How to Earn Teacher Certification in Kentucky

Becoming a teacher in Kentucky state begins with two requirements: the right education and teacher certification. While there are several pathways to achieving 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 to research your options and need to know about the Kentucky certification process. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to a special endorsement certification, or you’re a teacher looking to move to Kentucky from another state and want to know about 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 Kentucky.


For initial certification in Kentucky, all candidates must meet a state-sanctioned set of guidelines. This includes completing an approved educator program, passing the appropriate Praxis exams, and completing the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program among other requirements. Each of these steps requires its own guidelines and procedures depending on your level of education and certification. Read on to get an in-depth and comprehensive breakdown of all the steps and pathways you can take on your way to becoming a certified teacher in Kentucky.

Minimum Education Requirements for Kentucky State Teachers

Like most other states, Kentucky requires all teaching candidates complete a degree program from an accredited university in order to get certified by the state. Depending on the subject or grade level you wish to teach, you may be required to take additional examinations to qualify for certification. Keep in mind that depending on your education level, you may or may not need to take additional education classes on your road to teacher certification. To learn more about the minimum education requirements, visit the Kentucky Department of Education page.

Student Teaching

All states require some form of a student teaching component in order to apply for teacher certification. In Kentucky, you are required to take three educator preparation entry assessments for entrance into an educator preparation program. They include Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading, Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing and Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics.

You may take each exam separately or take all three exams at the same time by selecting Core Academic Skills for Educators: Combined Test when registering for the exam. Another component to student teaching in Kentucky is completing the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP). KTIP was designed to help beginning teachers (interns) experience a successful first year in the classroom.

Pass Kentucky Certification Exams

Once you have completed your minimum education requirements along with your student teaching program, you will need to pass the Kentucky certification exams. To receive an initial certification in Kentucky, you will have to take the Praxis II exam in the subject area you wish to teach. Please note that if you test in Kentucky, your score report will automatically be sent to the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board and if you test outside of Kentucky, you must select the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board as a score recipient when you register for the exam.


Once you have completed all the necessary requirements for teacher certification, you are ready to apply. The application process varies depending on which route to certification you take. In the more traditional route to receiving initial certification, you have to go through the Education Professional Standards Board approved Education Preparation Provider (EPP). These EPPs offer degree-based programs that are the first step to initial certification. To learn more about traditional routes to certification, visit the Education Professional Standards Board website.

How Much Do Teachers in Kentucky Make?

Teachers and Administrators in Kentucky make above average salaries compared to other southeastern states. Along with a generous benefits package that includes retirement, health, vision and dental insurance, teaching in Kentucky may be the right choice for you. The table below gives a detailed breakdown of the different teacher salaries in Kentucky.

salary outlook
Position Median Salary
Early Childhood Educator $37,800
Elementary School Teacher $59,260
Secondary School Teacher $60,040
Special Education Teacher $50,450
Education Administrator $77,190


Job Growth for High School Teachers through 2031

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

Specialty Certifications

Whether you want to become a teacher in any grade level or want to work in an area of focus, specialty certifications are a great resource in helping you tailor your education and certification process to fit exactly what works for you. Often times, knowing exactly which grade level or area of interest you want to pursue will make the certification process smoother and easier. Read below to find out more information on specific certification processes for specialty certifications in Kentucky.

Early Childhood Education


If you are passionate about teaching in early childhood education, then you may want to consider certification for early childhood educators. In Kentucky, you must receive your bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or education in general. However, you will also have to take and pass the Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education Praxis exam.

Elementary School Teacher


In order to teach as an elementary school teacher in Kentucky you must take and pass two Praxis II exams in content areas focused on elementary education. The first exam you will take is the Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects exam. The exam includes testing in the following content areas: reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies and science. The second exam you must take is the Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6.

Secondary School Teacher


Certification for teaching secondary school students will vary on the subject area of choice. However, regardless of which content area you wish to focus on, you will have to take the Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 Praxis II exam and receive a qualifying score. Once you have taken the exam you will choose to take the second Praxis II exam in the preferred area of focus. For example, if you want to become a secondary physics teacher, you would take the Principles of Learning exam as well as the Physics: Content Knowledge exam.

Substitute Teacher Certification


The Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board issues a five-year certificate for substitute teaching candidates who qualify. If you hold a valid statement of eligibility for a Kentucky teaching certificate or if you have previously held a Kentucky certificate for classroom teaching for which you completed a four-year teacher preparation program with an approved bachelor’s degree, you are eligible to apply for a substitute teacher certification.

There are two-tiers to the application process. If you are an individual holding an expired Kentucky teaching certificate, you will need to submit a completed CA-2 application and make the appropriate payment for the certification fees. If you hold an out of state teaching certificate, you will need to submit a completed CA-2 application, submit official college transcripts for undergraduate and graduate degree if applicable with a minimum college GPA of 2.45, submit photocopy of a valid out of state teaching certificate and make the appropriate payment for certification fees.

Physical Education (PE) Certification


Certification for physical education in Kentucky is like most other states in that it requires certification or licensure of physical education teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Elementary school teachers also have the ability to teach elementary school physical education classes if needed. Regardless of grade level, you will have to take a certification or licensure exam and receive the appropriate qualifying score. To learn more about certification for physical education, visit the Society of Health and Physical Educators’ Kentucky state profile page.

Special Education Certification


On top of fulfilling the basic educational requirements, to receive certification in special education you must take and pass the appropriate Praxis II exam in areas of focus specific to special education. There are six Praxis exams that specialize in an area of focus in special education. You are only required to take the appropriate exams in the area of focus you choose. The table below breaks down the six different areas of focus and the appropriate exams that must be completed in order to receive state certification.

Communication Disorders (P-12) Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications
Speech-Language Pathology
Hearing Impaired (P-12) Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications
Hearing Impaired with Sign Proficiency (P-12) Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications
Special Education: Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students
ASL Proficiency Interview
Learning and Behavior Disorders Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications
Moderate and Severe Disabilities (P-12) Special Education: Core Knowledge and Severe to Profound Applications
Visually Impaired (P-12) Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications
Special Education: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments

English as a Second Language Certification


In Kentucky, the Education Professional Standards Board is responsible for issuing certification endorsements for English as a second language.

This certification endorsement is valid for those candidates seeking to teach ESL in grades P-12.

Certifications for School Administrators


If working in administration is your ultimate goal, then certification for school administrators may be the right option for you. In Kentucky, you will need to take and pass two Praxis exams that include certification for grades K-12. You must receive qualifying scores in the School Leaders Licensure Assessment and the Kentucky Specialty Test of Instructional and Administrative practices.

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.

Teacher Reciprocity Agreements in Kentucky

Depending on the state you are coming from and the level of experience and licensure you may have, teacher reciprocity in Kentucky can be a smooth process. Below, the table breaks down all the several types of teacher reciprocity agreements Kentucky participates in. To learn more about teacher reciprocity in Kentucky, visit the Pathways to Teacher Certification in Kentucky page on the Education Professional Standards Board website.

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Kentucky is an active participant in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity No.
Coursework Requirements Yes, but not immediately. Cases are judged on an individual basis, however requirements for out of state applicants include possessing a teacher license that is equivalent to the Kentucky standard license from the state where you completed your preparation program, satisfy the degree, and grade point average requirements established for Kentucky teachers and provide evidence that the license was obtained by completion of an approved preparation program and not based on completion of a written or verbal assessment. You may be required to complete additional coursework requirements if the above requirements have not been met. In addition, candidates teaching under a middle school, high school, Grades 5-12 or Grades P-12 teacher certificate and are within five years of receiving their Kentucky license are required to complete a three-hour content literacy course aligned to the six International Reading Association Standards or two or more courses aligned to the standards and taught by faculty qualified to deliver appropriate instruction.
Test-out or Exemption No.
Assessment Requirements There are assessment requirements for certain prospective candidates. If you are an out of state applicant who has at least two years of teaching experience with certification in the subject area or grade level you taught, you are exempt from testing requirements. If you have not completed the above requirements, you are required to pass the Praxis II Specialty Area exam for each area of certification as well as the Principles of Learning and Teaching exam. However, if you have National Board Certification, you are not required to take either exam.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Yes, if you have completed two-years of full time teaching experience you are exempt from testing requirements.
Performance Requirements No.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials There are special reciprocity guidelines for those who qualify. Kentucky has three levels of licensure-Provisional, Statement of Eligibility and Professional. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis, however if you have advance credentials from another state, you may be eligible for the Professional license.

Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

If the traditional path to certification does not fit your busy schedule, then you might want to consider alternative teacher certification. The state of Kentucky offers a variety of non-traditional certification processes to make your transition into teaching straightforward and effortless. Read on to learn more about the different alternative paths to teacher certification in Kentucky.

Teach for America

Teach for America is a nationwide organization that focuses on closing achievement gaps for students in low-income areas. Teach for America recruits candidates through a screening process to prepare them for teaching in Kentucky. In order to apply, you must hold a bachelor’s degree, have an offer of employment from a local school district in the area of certification you received, successfully complete all training requirements for the Teach for America program and pass all content assessments required by the Education Professional Standards Board in the area of certification you received. Once you meet all the qualifications, you will receive a one-year Temporary Provisional Certificate that is renewable for a maximum of three years.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

Transitioning into teaching as a second-career can be a huge life move. Often times, depending on your educational background and your current lifestyle, an alternative to teacher certification might be the best option for you. One path to alternative teacher certification you may want to consider is proficiency evaluation. Proficiency Evaluation is an alternative pathway that allows you to request an evaluation from an approved educator preparation program (EPP) to determine your level of proficiency in the area of focus you choose.

Depending on your level of proficiency, the EPP may develop an Educator Learning Plan that outlines the additional work you will need to complete. Similar to the University-Based Alternative Route, the candidate must have an offer of employment from a Kentucky school district and complete the Educator Learning Plan. If this pathway to certification interests you, contact the College of Education officials at your respective college or university for more details on necessary additional coursework. And for more information on this alternative to teacher certification, visit the Education Professional Standards Board’s non-traditional pathways to additional certification or rank change webpage.

Veterans of the Armed Forces Alternative Certification

If you are a veteran of the armed forces and you do not meet the minimum requirements to apply for Troops to Teachers, then Veterans of the Armed Forces Alternative Certification program may be your best option. Different than troops to teachers, this alternative to teacher certification for veterans does not offer a stipend and includes certification for those seeking to teach preschool to 12th grade while Troops for teachers only offers certification for grades K-12.

In order to apply for this program, you must meet the minimum qualifications which include being a discharged or released veteran under honorable conditions after six years of active duty, having a bachelor’s degree in the subject matter or related area for which you received certification, have maintained a college GPA of 2.75 and obtain passing scores on Education Professional Standards Board approved subject matter assessments. To receive more details on the application and certification processes, visit the Education Professional Standards Board website.