How to Teach in Louisiana
Becoming able to teach in Louisiana is quite a journey, but that doesn’t mean you have to walk into it blind. There are quite a few steps you need to keep in mind depending on your professional and academic background. We’ve got you covered with all the details you need to know to keep you from getting swamped by the process.
There are a lot of variables at play when it comes to obtaining a teaching certificate in Louisiana. What if you’re coming from out of state, didn’t get your BA in education, or don’t have a BA at all? What can you expect from Louisiana teaching salaries, and what if you already have a master’s degree? Below you’ll find us tackling all of the big issues you need to know to teach in Louisiana and more!
Teaching in Louisiana: The big picture
Before we get too gung-ho into the nuts and bolts of Louisiana teacher certification, it helps to take a step back and get a holistic look at what type of endeavor you’re about to take on. After all, choosing to become an educator is no trifle, and you are quite literally taking the academic future of our nation, or at least the state of Louisiana, in your hands. No pressure!
The good news is, Louisiana has a variety of pathways towards a Louisiana teaching certificate mapped out for you to get on board with their growing education field and myriad of schools to find work in. Whether you’re coming from a heavy education-focused background already or if helping instruct young minds is your newest passion, you have options!
In general, the pathway to a Louisiana teaching certificate can be broken down into two categories: Traditional and Alternative. Which route you go with will inevitably depend on how you went about your undergraduate career, and each route can be further broken down as you get into it.
Traditional path to teaching in Louisiana
The traditional route for obtaining a teaching certificate in Louisiana is based on you having already done your undergraduate degree in education or a related field. These degree programs typically feature general education courses, 180 hours of on-site training and teaching practice, and a semester doing student teaching or an internship. It’s basically a teacher preparation program wrapped up in your undergrad degree. Ideally, you’ll have wanted to complete this degree in a university in Louisiana to expedite and simplify the process towards your Louisiana teacher certification, but if you did it out of state there are ways to transfer the credentials (as outlined below).
Alternative paths to teaching in Louisiana
Not everyone who wants to become or ends up becoming a teacher gets their Louisiana teaching certificate via their undergrad degree in education. People from all sorts of undergrad disciplines eventually opt to become educators; and, in order to have done that, went the alternative route to get their teacher certification for Louisiana.
The alternative route is for those of us who got our BA or BS in something other than education and are therefore lacking the education courses and requirements ideal for getting a Louisiana teacher certification. The alternative is to opt for one of three programs to make up the gap. The three options are: earning a master’s degree, completing a certification only program, or doing a practitioner teacher program. We’ll discuss each of these in detail later on!
The two pathways mentioned above both end with the same goal: obtaining a Louisiana teaching certificate. However, even after obtaining a teacher certification in Louisiana, there’s still something of a variety that comes with your certification because Louisiana approaches its teaching certificates on a tier basis.
Upon completing all the requirements, whether via the traditional or alternative route, you’ll receive a Level 1 Professional Certificate, and from that point there’s upward mobilization to a Level 2 Professional Certificate and a Level 3 Professional Certificate. Progressing from one level to the next is usually dependent on how long you stick with your area of expertise as well as passing required assessments.
Your Level 1 Professional Certificate is valid for 3 years, and, as previously mentioned, is the standard certificate issued when licensed to become a teacher. When you’re ready to make the jump from a Level 1 to a Level 2 Professional Certificate, you’re going to need to pass the Louisiana Teacher Assistance and Assessment Program after completing 3 years of teaching in the area of your expertise.
Finally, when you’re ready to make the big leap to the Level 3 Professional Certificate, you just need to grab a master’s degree (easy right?!), complete 5 years teaching in your area, and pass the Louisiana Teacher Assistance and Assessment Program. If you meet the requirements ahead of time, you can also make the jump from Level 1 straight to Level 3! Each of the levels offer potential for additional perks and benefits to the teacher holding them, in addition to having specific renewal criteria that can be reviewed on the Teach Louisiana portal.
Outside of the standard tiered variations of the Louisiana teaching certificate, the only other type of certificate you may encounter or desire in your journey to teach in Louisiana is an Out-Of-State Certificate. This certificate is also valid for three years, and, as you might expect, it is simply the certificate given to a teacher coming from another state having already completed an accredited program and is therefore able to waive the student teaching requirement.
The Louisiana teaching climate
So let’s say you decide to go for it and get a teaching certificate for Louisiana. Then what? Well, you get a job! But that’s the key, right? We’ve got to make sure there are jobs waiting for us on the other side of the certification tunnel.
Luckily, the forecast looks good for educators in Louisiana, and if you decide to get your teaching certificate in Louisiana, odds are you’ll be able to find employment easily enough.
For starters, there’s a wide range of categories you could fall into by teaching in Louisiana. Granted, this category will likely be decided for you beforehand based on what you chose to do. Some of the types of teachers you’ll find commonly employed in Louisiana include: Preschool teachers, Kindergarten teachers, Elementary School teachers, Middle School teachers, Secondary (High) School teachers, Special Education teachers, and Career and Technical teachers (usually only found in Middle and Secondary Schools).
The state of Louisiana employs tens of thousands of teachers each year, and the outlook is good with rising employment trends over the last 10 years. When examining the numbers of the three broadest categories of teachers, meaning elementary, middle, and high school, the elementary school segment appears to be faring the best. It has the highest number of employees at over 23,000, as well as the highest concentration of jobs in terms of geographical area. High school teachers come in second when measured by the same statistics, followed by middle school teachers.
Not only do the conditions look favorable for those thinking about getting a Louisiana teacher certification, but the perks continue even after employment. This is especially true in light of recent legislation that has shifted the basis of teacher salaries from being based on seniority to being based more on performance, experience, and how in demand your role is. In other words, not only can you find employment in Louisiana as a teacher easily enough, but if you do it well, you may find it paying off sooner than expected.
The path to Louisiana teaching certification
At some point, you’ve got to commit to the journey of becoming a teacher in Louisiana. The road is a little different for everyone depending on a variety of factors, so we’ll try to pinpoint the process from as many different angles as we can to make it a bit easier for you. The process for getting your Louisiana teacher certification changes based on what you did for you undergraduate degree, where you’re coming from, and what you want to teach. However, the process will inevitably involve 1) a bachelor’s degree, 2) a teacher preparation program, and 3) required exams.
I have a bachelor’s degree in education and teaching
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in education and teaching, congrats, your route is the easiest. You still have to meet the same requirements as everyone else, but the good news is that a lot of it is wrapped up in your degree program from your undergrad. The process in full looks a bit like this:
- Find and enroll in an undergrad BA program in education
- Before starting the specific education portion of your degree, you’ll take the PRAXIS exam and choose a specialization.
- Complete your Bachelor’s degree in education with the required 180 hours of field experience and a semester teaching or doing an internship with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
- Request certification on the Teach Louisiana online portal and remember the following documents: a verification of your bachelor’s degree, verification that you completed the teacher’s preparation program, a certification of recommendation from the head of the program, verification that you passed the Praxis exams, and a completed certification application (also found on the Teach Louisiana website).
Odds are, if you have already gotten your education degree, many of these steps were streamlined, which is why this is easily the most recommended route in terms of simplicity if you’re aiming to get your Louisiana teaching certification.
Just follow the action plan above, and once you have your certification it’s time to start applying and nailing down some interviews!
I have a bachelor’s degree in something other than education
It’s not uncommon to go the education route a little late in the game, and many current teachers do great at their job even though they might not have devoted their undergrad to studying something like middle school math education. The process for you is a little less nicely bundled than the above situation, but still fairly doable.
To teach in Louisiana without a bachelor’s in education requires you to get your certification via the alternative route, and you have three options under this route: Practitioner Teacher Program, a Certification-Only Program, or a master’s degree program. Each of these are outlined in more detail below, but in general, your route to a teaching certificate in Louisiana without a bachelor’s degree in education looks like this:
- Complete your non-education BA with a GPA of at least a 2.50.
- Take the required Praxis exams for admission into an alternative program (in this case it’ll be the Pre-professional Basic Skills Test and the content-specific Praxis exam for the specific area you want your certification in).
- Enroll in and complete the alternative program of your choice, including logging the required number of field work hours and internship work.
- Submit your application for a Louisiana teaching certificate via the Teach Louisiana online portal and include the following documents: verification of your bachelor’s degree, verification that you completed your alternative certification program (including certification from the head of the program), verification of passing Praxis exam scores, and the completed certification application.
Once you have the certification in hand, then you have all the credentials you need to start applying for jobs to teach in Louisiana. Good luck!
I am not from the U.S. but want to teach in Louisiana
Louisiana can be a pretty stellar place to live and work, so it’s not unheard of to want to teach in Louisiana even if you’re coming from another country. This somewhat complicates your route to a Louisiana teacher certification, but in general it will look something like this.
For starters, Louisiana does not evaluate nor accredit foreign teaching credentials, so you’ll have to go through another governing body for that, as outlined in the second point below. This governing body will deem whether or not your foreign credential is up to standards for a Louisiana teaching certification.
It’s assumed you have the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in education from your country. If you don’t, then your first step would be to get one, or you could opt to simplify the process by getting your BA in Education in Louisiana.
First, you’ll need to submit your current credentials to a regionally accredited institution found here, or submit your credentials to the World Education Services for evaluation.
Applications for the World Education Services can be found here, and must be sent to Bowling Green Station P.O. Box 5087 New York, NY 10274
If you’re foreign credentials are approved, then you’ll follow the same route for an Out-of-State Louisiana teacher certification application. The application can be found on the Teach Louisiana online portal.
Your application will have to include the following: The Out-of-State application completed in full, official transcripts, copy of your foreign teaching certificate (approved by a governing body), Teacher Preparation/Certification status form completed by the director of the certification program you completed, verification of your previous school experience, professional conduct form, and original Praxis/NTE exam scores.
Note: If you have at least 3 years of teaching experience outside of Louisiana and commit to at least one year of teaching in Louisiana, you can be exempted from the Praxis requirements!
Putting your credentials at the mercy of another body to evaluate and approve your qualifications can be a bit unnerving. But if it works out, you’re practically set and will be considered the same as any other licensed teacher in Louisiana, only with an added ounce of global awareness to enrich your classroom with. Once you’ve locked down your certification, then it’s time to start applying for jobs!
I am already a teacher but in a state other Louisiana
Moving across state lines isn’t uncommon. However, given the fact that education departments are always different depending on the state, it can be a bit of a headache when teachers decide to relocate. Thankfully, getting your Louisiana teaching certificate isn’t too hard if you’re coming from another state. In fact, you’ll follow a lot of the same steps outlined above for foreign applicants, only with less emphasis on getting equivalent credentials approved.
Take the Praxis exam if applicable (see below), or acquire a letter of eligibility for your out of state credentials in order to be exempt from the Praxis exams.
Afterwards, you’ll want to read and fill out Louisiana’s Out-of-State application found here on the Teach Louisiana website.
The application offers two options: a straight Level 1 Professional Certificate or an Out-of-State Certificate. The difference between the two simply comes down to whether or not you take the Praxis exam or forego it by giving a letter of eligibility confirming your certificate and areas of specialty in your former state. Submit the above application, and be sure to include all of the following: the Out-of-State application, official transcripts, copy of current teaching certificate, Teacher Preparation/Certification Status form, School experience verification form, Professional Conduct form, and Praxis scores (if applicable).
After submitting the above form and required material to on the Teach Louisiana online portal, you’ll receive your Louisiana teacher certification, be able to apply for jobs, and be teaching in Louisiana in no time!
I am already a teacher in Louisiana but want to teach another subject
So let’s say you’ve been rocking that elementary school math teacher life for years on end now, and even though it's been fun, you’re ready for a change of scenery. What do you have to do to change subjects to, let’s say, English or history, and where do you even start? Well, thankfully, it’s pretty straightforward in Louisiana thanks to its Praxis exams.
If you’re already a teacher in Louisiana then you already have the necessary certification via the teacher preparation process we outlined below. This certification allows you to be educating in the classroom and instructing on the subject you geared your original Praxis exams towards. To make a transition to a new subject, all you have to do is take the appropriate Praxis exam to be certified for your new specialty, be it middle school mathematics or high school Spanish. The list of exams necessary to be qualified for your new context can be found on the Louisiana Praxis exam website here!
Types of Louisiana teacher training programs
If there’s one thing you’ve probably gleaned up to this point, it’s that your teachers prep program is the crux of getting your license to teach in Louisiana. We already mentioned that you have the traditional and alternative route as your options for getting your teaching certification in Louisiana, as well as even more flexibility within the alternative routes. Now, we’ll look at some of the specific options available to you in terms of traditional programs, online programs, and some specific alternative programs.
Approved traditional teacher training programs
While the specifics of each course will vary, in general, you’ll probably follow a path like the following:
- Apply to and be accepted by a Louisiana university for an undergrad degree.
- Complete core freshman classes as outlined in the curriculum with the appropriate GPA (usually a 2.5 or higher).
- Select the specialization of your choice (like middle school or elementary school education), and apply for the program via the School of Education in your university.
From that point, you basically navigate your field work, internship, and Praxis prep and exams through your university’s program, and, once you graduate, you’ll be primed and ready to work as a teacher in Louisiana.
Louisiana provides a whole host of education programs via universities and colleges, and the specifics of each program can be found by accessing the websites of the schools listed below:
- Centenary College
- Grambling State University
- Louisiana College
- Louisiana State University
- Louisiana State University Alexandria
- Louisiana State University Shreveport
- Louisiana Tech University
- Loyola University
- McNeese State University
- Nicholls State University
- Northwestern State University
- Relay Graduate School of Education
- Southeastern Louisiana University
- Southern University Baton Rouge
- Southern University New Orleans
- University of the Holy Cross
- University of Louisiana Lafayette
- University of Louisiana Monroe
- University of New Orleans
- Xavier University of Louisiana
Approved online teacher training programs
Louisiana only offers a handful of online training programs, and most of these programs are structured after one of the alternative pathways that will also be listed in the next section.
Approved alternative teacher training programs
Outside of the traditional university BA approach to getting your teacher’s certification in Louisiana, you can also opt for alternative routes to get your license. In the state of Louisiana, you have three different options within the alternative route to a Louisiana teaching certification: a practitioner teacher program, a certification-only program, and a master’s degree program. There may be some slight variation in how individual providers go about offering each of these options and their requirements, but in general, you’ll find the following:
Practitioner teacher certification programs This route is ideal for people who got their bachelor’s degree in something other than education and want to go full time to get their teacher’s certification in Louisiana as fast as possible. This route usually combines intense coursework with full time teaching and offers certification in practically every specialty imaginable. This route is provided by both private enterprises as well as public universities and colleges, so you’ll have some leeway in terms of learning environment.
To get into a Practitioner Teacher Certification program, you’ll need an undergrad gpa of at least a 2.50, to pass the Praxis Pre-Professional exam (or just use your SAT or ACT scores), and to pass the Praxis II content specific exam.
Certification-only exam Certification-only programs are usually for the more time constrained who don’t have the resources to dedicate to a practitioner or master’s program. They tend to be more flexible and can come through public universities or private providers. You’ll need a 2.5 or higher in your undergrad GPA to qualify, as well as pass the Praxis Pre-Professional Exam (or use SAT/ACT scores) as well as pass the subject specific Praxis exam.
Master’s degree The master’s degree is for those who are going all out, pursuing a master’s degree, and want to be awarded a certification in the process. People are often employed at a school while pursuing this option, and, should you complete it, you’ll automatically be awarded the highest Level 3 Louisiana teacher certification.
The approved Louisiana options for Alternative Certification Routes are as follows:
- Centenary College-Master’s Degree Program
- iTeach Louisiana-Certification Only Program
- Louisiana College-Practitioner, Certification Only Program
- Louisiana State University-Master’s Degree, Certification Only Program
- Louisiana State University Alexandria-Certification Only Program
- Louisiana State University Shreveport –Certification Only Program
- Louisiana Tech University-Master’s Degree Program
- LRCE Teach-Practitioner Teacher Program Only
- Northwestern State University-Practitioner
- Relay Graduate School of Education-Practitioner Teacher Program
- Southern University Baton Rouge-Certification only Program
- Southern University New Orleans-Certification Only Program
- Southeastern Louisiana University-Master’s Degree
- St. Bernard Parish-Practitioner Teacher Program
- TNTP Academy-Practitioner Teacher Program
- Tulane University-Certification Only Program
- University of the Holy Cross-Certification Only Program
- University of Louisiana at Lafayette-Certification Only Program
- University of Louisiana Monroe-Master’s Degree
- University of New Orleans-Master’s Degree
- Xavier University new Orleans-Master’s Degree
Test time Now that we’ve seen the ins and outs of the different certification routes and program types offered to get you teaching in Louisiana, it’s time to talk about the hidden beast that’s been rearing its head this whole article: the Praxis exam.
The Praxis exam is the pivotal state exam necessary for you to gain your teaching certificate in Louisiana. There are a couple of variations of the Praxis exam, and which ones you take will depend on what exactly you’re trying to teach as well as any previous academic experience.
The first Praxis you may encounter is the Pre-Professional Skills Test, which measures your reading, writing, and mathematical skills in order to ensure you’re up to par to enroll in a teacher prep program. You’ll need a 175 to pass each section; however, if you’ve taken the SAT or ACT you can use these scores instead of taking the Pre-Professional Praxis.
After that, all educators in Louisiana must take the Core Academic Skills for Educators to ensure they’ve got a general understanding in basic content areas necessary to teach in a school. This test covers reading, writing, and mathematics, and requires a 156 in reading, a 162 in writing, and a 150 in mathematics to pass and qualify.
Once these tests are out of the way, you’ll take a final Praxis test to measure your competence in your specific area of instruction. So a middle school math teacher would take a different specific area test than a high school Russian teacher. In general, there’s a different test for each subject; however, there are some specific tests for different grade brackets as well.
For instance, everyone will also take the Principles of Learning and Teaching exam, but it will be different based on whether you’re teaching PK-3, Elementary 1-5, Middle School 5-9, or Secondary 7-12. These tests require a 157-160 to pass, and then afterwards you’ll have to pass your specific subject test to complete your exam qualifications, which can be reviewed on the Praxis website here!
As you can see, there’s a wealth of information to familiarize yourself with before you decide to teach in Louisiana, but that’s a good thing! You’ve decided to undergo a noble and important task, and getting your ducks in a row now will better prepare you to really make a difference as you educate young minds. Providing our younger generations with a quality education is more important now than ever before, and if you’re up for the task, Louisiana could be a prime fit for you.
So start perusing the programs and the process outlined above, study for those Praxis exams, and get ready for the ride of your life. However, in all reality this is just the beginning of the educational adventure you’re about to embark on. Bon voyage!
- (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.louisianabelieves.com/
- Louisiana Department of Education. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.teachlouisiana.net/Teachers.aspx?PageID=650
- Louisiana Test Requirements. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.ets.org/praxis/la/requirements