How to Earn Teacher Certification in Arkansas

If you’ve ever thought about teaching in Arkansas, your first step is to earn your teaching degree, and then your certification. While there are several pathways to doing this, your options depend on your current level of education and experience.

This guide can help you determine the pathway that’s right for you at any point in your career. Perhaps you’re just beginning your journey and need to know about the Arkansas state certification process. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to advanced certification, or you’re a teacher looking to move to Arkansas from out of state and need to understand reciprocity. You’ll find all that information and more right here. The short video below gives an overview of what to expect as a certified teacher in Arkansas.

Basic Requirements

You can pursue many different areas of teaching with an Arkansas teaching certificate. There are ongoing needs for qualified teachers everywhere in this state, from tight-knit small towns to bustling urban areas. With numerous options for specialization, teaching in Arkansas can offer a rewarding career where you can make a difference.

Most teachers pursue a traditional route to teacher certification from the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE). This requires earning a bachelor’s degree in education with enrollment in an approved college or university educator preparation program. In addition, certificate candidates must pass exams in general knowledge, grade level pedagogy and special area content that align with the type of certificate they are requesting. Background checks by the state of Arkansas, FBI and Child Maltreatment Central agency also are necessary to qualify for teacher certification in Arkansas.

A traditional route to teacher certification in Arkansas makes you eligible for a five-year Standard license that entitles you to teach in Arkansas public schools. You can request the addition of endorsements, grade levels and content areas to a Standard license as you complete the corresponding requirements.

Minimum Education Requirements for Arkansas Teachers

The minimum education requirement for Arkansas teachers is a bachelor’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university. You also must complete an educator preparation program that is accredited by CAEP, an accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the licensing authority of a state government. If you enroll at an educator preparation program at a college or university, you can earn the required bachelor’s degree as part of the program. Some educator preparation programs are offered as part of a post-baccalaureate or master’s program.

In addition, all certificate candidates must complete seven hours of professional development. The course content necessary for licensure includes: two hours of parental involvement, two hours of child maltreatment training, two hours of teen suicide awareness and prevention, and one hour of dyslexia awareness. This requirement can be met during your educator preparation program, via Arkansas IDEAS or any other method approved by the ADE.

Teacher candidates seeking some grade level certificates are required to complete three college credit hours in Arkansas history at an accredited college or university. This requirement can be met as part of your degree coursework in an educator preparation program. A 45-hour course in Arkansas history completed through the online Arkansas IDEAS portal also is acceptable.

Student Teaching

Student teaching is a requirement for Arkansas teacher certification. You must participate in field experiences such as observations and practicum and supervised clinical practices that include student teaching and internships in the program of study for which you will be seeking a certificate. To qualify for first-time licensure in Arkansas, your supervised clinical practice experience should include a minimum of 60 complete school days, totaling approximately 420 contact hours. An accredited educator preparation program is required to provide student teaching experiences for certification preparation.

Pass Arkansas Certification Exams

You must pass Arkansas certification exams to qualify for teacher licensure. The exams are administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and vary by certificate. All teacher candidates must achieve a passing grade on each of the Reading, Writing and Mathematics components of Core Academic Skills for Educators. You also must pass the appropriate grade-level Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching test and the corresponding Praxis II subject test that aligns with your intended certificate and endorsements. edTPA can be substituted for Principles of Learning and Teaching upon approval of ADE.

In addition, candidates for an Elementary Education K-6 and Special Education K-12 must pass the Foundations of Reading assessment administered by Pearson. This stand-alone exam assesses knowledge of beginning reading instruction based on the science of reading.


After completing the requirements necessary for Arkansas teacher certification, you can prepare your paper application. You must provide official transcripts from the institutions where you earned your degree(s), educator preparation program and internship/student teaching experiences. A verification form, completed by your educational institution with its official seal, and indicating the licensure for which you are eligible, also must accompany your application. Proof of required professional development programs and completion of the study of Arkansas history also is required.

In addition, the ADE must receive official test scores indicating passing grades on the assessments required for the certificate you are requesting. Candidates for an initial Arkansas teacher certification also must provide proof of background checks that are no more than one year old at the time of application. A nonrefundable application fee must be paid online or included with your application.

How Much Do Teachers in Arkansas Make?

You can expect salaries to vary for certified teachers in Arkansas. Factors such as your teaching experience, certificate specialty or endorsements, and the budget of your school district can affect your specific salary. Examples of median annual teaching salaries in Arkansas include the following:

salary outlook
Position Median Salary
Early Childhood Educator $28,820
Elementary School Teacher $48,090
Secondary School Teacher $51,030
Middle School Teacher $48,450
School Administrator $77,680


Job Growth for High School Teachers through 2031

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, 2021

Specialty Certifications

Arkansas allows you to pursue specialty certification by adding grade levels and specialty areas to a Standard certification. You can apply for most of these specialty areas at the time of your initial application. Each endorsement requires a specific program of study and proof of a passing grade on the corresponding assessment. Once you have acquired the initial level of some specialty areas, you may be able to add either the next higher or lower level by testing out. Some endorsements can be added by initially testing out.

Early Childhood Education


Arkansas offers a Standard certificate with an Early Childhood (B-K) endorsement for teachers of the youngest students. Requirements for Early Childhood (B-K) certification include the completion of a bachelor’s degree in an approved educator preparation program. In an Early Childhood (B-K) program, your field experiences and supervised clinical practice are divided between prekindergarten and kindergarten, with no less than 40 percent of the total experiences in either age group.

Candidates for the B-K certificate must fulfill the educational requirement for professional development topics, but are not obligated to complete coursework for Arkansas history. A passing score on the Praxis Reading, Writing and Mathematics portions of the Core Academic Skills for Educators also is required. In addition, you must pass the Praxis II assessments related to early childhood knowledge, called Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood. Early childhood educators also can choose to add an age 3-4 endorsement to a Standard certificate by passing the Praxis Education of Young Children assessment.

Elementary School Teacher


To become certified elementary school teacher in Arkansas, you should pursue a Standard certificate with Elementary (K-6) specialty. Requirements for this specialty include a related bachelor’s degree and completion of an educator preparation program. Your field experience and supervised clinical practice experiences will be split between grades K-3 and 4-6. At least 25 percent of your experiences must be completed in each grade level.

Requirements for the Elementary (K-6) specialty include passing the Praxis Reading, Writing and Mathematics portions of the Core Academic Skills for Educators. You also must pass the Praxis II Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects test, which includes sub-tests in Mathematics, Reading and Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. Additional required examinations include the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 and the Arkansas Foundations of Reading assessment. As with any Standard certificate, you must provide proof of education regarding Arkansas history and professional development studies.

Secondary School Teacher


If you want to pursue a career as a secondary school teacher, you can apply for a Standard license with a 7-12 content area. An approved educator preparation program for secondary school teachers will require that you have content preparation equivalent to that of students pursuing an academic major or non-teaching degree in the same content area. Your field experiences will be split between grades 7-9 and 10-12, with each group representing at least 25 percent of your experiences.

To earn a secondary school level specialty, you must pass the Praxis Reading, Writing and Mathematics portions of the Core Academic Skills for Educators. Most areas of concentration require that you take the Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 and a content knowledge exam for every subject area you are pursuing for certification. Candidates for this certificate also must meet education requirements for professional development topics. Teachers pursuing a Secondary Social Studies (7-12) specialization are required to complete the Standard license requirement for Arkansas history.

Substitute Teacher Certification


Arkansas does not provide a specific license for substitute teachers. Minimum requirements are the completion of a high school degree or high school equivalency test, though individual school districts may impose additional guidelines. In Arkansas, students may not be under the direction of a substitute teacher for more than 30 days unless the substitute has either a bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited college or university or a current Arkansas teaching license.

Physical Education (PE) Certification


You can earn physical education (PE) certification in Arkansas with a Standard license in Physical Education & Health (K-12). Approved educator preparation programs for this certification require courses in educational strategies and motor skill development. An approved educator preparation program in any specialization of K-12 must provide field experiences and supervised clinical practice divided between K-6 and 7-12 in the content area. You must earn at least 25 percent of your total hours in each age range. After earning this certification, you are eligible to pursue a Coaching endorsement.

Candidates for the Physical Education & Health (K-12) certification must fulfill the education requirements for professional development necessary for all Standard licenses. Assessments required for this certification include the Praxis Reading, Writing and Mathematics portions of the Core Academic Skills for Educators. The required Praxis II assessments specific to this topic area are Health and Physical Education: Content Knowledge and Principles of Learning and Teaching for either Grades K-6, Grades 5-9 or Grades 7-12.

Special Education Certification


You can earn special education certification in Arkansas by applying for the Special Education (K-12) Standard certificate. An approved educator preparation program will provide field experiences and internships that are split between the K-6 and 7-12 environments in special education, with neither age range accounting for less than 25 percent of your total experiences.

Candidates for the Special Education (K-12) certification must fulfill the education requirements for professional development necessary for all Standard licenses. To qualify for this certification, you will have to pass the Praxis Reading, Writing and Mathematics portions of the Core Academic Skills for Educators. Additional required assessments include: Praxis II Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications and Praxis II Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge. The Arkansas Reading Foundations stand-alone assessment also is required.

English as a Second Language Certification


English as a Second Language (ESL) K-12 certification is awarded as an endorsement to a Standard Teacher certificate, but not at the time of earning an initial license. The ESL curriculum consists of four required courses completed at an accredited college or university. While there are no approved ESL teacher educator preparation programs in Arkansas, you can complete these courses as part of an approved educator preparation program. However, you have to wait until after you acquire a Standard license to include it as an endorsement. The required Praxis II exam is English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Certifications for School Administrators


Certifications for school administrators in Arkansas are offered as District Level Administrator (P-12), Building Level Administrator (P-12) and Curriculum/Program Administrator (P-12) specialty areas for a Standard license. These certifications can be added after you obtain a Standard license in a content area that meets the prerequisite of the administrator certificate you are pursuing. They are not available for inclusion with a first-time licensure request.

To qualify for these endorsements, you must complete a master’s level or higher degree from an accredited college or university in education, educational leadership or a related content area. You’ll also require proof of a teacher or internship experience meeting the qualifications of the specific certification. Candidates for Building Level Administrator (P-12) and Curriculum/Program Administrator (P-12) certifications must pass the Praxis II School Leaders Licensure Assessment. The Praxis II School Superintendent Assessment is required for District Level Administrator (P-12) certification.

Certificate vs Certification


A certificate is awarded by an educational institution, and signifies that a student has satisfactorily completed a given curriculum. Certificate programs can help students prepare for certification exams.


A certification is generally awarded by a trade group after an individual has met certain professional requirements (e.g. earned a specific degree, worked professionally in a given field for a set amount of time, etc.) and passed a certification exam.

In short, a certificate is evidence that someone has completed an educational program, while a certification denotes that someone has met a certain set of professional criteria and/or passed an exam.

Not all programs offered are designed to meet state educator licensing or advancement requirements; however, it may assist candidates in gaining these approvals in their state of residence depending on those requirements. Contact the state board of education in the applicable state(s) for requirements.

Teaching Reciprocity Agreements in Arkansas

If you have a valid out-of-state teaching license, you may be able to expedite your Arkansas teacher certification by reciprocity. Understanding how your current teaching license can help you meet education and experience requirements can save you valuable time and expenses in gaining Arkansas teacher certification.

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Arkansas participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity Arkansas does not grant full reciprocity to out-of-state certification candidates. However, your credentials may count toward a Standard teaching certificate if your license has been in good standing with your home state and you can verify: three years of current teaching experience, current certification from the NBPTS, successful completion of an approved teacher education program or any related assessments and basic skills required for the out-of-state license.
Coursework Requirements All out-of-state candidates must meet the professional development coursework requirement for Standard certificates. Those applying for Elementary Education (K-6), Middle Childhood (4-8) or Secondary Social Studies (7-12), must meet the education requirement for Arkansas history.
Test-out or Exemption Arkansas does not allow for test-out or exemption from additional coursework requirements. However, out-of-state teachers can apply for a three-year nonrenewable Provisional Standard certificate if they meet licensure qualifications but are missing the Arkansas History requirement or the content or pedagogical testing.
Assessment Requirements Out-of-state candidates can bypass the pedagogical and content-area assessments required if they have at least three years of experience as a teacher in the content area or level of licensure they are pursuing. Those seeking specific licenses must take a stand-alone reading assessment.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Out-of-state teachers using their existing credentials toward Arkansas teacher certification must have proof of being in good standing with their home state for a period including the most recent three years.
Performance Requirements Out-of-state candidates do not have to meet performance requirements except proof of being in good standing with their home state for the immediate three-year period preceding the certification request.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials There is no consideration of special reciprocity for advanced credentials. However, teaching candidates who hold NBPTS certification can use this credential to bypass some assessment requirements.

Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

You can pursue an alternate teaching certification in Arkansas by acquiring a Professional Provisional teaching license. This non-renewable three-year license is available to experienced professionals who want to teach on a full or part-time basis while they complete the requirements necessary for a Standard license. The license can be issued for one or more licensure content areas for Middle Childhood grades 4-8 or Secondary grades 7-12. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree or higher and verification of three years of employment experience related to the content area of the licensure. Candidates also must pass general and core assessments and provide professional recommendations.

Teach for America

Teach for America places teachers in both urban and rural Arkansas school districts. The mission of this national nonprofit organization is to support education equality among U.S. students. Members of the Teach for America corps are chosen from a pool of applicants. Candidates must demonstrate leadership qualities and possess a bachelor’s degree or higher. If selected, you will attend an intense training program to help you qualify for a Standard teaching certificate in Arkansas prior to your classroom placement.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

The Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL) is a non-traditional route to teacher certification administered by ADE. The program is open to college graduates who earned a minimum overall GPA of 2.70 or higher at graduation or a 2.90 in the last 60 hours of coursework. APPEL participants start the program by completing the general knowledge assessments and clearances required for a two-year Provisional Teaching license. This allows them to work full or part-time in Arkansas public schools while they complete the requirements for a Standard license. This two-year preparation track program includes Saturday and online instruction modules, employment as a classroom teacher, assessments, and mentoring.

Arkansas universities also offer master’s programs that allow you to continue working while you earn our degree. The non-traditional MEd in Teaching Learning & Leadership program is designed for individuals with a bachelor’s degree who want to pursue a master’s degree in education while working as a classroom teacher. You also can earn a MAT or traditional MEd at participating higher education institutions.

Arkansas also accepts credentials from the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), an online self-paced teacher education program. The ABCTE allows college graduates to complete an educator preparation program within one year while they continue employment.

Arkansas Teacher Corps

The Arkansas Teacher Corps (ATC) is an accelerated route to teacher certification. The program seeks those who are committed to serving students by teaching in high-need schools across the state. College graduates of all majors and backgrounds are eligible to apply. ATC fellows are trained in an intense teaching program during the summer preceding their first teaching assignment so they can earn a Standard teaching license. They commit to three years of teaching and actively participating in their schools and the surrounding communities.