Quick Overview: How to get a teaching certificate, and why you need one


Teaching is one of the most rewarding and impactful professions in the world, but it is not easy to be – or become – a teacher! The proper qualifications and credentials are required to ensure that teachers are prepared to be successful in the classroom.  

Are you considering becoming a teacher? Here is what you need to know about how to get your teaching certificate, and why you need it.   

What is a teaching certificate?  

A teaching certificate validates that you are prepared and authorized to teach. Your teaching certificate will be issued by a government body and may specify what subject areas you are allowed to teach. You are typically required to have a teaching certificate before you can be hired as a teacher. You will be required to renew your certificate throughout your career.  

The requirements to earn a certificate vary by country, and even by state within the United States. In general, you will need to earn a baccalaureate degree, complete a teacher preparation course or program, pass required exams, and pass a background check. Different schools may also have their own requirements. It is critical that you check with your local school and government to determine the exact credentials you need.  

How to get a teaching certificate?  

  1. Identify what credentials you need to earn a certificate where you plan to teach.  

Once you decide to become a teacher, the first step is to identify the type of credentials you need. If you know the country or U.S. state where you plan to teach, visit the government website to see what credentials are required for teachers. You can reach out to schools where you would like to teach to learn about their specific requirements, if any. You can also find certification requirements for each U.S. state here, but we recommend confirming on the state department of education website, too!  

If you plan to teach outside of the United States, you may be surprised to learn that a teaching certificate from a U.S. state can still benefit you! Many countries value a teaching certificate from the U.S. because of the strict requirements for teachers in U.S. public schools. A teaching certificate from the U.S. can help you earn a higher salary or find placement in a top tier international school. Download our Guide to U.S. Certification to learn more about earning a U.S. teaching certificate.  

2. Successfully complete a teacher preparation program.  

Once you know what you need, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the kind of coursework you need to earn your teaching certification. Most certification pathways require you to complete a teacher preparation program in addition to earning a baccalaureate degree or master’s degree. 

Completing a teacher preparation program ensures that you have the training and knowledge to be a teacher. It will provide you with classroom teaching experience under a mentor teacher and give you the practical skills for classroom management, student engagement, designing lesson plans, and so much more. No matter how prepared you are, you will face challenges in the classroom! A high quality, effective teacher preparation program can make a huge difference in your confidence and competence in the classroom. This is something that administrators will notice in a demo lesson, which is a typical part of the interview process to become a teacher. We offer the TEACH-NOW online teacher preparation program, which you can complete from anywhere in the world in as little as 9 months.  

3. Submit the required materials to apply for certification.  

After completing a teacher preparation program, submit your proof of completion along with the other required materials to your state or local board of education to apply for certification. You should check your state or country department of education website for specific instructions. Typically, you’ll need to submit transcripts for your baccalaureate and/or master’s degrees and proof that you have completed a teacher preparation course. You’ll also need to pass required exams and a background check. You can complete and submit these requirements from anywhere in the world! After submitting your materials, it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months to receive your certification, so plan ahead and submit your required materials as soon as possible.  

Why do you need a teaching certificate?  

If you plan to become a teacher, you will need a teaching certificate. Some schools may not require a certificate to get hired, but will prefer that teachers earn their certificate. Public schools, international school networks, and top tier schools require teachers to have a teaching certificate, ensuring that they are providing the best quality teachers for their students. If you plan to teach outside of the United States, a teaching certificate from a U.S. state can give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs, and may also qualify you for a higher salary.  

Are you interested in earning your teaching certification? You can complete the TEACH-NOW online teacher preparation program in as little as 9 months, qualifying you to apply for a U.S. certification from anywhere in the world.

Learn more about our teacher certification program and master’s in education programs.

Where are you on your path to teacher certification?

Whether you are pursuing a teaching license in the United States or internationally, we can help. Explore our flagship online teacher certification preparation program to get you prepared to apply for a U.S. state teaching license in as fast as 12 months.


To issue a formal teaching qualification, most countries require a baccalaureate degree, a teacher preparation program, demonstration of subject knowledge, and a clinical teaching experience.

Baccalaureate Degree

Teacher Preparation Program

Subject Knowledge

Clinical Practice

Teacher Certification

online teaching preparation programs in the united states

United States

There are 51 states (including the District of Columbia) the offer teaching creditials in the United States. TEACH-NOW Teacher Preparation Certificate Program is approved in three states: DC, AZ and WV.

51 States Have Specific
Certification Requirements

Accredited Approved Certificate
Preparation Provider in
DC, AZ, and WV

Teacher Certification
in 3 States

Reciprocity Agreements Among
Most States + Recognition by
Most Countries

Additional Reading