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Steps to Become a Georgia Teacher

If you have not yet completed an educator certification program but are considering a career as a teacher, here are some steps you should take:

Step 1: Pick a grade level

Georgia educator certificates are divided into the following grade or age groups:
  • Birth through Kindergarten;
  • Elementary Education: Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade;
  • Middle Grades: These certificates cover grades 4-8;
  • Secondary: These certificates cover grades 6-12;
  • P-12: Some certificate fields such as Art, Music, Drama, Dance, Health, PE, and Special Education allow you to teach in all grades.
If you are unsure which grade level or age group you would like to teach, you might want to try substitute teaching, volunteering at a school, or working as a Paraprofessional to get experience with students of different ages.

Step 2: Pick a subject area

  • Elementary school teachers typically teach all subjects (i.e., language arts, math, science, reading, and social studies);
  • Middle and high school teachers teach one or more specific subject areas:
    • There are 5 middle grades subject areas: Language Arts, Math, Reading, Science, & Social Science;
    • High school subjects may be more specific (for example, Geography and History rather than the broader field of Social Science)
  • There are two main Special Education fields in Georgia: General Curriculum and Adapted Curriculum.
    • General Curriculum is for those teachers who will work with students with mild disabilities;
    • Adapted Curriculum is for those teachers who will work with students with moderate to severe disabilities;
    • Some Special Education teachers deliver content in specific subject areas. These teachers are required to meet content assessment requirements in those subject areas.
  • Career, Technical, and Agricultural fields work differently from other teaching fields. For more information about how to teach these fields please visit the Career, Technical, and Agricultural Fields page.
In most cases you are not required to have a degree in a related field in order to pursue initial certification. However, you will have to meet content assessment requirements and a related degree or experience may be helpful. Once you choose a subject area, you can use the Certificate Explorer tool to view the certification requirements for that specific subject.

Step 3: Explore routes to certification

To be professionally certified, an educator must meet minimum education requirements, complete an approved or accepted educator preparation program, and complete certification assessment requirements. Future educators pursue certification either through traditional means (completing certification requirements and then seeking employment as a teacher) or alternative means (meeting minimum requirements, attaining employment as a teacher, and completing certification requirements while teaching).

  1. What is a GaPSC-approved or -accepted educator preparation program?

    To become certified, you must complete a GaPSC-approved or –accepted educator preparation program, in addition to other requirements. A qualifying program will have the following characteristics:
    • Approved by the educator certification office of the state in which the college/university is administered:
      • Programs offered by Georgia colleges/universities are approved by the GaPSC. You may search for GaPSC-approved programs here;
      • Programs offered by a college/university located in another U.S.; state must be approved by that state’s certification office. Remember that some institutions may offer online courses to Georgia residents or have satellite campuses in Georgia. However, any program you complete for certification must be approved by the state in which the institution is headquartered.
    • Approved to lead to initial certification:
      • Some advanced degrees are designed for already-certified educators. These programs do not lead to initial certification.
    • Include student teaching, field experiences, or an education practicum:
      • If you are completing a state-approved online educator preparation program while living in Georgia, you may be able to complete field experience requirements in Georgia schools. This will require a Pre-Service certificate requested by your college/university. Any field experiences in Georgia schools must be arranged by your college/university.
    • If you are completing a traditional educator preparation program in the state Georgia or completing an educator preparation program based in another state but will be completing your field experiences in Georgia, you will need to fulfill the requirements for the Induction Certificate including Special Georgia Requirements in order to become certified.
    • If you are completing an educator preparation program, including student teaching or field experiences, in another state, please see the page on Out of State Educators for more information.
  2. Traditional Pathway to Certification - Enroll in a college or university certification program now, then seek employment later:

    Initial educator certification programs fall into three categories:
    • Bachelor’s Degree Programs
      The minimum degree requirement for all Georgia professional certificates, with the exception of certain Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education fields, is a bachelor’s degree. If you do not currently hold a bachelor’s degree, you may complete a traditional educator preparation program that also leads to a bachelor’s degree. Programs like this are offered at many colleges and universities. When choosing any type of program, remember to confirm that the program selected leads to initial educator certification and is approved by the certification office in the institution’s home state.

      You can find the approved certification programs at the baccalaureate (bachelor degree) level in Georgia using the link below:


      https://www.gapsc.com/EducatorPreparation/ApprovedPrograms/EducationApprovedPrograms.aspx

    • Advanced Degree Programs (if Bachelor degree already earned)
      If you already hold a bachelor’s degree, you may want to pursue a master’s degree while you complete an educator preparation program. Most initial certification programs at this level lead to Master of Arts in Teaching degrees (MAT). In other states, these may be classified as Master of Education or a Master of Arts leading to initial licensure/certification. These programs, like those at the bachelor’s level, are offered by many colleges and universities. When choosing any type of program, remember to confirm that the program selected leads to initial educator certification and is approved by the certification office in the institution’s home state.

      It may be possible for you to teach for up to 3 years while you are completing a master’s degree program leading to certification. If you are interested in this option, please look further below at the Alternative Path to certification information.

      You can find the approved certification programs at the master degree level in Georgia using the link below:


      https://www.gapsc.com/EducatorPreparation/ApprovedPrograms/EducationApprovedPrograms.aspx

    • Certification-Only Programs (if Bachelor degree already earned)
      Another option for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree is a “certification-only” program. These programs allow a future educator to take only the coursework that is needed for certification. These programs are offered by colleges or universities, but do not lead to an additional degree (such as a master’s degree). They usually include fewer courses and requirements than a master’s degree program. When choosing any type of program, remember to confirm that the program selected leads to initial educator certification and is approved by the certification office in the institution’s home state.

      It may be possible for you to teach for up to 3 years while you are completing a certification-only program leading to certification. If you are interested in this option, please look further below at the Alternative Path to certification information.

      You can find the approved certification programs at the “certification only” level in Georgia using the link below:


      https://www.gapsc.com/EducatorPreparation/ApprovedPrograms/EducationApprovedPrograms.aspx
  3. Alternative Pathway to Certification - Qualify for a non-renewable certificate and seek employment now, then complete a certification program later:

    If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to qualify for a Provisional certificate. This is a 3-year, non-renewable certificate that allows you to teach while you complete a certification program. This certificate can only be issued once you are hired to teach in a Georgia school (referred to as a Georgia LUA - Local Unit of Administration). The minimum requirements you must meet before seeking employment are as follows:
    • A bachelor’s degree or higher. If your highest degree is a bachelor’s degree and it was earned less than 10 years prior to the date of application, you must have a minimum overall GPA of 2.5. If you do not, you may still qualify by submitting proof of acceptance into a GaPSC-accepted educator preparation program or an accredited advanced degree program;
    • Passing score on the GACE Program Admission Assessment, or exemption. GACE scores are transmitted electronically to the GaPSC, but an exemption must be documented by a copy of an official score report for an eligible exam;
    • Induction level or higher passing score on the appropriate GACE content assessment. These scores are transmitted electronically to the GaPSC. If you are seeking employment as a consultative Special Education teacher, you are not required to pass the GACE content assessment before being eligible for certification;
    • Completion of the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment - Program Entry (Test Code 350). This score is also transmitted electronically to the GaPSC.

Once you meet the above requirements, you may apply for teaching positions in Georgia schools. Use the TeachGeorgia website to find open positions and job fairs. After you are hired, your employer will request your certificate from the GaPSC.

You will have a total of three years while teaching to complete a certification program on this non-renewable, provisional certificate. During this time you can choose to complete a traditional certification-only or master degree program. Exclusively for educators working on the alternative pathway, Georgia offers alternative educator preparation programs for those who have been hired to teach in Georgia but still need to complete an educator preparation program. These programs are designed around a teacher’s schedule and include mentoring by an experienced teacher. Most of these programs are part of GaTAPP (Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy).

In order to qualify for an alternative program, you must be hired as an educator by a Georgia LUA. You must also meet all qualifications for the Provisional certificate. After meeting these requirements, you may apply for admission to the GaTAPP or another provider that works with your employing LUA. Upon completion of the program and any other certification requirements, you will be eligible to convert your Provisional certificate to an Induction or Professional certificate.