How to Earn a Teaching License in Mississippi

If you want to be a teacher in Mississippi, your first step is to earn your teacher certification. While there are several pathways to doing this, your options depend on your level of education and experience.

Our 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 Mississippi state certification process. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to advanced certification and get an endorsement in a specialty subject, or you’re a teacher looking to move to Mississippi 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 Mississippi.


Teacher certifications in Mississippi are awarded through the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and are valid for five years. There are four different levels of five year teacher certifications:

Class A: This level is considered the entry-level for teacher certification. While most states require teachers to complete a background check prior to earning certification, Mississippi does not. Although it is not a state requirement, many school districts will require that you complete a background check before you can teach. Additional requirements include completing a bachelor’s degree and passing certain educator exams, which you can read about in the Pass the Mississippi Certification Exams section below.

Class AA: To earn this certification you must meet all Class A certification requirements. In addition you must have a master’s degree in education or in the subject area that you teach.

Class AAA: Along with meeting all Class A certification requirements, Class AAA candidates should complete a specialist’s degree program. This program allows individuals awarded a master’s degree the opportunity to focus their studies on a specific interest area. For a Class AAA license the degree should either be in the endorsement area you teach or in education.

Class AAA: This certification is the most advanced level of certification. To be considered a candidate you must have doctoral degree in the endorsement area you teach or a doctorate of education degree. You must also meet all Class A certification requirements.

Each certification level can be renewed by meeting specific continuing education requirements.

Minimum Education Requirements for Mississippi Teachers

To earn a Class A teaching license in Mississippi, candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree in teacher education with a GPA of 2.75 or higher. Candidates must also complete a teacher education program. This program will be included in your degree program if your major is education focused. If you did not earn your degree in education, you should look at alternative certification options.

Student Teaching

All education degrees and teacher preparation program will require that you complete a student teaching experience. To serve as a student teacher you will first earn a one year intern teaching license. An intern teaching license is awarded to those who are currently enrolled in a teacher preparation program with a 2.75 GPA. You must also show proof of a 21 score ACT test or that you passed the Praxis CORE exam, which covers reading, writing, and math.

Pass Mississippi Certification Exams

To earn a Mississippi teacher certification you must earn a score of 21 or higher on the ACT or earn a passing score on the Praxis CORE exam. The core exam serves as an academic basic skills test for educators.

The next exams that you will need to pass to earn certification will vary depending on the type of certification you seek to earn. Every teacher candidate must complete the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exam. There are four different options for this exam depending on the grade level you seek to work with:

Grades Pre-K-KGrades K-6
Grades 4-8Grades 7-12

You will also need to take the Praxis II test that corresponds to the subject that you seek to teach. For example, if you seek to teach English for grades 7-12 you will need to pass the Praxis II English test. You can find more details about testing throughout the Specialty Certifications section of this article.


You can apply for your Mississippi license online or on paper. No matter which way you choose, you should make sure that all documents, including your college transcripts and test scores, have either been submitted electronically or are included in your application packet.

All teacher certification applications are reviewed by the MDE Office of Educator Licensure. You can use the Educator Licensure Management System (ELMS) to complete all online applications. Paper applications can be mailed to the Mississippi Department of Education, Office of Educator Licensure, P.O. Box 771, Jackson, MS 39205-0771.

How Much Do Teachers in Mississippi Make?

While teachers in many other states may make more than teachers in Mississippi, the cost of living is often higher in those states. Mississippi has a relatively low cost of living. You should also consider that your salary as a teacher will vary depending on the school district you teach in. It is possible that you could make more than the typical median salary for a Mississippi teacher. You can refer to the chart below to get a general idea of teacher salaries in Mississippi.

salary outlook
Position Median Salary
Early Childhood Educator $23,640
Elementary School Teacher $47,280
Secondary School Teacher $47,350
Special Education Teacher $53,410
Education Administrator $76,760


Job Growth for High School Teachers through 2031

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

Specialty Certifications

Every teacher certification in Mississippi indicates what grade range and subject area you are qualified to teach. To earn the certification you must complete all requirements discussed at the beginning of this article, including taking the appropriate Praxis II exam. You can find information on some of the most common and popular certification areas listed below.

Early Childhood Education


Not all public Mississippi schools have early childhood education class rooms. While this type of classroom does not exist in all schools, many public schools do still offer early childhood education. To become certified to teach this age range make sure your education degree program is focused on early childhood education. Your program will be able to guide you to the best route to certification. One option is to earn a Child Development certification. For this certification you must pass the Praxis II PLT for Grades Pre-K-K and the Praxis II Early Childhood exam.

Elementary School Teacher


Elementary education in Mississippi covers grades K-6. To teach within this grade range you should earn your bachelor’s degree in an education program that is specific to elementary education.

You will also be expected to pass the Praxis II PLT Grades K-6 and the Praxis II Elementary Ed exam.

Secondary School Teacher


If you seek to teach at the secondary level you will need to make sure that all of your education and training is focused on the 7-12 grade range and the specific subject matter you want to teach. Prior to becoming a certified secondary teacher in Mississippi, you must pass the Praxis II PLT Grades 7-12 exam. You will also be expected to pass the Praxis II exam that corresponds to the subject area you seek licensure in. This can range anywhere from Physics to English.

Substitute Teacher Certification


Substitute teachers in Mississippi are not required to have a license or permit. While MDE does not regulate substitute teaching standards, school districts do. Each school district has its own requirements for substitute teachers. Some require substitutes to have an associate’s degree, while others may even require substitutes to have a bachelor’s degree.

Contacting your local school district about substitute teaching opportunities is one way to become a substitute teacher in Mississippi. Another common option is through an employment agency that works with the school district. Kelly Educational Staffing is one such agency. If you are hired as a substitute teacher for their agency, they will walk you through the requirements you must meet to work as a substitute teacher.

Physical Education (PE) Certification


In addition to completing all MDE teacher certification requirements, there are two exams you must pass to earn a physical education teacher certification. The first is to verify what grade range you seek to teach, or the Praxis II PLT exam. The second is to show that you are qualified the teach PE, the Praxis II Physical Education exam.

Special Education Certification


For those seeking their Class A teaching certification, there are two special education certifications you can earn:

Birth-Kindergarten: If you seek to earn this certification, make sure your bachelor’s degree is focused on special education for the Birth-K grade range. After you complete the necessary education and training you will need to pass the Praxis CORE exam and the Praxis II PLT.

Mild/Moderate K-12: To earn this certification the traditional way, you should earn you bachelor’s degree in special education mild/moderate K-12. Once you complete your education and training you must pass the Praxis II PLT and the Praxis II Special Education exam.

There are more special education certification options available to those who earn their Class AA teaching certification. These certifications include Emotional Disabilities, Dyslexia Therapy or Early Oral Intervention. To earn your Class AA in any of these areas, make sure you earn your master’s degree in the area you seek to teach.

English as a Second Language Certification


To work with the English as a Second Language (ESL) population in Mississippi, you can either become a certified teacher or an ESL tutor. MDE does not offer any standardized testing for teachers interested teaching ESL. Instead, you must first earn your Class A teacher certification. Once you have earned this certification you will then be able to add an endorsement in ESL. To add an ESL endorsement you will need to complete coursework specific to ESL through an approved institution.

Certifications for School Administrators


There are three certifications available for school administrators in Mississippi, all are offered as a Class AA or higher:

Non-Practicing: To earn this level of administrative certification you should hold a valid Mississippi teacher certification and be able to verify three years of teaching experience. Prior to applying you must complete a master’s degree or higher in educational administration/leadership. You should also verify that you have passed the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA). Finally, you must obtain a recommendation that documents you have completed an approved planned program in educational leadership/supervision, this should be a part of your master’s degree program.

Entry Level: You should hold a non-practicing administrator certification in order to earn an entry level administrator certification. In addition, the MDE requires that you gain employment as an administrator in a Mississippi school prior to submitting a certification application. The school district that employs you will then send a letter detailing your position and start date. Once those steps are completed you will be awarded a Mississippi entry level administrator license.

Career Level: The approved route to earning your career level administrator license is to complete the School Executive Management Institute’s (SEMI) entry level requirements. That includes completing Orientation to School Leadership (OSL) credits.

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 Mississippi

Finding a job as a certified teacher in a new state isn’t as easy as applying for teaching positions. First you have to seek reciprocity for your teaching certification by meeting the state requirements. For teachers wanting to transfer to Mississippi, MDE works with you to simplify the process. They joined the Interstate Agreement set up by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). This agreement requires all participating states to create a reciprocity statement. The statement allows teacher to seek reciprocity and makes clear what requirements they must meet to do so.

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Yes. Mississippi does participate in this agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity Yes. Any out-of-state teacher with a valid teaching certification can earn full reciprocity in Mississippi if they meet the minimum MDE requirements.
Coursework Requirements There are no additional coursework requirements.
Test-out or Exemption No.
Assessment Requirements You do not need to complete any additional assessment requirements unless you cannot prove that you passed your state’s core subject exam or that you cannot prove your out-of-state license was earned by completing requirements that meet MDE standards. If you cannot show proof for either, then you may be eligible to earn a non-renewable Two-Year Reciprocity License. You will then need to complete all the MDE requirements that you do not meet to earn a standard Five Year Reciprocity License.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Inexperienced and experienced teachers must meet the same requirements to earn a Mississippi license.
Performance Requirements There are no performance requirements for out-of-state teachers.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials Out-of-state teachers with advanced credentials may earn an advanced Mississippi certification if they can meet the requirements. As it stands, there are four main licensure levels in Mississippi Class A, AA, AAA, or AAAA. You can find a detailed description of the classes at the beginning of this article. Typically out-of-state educators are eligible to earn a Five Year Reciprocity License (Class A). However, teachers with advanced credentials may be able to earn a Class AA, AAA, or even an AAAA.

Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

Obtaining your teaching certification after you’ve graduated college with a degree outside of the education field or after years of working in a different career field can be an intimidating prospect. Luckily there are alternative pathways that can make earning your Mississippi teaching certification a more realistic option.

Teach for America

Teach for America (TFA) has been working within the Mississippi region since 1993. In Mississippi, only 11 percent of students graduate college-ready, TFA wants to change that. The key way they seek to change this statistic is by finding qualified individuals to work within high-needs schools. They primarily look to recruit college graduates who are interested in earning their teacher certification within Mississippi.

If you join TFA you will serve a two-year teaching commitment in a high-needs school. Throughout your commitment you will gain the necessary hands-on experience to become a skilled educator. You will also complete all MDE requirements to earn your teaching certification, including completing training or coursework. At the end of your commitment you will be a certified teacher and be able to teach anywhere within the state of Mississippi.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

There are also alternative certification options offered through MDE. These are often the most practical options for professionals with bachelor’s degrees who are looking to transition into a teaching career. There are four approved alternative pathways:

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
Mississippi Alternative Path to Quality Teachers (MAPQT)
Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI)
American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)

While the exact requirements for each program will vary, the following steps are a good guideline for understanding what to expect from a Mississippi alternative route to teaching certification:

  1. Decide what you want to teach. From grade level to subject area, this decision will help you decide what alternative program will work best for you.
  2. Prior to joining a program you must pass certain tests. These will be the same test that you must pass to earn your Mississippi teacher certification. First you can take either the Praxis CORE exam or show that you have earned a 21 or higher on the ACT. Then you must take the Praxis II in the subject area you want to teach. Additional testing may be required depending on the program you seek to join.
  3. Next, you will choose an alternative education program that fits your needs. You may want to consider the location, what subject areas they offer, the cost and length of the program, and even how your academic skills and career experience will factor into the program.
  4. Once you’ve completed your testing you will apply to a Mississippi approved alternative teacher program. If you are accepted, you must complete all the training or coursework that the program requires. You will then be ready for your initial alternate license and internship.
  5. You will complete you internship during your first year of teaching. Throughout the internship you will have a mentor to help guide and assist you.
  6. When you have completed the internship and have met all of your program and MDE requirements, you will be eligible to apply for Mississippi’s Class A five year teacher certification.

Unfortunately there are no alternative routes to earning a K-3 teaching certification in Mississippi. You must complete a traditional approved program in elementary education K-3 to earn a license in that grade area.