Teaching Programs in North Carolina
North Carolina is growing—and not only that, the state superintendent of schools has a stated goal to make its public schools the “best place to learn and teach by 2030.” Now is a great time to get a teaching degree in North Carolina, and the state offers several ways to acquire a teaching license: traditional, alternative, and technical.
How Can I Get a Teaching Degree in North Carolina?
Traditional Pathway to Becoming a Teacher in North Carolina
The traditional path to becoming a teacher is to decide what grade or subject you want to teach, get your bachelor’s degree in education (including completing a student teaching assignment), and then apply for a license and pass the required North Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) exams.
In North Carolina, if you’re beginning your teaching career and have fewer than three years of experience, you’ll first obtain an Initial Professional License (IPL).
Application for an IPL requires:
- An online account: Set up an account for the NCDPI Online License System.
- Official transcripts: Upload official transcripts of all post-secondary studies.
- Verification by Institution: Upload all required Verification by Institution forms.
- Licensure fees: Pay the required non-refundable/non-transferrable licensure fee with a valid credit card.
More details are available on the “Educators” tab of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) website.
Becoming a Teacher Through Alternative Certification or as a Career Switcher
If you live in North Carolina and already have a degree, but it’s not in education, and you want to teach, there’s an alternative certification path to becoming licensed to teach. You can get a Residency License, a one-year provisional license that allows a resident to take a teaching position in their field. It may be renewed twice for a total of three years.
To obtain a Residency License, you must be employed by a North Carolina school system and enrolled in an approved educator preparation program (EPP). Only the EPP, along with the hiring school system, can initiate the licensing process.
A one-year non-renewable emergency license may be available to an individual who holds a bachelor’s degree with at least 18 hours of coursework relevant to the specific subject they want to teach.
Career and Technical Education Teacher Certification in North Carolina
North Carolina offers a Career and Technical Education (CTE) License for those with knowledge and experience in vocational areas, including skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and other subjects.
A CTE Restricted License allows a candidate to obtain an Initial Professional Educator License based on work experience in seven umbrella areas with dozens of sub-topics. Education requirements vary by license, such as a bachelor’s for agriculture education, an associate for information technology education, and a high school diploma for trade and industrial fields.
Teachers Moving to North Carolina from a Different State
With the Smoky Mountains, the Outer Banks, and affordable Southern charm, North Carolina has drawn teachers from other areas who want to live and work in this beautiful state. Teachers who hold national certification are automatically granted a North Carolina teaching license.
Those who don’t have national certification may apply for a teaching license in North Carolina through the NCDPI Online Licensure System. Teachers with fewer than three years of experience should apply for an Initial Professional License (IPL). Those who have more than three years of verified teaching experience in another state may be eligible for a Continuing Professional License (CPL).
All candidates must pass the required exams; however, other states’ tests may be acceptable if North Carolina has a comparable license area and the applicant received a score that meets or exceeds the passing score recommended by the test developer.
Average Salaries and Projected Job Growth for North Carolina Teachers
Carolina has committed to improving its schools, supporting educators, and retaining/attracting teachers. Those who hold a master’s degree or a doctorate earn higher salaries, and North Carolina offers a 12% salary supplement and eight continuing education credits (CEUs) to teachers who obtain national certification.
|Career||Annual Mean Wage 2018||Projected Job Growth 2016–2026|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||$45,860||8%|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||$47,050||8%|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||$46,290||8%|
|Postsecondary Teaching||*$78,351||Growth projections vary depending on the field.|
*Averaged from all postsecondary salaries
Job growth information from O*Net.
Teacher Training Programs in North Carolina
We’ve highlighted a few universities whose teacher training programs have been approved by the state. You’ll find a complete list of approved programs on the
If you’re licensed in North Carolina and want to broaden your skills without getting a master’s degree, you might want to consider a certificate program.
The UNC at Chapel Hill is the flagship of 17 campuses that make up the University of North Carolina system. The institution offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees, as well as a variety of certificates, in B-12 education (“B” meaning “birth,” more commonly called “early childhood education“), with specializations including music education and science and teaching. The school of education also has programs for those interested in education, but not in traditional classroom work, providing a list of careers for which they can prepare you. UNC also includes a list of fully online programs, ranging from certifications through doctorates, though none of the programs are offered through the Chapel Hill campus itself. Tuition and fees for North Carolina residents are $9,018, while out-of-state residents pay $36,000.
Duke is a private university that boasts of small class sizes. They offer undergraduate education degrees and a year-long Master of Arts in Teaching, with special attention paid to cultural responsiveness and education policy. After graduation from either program, students have the opportunity to apply to live at Duke TeachHouse, a fellowship program wherein full-time teachers live and work on professional development and early career reflection together. Annual tuition for 2020 is $58,198.
Western Carolina University (WCU) is a public university in Cullowhee, North Carolina, that began as a teaching college. WCU’s School of Teaching and Learning offers undergraduate, graduate, and online programs for educators, with unique specializations like middle grades education and gifted education. Tuition for full-time, in-state undergraduate students enrolled in at least 12 hours is $3,452. Tuition for out-of-state students is $5,452. Tuition and fees for graduate students are higher.
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is an historically black college (HCBU) that offers a liberal education. The school of education encompasses departments of education and health, physical education, and sport studies, as well as a Mathematics Science Education Network initiative. Tuition and fees are $1,700.50 for in-state residents, whereas out-of-state students pay $6,824.00.
North Carolina Teacher Resources
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