How to Earn Teacher Certification in Oregon

If you’ve decided to become a teacher in Oregon, your first step after earning your degree is to pursue teacher certification. While there are several pathways to doing this, your options depend on your level of education and experience, and your ultimate career goal.

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 the Oregon state certification process. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to advanced certification and endorsements, or you’re a teacher looking to move to Oregon from another state.

No matter, 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 Oregon state.

Requirements for Oregon

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) has allotted the responsibility of monitoring and issuing all teacher certifications to the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC). Together they offer two primary types of teacher certification:

Preliminary Teaching License–New teachers in Oregon first work towards earning their preliminary teaching license. All new teacher candidates must complete a background check by having their fingerprints cleared. Candidates must also complete all TSPC education and testing requirements. You can read more about the specific education and testing requirements in the sections that follow.

Professional Teaching License–After you have worked as a teacher in an Oregon school for four years and completed an advanced preparation program, you are eligible to apply for a Professional License. The advanced preparation program you complete for licensure can be an Advanced Professional Development Program (APD) offered by your school district; an Advance Degree Program; an Endorsement Program; and a Specialization Program. You can also meet the program requirements by earning a National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification or earning a Professional Certificate issued by the State of Oregon. The program you complete must be completed after you earn your non-provisional or preliminary license.

Minimum Education Requirements for Oregon Teachers

The basic education requirements for earning you preliminary teaching license includes earning a bachelor’s degree or higher and completing a Teacher Preparation Program. The preparation program must be an Oregon approved program. Once you complete the program and are applying for licensure, you should verify with your program that they have submitted your program completion form to TSPC.

Student Teaching

Every Oregon approved Teacher Preparation Program will require that program members complete a student teaching experience. The length of your student teaching experience will vary depending on the program you join. However, each experience will start with you serving as a classroom aid or assistant teacher and end with you planning and delivering lessons to the students.

Pass the Oregon Certification Exams

Oregon has two tests that teacher candidates must pass to earn their preliminary teaching license, completing a teacher preparation program will help prepare candidates for both exams.

1) Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment Exam–This exam will cover Legal Foundations and Equity in the School Environment.

2) Subject Mastery Exam-The exact subject exam you will take will vary depending on the license endorsement you seek. All Oregon subject exams are Oregon Educator License Assessments (ORELA) and are administered by Pearson.


To start the application process for an Oregon preliminary teaching license you should create an eLicensing account. After you submit your application and processing fee, you will need to submit all supporting documents necessary for licensure to the TSPC.

These documents include your fingerprint clearance, official transcripts from your degree program, official transcripts from your teacher preparation program, and all required testing scores. You can check if your documents have been received by inputting your information into the Oregon Educator Lookup. The server will indicate what documents have arrived.

From there, the TSPC will review your application and documentation. You will receive an email notifying you if there is any additional documentation you must submit or if your teaching license has been successfully issued.

How Much Do Teachers in Oregon Make?

Oregon teachers make above the national median for teacher salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has gathered and interpreted the following salary information for education positions within Oregon as of 2021.

salary outlook
Position Median Salary
Early Childhood Educator $35,310
Elementary School Teacher $73,860
Secondary School Teacher $76,090
Special Education Teacher $88,230
Education Administrator $119,610


Job Growth for High School Teachers through 2031

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

Teacher License Endorsements

The ORLEA subject matter exam that you take to earn your Oregon preliminary teaching license will qualify you to teach a particular subject and/or grade range, commonly referred to as an endorsement. Remember that for each endorsement, you must also complete all requirements mentioned at the beginning of this article.

Early Childhood Education


Oregon certified early childhood education teachers must pass the ORLEA in “Early Childhood Education” prior to gaining their certification. It will cover four main content areas: child development and learning; language and literacy development; learning across the curriculum and; professional relationships and responsibilities. You can take this test year-round by registering for the exam and paying an exam fee. You must earn a passing score of 220 to earn the endorsement.

Elementary – Middle School Teacher


The ORLEA exam for becoming an endorsed Oregon elementary school teacher is “Elementary Education” and includes two subtests. You can take each subtest individually for a $50 fee per exam or together for a $95 fee. You must earn a passing score of 220 or higher on each subtest. The first subtest will cover reading and English language arts, and social studies. The second subtest will cover math, science, and have a section on the arts, health, and fitness.

Prior to earning your middle school teaching endorsement in Oregon, you must pass the ORLEA related to the subject you seek to teach. There are four endorsement areas that you can earn certification in as a middle school teacher candidate: Language Arts, General Science, Mathematics, and Social Studies. Each area has its own distinct ORLEA exam that costs $95 to take. You must pass the exam that relates to your area of specialization with a score of 220 or higher.

Secondary School Teacher


Secondary school teachers have the most endorsement opportunities. The ORLEA that you must pass should relate to the subject area that you completed your teacher preparation program in. For example, if you focused on teaching physics at the secondary level, you will want to take the ORLEA “Physics” exam. All ORLEA exams, no matter what endorsement area, cost $95 to take and must be passed with a score of 220.

Substitute Teacher Certification


There are two options for substitute teacher certification in Oregon:

Substitute Teacher License– This is the better option if you are already qualified to teach in Oregon. For this license, you must have your fingerprints cleared. You can skip this step if you hold a standard Oregon teacher certification and have already had your prints cleared by TSPC. You must also have your official transcripts sent into the TSPC for your bachelor’s degree program and to verify completion of a teacher preparation program. You must also complete the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Education environment exam if you have not already done so.

Restricted Substitute Teaching License– If you have not completed a teacher preparation program, this is the better option for you. It requires that you clear a background check, hold a bachelor’s degree, which you will verify by submitting your official transcripts, take and pass the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Education environment exam, and lastly, gain and confirm that you have a district sponsor. The district sponsor will indicate that they both want and need you as a substitute teacher for the school district. A restricted substitute license can be issued for 18 months. If the teacher shortage exceeds the 18-month time frame, the license can be renewed for a three-year period.

Physical Education (PE) Certification


Teachers seeking a PE endorsement must complete all TSPC requirements, including earning a bachelor’s degree, in addition to passing the ORLEA in “Physical Education.” This exam will cost $95 to take and must be passed with a score of 220 or higher.
When you take the exam you will be tested in four content areas: growth and motor development, movement activities, lifelong physical fitness, and understanding the physical education program.

Special Education Certification


Potential special education teachers seeking to pass the ORLEA in “Special Education” to gain their endorsement should be well versed in four content areas: students with disabilities, assessment and program planning, learning environments and instructional practices, and foundations and professional practice. The exam costs $95 and will incorporate questions from each of those areas. You must pass the exam with a score of 220, in addition to completing the TSPC teacher requirements to gain certification.

English as a Second Language Certification


All ESOL candidates in Oregon must meet the standard TSPC teacher requirements mentioned at the beginning of this article. To earn the ESOL endorsement, you must pay a $95 fee to take the ORLEA “English to Speakers of Other Languages.” You must be proficient in foundations of language and language acquisition, foundations of ESOL instruction, and instruction and assessment of English language learners, and pass the exam with a score of 220 to be qualified in ESOL.

Certifications for School Administrators


There are three primary certification levels for those seeking an administration certification in Oregon, one entry-level certification and two advanced:

Preliminary Administrator Certification– To start as an administrator in Oregon you must first earn this certification. A background check is required for licensure unless you are currently a certified Oregon teacher. From there, you must have a master’s degree or higher, complete a school administration program, take a course in Oregon School Law and Finance, have three years of Oregon teaching experience, and finally, pass the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Education Environment exam.

Professional Administrator Certification– This is the first level of advanced administrator certification. You must meet the same requirements as the preliminary administrator certification. The only difference is the experience requirement. Instead of verifying three years of teaching experience, you must verify three years of academic experience while holding an administrator certification.

Distinguished Administrator Certification– To become a distinguished administrator, you must complete a background check. You will also be expected to meet advanced administrative competencies. To complete this requirement, you can complete an advanced education leadership or school administrator program that includes graduate coursework or you can complete a doctor’s degree in school administration or educational leadership. You must also verify that you have five years of experience as a superintendent. And just like all other Oregon administrator and teacher certifications, you must pass the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Education Environment exam.

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 Oregon

Out-of-state teachers seeking reciprocity in Oregon must first earn a Reciprocal Teaching License. You can do this by having your fingerprint cleared for a background check, submit your official transcripts verifying your bachelor’s degree and by submitting your official transcripts for your teacher preparation program. You may also take the extra step of submitting all of your testing scores for your current out-of-state license. Although this is not a requirement, it will help TSPC provide you with the best advice for indicating what Oregon standard license you should work towards earning.

The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) created the Interstate Agreement to help fill teacher shortages by allowing teachers to transfer their license more easily from state to state. States who participate in the Interstate Agreement create a reciprocity statement that outlines all requirements out-of-state teachers must complete prior to earning reciprocity. You can find details about Oregon’s reciprocity agreement below.

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Yes, Oregon does participate.
State Grants Full Reciprocity No. You must meet additional requirements and teach under a Reciprocal Teaching License before you can gain a traditional Oregon teaching license.
Coursework Requirements No additional coursework is required.
Test-out or Exemption N/A.
Assessment Requirements Once you hold your Reciprocal Teaching License, you will have one year to work towards meeting the requirements of an Oregon Preliminary or Professional teaching license. Your reciprocal license cannot be renewed. The requirements include qualifying for an Oregon endorsement by passing an Oregon approved subject matter test, and passing the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment exam. You may be eligible for a waiver to the subject matter test if you 1) provide evidence of passing your state’s subject matter test, if your state is a NASDTEC participating state, or 2) provide evidence of completing a teacher preparation program that meets the TSPC standards and verify five years of licensed teaching in the specific subject you seek Oregon licensure in.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Licensed out-of-state teachers with five, or more, years of experience who have completed a teacher preparation program are eligible to wave the subject area testing requirements.
Performance Requirements Out-of-state teachers do not need to show proof of effectiveness as a teacher.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials Yes. Applicants who hold a valid out-of-state license from a state that participates in NASDTEC may be able to bypass the Reciprocal Teaching License and immediately qualify for a Preliminary or Professional License. If you meet all of the reciprocal license requirements as well as the requirements for the Preliminary or Professional License, you may be eligible to apply for the license level that corresponds to your current out-of-state license. You can read about the Preliminary and Professional License requirements at the beginning of this article to determine if you might qualify.

Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

When the traditional pathway to Oregon teacher certification doesn’t work for you, there are alternative routes to certification. These pathways might be through an organization that works throughout the nation or even through Oregon’s Department of Education.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

The ODE recognizes that many people transition in a teaching career later in life. Rather than forcing these individuals to seek licensure the traditional way, the ODE has three alternative licensure routes available.

NCLB Alternative Route Teaching License- NCLB stands for No Child Left Behind. This route does not require applicants to have completed an approved teacher preparation program. However, you must be able to demonstrate that you have subject matter competency in a particular area, as defined by the federal NCLB Act and be able to pass the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Education Environment exam.

If awarded this license, it is only valid within the Oregon school district that co-applies for the license with you. A school district may only seek this license for an individual if they have teacher shortages and cannot fill the position with a qualified teacher. The license is valid for three years and you must work towards a traditional Oregon license by completing specific coursework.

Restricted Transitional Teaching License- This license is similar to the NCLB license. As a candidate for this license, you do not need to verify that you have completed an approved teacher preparation program. You can only apply for this application if you have a bachelor’s degree in a subject that relates to the area you seek to teach and a school district applies for licensure with you. You must also pass the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Education Environment exam. The license is valid for a total of three years and must be renewed each year. You can earn renewal by verifying that you are completing the required coursework for earning a standard Oregon teaching license.

Limited Teaching License- Only teacher candidates looking to teach extremely specific subject areas should seek this type of alternate license. A school district may request that you earn a limited teaching license if they need to fill a specialized teaching position. These positions often relate to elective or vocational subject areas. You will need to have at least an associate’s degree to be considered for a limited teaching license, and will often need to verify that you have experience working within the field that the subject relates to. Additionally, you will be required to pass the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Education Environment exam.