Teacher certification for foreign-educated teachers

Navigating through the rules, regulations and requirements for teacher certification can be a difficult and challenging process for teachers who received their training outside U.S. borders, but it could pay off, as a shortage of educators in key subjects and geographic locations has increased demand for qualified teachers in the United States.

It is important to note that any non-U.S. citizen who wishes to teach in the United States must first obtain a visa from the U.S. embassy in their home country to be eligible to teach in the United States. In addition to visa requirements, foreign-educated teachers who would like to teach in U.S. public schools (Kindergarten through 12th grade levels) must also be certified by the state where they would like to work. While each state has its own individual certification requirements for foreign-educated teachers, there are certain requirements that most states have in common:

In most U.S. states, foreign-educated teachers seeking certification must meet the following requirements:

  1. Completion of the foreign equivalent of a U.S. undergraduate degree
  2. Completion of a teacher preparation program that meets the requirements of the state where the individual would like to teach
  3. Completion of a certain number of university-level credit hours in education and in the subject area they wish to teach

Additional Requirements:

  • Most states will also require foreign-educated teachers to submit a credential evaluation report with their teaching application. This report explains an applicant’s foreign credentials to the state board of education and is usually only accepted if it has been prepared by credential evaluators designated by the state.
  • Prospective teachers who were educated outside the U.S. may be required to take an exam or a series of exams to demonstrate their reading, writing, and speaking proficiency in the English language (if it is not their native language).
  • Some states also require passing scores on state-specific certification tests (for more information on Teacher Licensure and Certification tests, visit the Educational Testing Service site).
  • Foreign-educated teachers who meet all of the state’s certification requirements will also need to complete an application for certification and submit a processing fee (normally around $100 US).

* If a foreign-educated teacher fails to meet a state’s minimum certification requirements, he or she may be able to complete additional coursework to meet state standards.

Possible Options for Teachers without Certification

  • Emergency Certifications – In some states, foreign-educated teachers can get a teaching job without being certified under the state’s emergency certification provisions. Because of critical teacher shortages, some states extend temporary and emergency certifications that bypass state licensing requirements. These temporary certifications are usually given to prospective teachers in high-need subject areas like math, science, bilingual education and special education. Opportunities to teach under these emergency provisions are fairly common in urban locations, but such emergency teaching certification is only temporary. The teacher still must work towards and eventually obtain official state certification.
  • Teaching in Private Schools – While teachers in U.S. public schools must meet teacher certification requirements for their particular state, private schools in any state are allowed to hire non-certified teachers. While this may be a possible route for foreign-educated teachers to find employment, it is important to know that private school teachers are usually paid less than teachers in the public school system. However, private school teachers tend to have more control over their lesson plans and typically teach smaller classes.

Assistance for Foreign Teachers
The following organizations and Web sites may be able to help qualified foreign teachers with the process of coming to the U.S. and becoming certified as a teacher (these links are provided for information only and are not endorsed by LatPro):

Eligibility Requirements and Certification Procedures by State:
The resources below provide more information about the teacher certification process for each individual state. Be sure to review the specific requirements for the state where you wish to work.


  1. Fulbright Commission’s US Educational Advisory Service (EAS)
  2. AllEducationSchools.com
  3. U.S. Department of Education

  • mona

    hi, i live in iran and im a very good teacher in my country.how can i become a teacher in USA?
    here is my email address m.vahedi11@yahoo.in

    • Guest


  • rachel rani Moragudi

    HOW CAN I BECOME A TEACHER IN USA? MY ID manasamrer@gmail.com

    • Sammy

      Hi Rachel, you cant work on H4 visa in USA.You can obtain certification though. Might be used when your work authorization status changes.See the State requirements for your state.

  • kainat sumbal

    thanks for the information this was very helpful

  • munna

    hi my name is munna. i have been teaching english and social sciences in schools in bhutan for the past 20 yrs. .will i get teaching jod in usa i am an elementary teacher

  • Mouhamadou

    Hi I am from Senegal. Useful information. Keep me posted plz Pape

  • jaya

    Hi I live in india n have conpleted my B.Ed which is bachelors program in teaching n also my bachelors in commerce with specialization in management..I currently teach in university in mumbai..how do I secure a job in calufornia…

    • lindasek

      First of all, I’d learn how to spell California! Second of all, the links are above on the certification required in the state of California. You do need to be in USA with proper documentation and permits beforehand though.

  • Niva

    HI, I’m an Indian citizen and I have completed my Bachelors and Masters in Psychology in India. I hold a teacher’s training diploma from the American TESOL Institute and a diploma from University of Cambridge for the same. I also have 2 years teaching experience. I now want to move to Florida can someone please guide me? I’ve tried calling the Bureau of Education with them being unresponsive to my requests.

  • Gamini

    Hi, I have about 15 years teaching experience at Secondary/ High School level and a Masters in Business Economics and a Bachelor in Commerce from a Sri Lanka State Uni.My spouse will be eligible to migrate to the US next year. I would like any advice from the forum in order to get my educational credentials and experience evaluated and obtain a certification to work as a Teacher in Maryland.

  • Derwin Aquino

    my name is Derwin Aquino i am an american citizen but i had to go to Dominican republic with my parents when i was 8 years old; that is the reason why i had to be in Dominican republic, i studied there, i have a bachelors degree in modern languages like teaching English and french, and i also work in the Dominican system as a teacher, i have ended my masters degree there, and i am thinking in the possibility to work here , i would like to know the steps for me to teach here. my email is derwinaquino@gmail.com, wasap 829-6496486 ill wait for the answer.

    • Olive

      Hi Derwin,
      I am Olive, I am also a teacher if english and french, I would also like to teach in the USA, am in Texas, dont know how to go about

  • soumya

    Hi I have completed Masters in Pharmacy and I am interested in working as science teacher in Minnesota. I am on L1 visa .. can I get the details about certification ?

  • Reem Bisnagri

    Hi,I’m Reem Bisnagri and I have recently migrated to Chicago,IL.USA from India.I have got my degrees evaluated and have got a US equivalence in teaching majors for secondary education in the subjects of Accounting and Economics.What is the procedure to work here?

  • Zarnescu Radu

    Hi. I’m Radu Zarnescu , from Romania (Europe), i’m a PE teacher, and i ‘m interested to work in USA. I finished master in Romania , and get my second degree in theaching in 2014. My e-mail: razarnescu@yahoo.com

Follow latpro on Twitter visit our facebook page subscribe with RSS

work smart

WORK SMART - How to Land a Job at a Great Company and Get Promoted What would it be like to stop feeling blindsided by the job search process? To know what the person reading your resume you is thinking? To wake up feeling thrilled to be working for the company you want to work for?

You can do it with our new book 'WORK SMART - How to Land a Job at a Great Company and Get Promoted'. If you find WORK SMART as helpful as we expect, we'd like to have your review on Amazon and have priced WORK SMART at just $.99 for a short while to say thank you.

Please click here to get WORK SMART quick before the price jumps to $12.95!

Author Bio


Eric Shannon launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish in 1997 at LatPro.com. He still serves as CEO of LatPro Inc. and lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two girls. Read more about Eric and LatPro here.

Recent Comments