How to Earn Teacher Certification in Utah

The state of Utah offers some great opportunities for teachers. If you want to be a teacher in Utah, your first step is to earn certification. While there are several pathways to doing this, your options depend upon your current 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 Utah’s certification process, we have the information you need. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to advanced certification and a specialty endorsement, or you’re a teacher wanting to relocate to Utah but doesn’t know what the reciprocity process entails. You’ll find all that and more right here.

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

Basic Requirements

The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) provides educators with three licensing options.

Level 1: This level is the first professional educator license issued by USBE, all new or out-of-state teachers will start at this level. After you complete an approved preparation program, an alternative preparation program, or seek reciprocity through the Interstate Contract agreement and meet all additional requirements, you can earn a Level I license.

Level 2: A Level 2 professional educator license is available to those who hold a Level 1 license. To earn this license you must complete the Entry Years Enhancement (E.Y.E.) requirements and have three years of Level 1 experience. You must also take and pass the Praxis II Principals of Learning and Teaching exam in the grade level you teach. The exact requirements will vary depending on the content area you teach.

Level 3: To earn a Level 3 Utah professional educator License, you must have a Level 2. You must then earn one of three acceptable credentials in the field of education: National Board Certification, a doctorate, or a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA).

The following information will walk you through how to earn the Level 1 professional educator license the traditional way; you can find information on alternative pathways to certification at the end of this article.

Meet the Minimum Education Requirements for Utah

To earn your teacher certification the traditional way, you should complete your bachelor’s degree at an In-State University. Make sure your degree is related to the field of education and that you are seeking to be licensed in. You should also work towards completing an education/licensure program while you earn your degree. Your degree path should automatically put you on your way towards completing an education/licensure preparation program. If it does not, check with the USBE to make sure you are in an approved degree program.

Student Teaching

Student teaching is an experience required by the preparation program you are a part of. As a student teacher, you will work with an experienced teacher to learn classroom dynamics. During your time as a student teacher, you will take on more and more responsibility until you are planning and delivering your own lessons within the classroom.

Your college’s preparation program may require that you obtain a student license prior to beginning your teaching experience to ensure student safety. This license will require you complete a background check. It will also state agreements between the college that issues your license and the school district you teach in.

Pass the Utah Certification Exams

USBE requires that all those seeking Level 1 certification take and pass an Early Childhood area exam, Elementary area exam or a Secondary area exam with an endorsement. The endorsement validates what subject area you are trained to teach, while the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary distinctions show what grade level. Utah utilizes Praxis tests that are administered by Educational Testing Services (ETS) for all examination requirements. The exam you take will vary depending on the grade level and subject you seek to teach. See the License Areas of Concentration below for more detailed information.


When applying for your Level 1 teacher certification in Utah, you should follow these steps:

Contact your college advisor to ensure that your transcripts are complete.

Obtain a college recommendation and make sure it is posted in the Comprehensive Administration of Credentials for Teachers in Utah School (CACTUS).

Complete a Utah Educator Ethics Review at Educator Licensing Online.

Within three years of gaining college recommendation, have a USBE Fingerprint Background Check cleared. You can begin this process at Utah’s Educator Licensing Online.

Review your CACTUS record and record the number that corresponds to your account.

If you complete the process and receive approval, you will be awarded your license, with a copy attached, via email.

How Much Do Teachers in Utah Make?

Finances are an important part of every decision you make. Below is a list of median annual teaching salaries across Utah. Keep in mind that the salary may vary depending on where you seek to teach in Utah. Contact your school district, or even the school you seek to work with, to get a more exact estimate of the teacher salaries in your area.

You may also be eligible for the Teacher Salary Supplement Program (TSSP) overseen by USBE. This program rewards and assists qualified educators. If you are interested, simply apply through the USBE.

salary outlook
Position Median Salary
Early Childhood Educator $29,740
Elementary School Teacher $60,240
Secondary School Teacher $60,810
Middle School Teacher $60,900
Education Administrator $99,120


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 the state of Utah must be specific to an area of concentration. The concentration will show what grade level and/or what subject area you are qualified to teach. Teachers for younger grade levels, such as the elementary level, may not need to earn a subject area concentration. Teachers for the upper-grade level, such as the secondary level, must earn a subject area concentration, often referred to as an endorsement, to be qualified to teach.

Early Childhood Education


The Early Childhood license in Utah covers grades K-3. To earn it you must complete all Level 1 requirements, as mentioned in the beginning of this article. You should also take and pass the Praxis test that corresponds to Early Childhood Education. No endorsement is necessary to teach at this grade level.

There are two testing options for this concentration area:

Early Childhood: Content Knowledge: This exam is taken in one sitting. You should expect to be tested on the five following subject areas: Language and Literacy, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, and Health and Physical Education; Creative and Performing Arts.
Elementary Education: This Praxis exam is composed of four distinct subtests: Reading and Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. You can take each subtest individually, or collectively. You must earn a passing grade on each subtest to earn an Early Childhood Level 1 license.

Elementary School Teacher


There are two distinct grade level concentrations for elementary school teachers in Utah: Grades K-6 and Grades 1-8. To teach at either level you must complete all Level 1 certification requirements and pass the corresponding Praxis exam.

Both grade levels require you pass the Elementary Education Praxis exam. It covers Reading and Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science.

At the grade level 1-8 you can earn additional endorsements. Although endorsements are not required for teaching at this grade level, they are most commonly sought for those seeking to teach the higher grade levels within the elementary level, such as 6-8. Teachers at these levels often teach in subject-specific classrooms and will need a subject endorsement to teach. These endorsements can be earned by taking the corresponding Praxis secondary level endorsement exam.

Secondary School Teacher


In Utah, secondary school teachers are qualified to teach Grades 6-12. You can become a certified secondary school teacher by completing all Level 1 certification requirements. One of these requirements includes taking and passing the appropriate Praxis test.

At the secondary level, you must pass an endorsement exam. This type of exam is completely focused on the subject you seek to teach. It can be a STEM-related subject, such as Math, or even an Arts related subject, such as Sociology. No matter what subject, if there is an endorsement exam for it, you must take and pass the exam to be qualified to teach the subject in Utah.

Substitute Teacher Certification


A Local Education Agency (LEA) in Utah will always look to hire a substitute teacher who already has a teaching license. However, if they are unable to find a certified candidate to employ, they may also hire an individual who possesses a bachelor’s degree. A substitute teacher may not work in one position for more than eight consecutive weeks within a school year. Before you can begin subbing, you will need to complete a criminal background check.

There is no statewide structure for hiring substitute teachers aside from the fore mentioned stipulations. Every LEA has jurisdiction over the policies they use to hire substitutes. If you are interested in becoming a substitute teacher, get in touch with your LEA to find out what the steps and requirements may be.

Physical Education (PE) Certification


To become a PE teacher in Utah you must earn an educator endorsement in PE. This will require that you take all required steps towards earning your Level 1 educator license in addition to taking the Physical Education Praxis exam. The exam will cover Content Knowledge and Student Growth and Development; Management, Motivation and Communication; Planning, Instruction and Student Assessment; and Collaboration, Reflection and Technology.

Special Education Certification


There are six distinct special education areas of specialization for grades K-12. To earn your Utah teachers license in any of these categories you must meet all Level 1 certification requirements, making sure that your education is focused on the special education group that you seek to work with, and complete the appropriate Praxis exam. Here are the five special education specializations the USBE offers:

  • Moderate/Moderate, Severe, Blind and Visually Impaired, or Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Language Arts-Special Education
  • Mathematics-Special Education
  • Mild/Moderate Disabilities
  • Severe Disabilities

English as a Second Language Certification


To earn a Utah teacher’s endorsement in English as a Second Language (ESL) you must complete at least 18 semester hours in Language, Culture, Instruction, Assessment, Family and Community Engagement, and Instructional Practice. All coursework must be approved in order to gain the endorsement. If you are unsure if your coursework will be accepted, check with the USBE to make sure you are meeting their standards. To apply for an ESL endorsement you will complete and send the ESL application, along with your original transcripts, to the Utah State Office of Education.

Certifications for School Administrators


You must hold a Level 2 teacher certification to become a school administrator in Utah. While having a Level 2 certification does make you eligible, you must also meet additional requirements, including having a master’s degree in education and completing an administration preparation program. These requirements are geared towards preparing you for the rigors of leading a school. One of the last steps you will take to earn an administrative license will be to take and pass one of the two exams Praxis offers: Education Leadership: Administration and Supervision or School Leaders Licensure Assessment.

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 Utah

The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) has created the Interstate Agreement in an effort to help facilitate teacher reciprocity between states. This organized reciprocity helps to ease teacher shortages by aiding the movement of teachers from state to state. Utah supports teacher reciprocity and actively participates in NASDTEC. You can see how Utah’s reciprocity agreement might benefit you below.

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Yes, Utah does participate in this agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity No.
Coursework Requirements Additional coursework may be required after USBE reviews your college transcripts.
Test-out or Exemption There are no test-out options available in Utah.
Assessment Requirements Out-of-state teachers must past a Praxis II content test. Tests from other states are not accepted
Different Requirements Based on Experience If the applicant has three or more consecutive years of teaching experience a Level 2 license may be issued after one year of teaching in a Utah school. You must be recommended by the local district. If the applicant has less than three years a Level 2 license may still be issued once the applicant completes all Level 2 requirements.
Performance Requirements USBE does not require a teacher to demonstrate a certain level of performance.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials There is no specific reciprocity for advanced credentials. However, as mentioned above, if you have more than three years of teaching experience you can earn a Level 2 certificate upon completing one year of teaching in a Utah school.

Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

If the traditional route to certification doesn’t work for you, alternative teaching certification pathways may. From organizations that work across the nation to state-run programs, find an alternative teaching pathway that fits your needs.

Teach for America

Teach for America (TFA) is an organization that works across the nation in 53 diverse regions. TFA places those who work in their organization, referred to as corps members, in a high-needs school for a two-year commitment. Throughout this commitment, the corps members work towards earning a teaching license by completing the state requirements. Unfortunately there are not currently any placements within the state of Utah. However, if you are interested you can still become a TFA corps member in a different region.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

There are two noteworthy alternative pathways to licensure that are approved by the USBE:

Academic Pathway to Teaching (APT): If you have a bachelor’s degree or higher, this could be a great pathway for you. It allows you to take the appropriate content knowledge test in order to apply for a Level 1 APT License. An APT license is limiting in what areas you can be certified in, you can earn the license with an Elementary or Secondary concentration. You should follow the following steps when submitting an APT application:

Complete a USBE background check.

Create a Utah Education Network (UEN) to obtain your Comprehensive Administrative of Credentials for Teachers in Utah Schools (CACTUS) number.

Pass the appropriate Content Knowledge Test.

Complete the Educator Ethics Review.

Complete and submit the APT application, including original college transcripts and documentation of a passing score on a content knowledge test.

This license is valid for three years. After earning this certification your LEA will pair you with a teacher leader to prepare you to meet the Utah Effective Teaching Standards. To earn a Level 2 Utah educators license you must teach for three years and complete all requirements mentioned at the beginning of this article.

Alternative Routes to Licensure (ARL): This pathway is great for those who don’t have a background in education, although you should still have a bachelor’s degree with coursework that relates to the subject you seek to teach. ARL places you in a Utah school teaching the subject you are educated in. While you work at the school you complete all licensure requirements, such as coursework or testing.

To apply simply complete the USBE background check, submit application forms and provide original copies of transcripts.

From start to finish you can expect the ARL program to look like this:

Apply to the program

Receive an Eligibility Information Letter

Be hired in a qualifying teaching assignment

Confirm participation in the program and receive an ARL Professional Growth Plan (PGP)

Complete all PGP Requirements while teaching for at least one year

Receive a Utah Educator License