How to Earn a Teaching License in Oklahoma

If you want to teach in Oklahoma, make sure you understand what you’ll need to do to get there. No matter what your circumstances, the first step is to earn 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. If you’re just beginning your journey, we’ll help you learn about Oklahoma’s certification process. If you want to learn how to progress to advanced certification or earn a specialized endorsement, we can help. If you’re a teacher looking to move to Oklahoma from out of state, we’ll explain the reciprocity system.

The short video below gives an overview of what to expect as a certified teacher in Oklahoma state.

Requirements for Teachers

The traditional pathway for earning your teaching license in Oklahoma requires all teacher candidates to complete and meet Oklahoma’s State Department of Education (OSDE) requirements and standards. These requirements include clearing a state and federal background check, meeting the education standards and earning a passing score on all examinations.

Standard teaching licenses are valid for five years and can be renewed by completing the required continuing education credits for your license, completing a renewal application and paying a $50 fee.

Meet the Minimum Education Requirements for Oklahoma

The best place to start your traditional path to licensure is by completing the education requirements. All teachers in Oklahoma must complete a bachelor’s degree in teaching. You must also complete a state-approved teacher preparation program in the area you seek to teach. An appropriate preparation program will be included in your degree program if it is a state-approved program. You will complete your degree and preparation program simultaneously.

Student Teaching

While student teaching is not expressly stated as a certification requirement, it will be a part of your education program. Student teaching works to provide students with the opportunity to gain practical teaching experience. As a student teacher, you will work one-on-one with a teacher in their classroom. You will begin the experience by assisting the teacher as needed and observing the classroom environment. By the end of the experience, you and the teacher will switch roles. You will plan and deliver the lessons, while the teacher will aid and observe you.

Pass the Oklahoma Certification Exams

The OSDE requires all teacher candidates to pass three exams. The first exam is a basic skills exam, the Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET). Next, you will need to pass the exam that certifies you to teach a particular subject, the Oklahoma Subject Area Test(s) (OSAT). Finally, you must pass the Oklahoma Professional Teaching Examination (OPTE) in order to verify that you have the skills and knowledge to be a qualified educator for a specific grade range.


When you meet all of the Oklahoma traditional pathway requirements for licensure, you can start the application process by creating an Oklahoma Education Single Sign-On account. Once you have a registered account you will look for the Oklahoma Educator Credentialing System. You can complete your application through this system. You will also need to submit a $58.25 processing fee along with your application.

How Much Do Teachers in Oklahoma Make?

The following teacher salaries are reported by the 2021 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for Oklahoma. It is possible to make below or above the listed salaries depending on the school district you teach in or even your experience level. For more exact salary information, contact your local school district.

salary outlook
Position Median Salary
Early Childhood Educator $28,800
Elementary School Teacher $48,150
Secondary School Teacher $49,730
Middle School Teacher $48,210
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

When you begin your teacher preparation program you will want to make sure it is focused on the grade level and subject area you seek to teach. You will want to do this for three reasons:

1. Your teacher preparation program, and often your teaching degree, must have a specific focus
2. Oklahoma standard teaching certifications must have an endorsement that verifies you can work with a particular group of kids.
3. Each endorsement will require you pass an OPTE and OSAT exam that tests your knowledge of the certification area you seek.

Early Childhood Education


Oklahoma teacher certifications in early childhood education require applicants to complete their OPTE exam in the PK-8 grade range. Following this exam, candidates for an early childhood education certification should pass the Early Childhood Education OSAT.

Your teacher education program for early childhood education will have additional requirements in place in addition to the testing requirements.

Elementary – Middle School Teacher


Elementary school teachers in Oklahoma must pass the OPTE PK-8 exam to earn certification. There are two OSAT exams for elementary education-the Early Education Subtest 1 and 2. The first subtest will cover reading and language arts, while the second subtest will cover many more topics including social studies, mathematics, science, health, fitness, and the arts. In addition to the testing requirements, your elementary level teacher education program will include requirements specific to elementary school.

Oklahoma middle school teachers must pass the same OPTE that early childhood and elementary school teachers must pass, the PK-8 exam. When it comes to the OSAT exam, a middle school teacher has more options than an elementary school teacher. They can earn certification in middle-level English, mathematics, science or social studies by passing the corresponding Middle-Level OSAT.

Certification candidates for the middle school level should make sure that their teacher preparation program is focused on the middle-level grade ranges and the subject matter that they seek to teach.

Secondary School Teacher


Secondary school teachers in Oklahoma must be qualified to teach grades 6-12. You can prove your qualification for this age range by passing the OPTE: 6-12. At the secondary education level, there are a variety of subjects offered to students, far more than at the other grade levels. Because of this, you will have many more endorsement options as a secondary teacher. The OSAT you will take must correspond to the subject that you focused on in your teacher preparation program.

Even within the science category of certification, there are five secondary level options: biological sciences, chemistry, earth sciences, physical sciences, and physics. If you are unsure of what OSAT you should sign up for, get in touch with your teacher preparation program, they will be able to point you in the right direction.

Substitute Teacher Certification


Oklahoma does not offer substitute teacher certifications, however, you can hold a valid Oklahoma teacher certification and work as a substitute. As a substitute teacher with a teacher certification, you will be considered a certified substitute and can work within Oklahoma schools as a substitute for an unlimited number of days. You may also earn a higher pay rate as a certified substitute teacher than a substitute teacher who does not hold a certification.

You can still work as a substitute teacher in Oklahoma without earning your teacher certification. These substitutes are referred to as non-certified substitutes. To become a non-certified substitute you must complete a state and federal background check. You must also hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Additional requirements will vary depending on the school district you seek to substitute in but may include substitute training.

Physical Education (PE) Certification


To become a PE teacher in Oklahoma you will earn your standard teacher certification in Physical Education, Health and Safety. You must also decide what grade range you want to work with when you start you PE focused teacher education program. PE teachers have two options for completing their grade specific OPTE, PK-8 or 6-12.

There is only one OSAT exam offered to PE teacher candidates, the Physical Education/Health/Safety exam. You must pass it and the OPTE, in addition to all other OSDE requirements.

Special Education Certification


Special education teachers in Oklahoma have two OPTE grade level testing options PK-8 or 6-12. You must pass one of these exams as an OSDE requirement. As a special education teacher, you should determine what grade range you seek to work with prior to starting your teacher education program. Special education teachers have five endorsement areas they can choose from, and each has a corresponding OSDE:

  • Blind/Visual Impairment
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Gifted Education
  • Mild-Moderate Disabilities
  • Severe-Profound/Multiple Disabilities

To earn your special education certification you must also complete additional teacher education program requirements along with the required testing. You must also make sure that your teacher education program is in special education with a focus on the specific special education population you seek to work with.

English as a Second Language Certification


If you know that you want to get your teacher certification endorsed in English as a Second Language (ESL) prior to earning your teacher certification you should make sure that you are paired with an ESL teacher when you complete your student teaching experience. Once you complete the education requirements, you will need to pass the OSAT English as a Second Language to earn your teacher certification endorsed in ESL.

You can also add ESL as an additional endorsement after earning your teacher certification. This will require that you pass the OSAT ESL exam. You may also need to complete additional coursework specific to ESL, depending on your education focus.

Certifications for School Administrators


There are two certification options for administrators in Oklahoma, Traditional Administrator Certification and Alternate Administrator Certification. Here is a comparison of routes to certification for both traditional and alternate certification:

Traditional Administrator Certification Alternate Administrator Certification
Principal Hold a master’s degree.

Complete an Oklahoma approved building-level leadership skills program in education administration.

Pass the Principal Oklahoma Subject Area Tests (Common Core and principal specialty area).

Verify two years of teaching experience completed in an Oklahoma school.

Hold a master’s degree.

Verify two years of relevant work experience in a supervisory or administrative position.

Pass the required administrator subject area test(s).

Have on file with the director of teacher education at an Oklahoma accredited institution of higher education

a declaration of intent to earn standard certification through completion of an approved alternative administrative preparation program within three years.

The OSDE will then issue a three year nonrenewable initial alternative administrative credential.

Complete an alternative administrative preparation program.

Completing all requirements will make you valid for either the principal or superintendent credential, as applicable.

Superintendent Hold a principal certification.


Complete an Oklahoma approved building-level leadership skills program in education administration and hold a master’s degree.

Pass the Superintendent Oklahoma Subject Area Test.

Complete an Oklahoma approved district-level leadership skills program in education administration.

Verify two years of administrative experience in an Oklahoma school.

Hold a master’s degree.

Verify two years of relevant work experience in a supervisory or administrative position.

Pass the required administrator subject area test(s).

Have on file with the director of teacher education at an Oklahoma accredited institution of higher education

a declaration of intent to earn standard certification through completion of an approved alternative administrative preparation program within three years.

The OSDE will then issue a three year nonrenewable initial alternative administrative credential.

Complete an alternative administrative preparation program.

Completing all requirements will make you valid for either the principal or superintendent credential, as applicable.

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 Oklahoma

The National Associate of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) created the Interstate Agreement in an effort to allow teachers to transfer their out-of-state certification to a new state with more ease. As an active participant in the agreement, Oklahoma has created guidelines for out-of-state teachers seeking reciprocity. See how Oklahoma teacher reciprocity can benefit you:

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Yes, Oklahoma is a participating state.
State Grants Full Reciprocity No. Reciprocity candidates are first accepted under a provisional certification. After a full year successfully teaching in an Oklahoma school with a provisional certification, out-of-state license holders are eligible to earn the standard Oklahoma certification.
Coursework Requirements There are no coursework requirements for out-of-state teachers.
Test-out or Exemption N/A
Assessment Requirements There are no assessment requirements in place for out-of-state teachers seeking reciprocity in Oklahoma.
Different Requirements Based on Experience All Oklahoma reciprocity requirements are the same no matter what your experience level is.
Performance Requirements You only need to meet performance requirements while you hold an Oklahoma provisional license. You must complete a full year of successful teaching with a provisional license.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials No. Oklahoma offers two types of licensure: provisional and standard. All out-of-state candidates must first hold and teach under a provisional license for a full school year before being eligible for a standard license.

Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

Many people decide to start a teaching career after earning their degree in a field unrelated to education. Unfortunately, Oklahoma requires teacher candidates seeking licensure through the traditional route to have a bachelor’s degree in the education field. While earning you teacher certification the traditional way may not be an option for you, the good news is that there are alternative teacher certification options available that do not require you to have a bachelor’s degree in education.

Teach for America

Teach for America (TFA) is a nation-wide program that places qualified candidates in areas with teacher shortages. To be a candidate for TFA you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Within Oklahoma, TFA places teacher candidates throughout the Oklahoma City area. TFA also works within 53 regions across the nation, and you can relocate to any of these areas as a TFA member.

If TFA accepts you into the program you will work as a teacher for a two-year term with TFA. During this period you will complete all of the OSDE requirements for first-year teachers. By the end of your term, if you have met the requirements, you will earn your standard teaching certification and officially be a qualified Oklahoma teacher.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

If you have a non-teaching degree with a 2.5 GPA or higher you could be eligible to apply for Oklahoma’s Alternative Placement Program. To gain acceptance you must be able to document that you have earned an education or have experience in the subject you seek to teach. Documentation can include earning your major in the subject area; earning your minor in the subject area and having one year of professional or volunteer experience, with a recommendation; three years of work or volunteer experience with a recommendation; or even publishing a relevant article in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

To submit an application for an Alternative Placement Program you should submit your college transcripts, a resume and the application along with a $50 processing fee. Once your application is processed you will be notified via letter whether you are accepted or not.

If you are accepted you must then pass the Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET) and the Oklahoma Subject Area Test (OSAT) for the subject you are qualified to teach. Once you pass the exams you will complete a background check and submit one more program application along with an additional $50 fee. If you meet all of the requirements you will earn your initial alternative certification. You will then have three years to complete the following steps.

First, you will complete all the program requirements, including professional education coursework and a teaching experience. Next, you must pass the Oklahoma Professional Teaching Exam (OPTE).Finally, after completing those steps, you will be ready to fill out the final application for your alternative standard certification along with submitting one last $50 fee.