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.

Sources:

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

25 comments…

  • avatar

    mona July 10, 2013, 4:52 pm

    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

    Reply
    • avatar

      Guest September 6, 2013, 1:42 pm

      Hi

      Reply
  • avatar

    rachel rani Moragudi December 31, 2013, 5:37 pm

    HI IAM INDIAN CITIZEN LIVES IN US ON H4 VISA, IM A GOOD TEACHER .
    I FINISHED MY MASTER OF EDUCATION IN INDIA; SECURED FIRST DIVISION WITH DISTINCTION.
    HOW CAN I BECOME A TEACHER IN USA? MY ID manasamrer@gmail.com

    Reply
    • avatar

      Sammy July 4, 2014, 1:15 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • avatar

    kainat sumbal May 19, 2014, 5:09 am

    thanks for the information this was very helpful

    Reply
  • avatar

    munna July 7, 2014, 3:33 am

    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

    Reply
  • avatar

    Mouhamadou August 9, 2014, 9:36 pm

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

    Reply
  • avatar

    jaya August 20, 2014, 11:57 am

    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…

    Reply
    • avatar

      lindasek May 4, 2015, 4:30 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • avatar

    Niva September 7, 2014, 1:07 pm

    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.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Gamini June 9, 2015, 3:00 am

    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.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Derwin Aquino July 18, 2015, 1:39 pm

    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.

    Reply
    • avatar

      Olive August 31, 2015, 5:42 pm

      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

      Reply
  • avatar

    soumya July 20, 2015, 1:42 pm

    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 ?

    Reply
  • avatar

    Reem Bisnagri August 7, 2015, 8:28 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • avatar

      Smita December 14, 2015, 10:25 pm

      Hi reena ,,,

      Did u get any details about , how to apply as teacher , Even I’m in chicgo

      Reply
  • avatar

    Zarnescu Radu August 19, 2015, 8:06 am

    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

    Reply
  • avatar

    Jo October 8, 2015, 2:32 am

    Hi there, I have a Bachelors Degree in Education and a graduate Diploma in TESSOL from the university of Auckland, New Zealand. I have been a fully registered teacher for 8 years and teach in elementary school. what are my options if I were to teach in Colorado?

    Reply
  • avatar

    Junchai Qiao October 13, 2015, 3:14 am

    Hi! I am from the People’s Republic of China. I have been working in a senior high school as an English teacher for nearly 30 years. I want to teach Chinese in the USA. What should I do now?

    Reply
  • avatar

    Nelofar khamisani December 28, 2015, 12:03 am

    Hi I m Nelofar Khamisani.i m Pakistani, now came in USA Illinois from UAE where I was living from 2009 with my husband.my husband is in USA on F1 visa type.he is here for masters inEIOU.i worked as teacher in pakistan for about 10 years and in UAE for 5 years than came here with my husband. I want to serve here in charleston Illinois as a teacher or assistant teacher as well. What should I do now?my email is nelofarayaz@yahoo.com

    Reply
  • avatar

    Simbarashe December 28, 2015, 3:17 pm

    I hold Honors degree,advanced cert in education both from University of Johannesburg and shall complete my bed with unisa in 2016 as well as a diploma in education fron University of Zimbabwe.I have IELTS overal score of 6.5.I wish to teach in the United States.
    Regards
    MATEMERA.S

    Reply
  • avatar

    sunil December 30, 2015, 6:29 am

    Hi I have done MSc botany and b.ed from India.I have 3year of teaching experience. How can work as a teacher in UK or us . which one shall be best

    Reply
  • avatar

    sanjeev kumar December 30, 2015, 7:14 am

    Hlo ….. I m from India. And I have done my B.p.ed and M.p.ed…..and I am interested to do job in California as an physical education teacher so can you provide be necessary details for how can I apply for that

    Reply
  • avatar

    Kira January 3, 2016, 7:03 pm

    Hi there,
    I’ve just stumbled across this website whilst looking at how to teach in the USA.
    I’m based in London (UK) and have completed my BA (ed) and hold a Qualified teacher status. The website with all the certifications was slightly confusing. My question is, would I have to undertake tests in the US to qualify as a teacher?
    Or are the qualifications I hold, enough to start a role in teaching?

    Kind regards,
    Kira

    Reply
  • avatar

    Hunbal January 4, 2016, 4:58 am

    Dear,
    I am a highly experienced teacher of Maths with 15 years British curriculum experience (O level/IGCSE and A level) I am a resident of Karachi,Pakistan. I want to teach in USA, can you please guide me how can i apply in USA or any teaching certification required for this.
    Regards
    Hunbal

    Reply

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