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How to Get a Teaching License in South Carolina

Find out what you need to do to get a teaching license in South Carolina.

Requirements

A chronic teacher shortage in South Carolina has left school districts in dire need of certified teachers. Eager to remedy the situation, the state has funded initiatives to attract and retain teachers where they are needed most. The South Carolina Department of Education has helped by increasing alternative options for certification. Individually, some school districts offer hiring bonuses to fill positions in the most critical areas. As a certified teacher in South Carolina you’ll be in demand, with many attractive opportunities to pursue a rewarding career in teaching.

The traditional route to South Carolina teacher certification includes earning a bachelor’s degree or higher from a college or university that has a state-approved teacher education program. Additional requirements include achieving the required scores on basic skills, pedagogy and content area assessments. Fingerprinting for a criminal records check by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SCLED) and the FBI also is required. This traditional route to certification leads to a three-year nonrenewable Initial Certificate.

Before your Initial Certificate expires, you must qualify for a Professional Certificate. This includes completing the Assisting, Developing and Evaluating Professional Teaching (ADEPT) summative evaluation process through a South Carolina public school district. If you did not complete a state-approved teacher preparation program prior to your Initial Certificate, you must meet the pedagogy requirement as well as completing the ADEPT program. A valid National Board teaching certification also qualifies you to transition to a Professional Certificate.

A Professional Certificate is issued according to your credentials at the time of your application. Professional Certificates are categorized by bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s degree plus 18 hours, master’s degree, master’s degree plus 30 hours and doctorate levels of education.

If you hold an Initial Certificate and teach in a South Carolina public school, but did not meet the requirements for a Professional Certificate before your Initial Certificate expired, your employing school district can request annual renewal. If you hold an Initial Certificate and are employed in a South Carolina non-public school in a position that requires certification, your certificate can be extended every year indefinitely when requested by your employer. You can pursue a Limited Professional Certificate when employed by a South Carolina non-public school in one certification area for a minimum of three years over the previous seven years. A valid Initial Certificate and successful completion of an annual performance evaluation also are required.

Other options for certification include a one-year Alternative Route Certificate for graduates of a Program for Alternative Certification or a one-year Temporary Certificate, which allows teachers who did not meet the full Initial Certification requirements to teach while they fulfill their missing qualifications.

Minimum Education Requirements for South Carolina Teachers

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement for South Carolina teachers. Initial certification candidates also must complete a teacher education program through a regionally accredited institution or from a state institution that has teacher education programs approved by the South Carolina Board of Education or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). College credits or degrees presented for the advancement of teaching certificates from Institutional to Professional must be from institutions that meet the same criteria.

Student Teaching

Student teaching, or a student internship, is required for completion of approved teacher education programs in South Carolina. You must ensure that your Department of Education application files are complete six months before your student teaching begins. A one-year Internship Certificate, requested by your employing school district, is required for student teaching. You also must submit to electronic fingerprinting for a criminal background check by SLED and the FBI prior to the start of your student teaching assignment.

Before you begin student teaching, you must complete at least 100 hours of diverse field experiences at the undergraduate level or at least 75 hours of diverse field experiences at the graduate level. Your student teaching experience must last at least 12 weeks or 60 full days with at least 10 full days of independent teaching in one setting. If you meet all the requirements for certification except student teaching and have three years of teaching experience, you may be able to bypass student teaching if your experience occurred in the area for which you desire certification.

Pass South Carolina Certification Exams

You must pass South Carolina certification exams for an Initial or Professional Certificate. Prior to entering a state-approved teacher preparation program, you must fulfill a basic skills requirement by achieving acceptable scores on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators assessments in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. SAT or ACT scores that meet state minimums can be substituted for the basic skills assessment.

If you are applying for an Initial Certificate after completion of a teacher preparation program, you must achieve required scores on the Praxis II: Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) pedagogy assessment that aligns with the grade levels you intend to teach. You also must submit passing scores for the Praxis II subject area assessments that align with your certification.

To qualify for a Professional Certificate, you must complete the formal ADEPT summative evaluation process. Qualifying scores from the Praxis II: Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) pedagogy assessment are required for a Professional Certificate if you did not take the assessment as part of a teacher education program prior to an Initial Certificate.

Apply

You can apply for South Carolina teacher certification by completing an application online or on paper. In addition to an application form, you also must submit official transcripts from every college or university you attended. Electronic transcripts must be sent directly to the DOE from a registrar’s office or transcript service; paper transcripts must be mailed in a sealed envelope.

Your required teacher examination scores must be submitted directly to the DOE from the testing service. You also must provide a completed Verification of College Preparation Recommendation for Teacher Certificate form signed by an official representative of your teacher preparation program. An Experience Verification Form signed by an appropriate representative of the educational entity where you completed your teaching experience also is required. These forms can be submitted via email or fax if you are applying online or mailed in your application packet.

SLED and FBI background clearances performed by the state’s approved fingerprinting provider, MorphoTrust USA, within 18 months of your application also are necessary. In addition, you must mail or fax a copy of your U.S. Social Security Card and pay a non-refundable application fee.

How Much Do Teachers in South Carolina Make?

Teachers in South Carolina earn salaries based on their levels of education and experience. Factors such as certification and the employing school district also can affect teacher salaries. Some average teacher salaries in South Carolina are listed here.

%

Job Growth for Teachers through 2026

Position Average Salary
Early Childhood Educator $29,250
Elementary School Teacher $48,480
Secondary School Teacher $51,670
Special Education Teacher $57,910
School Administrator $92,510*
School Principal [SALARY]
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics; *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Specialty Certifications

South Carolina offers specialty certifications by content area and grade level at the Initial and Professional Certificate levels. You can add areas of certification to an existing certificate by meeting the educational and assessment add-on requirements in place at the time of your request. Depending on the endorsement you wish to add, an add-on method can include completion of an approved program, completion of the specific courses required for adding an instructional area or adding-on by reciprocity based on out-of-state credentials.

Early Childhood Education

type-preschoolYou can earn certification in Early Childhood Education (PK-3) to teach the youngest students in South Carolina. Requirements include completion of a bachelor’s degree and an approved early childhood education teacher preparation program. Most Initial Certificate candidates earn a bachelor’s degree as part of the teacher education program, but you can pursue a post-baccalaureate program that offers a certificate or master’s degree if you have a bachelor’s degree. Admission to a teacher preparation program requires fulfilling the basic skills requirement by assessment or minimum SAT or ACT scores.

To qualify for an Initial Certificate after your teacher education program, you must pass the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood pedagogy exam and the Praxis II Education of Young Children content area exam. In the traditional route, you can progress from an Initial Certificate to a Professional Certificate upon completion of a formal ADEPT summative process in an early childhood teaching environment in a South Carolina public school.

Elementary School Teacher

type-elementaryFor certification as an elementary school teacher in South Carolina, you can earn the Elementary (2-6) specialty certificate. The traditional route requires a bachelor’s degree and an approved elementary education teacher preparation program. Depending on your educational experience, you can enroll in a program that offers a bachelor’s degree or post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree. Admission to a teacher preparation program requires passing the basic skills assessment or providing substitute SAT or ACT scores.

Required assessments include proof of pedagogy on the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 exam and content area knowledge on the Praxis II Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects assessments. A formal ADEPT summative process in a South Carolina elementary public school is necessary to progress to a Professional Certificate from an Initial Certificate.

Secondary School Teacher

type-highschoolA secondary school teacher in South Carolina must be certified in a content area for grades 9-12. If you are a traditional candidate, you need a bachelor’s degree with a major of at least 30 semester hours in your specialty area. You also must complete an approved teacher preparation program. You can accomplish this by enrolling in a teacher preparation program that awards a bachelor’s degree, post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree upon completion. Prior to enrolling, you must meet the basic skills requirement by assessment or SAT or ACT scores.

To qualify for an Initial Certificate after your teacher education program, you must pass the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 pedagogy exam and the Praxis II content area assessments that align with the subject you intend to teach. To progress to a Professional Certificate, you will have to complete a formal ADEPT summative process in a South Carolina secondary public school, teaching in your certified content area.

Substitute Teacher Certification

type-substituteSubstitute teacher certification is not required in South Carolina. The state only requires that substitute teachers have a high school diploma or an equivalent. Individual school districts can add additional requirements and conditions. Candidates for substitute teaching can apply directly to school districts where they desire employment.

Physical Education (PE) Certification

type-physical-educationYou can earn physical education (PE) certification for grades K-12 in South Carolina. A bachelor’s degree or higher with a major in physical education or a related degree with at least 30 semester hours in physical education courses is required. You also must complete an approved teacher preparation program. Most Initial Certificate candidates earn a bachelor’s degree as part of a teacher preparation program, however there are post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree programs if you qualify. Passing the Praxis basic skills exam or providing acceptable SAT or ACT scores is needed for program enrollment.

You can apply for an Initial Certificate after your teacher education program by passing the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching pedagogy assessment for the grade level you plan to teach. The Praxis II Physical Education: Content and Design specialty assessment also is required. In the traditional route to certification, you must teach physical education in a South Carolina public school while completing a formal ADEPT summative process there to earn Professional Licensure.

Special Education Certification

type-special-educationYou can choose Special Education certification in South Carolina that aligns with the type of disability you want to teach, including a Special Education Certificate in Blind and Visually Impaired (PK-12), Early Childhood Education (aged 3-6), Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (PK-12), Emotional Disabilities (PK-12), Intellectual Disabilities (PK-12), Multi-categorical (PK-12) or Severe Disabilities (PK-12). All certifications require a bachelor’s degree or higher and an approved special education teacher preparation program. You must fulfill the basic skills requirement for program admission by assessment or minimum SAT or ACT scores.

An Initial Certificate requires passing the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching pedagogy exam for the grade level you want to teach. You also must pass the Praxis II content area tests that match your desired Special Education certification. Completion of a formal ADEPT summative process while teaching special education in a South Carolina public school in the area and grade level of your certification is required for a Professional Certificate.

English as a Second Language Certification

type-tesolEnglish as a Second Language (ESL) certification in South Carolina is awarded as an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) (K-12) specialty certificate. This certification requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in an approved ESL or ESOL teacher preparation program. You can earn your bachelor’s degree, a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree as part of a teacher preparation program. Admission requires meeting the basic skills assessment by Praxis assessment or acceptable SAT or ACT scores.

To qualify for an Initial Certificate after meeting the education requirements, you must take the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching pedagogy exam that matches the grade level you intend to teach. The Praxis II English to Speakers of Other Languages content area assessment also is required. A formal ADEPT summative process while teaching ESOL in a South Carolina public school at your grade level is required to progress to the Professional Certificate.

Certifications for School Administrators

type-principalCertifications for school administrators in South Carolina are offered for Elementary School Principal (PK-8), Secondary School Principal (7-12) and Superintendent (PK-12). Candidates for principal certifications must complete a master’s degree and an approved advanced elementary/secondary school principal preparation program. Program candidates must hold a valid Professional Certificate at the grade level they are seeking administrative certification. Three years of teaching experience, including at least one year at the desired certification grade level, also is required.

An acceptable score in the Praxis II Education Leadership: Administration and Supervision is required for an Initial Certificate. A principal can progress to Tier 2 certification after successfully completing the Principal Induction Program (PIP) in the first year and passing the Program for Assisting, Developing and Evaluating Principal Performance (PADEPP) in the second year.

A Superintendent Professional Certificate requires completion of a doctoral or two-year post-baccalaureate program in public school administration. Additional requirements include a valid South Carolina teacher or principal Professional Certificate, seven years of experience as a teacher or administrator with at least two years in administration and an acceptable score in the Praxis II Education Leadership: Administration and Supervision assessment.

Teaching Reciprocity Agreements in South Carolina

Teaching reciprocity agreements in South Carolina allow you to use an out-of-state license to meet requirements for a new certification here. If you earned your education and experience in another state, reciprocity agreements can help you expedite the process of becoming a South Carolina educator.

Requirement Description
NASDTEC Interstate Agreement South Carolina participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity South Carolina does not grant full reciprocity.
Coursework Requirements Out-of-state teachers do not have additional coursework requirements.
Test-out or Exemption South Carolina does not offer test-out or exemptions.
Assessment Requirements All out-of-state applicants must pass their home state pedagogy and content exams or take the approved South Carolina equivalents. Teachers with under three years of successful teaching experience within the past seven years can get an Initial Certificate, but must pass the pedagogy assessment before a Professional Certificate. Those with experience qualifications are exempt from taking the pedagogy assessment for a Professional Certificate.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Candidates with under three years of successful teaching experience within the past seven years can get an Initial Certificate, but must pass the state's pedagogy assessment prior to earning a Professional Certificate. Those with appropriate experience are exempt from taking the pedagogy assessment to obtain a Professional Certificate.
Performance Requirements Out-of-state teachers need three school years of "successful" teaching experience for a Professional Certificate, though no proof is required.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials Out-of-state teachers may bypass the pedagogy assessment requirement if they meet experience requirements, and may be eligible for Professional Licensure if they meet additional qualifications.
Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

South Carolina offers several alternative certification programs. The minimum requirements for all alternative programs are a bachelor’s degree and a current FBI/SLED background check. Candidates eligible for alternative certification programs cannot have previous experience as a student teacher in a traditional teacher preparation program. All alternate route programs have a three-year teaching requirement to secure a Professional Certificate. Other requirements and offerings vary by program.

Teach for America

Teach for America supports education equality in the United States by recruiting, training and allocating certified teachers throughout South Carolina, especially in the state’s rural school districts. Teach for America volunteers are top college graduates who make a two-year commitment to live and work in needy school districts. Teach for America volunteers receive training to earn a one-year, South Carolina Alternate Route Certificate in their teaching field, with an option for a second year upon approval.

Troops to Teachers

Troops to Teachers provides individualized counseling to active or retired U.S. military members who want to pursue a teaching career. This Department of Defense program, managed by DANTES, helps qualified military personnel choose the best route to teaching certification in South Carolina. Eligible participants may qualify for a stipend for teacher certification or a bonus for teaching in a high need school.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

The Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE) helps career changers earn teaching positions in specific subject areas. Participants make a three-year commitment to a content area and grade level. To be eligible, you must have a bachelor’s degree that aligns with at least one PACE certification area, pass the Praxis II subject area exams for your content area and have current FBI/SLED background clearances. Those who participated in student teaching in a traditional teacher preparation program are ineligible. However, you may be able to participate in PACE even if you dropped out of another alternative certification program in South Carolina.

South Carolina Teachers Loan Program

The South Carolina Teachers Loan Programs helps qualified South Carolina residents become teachers by providing loans to cover expenses associated with teacher certification. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for assistance from the South Carolina Teachers Loan Program, South Carolina Career Changers Loan Program or PACE. Each program has specific requirements and financial limits. You can only receive funding from one of these sources each year.

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