Have Degree Will Travel. Teaching Reciprocity

We live in a mobile society. At the drop of a hat, we can travel distances that took our great-grandparents months to traverse. If we can pack up and move so easily, it seems natural to suppose that our teaching credentials can too. But, like any good teacher will attest, it’s always a good idea to do your homework. In this case, that means researching what the actual teaching license reciprocity requirements are in the new state you want to call home.

What is teaching license reciprocity?

In an ideal world, teaching license reciprocity would mean actual teaching reciprocity. That is, if you hold a teaching licence in a state that had reciprocity with another state, you would automatically be licensed to teach in that other state. Unfortunately for teachers, teacher licensure reciprocity is rarely, if ever, quite that easy.

What teacher reciprocity usually means, according to the Education Commission of the States (ECS), is that teachers who happen to be in possession of an out-of-state license can apply for licensure in the new state. Actually, receiving the license depends on whether or not the teacher meets state-specific qualifications, and may require the teacher to work to meet those requirements.

Why does teaching reciprocity exist?

Teacher shortages, for whatever reason, have become a trend in recent years. These shortages are sometimes confined to specific areas, but are a problem nonetheless. Reciprocity is just one of the strategies that have been advocated to address this problem, by groups such as the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) as far back as 2001, and as recently as 2016 by the Learning Policy Institute.The theory is that such reciprocity pathways to licensure can both facilitate mobility to areas that are in need of more teachers, as well as keep qualified teachers in the teaching pool when they do have to relocate.

What is the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement & Interstate Reciprocity Agreement?

NASDTEC stands for National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification. The NASDTEC Interstate Agreement & Interstate Reciprocity Agreement sounds almost as good as that phrase “teacher license reciprocity”. However, in actuality, the NASDTEC Reciprocity Agreement lacks the oomph its name implies.

The NASDTEC website is very clear on what this teaching reciprocity agreement is and is not.

It is an agreement between states regarding teacher certification reciprocity, but it is less about blanket reciprocity between states and more about laying out acceptable credentials and terms of acceptance.

It is not an automatic guarantee of acceptance by what the NASDTEC calls the “receiving state”, nor of “full” reciprocity. A state that does not have in place full reciprocity means that applicants for licensure in that state will have to fulfill conditions in order to become licensed, or within a specific time period. Even states that do offer what is considered full reciprocity still have some basic rules in place.

Additionally, the “reciprocity” doesn’t necessarily go both ways. The example the NASDTEC gives is that just because Georgia, for instance, may accept licensure from another specific state does not mean at all that that other state will accept Georgia credentials. Or, for instance, what is required under California teaching credential reciprocity, other states that signed the same agreement may not accept for their own reciprocity qualifications.

Incidentally, the NASDTEC agreement has been signed by 46 states, the District of Columbia, the DODEA (Department of Defense Education Activity), and Guam. Four states: New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, are not members of this agreement. However, just because they are not part of the interstate agreement does not mean that these states do not have out-of-state pathways. In fact, each of these four states have out-of-state methods, and they are not necessarily more rigorous than that of some states whose signatures appear on the NASDTEC agreement.

What is National Certification?

National Certification is again one of those names that sounds like it means one thing but really means something quite different. National Certification is not some sort of accreditation that makes you eligible to teach in any state. That is not to say that achieving National Certification is not a worthy goal; it just means that it does not refer to one standard teaching license that is easily obtainable and substitutes for individual state licensure.

What National Certification usually refers to is National Board Certification (Board Certification), administered through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Board Certification requires a teacher to submit to what may be more vigorous requirements in order to demonstrate teaching expertise.

Board Certification does have some relevance to reciprocity, however. Because it is so highly respected, many states not only offer perks to encourage in-state certification, but for out-of-state applicants, possessing Board Certification may expedite the application process for state licensing, or allow the holder to skip licensing levels.

What is the process for teachers who are currently teaching outside of the United States?

Many states require teachers who are licensed or trained in a foreign country to submit to an evaluation of their credentials by an approved credential evaluation agency.

Teaching reciprocity by state

Teaching certificate reciprocity varies from state to state. In virtually no state will an out-of-state license automatically be valid based on the reciprocity agreement. Even in states that offer what is considered to be “full” reciprocity require, at the very least, that out-of-state teachers submit an application and relevant forms in order to become licensed in-state.

Many states offer different levels of licensing as well as temporary or provisional licenses. Out-of-state applicants may qualify for basic or initial licensure but eventually have to complete the more vigorous requirements of a standard or higher level certificate, just like any other in-state candidate.

A helpful compendium has been compiled below summarizing the requirements of teaching license reciprocity by state. This teacher reciprocity chart, however, should only be used as a quick reference tool. Under no circumstances should you rely on it for actual out-of-state teaching credential reciprocity requirements.

This is for two reasons:.

First, it is beyond the scope of this article to give a comprehensive guide to the ins and outs of the processes in each of the 50 states. Your individual background training, experience, and credentials will more often than not be the deciding factor in what each state requires of you under reciprocity pathways.

And second, things change. What is true and accurate today may not be tomorrow. State legislatures and policy makers are constantly updating their laws, guidelines, and processes in response to lobbying, changing circumstances, or simply new information.

Unless otherwise indicated, all information is sourced from the official corresponding state educational agency, the NASDTEC, and the ECS.

Teaching Recipriocity Education/Experience Requirements

State Education Teacher Testing Requirements Does the State Offer Temporary/Inital license? Are There Other Requirements?
Alabama A bachelor’s degree is required from a regionally accredited institution Testing requirements vary and are based on the results of the Educator Certification Section. Tests include the Alabama prescribed Praxis II. Applicants may also have to verify that they have taken a content knowledge test in the state in which the original license was issued. Alabama has different classes of certificate based on degree levels. Teachers will also need to complete all forms, pay a non-refundable application fee, and submit to a background clearance check.
Alaska No such requirements are listed for the initial license, but in order to receive an extension or to progress from initial licensure to professional, you will not only need to provide a record of your transcripts from a regionally accredited institution, but you will also need to have taught in a state-approved or accredited school for at least two years. Short term subbing does not satisfy this requirement. Passing scores on basic competency exams and content knowledge exams will be required. Out-of-State licensure is classified as an initial teacher certificate and is valid for only one year. A total of two extensions may be issued, with each extension only valid for one additional year. Applicants must hold a valid out-of-state certification, and must never have held Alaskan certification. Alaska will not accept certification from foreign countries. To progress from an initial temporary license to a professional license, you will also need to satisfy Alaska- specific course requirements and mandatory trainings, complete a background check with fingerprinting, and submit certain employment verification forms and fees.
Arizona You may at some point need to take state and federal constitution courses. A test may substitute for the constitutional course requirements. Arizona does offer both a provisional certificate and a standard certificate Generally, you will require a valid out-of-state license. You will also need to apply for and receive an Arizona Department of Safety Identified Verified Prints (IVP) fingerprint clearance card. Fees and application forms will naturally need to be submitted.
Arkansas Official transcripts and verification of three years teaching experience “where applicable” should be submitted. Testing will depend on the specific license requirements, verification of a basic competency test, content area, or pedagogy tests and results. A provisional license may be issued in cases where all requirements for licensure have been met except for specific testing. Provisional licenses may also be issued for specific areas of licensure where Arizona history requirements exist but have not yet been met. You will need to email the Arkansas Department of Education with a request for a reciprocity packet, fill out the application, and provide all necessary documentation and fees. You will also need to complete Arizona State Police (ASP) and FBI criminal background check forms and clear a child maltreatment check through a Department of Homeland Security central registry check.
California Official transcripts, and a minimum of two full years of successful teaching may be required for certain licences. You may also need to take a course to earn authorization to teach English learners. Testing may be necessary to receive a clear credential. Testing may also satisfy the authorization to teach English learners requirement. California has a preliminary 5 year licensure for individuals who meet basic credential requirements but lack all the requirements necessary to receive a clear credential. You need to have out-of-state certification in order to qualify for reciprocity. Performance Evaluations will also need to be submitted for applicants with experience.
Colorado You will need a bachelor’s degree and transcripts. Experience levels will determine which type of license you recieve. Testing requirements depend on the license being sought as well as prior tests taken and previous education program. Colorado offers both an initial license and a professional license, as well as an interim authorization for certain circumstances You will need to submit fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and have a valid government issued ID.
Connecticut Experience will determine the level of certification received; additionally, experience can sometimes substitute for an approved educator degree program. Testing depends on the specific licensure and previous testing already taken. Connecticut has three main levels of certification: initial, provisional, and professional educator certificates. They also have an interim educator certificate for candidates who lack specific requirements, which is valid for one year. Applicants will need to complete and submit an application and appropriate documentation, in addition to fees.
Delaware Your experience levels will determine which level of licensure you recieve. Testing depends on experience levels and the license level issued. Delaware offers initial, continuing, and advanced licenses all based on experience levels. In addition to licensure at the appropriate level, you will need to also receive at least one certificate. A certificate is the actual content area accreditation. Delaware has both standard certificates and temporary emergency certificates. You will need a current and valid out-of-state license in order to be considered under reciprocity.
Florida You will need at least a bachelor’s degree. Testing will depend on tests already taken and which license you are pursuing in the short term. Florida offers a temporary certificate, valid for three years, and a professional one, valid for five years. A temporary certificate is only issued upon receipt of employment at a Florida school, whereas a professional certificate requires proven mastery in certain areas. You will need to submit all your licenses and certificates, whether or not you are currently using them. There are also several steps in the application process, including an Official Statement of Status of Eligibility and fingerprinting.
Georgia You may need to take an approved “Exceptional Child” course. Experience levels may affect the level of licensure received. Testing requirements vary based on the out-of-state program completed. A Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment is also required. An Induction Certificate may be issued for a period of 3 years for teachers with less than 3 years of recent teaching experience. You will need Verification of Lawful Presence Documentation, in addition to all application forms and fees.
Hawaii Experience will be a factor in determining the level of licensure. Out-of-state tests taken previously can usually satisfy these requirements. Hawaii has several levels of licensure, including provisional, standard, and advanced Requirements vary for the different levels of licenses, but besides for the submission of formal application documents and fees, Hawaii is one of the few states that is considered to offer full reciprocity
Idaho Specific courses may be required to achieve a standard certificate. Like many states, Praxis testing is required but but this requirement may be satisfied through possession of a master’s degree or National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certificate in the relevant content area. Idaho offers a three year interim certificate as well as a renewable five year certificate for those teachers who already meet all of the necessary requirements at the time of application. You will need either a current, valid out-of-state license or have completed an accredited degree program within the last two years.
Illinois Specific coursework may be required for full licensure. For a Professional Educator License, you will at minimum have to have completed student teaching as well. To receive a Professional Educator License, you may be required to take an Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) or EdTPA, as well as content area tests. These requirements may be considered satisfied by previous experience or other factors. Illinois grants both an Educator License with Stipulations Endorsed for Provisional Educator in addition to its regular Professional Educator License.
Indiana CPR-Heimlich Maneuver-AED certification and Suicide Prevention Training will need to be taken at some point during the process, in addition to submitting your official program transcripts. Certain licenses may require specific courses that can be satisfied through previously completed educator preparedness programs. Experience will determine the license level issued. Out-of-state tests can satisfy Indiana testing requirements in many instances. Indiana offers varying levels of licensure, including a Reciprocal Permit with additional steps necessary in order to turn it into a Professional Educator License. Indiana also issues an Initial Practitioner license, for a period of two years, for teachers with less than three years of experience. A practitioner license is issued for a 5 year period and requires more than three years of teaching experience. To fulfill reciprocity requirements, you will need a valid out-of-state teaching license.
Iowa You must have completed your bachelor’s and an approved teacher preparation program. Additional courses such as the mandatory reporter training for child and dependant adult abuse may be required. Experience levels will dictate the license level issued. Testing requirements may be met via experience or irrelevant depending on the date of completion of your teacher training program. Iowa has Initial, Standard, and Master Educator licenses, in addition to a Regional Exchange License that may be issued to out-of-state applicants who do not yet meet all of Iowa’s requirements. The out-of-state license may be submitted even if it has expired.
Kansas You must have a bachelor’s degree and have completed a teacher preparation program. Experience may dictate the level of license received. Out-of-state tests or experience may exempt you from Kansas testing requirements. Kansas offers initial and professional licenses. Kansas has a “recency” requirement dictating that either one year of teaching experience or 8 semester credit hours have been completed within the last six years. Your out-of-state license also must be valid, and you will need to submit to fingerprinting and a background check.
Kentucky You will need to have completed an approved teacher preparation program through an accredited institution or alternative program. Testing may be waived if other requirements are met. Kentucky offers an initial certification and may issue a Temporary Provisional Certificate. There is a recency requirement.
Louisiana You must have completed a teacher preparation program. Tests are required but exemptions apply. If testing requirements have not been met, a non-renewable Out-of-State Certificate may be issued instead of a standard Professional Certificate. In addition to regular forms and fees, you will need to complete a Professional Conduct form.If an alternate route was taken for licensure, you will need to submit Teacher Preparation/Certification Status form. A School Experience Verification form is also required in certain instances.
Maine You will need to submit official transcripts from an accredited institution. Prior testing may satisfy Praxis requirements. Maine offers Conditional, Transitional, and Targeted Need 3 year certificates, in addition to a 2 year Provisional and a 5 year Professional certificate. You will need to complete and submit all regular forms and fees.
Maryland Experience levels may determine the certificate level issued. Testing requirements may be satisfied through previously completed out-of-state tests or experience. Maryland issues a Professional Eligibility Certificate, a Standard Professional Certificate, and an Advanced Professional Certificate. Maryland also issues two more temporary certifications, that of Resident Teacher or a Conditional Certificate. There are no other strong requirements beyond the basic application, documentation and fees.
Massachusettes Experience will determine the licensing level received. You will have to take the Communication and Literacy Skills Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL), and possibly a subject area MTEL. Massachusetts offers a Temporary, Provisional or Initial license. Depending on your license, you may have to obtain a Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement via a course or test
Michigan Experience may be a factor in determining which license applies. Additionally, you will need current first aid and CPR training from an approved source. You may have to take tests, depending on which level of license you seek and your previous testing. Michigan offers both a Standard and a Professional Certificate. Additionally, a one year non-renewable Temporary Teacher Employment Authorization may be issued. A valid teaching certificate is required for a Professional Certificate.
Minnesota Experience will be a factor in determining the license level issued. You will also have to take an approved Human Relations program. Testing is required. There are 4 Tiers of licensing. Additionally, a one-year license may be issued to out of state candidates to give them time to complete testing requirements. It can be renewed 3 times. Having a pre-offer of employment from a Minnesota district may qualify you for a higher tier.
Mississippi You should have at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Testing requirements may be met by out-of-state scores. Mississippi has a 5-year and a 2-year reciprocity license (non-renewable) for those who do not yet meet minimum requirements. You will need to provide your original out-of-state license. Copies are not accepted.
Missouri Experience may determine the license received. Testing is not usually required. Missouri has multiple levels of certification. Experience and education qualifications will determine which you are eligible for. If you do not hold a valid, professional level certificate, you will need an Institutional Recommendation from the program where you completed your teacher training.You will also need to submit to a background check.
Montana Experience and degree level will help determine which class of license you can be issued. You will also need to complete the free, online course “An Introduction to Indian Education for all in Montana”. You must meet the Montana Praxis testing requirements. Montana has multiple classes of license, as well as a provisional license for out-of-state applicants. You will need to submit to standard requirements like fingerprinting, a background check, and supplemental forms and documentation.
Nebraska Two years of experience can substitute for some testing requirements. You will also need to take a special education and a human relations class. Testing components must be met. Nebraska has three levels of certification in addition to several provisional permits. You will need to submit an Institutional Verification Form, and a completed fingerprint card from the Nebraska State Patrol.
Nevada Under reciprocity, holding a standard out-of-state license will generally be enough to receive Nevada licensure. Standard out-of-state license holders will not generally need to undergo new testing. Nevada issues a non-renewable license with provisions to candidates with “deficiencies” that need to be corrected. The state also issues Standard and Professional licenses. You must either be a United States Citizen or meet the legal resident requirements.
New Hampshire Experience may determine the type of license issued. Equivalent test scores can satisfy this requirement. New Hampshire has Beginner, Experienced, and Master Teacher certification. Standard verification documents and application fees must be submitted.
New Jersey Experience will determine the level of certificate issued. Equivalent test scores may satisfy testing requirements. You may be issued a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS) or a Standard Certificate. If applicable, experience will count only if it is both effective and within the past four years.
New Mexico Experience will determine the level of licensure; you should also possess a bachelor’s degree or higher. Prior test scores will need to be submitted. New Mexico offers 3 Levels of licensing. You will need a valid teaching license.
New York You will need to complete the following workshops: Child Abuse Identification Workshop, School Violence Prevention and Intervention (SAVE) Workshop, Coursework or Training in the Needs of Children with Autism Workshop, and Training in Harassment, Bullying, Cyber bullying, and Discrimination in Schools: Prevention and Intervention (DASA Training). You will need to meet New York testing requirements. You may receive an Initial or Conditional Initial Certificate. You will need to meet minimum G.P.A. requirements and pass the fingerprint clearance.
North Carolina Experience will be a factor in which license is issued. Testing requirements will depend on background and specific license requirements. North Carolina offers Professional Educator’s Initial Licenses as well as a Professional Educator’s Continuing License.
Educator effectiveness may be a determining factor in license issuance.
North Dakota At minimum, you should have completed an approved program with student teaching Prior test scores will satisfy this requirement for North Dakota North Dakota has multiple types of licenses. An Other State Educator License (OSEL) may be issued for a period of 2 to 5 years. There are no additional requirements for holders of out-of-state licenses as long as out-of-state test requirements have been met.
Ohio Candidates for specific licenses may at some point need to fulfill specific course requirements. Experience will also be a factor in determining which license is appropriate. Some tests may transfer, but various licenses may require new testing. Different licensing levels exist and are subject to different requirements. You will need to complete standard requirements like submitting to a background check. You may need to submit a Verification of Experience document.
Oklahoma You will need to complete a year of teaching in Oklahoma upon receipt of your provisional certificate. You will need to submit to a review of previously taken tests. You will receive a Provisional Certificate. You will need to submit standard application forms and fees.
Oregon Experience will help determine the level of licensure eligibility. Testing may be satisfied by prior tests. A Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment exam will probably be required for higher certification levels. An Oregon Reciprocal Teaching License will allow you one year to qualify for a Preliminary or Professional Teaching License. You must have a valid and active teaching license from out-of-state.
Pennsylvania Two years of experience may make you eligible for higher certification. Pennsylvania compliant testing may be required. Pennsylvania offers Level I and Level II Certification. You must answer a Good Moral Character questionnaire and have legal citizenship or resident status.
Rhode Island Experience levels may dictate the license level issued. Testing requirements exist. Rhode Island issues Initial, Professional, and Advanced Educator Certificates. A non-renewable one-year Temporary Initial Educator Preliminary Certificate may be issued when not all conditions have been met. An attestation of good moral character is required.
South Carolina Experience level will determine the level of certificate received. Initial level certification requires formal evaluation while teaching in addition to Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) tests. South Carolina issues initial and professional level certification. The out-of-state license must be both a standard license and current.
South Dakota You must take suicide awareness and prevention training as well as pass an approved 3-credit South Dakota Indian Studies Course. Experience may also be a requirement for certain certifications. Testing may be required for certain certifications. You may be issued a 1 year provisional certificate that can be renewed only once. Your out-of-state license must be complete: not be a temporary, provisional, emergency or substitute license. You must also provide state verification that you have not been subject to disciplinary action or have a record of ethics violations.
Tennessee You must hold a bachelor’s degree and have completed an approved educator preparedness program Qualifying test scores must be submitted. Tennessee issues a 3-year Practitioner license that can be renewed once. You must provide either a valid out-of-state license or an out-of-state educator preparation provider recommendation.
Texas There are no exceptional education or experience requirements for Texas teacher reciprocity applicants. You will need to apply for a review of credentials even if your tests are listed on the comparable out-of-state test chart. Texas will issue a One-Year certificate while your credentials are being reviewed and until you fulfill all the requirements necessary to be issued a Standard certificate. Transcripts and certifications must be submitted in an approved manner.
Utah Three plus continuous years of experience may allow you to jump certification levels after completing certain other requirements. Additional courses may be required upon review. Content specific Praxis II tests are required, and unfortunately Utah does not usually accept out-of-state tests. Utah licensure includes level 1, 2, and 3. You will need to obtain a Comprehensive Administration of Credentials for Teachers in Utah Schools (CACTUS) number and complete an Educator Ethics Review. You may need to submit other documents based on your individual credentials.
Vermont Three years of teaching in Vermont are required before a Level II Professional Educator’s license will be issued. If your state has signed the NASDTEC, you are exempt from testing. An out-of-state applicant is only eligible to receive a Level I Professional Educator’s license. Standard application documents and fees will need to be submitted. A recency requirement may also apply.
Virginia An approved 4 year degree program or alternate approved teacher preparation program is generally required. Experience may substitute from certain requirements. Certification of Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition and Intervention Training, Emergency First Aid, CPR, and AED Training or Certification, and Dyslexia Training will also be required. Professional Teacher Assessment requirements exist, but 3 years of teaching experience may exempt you from this requirement. A provisional license may be issued for not more than 3 years. All application forms and documents must be submitted.
Washington Licensure candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree and must have gone through an approved educator preparedness program. A comparable out-of-state test may substitute for testing requirements. Out-of-state applicants usually receive a Residency Certificate prior to getting a Professional Certificate. There is a fingerprint and background check requirement.
West Virginia West Virginia requires a bachelor’s and some form of either experience or internship. Testing requirements exist but may be met through other means. West Virginia offers both a Temporary and a Professional certificate. A minimum GPA may apply.
Wisconsin Wisconsin requires one year of teaching experience. Teachers should also have a bachelor’s and have completed an approved preparation program. Certain additional coursework may also be required when not met by the out-of-state program. Wisconsin has state testing requirements that may be satisfied by out of state testing; however, in cases where Wisconsin has a higher threshold for passing, the candidate’s score will in some instances have to meet the Wisconsin guidelines. Wisconsin has an initial license. It also offers a License with Stipulations. The out-of-state license should be valid.
Wyoming You may need to take courses to comply with the knowledge of U.S. and Wyoming Constitutions requirement. Out-of-state testing will generally satisfy Wyoming’s requirements. An exam may also be used to satisfy the U.S. and Wyoming Constitutions knowledge requirements. Generally no, but an exception authorization may be issued in very specific circumstances, and will be valid for one year. These authorizations may be issued to individuals who have received their out-of-state licensure through an alternative program. You will need to submit Wyoming Fingerprint Cards and undergo a background check.
Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.