How to Get a Teaching License in Georgia
Georgia Professional Standards Commission Requirements
Georgia values teachers and the important contributions they make to students’ lives. The state recently revised its certification system to offer teachers improved opportunities for personal growth and professional advancement. In order to meet the minimum requirements for certification, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree and complete a state-approved educator preparation program, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). You also must pass assessments that test your knowledge of content, pedagogy and professional ethics. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you can fulfill these requirements in a traditional path to certification, called Pathway 1, in which you can earn your bachelor’s degree in a GaPSC-approved college or university educator preparation program. Pathways 2 and 3 apply to candidates who have completed part of their certification requirements outside of Georgia.
After you meet the basic requirements in Pathway 1, you are eligible for a three-year entry-level Induction certificate. You must be employed by a Georgia Local Unit of Administration (LUA), which includes a public, private or charter school, at the time you receive your Induction certificate. Without employment, the GaPSC will issue a Certificate of Eligibility, which can be converted to an Induction certificate when you find a job. The requirements for an Induction certificate also include an FBI fingerprint background check and a Georgia criminal history check.
You can qualify for an initial Professional certificate after you complete three years of experience within the five years directly preceding the year you apply for certification. You can earn a Performance-Based Professional certificate if you completed a Georgia performance-based certification program and have been evaluated for at least two years on the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES). Standard Professional certificates are for educators who do not have TKES evaluations. As you gain additional credentials, you can earn Advanced Professional and/or Lead Professional Georgia teacher certification.
Meet the Minimum Education Requirements
The minimum education requirements for Georgia teachers are a bachelor’s degree and the completion of a GaPSC-approved educator preparation program. You can earn a bachelor’s degree as part of an educator preparation program at a college or university. If you have a bachelor’s degree, post-baccalaureate educator preparation programs offer a certificate or a master’s degree as part of the educator curriculum.
All applicants for teacher certification in Georgia also must complete the “exceptional child” requirement, which includes five or more quarter hours or three or more semester hours of coursework in the identification and education of children with special educational needs. Having National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification or a degree with a major in Special Education also fulfills this requirement. A GaPSC-approved educator preparation program includes this coursework in the curriculum.
Complete a Student Teaching Program
Student teaching is offered as part of a GaPSC-approved educator preparation program. Your field experiences must include observations and encounters in environments consistent with the type of certification for which you are preparing. For birth through kindergarten programs, you must experience ages 0 to 2, ages 3 to 4, and kindergarten (K). For an early childhood program (P-5), your experiences must be in Pre-K to K, grades 1-3, and grades 4-5. Middle grades education programs must provide experiences in grades 4-5 and 6-8, while secondary education certification requires experiences in grades 6-8 and 9-12. If you are pursuing Pre-K-12 certification, you must have field experiences in PK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. In addition, you are required to spend a minimum of one full semester in direct student teaching.
Before you participate in any field experience or student teaching, you must obtain a Pre-Service certificate. To qualify, you must be formally admitted to an educator preparation program leading to an Induction certificate, have a successful criminal background check and complete the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) Educator Ethics – Program Entry Assessment. This certificate can be valid up to five years, with an extension available by request of your educator preparation program. However, a Pre-Service certificate is void upon your completion or withdrawal from the educator preparation program.
Pass Georgia Certification Exams
You are required to pass certification exams by GACE, Georgia’s educator certification assessment program, to qualify for teacher licensure in Georgia. All candidates applying to a GaPSC-approved educator preparation program must take the GACE Program Admission assessment to prove general knowledge in reading, mathematics and writing. A required minimum SAT, ACT or GRE score, or passing scores on all three sections of the Praxis I exam, also satisfies this requirement.
As a candidate for Georgia teacher certification, you are required to pass a designated GACE content assessment for your specific area of certification. You also must pass the edTPA by Pearson, which is the GaPSC-approved content pedagogy assessment. In addition, you are required to take two Educator Ethics Assessments. Educator Ethics – Program Entry is taken with your application for a Pre-Service certificate. Educator Ethics – Program Exit is required prior to your application for an Induction certificate.
After you meet the educational and assessment requirements, you can apply for Georgia teacher certification electronically online or via a paper application. Official transcripts can be emailed or mailed directly to GaPSC from your college or university. GACE assessment scores must be submitted electronically to the GaPSC. Photocopies of official score reports of other required exams are acceptable.
Your completion of a Georgia educator preparation program and professional experience served in a Georgia public school are verified electronically to the GaPSC. All other educator experience must be documented by submission of an Experience Verification Form with administrative signatures. However, if you completed an out-of-state program, your program’s certification officer must complete an Approved Program Completion Form.
All first-time candidates for Georgia teacher certification also must submit a notarized Verification of Lawful Presence (VLP) form and supporting documentation to prove that they are present lawfully in the United States. You also may be required to pay a fee for some certification transactions.
How Much Do Teachers in Georgia Make?
Salaries for teachers in Georgia vary according to an individual’s education, teaching experience, certificate specialty or endorsements, and the budget of the employing school district. Examples of teaching salaries in Georgia include:
Job Growth for Teachers through 2026
|Early Childhood Educator||$29,920|
|Elementary School Teacher||$54,890|
|Secondary School Teacher||$56,420|
|Special Education Teacher||$70,580|
Georgia teacher certifications are specialized by student age groups or grade level. You can choose a teaching certification in Early Childhood Education (Birth-Grade 5), Middle Grades 4-8, Secondary Grades 6-12, Pre-K-12 Education Fields, Foreign Languages, Special Education (Pre-K-12) or Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Fields (6-12). While early childhood and elementary school teachers typically teach all subjects, secondary school teachers select one or more specific subject areas. Teachers in Georgia can add specialty areas or endorsements to a valid certificate upon completion of related education and assessments.
Early Childhood Education
To teach early childhood education in Georgia, you can earn an Early Childhood Education (Birth – Grade 5) certificate. Requirements for this certification include completion of a bachelor’s degree and a GaPSC-approved educator preparation program, including a student teaching internship, in Early Childhood Education. The required content exam for this certificate is the GACE Early Childhood Education Assessment.
Candidates for Early Childhood Education (Birth – Grade 5) certification also must satisfy the general requirements for all certification candidates in Georgia, which includes fulfilling the “exceptional child” requirement. You also must take the GACE Program Admission Assessment or an accepted substitute exam, the edTPA and the GACE Educator Ethics Assessments. You can add a specialty area in Birth through Kindergarten for this certificate if your interests are in teaching the youngest students.
Elementary School Teacher
The Early Childhood Education certificate authorizes you to teach as a certified elementary school teacher. You can earn this certificate by completing a bachelor’s degree and a GaPSC-approved Early Childhood Education educator preparation program that includes student teaching. You also must pass the GACE Early Childhood Education Assessment content exam. Additional qualifications include meeting the “exceptional child” requirement and passing the GACE Program Admission Assessment or an accepted substitution. Passing the edTPA and the GACE Educator Ethics Assessments also is required. If you have special interest in teaching mathematics or science, you can earn a Mathematics (K-5) or Science (K-5) specialty area with this certificate.
Secondary School Teacher
If you want to earn authorization to teach as a secondary school teacher in Georgia, you can apply for the Secondary Education (grades 6-12) certificate. Secondary school teachers select an area of specialty and must fulfill the correlating requirements. This includes completing a GaPSC-approved educator preparation program with a student teaching internship in your specialty area. You also must pass the GACE assessment in the specialty area for which you are seeking certification.
To earn Secondary Education (Grades 6-12) certification, you must fulfill the general requirements for all certificate candidates, including passing the GACE Program Admission Assessment or an accepted substitution, meeting the “exceptional child” requirement, and taking the edTPA and GACE Educator Ethics Assessments. You can add additional specialty areas or endorsements to your certificate by passing the related GACE content assessments.
Substitute Teacher Certification
Georgia does not offer substitute teacher certification. Each Georgia LUA maintains a list of qualified substitute teachers, with priority given to those with the highest level of qualifications. The minimum requirement to be a substitute teacher in Georgia is a high school diploma or GED equivalent and participation in at least four hours of initial substitute training provided by the employing Georgia LUA. A substitute teacher can fill vacancies no longer than 46 days, unless state or federal law mandates a longer vacancy. Substitute teachers whose highest degree is a high school diploma or GED equivalent can work in one classroom for up to 10 consecutive days.
Physical Education (PE) Certification
Physical education certification in Georgia is offered as an Education Field (Pre-K-12) certificate in Health & Physical Education. To earn this certification, you must complete a GaPSC-approved educator preparation program, with student teaching internship, in Health & Physical Education and pass the GACE content assessment in Health & Physical Education. If you are pursuing PE certification with your Induction certificate, you must pass the Program Admission Assessment or provide an approved substitute score. You also must meet the “exceptional child” requirement and pass the edTPA and GACE Educator Ethics Assessments. Health & Physical Education also can be added as an additional specialty area to an existing certificate by passing the GACE content assessment.
Special Education Certification
You can earn special education certification in Georgia by applying for Special Education (Pre-K -12) certification. Specialty areas include Early Childhood Special Education General Curriculum, Special Education General Curriculum (P-12) and Specialty Education Adaptive Curriculum (Pre-K-12). Specialty areas defined by disability include Behavior Disorders, Deaf Education, Learning Disabilities, Physical and Health Disabilities and Visual Impairment. You also can specialize in Special Education Preschool (Aged 3-5) or subject areas by grade level including Special Education Mathematics, Reading, Science or Social Sciences.
To qualify for Special Education certification, you must provide proof of completing a GaPSC-approved educator preparation program in Special Education that includes a student teaching internship. In addition, you must pass the GACE Special Education assessment that correlates with the type of certification you are pursuing. You also must fulfill the GACE Program Admission Assessment with a passing score or approved substitute scores, meet the “exceptional child” requirement, and pass the edTPA and GACE Educator Ethics Assessments.
English as a Second Language Certification
Georgia offers English as a Second Language certification as an Education Field (Pre-K-12) certificate in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). This certification requires completion of a GaPSC-approved ESOL educator preparation program with student teaching internship and a passing grade in the ESOL GACE assessment. In addition, you have to fulfill the Program Admission Assessment and “exceptional child” requirements for all certifications. You also must pass the edTPA and GACE Educator Ethics Assessments. ESOL certification can be added as an endorsement to an existing Professional certificate if you pass the ESOL GACE assessment.
Certifications for School Administrators
Certifications for school administrators in Georgia are offered as the Performance-Based Educational Leadership Certificate Building or Performance-Based Educational Leadership Certificate System-Level certifications. Certification in Building-Level Educational Leadership authorizes you to work in schools; the System-Level Educational Leadership certificate is for educators serving at the school system or district level.
To qualify, you must pass assessments for content knowledge, ethics and content pedagogy and meet the “exceptional child” requirement. In addition, you must complete a GaPSC-approved Professional Educational Leadership program, including a performance-based certification program at the Specialist or doctoral degree level in Educational Leadership, a Performance-based certification-only preparation program if you already hold a Specialist or Doctoral degree, or an Alternate Preparation for Educational Leadership program. You also must pass the GACE Educational Leadership content assessment.
You may qualify for a non-renewable Performance-Based Educational Leadership certificate if you hold an expired Georgia Performance-Based Educational Leadership certificate or a Master’s degree or higher while employed by a Georgia LUA in a leadership position. This allows you five years to complete a GaPSC-approved Performance-Based Leadership preparation program while working.
Teaching Reciprocity Agreements in Georgia
Taking advantage of teaching reciprocity agreements can save time and reduce your expenses in obtaining teaching certification in Georgia if you have a valid out-of-state teaching license. This allows you to use past education and professional experience to expedite your path to Georgia teaching certifications.
|NASDTEC Interstate Agreement||Georgia participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.|
|State Grants Full Reciprocity||Georgia does not grant full reciprocity to out-of-state certification candidates.|
|Coursework Requirements||All teacher certification candidates in Georgia must complete coursework on the identification and education of special needs children.|
|Test-out or Exemption||Georgia allows out-of-state candidates to bypass the "exceptional child" requirement if they have proof of similar coursework in their home state. Out-of-state candidates lacking this requirement may qualify for an Induction or Professional certificate and complete this requirement before converting or renewing their certificate.|
|Assessment Requirements||Out-of-state candidates must take a content assessment unless they have worked full-time in their certificate field for all of the last five years, taken a content assessment for their out-of-state certificate, hold NBPTS certification or request certification in a subject area that does not have an approved content assessment. Out-of-state candidates may have to take an ethics assessment or content pedagogy assessment if they have not done so.|
|Different Requirements Based on Experience||Out-of-state candidates who have proof of three years of acceptable teaching experience within the past five years can qualify for a Professional Certificate. Those with fewer than three years of acceptable experience can qualify for an Induction Certificate. In addition, out-of-state candidates can bypass the content assessment requirement if they have worked full-time in their certificate field for all of the last five years. Out-of-state educators with at least one year of teaching experience can bypass a content pedagogy assessment|
|Performance Requirements||Out-of-state candidates presenting past experience must prove three years of "acceptable" teaching experience to qualify for a Professional certificate. This includes experience that was graded as satisfactory on an annual evaluation document, experience verification form, performance evaluations or recommendation letter from a supervisor.|
|Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials||Out-of-state candidates who have comparable professional certificates and have completed a state-approved educator preparation program, are eligible for a Professional certificate, bypassing the Induction certificate.|
Alternate Teaching Certification
The Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTAPP) is a group of alternative teacher certification programs that offer multiple certification paths for individuals who have been hired to teach in Georgia but have not completed an educator preparation program. These programs accommodate a working teacher’s schedule and include mentoring by an experienced teacher to ensure success in the classroom. To qualify for GaTAPP programs, you must be hired as an educator by a Georgia LUA. You also must have a bachelor’s degree, fulfill the GACE Program Admissions Assessment requirement, pass the appropriate GACE content assessment or have a bachelor’s degree or higher in the subject area for which you are seeking certification, and pass the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment – Program Entry assessment.
Teach for America
Teach for America is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting education equality among U.S. students. Its Georgia-based volunteers serve the metro Atlanta area. The organization selects candidates from a competitive pool of applicants who have a bachelor’s degree or higher and demonstrate leadership qualities. Volunteers participate in an intense training program to help them qualify for a Georgia Induction certificate prior to their placement in a metro Atlanta classroom.
Troops to Teachers
Troops to Teachers helps active and retired U.S. military personnel earn teacher certification. This national organization, managed by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) for the Department of Defense, can be key in helping you transition from military service to a teaching career. Representatives provide personal counseling and professional guidance to put you on the fastest track to teacher certification in Georgia. Financial assistance and a bonus also are available for eligible participants.
Transition into Teaching for Career Changers
Adults who have a bachelor’s degree may qualify for Induction Pathway 4 certification. This three-year, non-renewable certification allows you to earn an income as a teacher while you complete an educator preparation program. You must have proof of employment in a Georgia LUA to earn this certification. Additional qualifications include a bachelor’s degree or higher, with a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, earned less than 10 years before the date of application. Acceptance into a GaPSC-approved educator preparation program or an accredited advanced degree program also satisfies this requirement. In addition, you must pass the GACE Program Admission Assessment or have an acceptable substitution, pass the GACE content assessment for the certification you are pursuing and complete the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment- Program Entry before beginning employment.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers in Georgia
Teaching in Georgia may qualify you for partial or complete student loan forgiveness. By teaching in schools that have a high number of low-income families, you may benefit from loan forgiveness offered by the Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation Program, Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. In the 2017-2018 school year, over 2,100 schools and educational agencies in Georgia qualified as low income.
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