for teaching positions. Just choose the state you wish to teach in the search box at the top of this page. The advisors at the listed schools should be able to help you make the right decision, whether you have a degree or currently seeking one.

Why are so many teachers concerned with reciprocity?

There are many reasons why teachers need to look into reciprocity to continue working in this field. Most times, it is family needs that require teachers to move from state-to-state. If your spouse is re-located, or if you suddenly find yourself caring for a loved one in another state, you might find yourself looking at listings for teaching jobs. No matter what life brings you, there are simple steps that you can take to prepare for such a life event.

How to start preparing for reciprocity

When you first realize that you will need to shift your teaching career to another state, you can start breaking down your process by answering two simple questions: will my current teaching license credentials transfer directly, without additional requirements into a license for the state I want to teach in? If so, great! You’re done. Start looking for open positions and start setting up job interviews.

If the answer is no, then you need to start gathering the right information to make sure you make a smooth transition.

NASDEC helps teachers qualify for reciprocity

Your smooth transition through the reciprocity process should begin with an association called the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). According to their website, NASDTEC is “the organization that represents professional standards boards and commissions and state departments of education in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, the U.S. Territories, Alberta, and Ontario that are responsible for the preparation, licensure, and discipline of educational personnel.”

This association is equipped to help solve teaching reciprocity by state issues related to reciprocity because they work directly with all fifty states to achieve a number of important objectives. First of all, they promote the highest standards for excellence in education. They work with public policy advocates and legislatures at the state and federal level to make sure students are benefitting from their education.

NASDTEC also helps teachers transition from state-to-state much easier than if they would on their own. They have a wide variety of resources for teaching certificate reciprocity on their website, including online courses, out-of-state applicant information, educator preparation programs, event information, and many other useful items for teachers trying to figure out what the heck to do next.

If you are especially interested in teacher reciprocity, you might want to consider membership with the NASDCET. With your membership you can include up to 25 of your colleagues to share with your benefits. Some of these benefits include: updates and newsletters, full access to their signature KnowledgeBase, and webinars and PowerPoint on ethics. They also make it easy for you to contact offices for educator certification and licensure, which can be a lifesaver while trying to plan out the right steps to move forward.

What resources are available for teaching reciprocity?

The handiest resource we found comes straight from the U.S. Department of Education. In a report titled ‘Teachers on the Move: A Look at Teacher Interstate Mobility Policy and Practice,’ they outline the background on reciprocity and why it is so important and relevant of a topic in the field of education. As you can imagine, with the world becoming so connected by technology, and federal initiatives relying more on achieving goals through standardized tests, this topic is increasingly complicated.

Highlights from ‘Teachers on the Move: A Look at Teacher Interstate Mobility Policy and Practice’

The first thing we notice about this report is the number of people who use teaching certificate reciprocity to work in nearby states, without the need to move. If you live in what’s known as a ‘border state,’ then you might be more conveniently located near a district that is technically outside of your state, but still close to home. The report uses the state of Kansas as an example of this. They state ‘Over the last five years in Kansas, roughly 27 percent of all new hires were prepared in an out-of-state institution, mainly from nearby states (Missouri, Oklahoma, and Nevada). In Maryland, upwards of two thirds of new teachers were either trained or taught in another state.’ The report goes on to list other relevant examples. But, you get the point, right? Reciprocity is a pretty big deal because there are so many teachers and school districts that rely on their ability to qualify for teaching jobs in more than one state.

Demographic information for ‘teachers on the move’

So, what do the demographics look like for teachers that are more inclined to go through the reciprocity process? The report found that most teachers that moved to a new state or commuted to their teaching job from a different state had a higher level of education, on average. These teachers also tended to be older, and their racial and gender identities pretty much were identical to the populations in which they were moving.

Who relies on teaching reciprocity the most?

The report found that the majority of teachers who moved from state-to-state and sought reciprocity were mostly elementary school teachers. However, within this group of teachers, they found that an area where there was a lack of certain subject areas was a big reason for the moves. A couple of examples the report gives include New Hampshire and Montana and Florida, where movers were taking on special education jobs to help fill the needs of the state population. South Carolina, on the other hand, had a significant number of teachers move to the state to fill a need for mathematics and science curriculum.

What teachers say about the reciprocity experience…

A nice thing about this report is that it doesn’t just focus on the data about teaching certificate reciprocity. As many people who understand data analysis understand, there is a difference between quantitative and qualitative data. And there is a need for both. They account what real teachers are saying about the need for reciprocity, and what it’s like to go through the process. You can learn a lot about teaching reciprocity by state with this information as well.

Here is a quote from a teacher in Florida whose view probably reflects what many teachers think – this is on page 17 of the report:

“I could never understand how I could be fully certified, even tenured, in one state and have to jump through so many hoops to become certified in another. I have five separate state certifications, and it has been a challenge every time.”

—A teacher now teaching in Florida

They also sent out a survey to teachers who experienced reciprocity, or ‘mobility’, as they refer to it, and asked about their experience. They found there wasn’t much difference in the view of the experience between those who went to traditional schools to receive state certification and those who went an alternate teaching route.

The top reasons why teachers seek teaching certificate reciprocity

The report also compiled data to find out why teachers moved from state-to-state. Around 50% said they needed to learn more about teaching reciprocity because their spouse found a new job and they needed to relocate. Coming in second, at 21%, respondents said they sought reciprocity because they wanted to move closer to their family and loved ones. And from there, respondents said they needed to transfer their teaching license to another state because they were looking for a better quality of life and opportunity. Some people said they were moving because of a want for a nicer climate (hello, San Diego!). And then there were those who said they just needed a life change; a significant number of these teachers had gone through a divorce or became widowed.

Importance of factors that lead to teaching reciprocity

You know that old saying ‘money can’t buy happiness’? Well, we think teachers heard the message loud and clear. When surveying the factors that most weighed their decisions to seek reciprocity, let’s take a look at the top 5…

Top 5 factors that weighed in the decision to teach in a new state:

  • Working conditions
  • Lifestyle
  • Retirement Benefits
  • Health benefits
  • Salary

That’s right. Salary was at the bottom of the top 5. With working conditions at number one, what does that tell us? We believe it means that teachers simply want to be happy in their jobs, and they will go wherever they think they’ll be happiest, for whatever reason. With lifestyle, retirement and health benefits coming in next, we can see the lure of long-term security, and the peace of mind that good healthcare benefits can provide. It might also mean that salaries from many states might be in line with other states, so salary might not be a factor. Teachers might expect to earn about the same in one place as the other, so salary just isn’t the dealbreaker – or maker, for teachers that have to look into reciprocity requirements.

Different ‘rules of the road’ for teaching reciprocity by state

The report also discusses a topic that is important for teachers that need to find out about reciprocity. This is straight from the report:

“As discussed earlier, although states’ credentialing systems follow a similar logic, teacher certification requirements vary widely among states. For initial licensure, nearly every state requires a bachelor’s degree and some form of state-approved preparatory experience as well as a passing score on one or more licensures exams, but there is a wide range of diversity in the specifics of these requirements. It is these specifics that can create barriers to interstate mobility, as the “rules of the road” change depending on the state in which a teacher is teaching.”

In the report, they note that the most notable discrepancies between state teaching certificate reciprocity requirements is in the areas of special education, early childhood, and middle school teachers. The example they give with special education pertains to grade level teaching qualifications. While many states require teachers to have the ability to teach all grade levels, other states just require specific grade levels for teachers to prove competent.

Three tiers of licensure that affect teaching reciprocity

What you have to go through for the reciprocity process depends on the tier of licensure that the state you live in, and move to, have in common. States fall into one of three tiers of licensure, according to the report. Level 1 is referred to as an initial license. To move to a level license with two tiers, you will need to take additional coursework and professional development type courses. Plus, you may be required to complete three years of teaching experience or a performance based test that assesses your skills. With three tiers of licensure, you will face even more hurdles towards earning your teaching license in that state.

Are you ready to learn more about teaching reciprocity by state?

If you are thinking about moving to a new state, then you should speak with people who can help with your transition. You should visit the NASDTEC website for the information on teaching credentialing in the state you want to move to. If you realize that you need additional training to teach in that state, that’s what we’re here for. You can search for your education options in the state you desire to teach in by using the search box at the top of this page. Once you view your options, request information from each school to see how they can help teachers from your state earn the proper licensure to start working as quickly as possible. Good luck on your journey, no matter which state your teaching career leads you! Be sure to connect with us on social media, and keep us updated on your success.