Become a Teacher in North Carolina

North Carolina Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary $43,200
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary $44,520
Vacation Weeks per Year 15
Pupil/Teacher Ratio 15.41
Expenditure per Pupil $8,917

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

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North Carolina Teacher Shortage Areas

  • Mathematics (Grades 6–8 and 9–12)
  • Special Education
  • Science (Grades 9–12)

Teacher Shortage information was provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listings for 2016–2017, and was determined by examining the most recent data about unfilled teaching positions; positions filled by teachers certified by irregular, provisional, temporary, or emergency certification; and teachers teaching in subject areas other than their area of preparation.

Steps for Becoming a Teacher in North Carolina

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: 11/15/2016

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of North Carolina, 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 North Carolina teaching credential application.

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Earn Your North Carolina Teaching Credential

To earn your North Carolina teaching credential you will have to complete the appropriate amount of undergraduate coursework and standardized tests, as well as an accredited certification program. If you have a valid teaching credential from another state, you may be eligible to earn your North Carolina teaching credential through interstate reciprocity. To learn more about earning your North Carolina teaching credential, visit the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Licensure Section homepage. North Carolina issues a Professional Educator’s Initial License to those with 0–2 years of experience. The Professional Educator’s Continuing License is for teachers with at least three years of experience.

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Step One: Prerequisite Coursework in North Carolina

Regardless of what state certified teachers reside in, they will need to have a bachelor’s degree at the minimum. Additionally, some states require undergraduate students to take a specified number of credit hours in predetermined areas. Contact the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) for information on coursework requirements for licensure.

Step Two: North Carolina 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. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides a directory of approved teacher preparation programs in North Carolina.  

Step Three: Required Tests for North Carolina

To become a certified teacher in North Carolina, you must complete and pass the required basic skill tests and subject area competence assessments for all desired areas of instruction.

Basic Skills Test:

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.

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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 North Carolina

Graduates from accredited colleges or universities who obtained bachelor’s degrees in an area other than education and have not earned a teaching certificate can still become teachers in the State of North Carolina by fulfilling alternative requirements. North Carolina refers to the process as “lateral entry.”

The candidate must take appropriate Praxis and Pearson tests and then teach while completing required coursework at a college or university. One of the state’s Regional Alternative Licensing Centers (RALC) can help determine what coursework is needed and perform evaluations geared to the needs of lateral entry teachers.

Alternative licensure is also available through the North Carolina Troops to Teachers program.

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Benefits of a Master’s Degree in North Carolina

Higher Pay: Annual alaries are roughly $3,000 to $5,000 higher for North Carolina teachers who possess a Master’s degree, depending on years of experience. Annual salaries are also higher for those who also obtain a National Board for Professional Teacher Standards Certification.

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Certification Reciprocity in North Carolina

Individuals with out-of-state credentials can apply for a North Carolina Professional license. Out-of-state teaching experience may also be credited to a North Carolina license. Reciprocity can vary from person to person, so the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction should be contacted in regards to specific, individual cases. To find out more about interstate reciprocity, visit the reciprocity page.

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Financial Aid in North Carolina

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North Carolina Teacher Salary and Incentives

In 2015, North Carolina ranked 42nd in the nation for the highest salary for teachers, averaging $47,819, according to the National Education Association’s Rankings of the States 2015. All public schools in North Carolina follow a salary schedule to determine the pay rate for teachers. The 2016-2017 salary schedule increases teachers’ salaries based on experience and degree level.

Pay increases with each year of experience, and those who hold advanced degrees, such as a master’s degree, are also paid higher salaries. Mentoring new teachers and becoming National Board Certified Teachers can also result in a higher salary in North Carolina.

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North Carolina Teacher Benefits and Retirement

After a period of service, teachers who have taught in the North Carolina public school system become vested in the state retirement system. Teacher retirement benefits in North Carolina are handled through the state’s Retirement Systems Division. North Carolina teachers can retire with full benefits at age 65 after 5 years of service, at age 60 after 20 years of service, or at any age after 30 years of service.

Other benefits offered to North Carolina teachers include family medical leave, state health plan coverage, extended sick leave, longevity pay, disability income, personal leave, and one to two vacation days per month, which can be accumulated if they are not used during the month they are earned. View the North Carolina public school teachers’ benefits manual for more information.

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Professional Development for North Carolina Teachers

The NCDPI provides access to a number of professional development opportunities for North Carolina public school teachers. Calendars and directories posted on the NCDPI website also enable teachers to navigate through various events, which can vary by district or even school within a given district.

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North Carolina Teaching Jobs

North Carolina teaching jobs can be located on the online application system, which is maintained by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The system enables prospective teachers to search for teaching jobs based on specialty and location and provides direct links to websites for school districts, which often list available teaching positions. To learn more about resources for North Carolina teaching jobs, visit the NCDPI Educator Effectiveness web page.

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