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Teaching Programs in Hawaii

Hawaii’s educational system is unique: It is the only state with one public school system—though it has many independent schools. The educational system has improvements to make, and it needs excellent teachers to help meet these challenges. Because of this, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education created the 2030 Promise Plan. The plan includes increasing support for multicultural and multilingual students and staff, bringing in more high-quality teachers, redesigning curricula, allowing students more opportunity to take control over their learning, and fostering greater collaboration with higher learning institutions.

If you want to be an integral part of improving the state’s educational system, now is the perfect time to become a teacher in Hawaii.

How Do I Become a Teacher in Hawaii? 

Hawaii requires all teachers, school counselors, and school librarians to be licensed by the state board. There are several options for obtaining licensure for those who hope to become half- or full-time educators in the state.

Traditional Pathway to Becoming a Teacher in Hawaii

The traditional route to becoming a teacher, librarian, or counselor in Hawaii schools is to earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in education through a State Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP). You must complete student teaching, meet the state’s basic skills and knowledge expectations by passing relevant Praxis exams, and go through a professional fitness check. If you’re a new graduate or have fewer than three years of teaching experience, you can qualify for a provisional license, which is valid for three years. After your provisional license, you can earn a standard license, which is renewable every five years.

Hawaii also offers an advanced license, which is renewable every 10 years. To be eligible, you need to do one or more of the following after earning a bachelor’s:

  • Teach for at least five of the previous eight years before applying
  • Earn a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree
  • Pass 30 hours of relevant graduate coursework from an approved institution
  • Become a teacher leader or master teacher through the Hawaiʻi Department of Education, a Hawaii Charter School, or a school that is a member of the Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools

Becoming a Teacher Through Alternative Certification or as a Career Switcher

This route is for those who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education but want to become teachers. The simplest path to take—though you can return to school for an additional bachelor’s degree or enter a master’s program—is to complete a Hawaii educator preparation program (EPP). These include programs through traditional colleges, as well as Teach for America, Teach Away (teaching English overseas), and unique online programs. Some may require an internship, student teaching, and/or residency program. You’ll also have to pass any relevant exams and the professional fitness check.

Becoming a Career and Technical Education or Computer Science Teacher

If you have a background in another field and at least an associate degree, you may qualify for a standard limited career and technical education (CTE) or computer science license. CTE fields include arts and communication, business, health services, industrial and engineering technology, natural resources, public and human services, and many more. The limited license requires:

  • A minimum of an associate degree
  • At least three years of industry experience
  • 15 hours of pedagogy coursework in the grade level you hope to teach or 12 hours of pedagogy coursework from a SATEP in the grade level you want to teach, plus a passing score on the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) licensure test
  • Proof of your knowledge via a relevant Praxis exam, National Industry Certification, valid industry license, or 30 hours of coursework in the field
  • Other basic skills and knowledge requirements
  • A professional fitness check

After five years of working as a CTE instructor, you may apply for a CTE permit. This can be renewed only once, after five additional years. After that time, you must have earned teaching licensure to continue in this career.

Teachers Moving to Hawaii From a Different State

Hawaii is unique because, unlike many states, they offer reciprocity for teaching licenses from all other states, plus Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the North Mariana Islands. You simply need to be sure all your paperwork is in order, then apply for a license in Hawaii. Additionally, as Hawaii has 11 military bases—at least one from each branch. If you’re a member of the military or the spouse of a military member, you may be able to expedite the process. As with the traditional path, you qualify for a provisional license if you have fewer than three years of teaching experience or a standard license if you have more than that.

As a side note, if you’re considering a move to Hawaii and are a pet owner, be sure to review their quarantine rules so you can decide if this is the right fit for you before applying for jobs.

Unique Licensure Circumstances: Emergency Hires and Hawaiian Permits

In Hawaii, there are two circumstances in which you can teach without following any of the above pathways.

The first is an Emergency Hire Permit, which is given to those without licenses but who would like to teach in a hard-to-fill or shortage area only when a qualified teacher can’t be found. For this permit, you must have a bachelor’s degree and pass the professional fitness check. It is valid for one year and renewable up to two times; if you want to continue teaching beyond that time, you need to become fully licensed.

The second is a Hawaiian Permit. This permit lasts for five years and may be renewed once. It’s only for those who work as instructors at Kula Kaia ʻōlelo and Kulu Kaiapuni Hawaiʻi schools (exclusively teaching in the Hawaiian language), Hawaiian Language Immersion institutions, and Hawaiian Knowledge classrooms. To obtain this permit, you must have a high school diploma, be proficient in the Hawaiian language, finish 30 hours of induction through the Office of Hawaiian Education, submit a plan for completing a Hawaii teacher program, and clear the professional fitness check.

What Is the Hawaii Professional Fitness Check for Teachers?

All teaching permits and licensures require a professional fitness check. This check means you have not:

  • Had a license sanctioned or censured
  • Been denied licensure or certification
  • Had a license or certification revoked
  • Given up licensure due to accusations of misconduct
  • Been dismissed or quit due to misconduct allegations
  • Been convicted of or pled no contest to a misdemeanor or felony

If you’ve had any of those issues, you need to submit documentation to prove you’re capable of teaching and pose no threat to students.

Average Salaries and Projected Job Growth for Hawaii Teachers

Hawaii is experiencing a teacher shortage. Like the rest of the nation, low-income and remote locations are the hardest hit. However, in Hawaii, as many as 25% of the teachers in those areas work on emergency licenses. This means that if you are a fully-qualified teacher who is willing to work in one of these areas, your chance of employment is high—and you may be eligible for a $3,000 yearly incentive bonus. Additionally, special education and Hawaiian language teachers are in particular demand.

Below, you can see the salaries and job growth opportunities for teachers statewide.

Career 2019 Mean Salary Projected Growth
Elementary School Teachers $63,360 6%
Middle School Teachers $63,520 6%
High School Teachers $62,580 6%
Special Education Teachers $51,940* Data unavailable
Postsecondary Teachers $86,478* Varies by subject

*Averaged from all relevant salaries
2019 mean salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2016 – 2026 projected growth data from O*Net.

Teacher Training Programs in Hawaii

Hawaii itself has few colleges, with only one public university system. Therefore, the majority of the schools in their preparation program affiliation agreement (AA) are online or in different states. If your degree is from a school not on this list, you need to contact the Hawaiʻi Teacher Standards Board directly to verify acceptance of your degree.

The following schools—all of which are in Hawaii—provide a variety of options for undergraduate and graduate degrees, both in general education and specialized subjects. Some of them offer on-campus degrees, while others offer online or hybrid programs.

University of Hawaii (10 campuses and online)

The University of Hawaiʻi is the only public higher education institution in the state. If you want to work in schools, chances are the University of Hawaiʻi has a program for you. It has 10 campuses, though not all education tracks are available at all schools. There are 18 programs in education, ranging from certificates to doctorates. Programs include everything from early childhood education to elementary and secondary education to administration. In addition to their on-campus options, you can earn online degrees, including:

  • Associate in secondary education or teaching
  • Bachelor’s in early childhood and early childhood special education
  • Post-baccalaureates in secondary and special education
  • Graduate certificates in learning design and technology for teachers, online teaching and learning, and curriculum studies
  • Master’s in education, learning design and technology, and special education

Tuition varies by campus, including online programs. You must apply for the program via the specific school offering it.

Brigham Young University – Hawaii (Laie)

BYU – Hawaii is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and has 3,000 students from over 70 countries. You don’t need to be a member of the LDS church to attend, though 99% of their student body were members as of 2018. Their school of education offers degrees in teacher education and teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). Their teacher education programs include a minor in education, a bachelor’s in elementary education and several areas of secondary education, and a post-baccalaureate degree resulting in teacher licensure. The TESOL track offers a certificate in TESOL, a bachelor’s in TESOL and TESOL education, and a TESOL minor. All degree programs are only available on campus.

Tuition 2020–2021
LDS Students: $2,945 per semester
Non-LDS Students: $5,890 per semester

Chaminade University of Honolulu (Honolulu and online)

Chaminade University is a Catholic university that focuses on diversity and respect for others. You needn’t be Catholic to attend—students come from 20 different religions as of 2020. This is a small school with only 1,099 undergraduate students and an 11:1 student to teacher ratio, so you can expect a personalized experience. The School of Education and Behavioral Sciences offers both online and on-campus degrees. At the undergraduate level, online degrees include associate and bachelor’s in early childhood education; bachelor’s in special education, secondary education, elementary education for Oceania, and elementary education; and a Montessori certificate. You can also earn a bachelor’s in elementary education on campus. Graduate degrees are on-campus, and you can obtain a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Master of Education (M.Ed.), and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). The majority of their students accept some form of financial aid, and the school offers a variety of grants and scholarships.

Tuition 2019–2020
Online Undergraduate: $550 per credit hour
Online Undergraduate Military: $250 per credit hour for active duty, $420 per credit hour for non-active duty
On-campus Undergraduate: $26,134 per year
Master’s Tuition: $825 per credit hour
Ed.D.: $5,340 per term (there are four terms per year) (2020–2021)

Hawaiʻi Pacific University (Honolulu and online)

Hawaiʻi Pacific University is a private, non-sectarian university that prepares its students—who come from all over the world—to be respectful and responsible members of a global society. They offer bachelor’s, master’s, certificates, and a minor in TESOL, as well as master’s in seven additional areas of education. While most programs are only available at the campus, you can earn a Master of Education in educational leadership online. The school offers a variety of scholarships to help you pay for your education, though you must be a full-time student to qualify for any of them.

Tuition 2020–2021
Undergraduate: $14,400 per semester
Undergraduate Honors: $17,100 per semester
M.A. in TESOL: $699 per credit
M.Ed. in Educational Leadership: $1,125 per credit
M.Ed. in Elementary and Secondary Education: $850 per credit

Kahoʻiwai Center for Adult Teaching and Learning (Kamuela)

Kahoʻiwai is a postsecondary teacher education program with a focus on Hawaiian values. Its goal is to train teachers to work in charter schools that emphasize Hawaiian culture. The degree is offered in a hybrid format, with some online and some on-site courses, plus required fieldwork. They offer a post-baccalaureate certificate of teaching with either a secondary or elementary focus. You must already have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, but the degree doesn’t have to be in education.

The school is entirely grant-funded, so students aren’t charged for tuition, fees, or materials. The only expenses tare a $50 application fee and a $50 graduate fee.

Hawaii Teacher Resources

  • Hawaiʻi Education Association: The HEA fights for teacher rights in the classroom and at the policy level. They also provide scholarships, a Summer Institute for Teachers to help you earn professional development points and hone your skills, and a variety of other benefits.
  • Hawaiʻi State Department of Education: This site provides all the information you need regarding teaching and learning in the state, along with job listings.
  • Hawaii State Teachers Association: Like the HEA, the Hawaii State Teachers Association advocates for teachers as well as provides professional development opportunities. However, this is an official chapter of the National Education Association, the national union for educators, meaning you have access to legal protections, financial planning, and other significant resources.
Additional Education Degree Schools in Hawaii
Chaminade University of Honolulu (Honolulu, HI)
Subject(s):
Administration, Curriculum/Instruction, English/Language Arts, History/Social Studies, Math, School Counseling/Psychology, Science, Special Ed
Hawaii Pacific University (Honolulu, HI)
Subject(s):
Curriculum/Instruction, English/Language Arts, ESL/TESOL, History/Social Studies, Math, Science
University of Hawaii at Hilo (Hilo, HI)
Subject(s):
ESL/TESOL
University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, HI)
NCATE accredited
Subject(s):
Administration, Instructional Technology, School Counseling/Psychology, Special Ed
University of Phoenix (Honolulu, HI / Kapolei, HI / Mililani, HI)
Subject(s):
Administration, Adult/Higher Ed, Art, Curriculum/Instruction, English/Language Arts, Math, Reading/Literacy, Special Ed