How to Earn a Teaching License in Maryland

If you want to be a teacher in Maryland, your first step-after earning your degree-is to earn certification. While there are different pathways to doing this, your options will likely 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. If you’re beginning your journey and need to know about Maryland’s certification process, we can help. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to advanced certification or endorsement so you can specialize, or you’re a teacher looking to move to Maryland and need 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 Maryland

Requirements for Teachers

The Maryland State Department of Education has three tiers of teacher certification depending on your level of experience and education. For those candidates seeking initial certification, you will need to apply for the Professional Eligibility Certificate. This certificate is valid for five years and is issued to candidates who meet all certification requirements and not currently employed by a Maryland local school system.

The second tier is broken down into two specific certifications-the Standard Professional Certificate I (SPC I) and the Standard Professional Certificate II (SPC II). Both certificates are valid for five years and applicable to those candidates who are employed by a Maryland local school system. In addition, to qualify for the SPC II certification, you will need to submit verification of three years of satisfactory school-related experience, six semester hours of acceptable credit and a professional development plan for the Advanced Professional Certificate.

For those individuals with advanced credentials, you will need to apply for the Advanced Professional Certificate (APC). This certification is valid for five years and issued to those who have completed six semester hours of acceptable credit, submitted verification of three years of satisfactory school-related experience and meet one of the following standards:

1. Earned a master’s or higher degree from an institution for higher education in a certification area directly related to public school education. This includes completing six semester hours related to the teacher’s specific discipline.

2. Earned at least 36 semester hours of approved content or professional education course work directly related to public school education. This includes completing at least 21 graduate credits, which should include at least six credits directly related to the teacher’s specific discipline.

3. Obtained National Board Certification and completed at minimum 12 semester hours of approved graduate course work, including completing a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific teacher discipline you plan to work in.

Minimum Education Requirements for Maryland Teachers

Like most other states, Maryland requires that teaching candidates receive at the very least a bachelor’s degree to apply for certification within the state. There are instances where you will have to have earned a degree specific to education or the subject area of interest. Along with your minimum education requirements, you may need to complete specific certification exams, such as the Praxis, and complete an educator preparation program.

Student Teaching

For potential teaching candidates to receive any level of certification with the state of Maryland, you will need to complete a student teaching program through an accredited institution for higher education. There are two routes you can choose to follow to complete the student teaching part of your application process. You can either complete a Maryland state approved educator preparation program, or you can complete an out-of-state college or university educator preparation program that leads to certification in that state.

Pass Maryland Certification Exams

Maryland requires that prospective teaching candidates pass specific certification exams to qualify for certification at all levels of licensure. All beginning teachers need to take and pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam, which includes math, reading and writing subject areas. In place of the Core tests, the state of Maryland will accept the following options from prospective candidates:

  • The PPST taken prior to September 2014: combined math, reading and writing.
  • The SAT taken after April 1995: combined math and verbal (critical reading).
  • The SAT taken prior to April 1995: math and verbal (critical reading).
  • The ACT composite score of 24 or higher (ACT composite score is the average of the tests).
  • The GRE General Test: composite of the combined verbal and quantitative exam scores. Candidates who took the GRE test prior to September 2011 will use the old composite scoring guide.


In Maryland, there is an application fee for submitting all necessary documents for certification at any level of licensure. Therefore, it is recommended to double check you have all necessary application materials prior to submission. Once you are ready to begin the application process, be sure to note what application materials are applicable to your level of education and experience. For example, initial certification in Maryland requires you to submit official transcripts in an unopened mailer for all course work taken. Keep in mind that your transcripts must show the degree type and date of conferral. You will also need to submit student copies in an unopened mailer, submit qualifying scores for the required certification tests and finally submit a cover letter with your name, complete mailing address, date of birth, social security number, personal email address and the area of certification you are seeking.

How Much Do Teachers in Maryland Make?

Teaching in Maryland can be a rewarding profession not only for the obvious reasons, but also because of the healthy salary and benefits package offered in the state. Read about median annual salaries in the chart below.

salary outlook
Position Median Salary
Early Childhood Educator $36,3400
Elementary School Teacher $76,290
Secondary School Teacher $77,360
Special Education Teacher $61,680
School Administrator $123,340


Job Growth for High School Teachers through 2031

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

Specialty Certifications

Since each teaching specialty usually has its own set of guidelines and procedures, knowing what grade level and subject area you wish to teach will make the teacher certification process simpler and easier. Read on to get a breakdown of the different popular teaching specialties and their respective certification requirements.

Early Childhood Education


If early childhood education is your preferred area of interest, you will need to meet the minimum education requirements as well as taking and passing the appropriate Praxis exams. In Maryland, you must receive qualifying scores in two exam areas. The first is the Early Childhood Education Praxis II exam and the second is Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood.

Elementary School Teacher


To receive certification as an elementary school teacher, you must take and pass two Praxis exams. The first exam is the Elementary Education: Instructional Practice and Applications test. The second is the Principles of Learning and Teaching Grades K-6. Maryland offers elementary teacher endorsements in the following areas: Early Childhood Education (Pre-K- grade 3), Elementary Education (Grades 1-6), Mathematics Instructional Leader (Pre-K-grade 6) (endorsement only), Instructional Leader STEM, Pre-K-grade 6 (endorsement only).

Secondary School Teacher


Secondary school teacher certification will vary depending on the subject area you wish to teach. Regardless of your area of interest, you will have to at minimum take and pass the Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 Praxis exam along with the Praxis exam in your area of interest. For example, if you wish to teach social studies at the secondary level, you will have to take the Principles of Learning and Teaching exam as well as the Social Studies: Content and Interpretation Praxis exam.

Substitute Teacher Certification


Because substitute teachers are needed on a case by case basis, requirements for certification are easy to fulfill. Most of the time, all you need to do to become a certified substitute teacher in Maryland is have received your high school diploma at minimum and be over the age of 18, having been out of high school for at least two years to teach at the middle and high school levels. If you have received your bachelor’s degree or higher, you will need to submit official transcripts to the school where you will work.

Physical Education (PE) Certification


Physical education requirements in Maryland are standard to those across the country. The state requires certification of physical education teachers at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. Elementary classroom teachers may teach required elementary school physical education classes if applicable. Please note that you must receive a score of 70 percent or higher on the Praxis exam to qualify for certification.

Special Education Certification


To receive certification in special education, you must take the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications Praxis exam and receive the appropriate qualifying score. Keep in mind that specific to state laws in Maryland, regardless of you level of certification you must take and pass the special education Praxis exam to receive certification.

English as a Second Language Certification


For those looking to receive certification in English as a Second Language, you will have to take the appropriate Praxis exam and receive a qualifying score. In Maryland, those looking to teach ESL will have to take the English to Speakers of Other Languages Praxis exam and receive a passing score.

Certifications for School Administrators


The certification process for school administrators is different to that of the teacher certification process. The major difference between the two lies in the type of exam needed to apply for certification as a school administrator. To be certified in Maryland as a principal or school administrator II, you must take the Praxis School Leaders Licensure Assessment exam and receive a qualifying score. To learn more about certification for school administrators in Maryland, visit the Maryland State Department of Education’s teacher and principal assessment web page.

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 Maryland

If you live in another state and are considering teaching in Maryland, there are going to be reciprocity guidelines you must follow. Each state has its own process for receiving teachers through reciprocity agreements, so you may want to check the state department of education websites for more details. In the meantime, read the table below to get a break down of the different reciprocity requirements honored by the state of Maryland.

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement The state of Maryland participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity No.
Coursework Requirements Yes, but only for select candidates. Out of state candidates who do not meet experience requirements are eligible for certification through a transcript analysis. If deficiencies are found on the transcript analysis, you may need to complete additional coursework. Also, if candidates have certification in a specific content area, special education and Pre-K disciplines, they are required to complete six semester hours in reading. However, if you are a candidate who has certification in early childhood, elementary, or special education at the early childhood and elementary levels, you are required to complete 12 semester hours in reading. Additionally, if you have completed a comparable reading program in another state, Maryland may except you from
Test-out or Exemption Yes, but only for select candidates. Candidates with certification in early childhood education, special education and elementary education may test out of the reading requirement by providing qualifying scores on the Teaching Reading: Elementary Education Praxis II assessment.
Assessment Requirements Yes, but only for select candidates. Out-of-state candidates must provide proof of meeting experience requirements or provide qualifying scores on content, basic skills and pedagogy assessments.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Depending on your level of licensure or education experience, there will be different requirements for reciprocity. Those candidates with an active professional certificate from out of state and three years of satisfactory full-time teaching experience within the last seven years in a specific subject area are exempt from the assessment requirements. Those candidates that have an expired or active professional certificate from out of state with two years of satisfactory full-time teaching experience may also be exempt from the assessment requirements if they provide proof of completion of an educator preparation program. Candidates who graduated from an out-of-state educator preparation program and hold an active professional certificate are exempt from additional assessment requirements if they met the issuing state’s qualifying test scores to receive certification. Out-of-state candidates who do not meet the experience requirements must pass basic skills, content and pedagogy assessments.
Performance Requirements Candidates who meet performance requirements must provide proper documentation of satisfactory teaching experience. Those candidates who can provide evidence of two to three years of satisfactory full-time teaching experience are exempt from the assessment requirements.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials There are no special reciprocity agreements for advanced credentials. In the state of Maryland, there are three levels to licensure- Professional Eligibility Certificate (PEC), Standard Professional I & II (SPC) and Advanced Professional Certificate (APC). Candidates who have advanced credentials are granted a PEC until a Maryland school employs them. To advance to a higher tier, out-of-state candidates must meet the same requirements as in-state candidates.

Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

Those who want to teach in Maryland, and who have a degree in another field, or are military service members have alternate routes to licensing and certification they may consider. Here are some of the most common programs to help degree-holding professionals begin a teaching career.

Teach for America

If you are seeking teacher certification and want to live in or around the Baltimore, Maryland area, consider certification through the Teach for America program. Teach for America Baltimore has more than 1,100 corps members and alumni. The program has created long-lasting relationships with educators, community organizations and leaders over the last twenty-six years in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools and Baltimore County Public Schools. Certification through the program will take two years and includes completing testing, coursework and program requirements. All incoming corps members must meet state testing requirements prior to starting the program. Maryland requires the Praxis Core Academic Skills of Educators exam with qualifying scores, as well as a Praxis II content exam in the area you wish to teach.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

Like many others, you may not discover your passion for teaching until later in life. If you are thinking of pursuing teaching as a second career, fear not. The process may be easier than you think. In the state of Maryland, there is an array of alternate teacher certifications you can pursue. One may work for some and not others depending on your current lifestyle. One popular form of alternative certification in Maryland is a transcript analysis. This certification process involves meeting with a specialist in certification through the Maryland State Department of Education where they will review your undergraduate and/or graduate transcripts to see if the content courses in the area of study in which you are seeking certification meet the state requirements according to regulation.

You will then be required to take what is called the Professional Education Sequence of courses that includes the pedagogy of teaching and literacy courses specific to your level of teaching. Upon completion of this coursework, you will need to complete an internship or student teaching program. All of these elements will be explained to you in detail when you speak with the specialist. Please note that you will be required to complete both basic skills testing and content testing prior to submitting your transcripts to the state department of education for analysis.