How to Earn Teacher Certification in Connecticut

If you want to be a teacher in Connecticut, your first step is to earn your degree, then your certification. While there are several pathways to doing this, your options depend on your 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 Connecticut’s certification process. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to advanced certification and earn a specialty endorsement, or you’re a teacher looking to move to Connecticut 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 Connecticut.

Requirements for Teachers

Connecticut is committed to making education a priority by creating a positive environment for learning. The state has one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios in the country, averaging 12.7:1. These manageable classrooms allow teachers to instruct creatively and effectively. Connecticut also rewards certified teachers and emphasizes retention by offering the fifth-highest teacher salaries among U.S. states, according to a recent ranking by the National Education Association (NEA).

Requirements for a traditional route to initial teacher certification in Connecticut include the completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program and passing assessments for basic academic skills and subject-area expertise. Some certification areas also require additional examinations. However, you may be able to bypass the educator preparation program requirement if you have a valid certificate and the equivalent of two school years of full-time teaching experience in the grade level and subject area that you want certification. This must include at least 20 school months of appropriate and successful experience in the public school or the same approved non-public public school.

The Initial Educator Certificate is awarded to candidates who meet these requirements but have completed less than three school years of applicable teaching experience in the 10 years before applying for certification. This certificate is valid for three years.

Progressing to the second level of teacher certification, called the Provisional Educator Certificate, requires a minimum of 10 months of applicable successful teaching experience under an Initial Educator Certificate or Interim Initial Certificate. Completion of the Connecticut State Board of Education Teacher Education and Mentoring Program (TEAM) also is required. These requirements can be completed in a public school or an approved nonpublic school.

A Professional Educator Certificate is the third certification level in Connecticut. To earn this five-year license, you must have 30 months of applicable teaching experience while working under a Provisional Educator Certificate in a public school or an approved nonpublic school. You also must complete the additional coursework required to progress to this level for your specific certification.

Minimum Education Requirements for Connecticut Teachers

The minimum education requirement for Connecticut teacher certification in non-occupational subjects is a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. All coursework for initial certification or additional endorsements must be awarded on an official transcript from a regionally accredited college or university.

Completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program is required for certification via the traditional route. If you’re a new prospective educator, you will want to consider state-approved teacher preparation programs that allow candidates to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and sometimes both, as part of the program. To earn admission to a Connecticut-approved teacher preparation program, you must fulfill a basic skills requirement. In addition, most programs require that you have a minimum cumulative GPA of B for all undergraduate courses.

All Connecticut-approved teacher preparation programs must include 36 clock hours of special education coursework. Teacher preparation programs leading to endorsements for ages preschool through grade three must include at least six semester hours of coursework on the instruction of reading.

Student Teaching

The student teaching component of your certification requirements is completed while enrolled in a state-approved teacher preparation program. To prepare for student teaching, you will participate in field experiences that include observation and limited participation teaching. A student teaching experience involves full-day practice teaching in a school setting with a cooperating teacher.

You can begin student teaching after completing at least 12 semester hours of credit in professional education. Per state regulations, student teaching must account for at least six but not more than12 semester hours of credit. This experience lasts for a minimum of 10 weeks.

Connecticut requires that you provide clearances from a state and national criminal history record check at least 30 days before being placed in a school for field experiences, student teaching or an internship. To do so, you must provide fingerprints for review by The State Police Bureau of Identification and the FBI. The results of your criminal history check are sent to the employing school district.

Pass Connecticut Certification Exams

Connecticut certification exams measure your basic skills and subject area knowledge. Prior to your enrollment in a teacher preparation program, you must take the Praxis Core Reading, Writing and Mathematics tests. Candidates who meet established minimum scores on SAT or ACT examinations might be eligible to waive their requirement for a Praxis Core test.

Upon completing your teacher preparation program, you must achieve passing grades in Praxis II content area tests administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). In addition, some certifications require passing the Pearson Foundations of Reading test. Candidates for some endorsements are subject to additional content area exams.


After successfully completing the education and assessment requirements for the type of certification you are pursuing, you can apply for an Initial Teaching Certificate via the online Connecticut Educator Certification System (CECS). You can apply online or download a paper application.

In addition, your school or university must complete a Statement of Preparing Higher Education Institution, form confirming your completion of a teacher education program and required internships. This form must be returned via mail and contain authentic signatures. Your school or university also must submit an official transcript directly to the SDE.

The results of Praxis I and Praxis II assessments taken in Connecticut are sent to SDE automatically. If your certification requires the Pearson Foundations of Reading test or other unique assessments, official scores also must be submitted. A non-refundable fee, paid online or by mail, also is required.

How Much Do Teachers in Connecticut Make?

Teachers in Connecticut earn among the highest salaries in the United States. However, salaries can vary by school district, a teacher’s education and professional experience. A sample of teaching salaries in Connecticut is indicated here.

salary outlook
Position Median Salary
Early Childhood Educator $30,470
Elementary School Teacher $79,120
Secondary School Teacher $78,910
Special Education Teacher $64,030
School Administrator $127,670


Job Growth for High School Teachers through 2031

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

Specialty Certifications

You can pursue specialty certifications in Connecticut that authorize you to teach in designated age/grade levels or content areas. It’s important to confirm the current requirements in your chosen area of certification before you pursue teacher preparation programs or other credential options. In most cases, you can add one or more endorsements to an existing teaching certificate by completing the specific education and assessment requirements associated with the endorsement you desire.

Early Childhood Education


You can earn Connecticut certification in Integrated Early Childhood Education/Special Education Grades Newborn-K or Elementary Grades 1-3, which authorizes you to teach the youngest students in the state. An endorsement for newborn through kindergarten allows you to teach students in both special and regular education settings, while the grades 1-3 endorsement relates to regular educational settings in those grades.

To earn an Initial Certificate, requirements include a bachelor’s degree and enrollment in a state-approved early childhood education teacher preparation program unless you can substitute appropriate experience for the program. You must meet the basic skills requirement and complete the Pearson Early Childhood Test and the Pearson Foundations of Reading Test to earn certification.

Elementary School Teacher


Certified elementary school teachers in Connecticut are awarded the Elementary Education (1-6) teaching certificate. This credential authorizes you to teach all elementary academic subjects. You can qualify for an Initial Certificate with a bachelor’s degree and completion of an elementary education teacher preparation program. Eligible teaching experience exempts you from a formal program.

New candidates for elementary school certification must fulfill the basic skills requirement for teacher preparation program admission. You also must pass the Praxis II Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects, which includes sub-tests in Reading and Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science. For Initial certification, you also must pass the Pearson Foundations of Reading Test.

Secondary School Teacher


Certification as a secondary school teacher in Connecticut requires earning an academic certificate for grades 7 -12 valid for one or more endorsed subjects. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree or higher and a state-approved teacher preparation program. Your degree must have a major, other than professional education, awarded by an approved college or university in the subject area in which you desire certification, or at least 30 semester hours of credit in that area. Some subject areas have additional coursework requirements. With appropriate teaching experience, you may be excused from the teacher preparation program.

Your program must provide a minimum of 18 semester hours of credit in professional education, including the state-required minimum of 36 clock hours in special education and a student teaching component in the subject area you desire certification. If you are a first-time candidate, you will have to meet the requirement for a basic academic skills test. You also must pass the subject area assessments that align with specific certification you are pursuing.

Substitute Teacher Certification


You can serve as a substitute teacher without special authorization in Connecticut if you have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. With this credential, you can teach a maximum of 40 days in the same classroom.

You can teach longer than 40 days without authorization if you have a valid Connecticut teaching certificate, certificate of eligibility or a standard or permanent certificate that matches the grade and subject area you will be teaching. However, if you don’t have certification, you must have a valid authorization to teach more than 40 days in the same classroom. This is requested from SDE by the employing school district. To qualify for this authorization, you must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and have completed at least 12 semester credit hours in the subject area of instruction.

In special cases, a school district may request a waiver of the bachelor’s degree requirement for a specific substitute teacher. Approval from the SDE is necessary. If granted, the substitute teacher must be at least 18 years old, a high school graduate and prove experience with school-age children. Substitute teachers granted a waiver can teach a maximum of 40 days, whether or not those days are consecutive, in the same classroom in a district.

Physical Education (PE) Certification


You can earn Physical Education (PK-12) Certification in Connecticut, which allows you to teach physical education at all age levels. Completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher and a physical education teacher preparation program is required. Your degree must have a physical education major or at least 30 semester hours of credit in the desired subject area from an approved college or university. With eligible physical education teaching experience, you may be able to bypass the program requirement.

Your program must provide at least 18 semester hours of credit in professional education, including 36 clock hours in special education and a student teaching experience in physical education. Passing the basic academic skills requirement the Praxis II Physical Education: Content and Design assessment also is required.

Special Education Certification


Special Education certification in Connecticut is available as Comprehensive Special Education (1-12). This authorizes you to teach children with a wide range of disabilities and handicaps. Teachers certified in Integrated Early Childhood Education/Special Education Grades Newborn-K serve younger special education students.

Qualifications for Comprehensive Special Education (1-12) certification include a bachelor’s degree and a special education teacher preparation program. Upon SDE approval, relevant teaching experience may substitute for the teacher preparation program. To qualify for an Initial Certificate, you must fulfill the basic academic skills requirement. Required assessments include the Praxis II Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications and the Pearson Foundations of Reading test.

English as a Second Language Certification


You can earn certification for English as a Second Language as the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) (PK-12) certification in Connecticut. This certification requires a bachelor’s degree with a subject major of TESOL or at least 30 semester hours in TESOL and a minimum of nine semester hours in bilingualism, literacy development or a foreign language. A TESOL teacher preparation program or relevant approved teaching experience also is required.

Additional requirements include a teacher preparation program with a minimum of 36 clock hours in special education coursework and a TESOL student teaching experience. You also must fulfill the basic skills requirement and pass Praxis II English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Certifications for School Administrators


Certifications for school administrators in Connecticut are classified as Intermediate Administration or Supervision certification or Superintendent of Schools certification. Requirements for these certifications include completion of a preparation program for supervisory and administrative personnel. Candidates for Intermediate Administration or Supervision certification must complete 18 semester hours of graduate credit past a master’s degree and at least 50 school months of successful teaching experience. Candidates for Superintendent certification must complete 30 graduate semester hours in addition to a master’s degree and at least 80 school months of successful teaching experience.

Candidates for Intermediate Administration or Supervision certification or Superintendent certification who have less than three years of administrative experience within the previous 10 years and have never held a Connecticut endorsement in these areas must take the Connecticut Administrator Test (CAT).

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 Connecticut

Teaching reciprocity agreements in Connecticut can expedite your certification process if you have out-of-state teaching credentials. You may be able to apply out-of-state certificates, education and experience toward the requirements of Connecticut certification.

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Connecticut participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity Out-of-state teachers do not receive full reciprocity in Connecticut.
Coursework Requirements All out-of-state candidates who don’t qualify for certification under the NASDTEC agreement must complete all required professional and academic coursework for the certification subject areas desired.
Test-out or Exemption Out-of-state candidates may fulfill specific course requirements by proof of a Connecticut-approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited U.S. secondary institution or by proving at least 30 months of full-time successful experience in the previous 10 years under a valid out-of-state teaching certificate at the Initial level or higher in the certification content area. Out-of-state teachers who do not meet the terms of NASDTEC must satisfy all Connecticut requirements for certification, including coursework. Those who prove “excellence score” in specified secondary shortage areas may be exempt from content coursework in the specified area.
Assessment Requirements Out-of-state candidates seeking certification in an area in which there is an approved assessment may have to pass the required assessment. However, those who meet all licensure requirements except assessments may qualify for an Interim license with a testing deferral.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Candidates who taught with an out-of-state certificate for at least two years and have proof of teaching effectiveness can be excused from the beginning educator program. To be excused from state assessments, candidates must have a valid out-of-state certificate and prove either three successful years of teaching full time in the same endorsement desired in the previous 10 years or have a master’s degree in the subject area in which licensure is desired. Those not meeting these qualifications must take state licensure assessments.
Performance Requirements Candidates who taught with an out-of-state certificate for at least two years and have proof of acceptable teaching effectiveness can be excused from the beginning educator program. This experience also may be used to earn a Provisional Educator Certificate. Candidates who can prove three successful years of out-of-state teaching experience in the previous 10 years may be able to bypass state assessments by providing a Statement of Successful Professional Experience.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials A Provisional Educator Certificate may be awarded to teachers who completed a Connecticut-approved teacher preparation program in another state. They also must have a minimum of 20 months of successful experience under a valid certificate within the past 10 years in a public school or in a nonpublic school approved by the other state’s governing body. A Provisional Educator Certificate may be awarded to teachers with at least 30 months of successful, out-of-state experience in the past 10 years under a valid certificate in a public school or in an approved nonpublic school.

Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

Connecticut offers many options for alternate teaching certification. Participants can earn an Alternate Routes to Certification (ARC) Initial Certificate after successful completion of an alternate program and related certificate assessments. These programs typically offer flexible options to accommodate students who have full-time positions. Accelerated curriculum can help you expedite certification and begin working in a classroom earlier than a traditional program. Options are offered at colleges and universities or as free-standing programs. Some, such as the Alternate Route of Certification for Teachers of English Language Learners (ARCTELL) are intended for a specific type of certification.

Teach for America

Teach for America helps to end education inequality by recruiting, training and assigning certified teachers to support under-served school districts in Connecticut. This national organization works to close the educational gaps in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport by making meaningful contributions in classrooms and local communities. Participants are college graduates who are committed to the mission of empowering students to succeed. Prior to starting teaching assignments, participants complete an intense teacher education program to earn Connecticut teaching certifications.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

The Alternate Route to Certification (ARC) is a weekend program designed for mid-career adults who want to enter the teaching profession. Participants receive classroom instruction in subject-based methods and classroom management topics. Student teaching experiences also are provided. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a major in a field related to the area of certification desired and specific course requirements which vary by type of certification. You also must have a GPA of B or better in an undergraduate degree or a minimum of 24 semester hours of graduate coursework.

Relay Connecticut Alternate Route Certification Program

Relay Connecticut is a one-year teaching certification program. Completion of the program qualifies participants to earn an Initial Educator Certificate. You may be eligible to participate in Relay Connecticut if you hold a bachelor’s degree and are currently working full-time in a Connecticut public school. The program accommodates working adults by providing about 40 percent of content online. In-person sessions are held on weeknights, Saturdays and during one week in the summer.