Become a Teacher in Kentucky

Kentucky Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary:$51,920
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary:$53,930 0
Vacation Weeks per Year:15
Pupil/Teacher Ratio:1:23
Expenditure per Pupil:$9,312

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

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Kentucky Teacher Shortage Areas

A teacher shortage occurs when there are not enough teachers in key subject areas, which has been partly caused by years of teacher layoffs during the Great Recession, a growing student population and fewer people entering teacher preparation programs, according to the Learning Policy Institute.

The following is a list of teacher shortage areas in Kentucky for the 2016-17 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. (see page 62)

  • Early Childhood Education
  • English and Communications
  • English as a Second Language
  • Exceptional Children Emotional–Behavior Disability
  • Moderate and Severe Disability
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Hearing Impaired
  • Learning Behavior Disability
  • Visually Impaired
  • Foreign Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Science

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Kentucky

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 11/1/2016

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of Kentucky, teaching candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
  • Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.
  • Step Three: Pass required exams.
  • Step Four: Submit a Kentucky teaching credential application.

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your Kentucky Teaching Credential

To earn your Kentucky teaching credential you will have to complete required undergraduate coursework and standardized tests, as well as an accredited certification program.

Kentucky issues three levels of certification:

  • Rank III is the provisional certificate issued to new teachers with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Rank II requires completing a master’s degree or at least 32 semester hours of graduate credit.
  • Rank I requires 60 semesters of graduate credit, which may include a  master’s degree.

Teachers must also be certified for the grade level and/or subject areas in which they plan to teach. Learn more about certification through the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board.  

Learn more about getting your teaching credential at

Step One: Prerequisite Coursework in Kentucky

All states require at least a bachelor’s degree to teach. Certification to teach elementary school (grades 1-6) requires coursework in all subject areas taught in elementary school.

Kentucky requires that middle school (grades 5-9) teachers have a major in either English, math, social studies, or science, with a major being equivalent to 30 semester hours of coursework. secondary school (grades 8-12) teachers are required to have a 30 credit hour major in their desired area of study.

Kentucky also requires a period of supervised student teaching. Specialty subject areas such as music and art may have additional specific requirements. Contact the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board for more information. 

Step Two: Kentucky Teacher Certification Programs

Teacher certification programs can be taken online or on-site. They typically include an educational theory and classroom skills seminar and a fieldwork component of student teaching in the area. A list of accredited teacher preparation programs in Kentucky can be found on Kentucky’s Education Professional Standards Board webpage.

Step Three: Required Tests for Kentucky

Most states require tests to show competency in basic skills as well as in the desired subject area. Kentucky uses the PPST (Pre Professional Skills Test) for basic skills (required for entry into some teacher preparation programs), and both the Praxis II: Subject Tests and Praxis II PLT (Principles of Learning and Teaching) test for subject area competence.

You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting the Praxis information page provided by Teachers Test Prep, where you can also access free online Praxis Practice Tests and Praxis Study Guides, plus a variety of paid Praxis Test Prep options for those who need additional help, including live prep classes, one-on-one tutoring, and on-demand online prep.

Read more about teacher certification tests on

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Featured Online Programs

Explore your career options in education:

Boost your credentials: in this 8-week online course, you'll engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective and engaging teaching methods in the higher education context. Refine your own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy and set yourself apart as effective educator.

BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons is the highly respected Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program delivered online from Simmons College. The program prepares students for leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.

Counseling@NYU offers an online master of arts in Counseling and Guidance program, with concentrations in school and bilingual school counseling to prepare students to become collaborative leaders elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. Part-time and full-time options are available to fit student schedules.

Vanderbilt University's Peabody College offers an online Master of Education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling for students interested in becoming school counselors and making a meaningful difference in K–12 settings.

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT) is for aspiring teachers who want to gain the skills and knowledge they need to become great educators.

The online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.

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Alternative Teacher Certification in Kentucky

Kentucky offers 8 different options for alternative teacher certification, including special options for career professionals, experienced academics, and veterans.

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Benefits of a Master's Degree in Kentucky

It is no longer enough to only have years of experience teaching. After No Child Left Behind and other academic quantification measures,  teachers are almost solely evaluated on their success in the classroom. A master’s degree in the field of education provides more educational theory and classroom skills, as well as more hands-on student teaching experience with a mentor.

After a master’s program, you may be able to achieve better results in the classroom and have more job security and higher pay. In Jefferson County Public Schools, which encompasses Louisville, teachers holding a master’s degree can expect to earn around $5,400 more annually than teachers who lack the advanced degree, according to a 2016 salary schedule provided by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Learn more about the benefits of a Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education on

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Certification Reciprocity in Kentucky

Interstate reciprocity is a program that allows teachers certified in one state to teach in another state. To find out which other state teaching licenses can be used in Kentucky, visit the reciprocity page. Or, for more information click on the Kentucky Department of Education’s Professional Development page.

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Financial Aid in Kentucky

Kentucky residents are eligible for the Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship as well as the TEACH Grant, a grant which gives financial aid to students in return for an agreement to teach in a high-need school.

Learn more about how to finance your master's degree on

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Kentucky Teacher Salary and Incentives

In Kentucky, teachers earned an average of $50,326 in 2012-13, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Salary in Kentucky varies by district. For district-specific information, check out the Certified & Classified Staff Data Reports from the Kentucky Department of Education. Learn more about

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Kentucky Teacher Benefits and Retirement

Kentucky teachers become vested in the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System after a minimum of five years of service. Additional benefits Kentucky teachers receive include health care coverage, annual and sick leave and vacation days.

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Professional Development for Teachers in Kentucky

The Educational Professional Standards Board is responsible for managing certification renewal and teacher assessment.  Kentucky requires at least four days of each school term to be used as Professional Development days. Kentucky’s Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) involves monitoring and performance assessment of first-year teachers to ensure that they are making progress in teaching to state standards.

To advance from one certification rank to the next, teachers are required to complete either a certain number of graduate credits or the Continuing Education Option (CEO), an independent study plan that teachers create based on the needs of their schools or districts.

See the Kentucky Department of Education’s Professional Development page for more information.

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Kentucky Teaching Jobs

The Kentucky Educator Placement Service (KEPS) runs a simple job search engine that allows teachers and administrators to search for job postings. There is an advanced search function that lets users search by grade level, region and subject.

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