For starters, as laid out by New York’s Office of Higher Education, anyone who wants to become a teacher in New York needs to have successfully earned their undergraduate degree, completed a teacher preparation program and have achieved passing scores on whichever Praxis exam fits their desired teaching trajectory.
This does not mean, however, that teaching has to have always been your lifelong ambition. There are many paths and opportunities for teaching in New York, whether it be a lifelong pursuit, a career pivot, or a professional trial, there are opportunities for everyone to start a teaching career.
The Office of Teaching Initiatives issues over 100,000 licenses each year to teachers. New York being one of the most populous states and a hub for educational innovation and, some may argue, excellence, there exist many paths and opportunities for teaching. The key is finding which path is suitable for your background and aspirations.
Process for obtaining your New York Teacher Certification
That being said, while there are different routes to getting there, there is a general process for certification in New York.
First you obtain your initial license which allows you to teach in a classroom and is valid for five years and gain experience as a teacher before you apply for your professional certificate.
The professional certificate is the advanced level certificate for classroom teachers and is issued in a specific subject and grade level so you can legally teach whichever subject your heart desires (ahem, if you’re an expert in it).
Other certificates also exist.
Internship certificates are issued to a student in a teacher training program and are valid for 2 years, giving the candidate the ability to get first hand classroom experience while they study.
The supplemental certificate is issued to teachers if there is a teacher shortage in a certain area, then a classroom teacher can apply so that can teach in the subject area where the shortage exists.
Transitional A, B, C, and G certificates are issued to teachers looking to teach in a New York State public school classroom who are coming from Alternative Teacher Preparation Programs. This includes: New York City Teaching Fellows, Pathways to PE, New York City Teaching Collaborative, TFA, New Visions for Public Schools, Teaching Residents at Teachers College, Peace Corps Fellow Programs. But more on alternative teacher preparation programs a bit later.
If you have a bachelor’s degree, but in something other than education or teaching
The most clean-cut path to teacher-dome would be to first earn your bachelor’s degree from an approved teacher preparation program, or a New York State Higher Education institute. If you are doing this in another state, make sure the program holds a reciprocity agreement with New York State before enrolling -- you don’t want to be geographically limited when the time comes to relocate.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in education or teaching
Many students who decide they want to teach already have a bachelor’s degree in education. The next step for these candidates will be to enroll in a New York state approved preparation program to acquire the initial certification. These programs typically include an internship in a K-12 school. The next step would be to achieve passing scores on the NY state Praxis exam.
If you are a candidate who was educated outside of the United States, you would apply directly to the state education department, with the qualification that you have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of a 2.5 GPA, have completed the semester- hour course requirements in the subject for which you are seeking certification, and have passed all of the New York State required examinations. You would specifically apply through the NYSED office of teaching initiatives.
If you are a certified New York teacher who wants to become certified in another subject
Then you would go straight to applying for a certificate in that subject after completing the semester hour requirements and the specific Praxis exam for that area. If you are in a situation where you are applying to a teacher preparation program, here are the approved teacher training programs in New York State. Before you can apply for any certification you will need to pass the Praxis exam for your subject area. Here are the score cut off for New York State.
Alternate Routes to Teacher Certification in New York
New York Teaching Fellows
A training program that builds successful teachers out of students straight out of undergraduate school, or for those looking to make a career change at a later stage in life. The fellows program curriculum teaches students to create motivational and inspiring lessons, and includes training in live student settings. Once initial training is complete the fellows work to place you in underserved New York City public school programs. Fellows typically teach in high-need subjects such as English, Special Education and Math. Additionally, after the training is done and students work full time, they will still partake in 2 to 3 years of coursework to hone their craft and complete a masters degree in their chosen subject. This program is an amazing opportunity to create a schedule and meet goals that suit your career objectives
Pathway to PE
Is a relatively young program with the goal of accelerating and improving the nation’s public school PE departments to make health and wellness a top priority of students. Healthy living support an overall better engaged and motivated student. Through the program you get to learn alongside current PE teachers as they conduct class where you will learn the best methods to conducting lessons and influencing children to conduct an overall healthy lifestyle. All participants must have graduated from college with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.
The New York City Teaching Collaborative
More similar to an internship program than a classroom-learning opportunity. Through the program you apprentice with NYC public school teachers and gain hands on experience in public school classrooms. Students are matched with “collaborative coaches” to get training on key strategies. Participants also receive a stipend before committing to a full-time teaching roll.
New Visions for Public Schools
Provides scholarships to students for undergraduate study who are looking to participate in teaching. They provide up to 20 grand to students graduating from their New Visions schools.
Teaching Residents At Teachers College
This intensive, alternative New York teacher preparation program requires full-time study. The program incorporates both classroom and hands-on experience and includes a broad curriculum on neighborhoods and communities. This program has a strong sense of social justice with the primary objective of training secondary level teachers in high- need subject which include: teaching english to speakers of other languages, teaching students with disabilities, and science education.
Peace Corps Fellow Program
The Peace Corps Fellow Program is through Teachers College at Columbia University, that supports returned Peace Corps volunteers to help them become NYC public school teachers with a degree from Teachers College.