Alternative Teacher Certification in North Carolina

North Carolina's lateral entry program allows potential educators to receive a provisional license in order to teach while fulfilling requirements for a professional license. Continue reading to find out more. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

North Carolina's Lateral Entry Certification

Educators who have not completed a traditional educator's baccalaureate program containing teacher preparation can become certified through North Carolina's alternative route, referred to as lateral entry. Potential educators may obtain provisional licensure upon meeting certain criteria and gaining a teaching position. Educators will then be expected to complete any necessary requirements to qualify for a professional certificate. Read more below.

Education/Experience Required A qualifying combination of the following:
College coursework
Qualifying assessment scores
Experience
Exams Required Exams may be waived for a provisional license
Professional licenses require content assessments including Praxis
License Validity Period 3 years (provisional)
5 years (professional)
Advancement Requirements Completion of a teacher preparation program
Qualifying test scores (if not previously met)
Mean Salary*
(2018, statewide)
$28,260 (preschool)
$46,490 (kindergarten)
$46,500 (elementary)
$47,050 (middle school)
$47,580 (high school)
Estimated Job Growth*
(2016-2026, nationwide)
10% (preschool)
7% (kindergarten and elementary school)
8% (middle and high school)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

License Requirements

A traditional pathway to licensure would involve completing a teacher preparation program within a bachelor's degree program, or participating in a post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program prior to licensure. However, North Carolina also offers an alternative route to licensure called lateral entry. In order to qualify, an applicant must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Relevant degree
  • 24 hours of coursework in the teaching area
  • Passing scores on the NC-approved licensure exams for the teaching area

In addition, the applicant will need to also meet one of these criteria:

  • At least a 2.5 GPA
  • 5 years of qualifying experience
  • Passing scores on Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators or SAT score of 1100/1170 or an ACT score of 24 plus qualifying GPA of 3.0

Applying for Certification

An applicant who meets the lateral entry requirements must first become employed by a North Carolina public school system. The school system will initiate the lateral entry application, and the applicant will be responsible for a $100 processing fee. Upon approval, an educator will be issued a three-year Lateral Entry Provisional License and will be expected to complete a teacher education program and applicable testing. The provisional certificate is non-renewable.

Certification Upgrade

Within the three-year provisional license period, an educator will need to complete a qualifying teacher education program. In addition, they must pass applicable Praxis exams as well as fulfilling any additional requirements for their certificate area. Once all requirements all met, a five-year Professional Educator's Continuing License will be issued.

Certificate Renewal

Certificate renewals can be completed between April 15th and June 30th of the year of expiration, and carry a $35 processing fee. Renewals can be completed online through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, or NCDPI. All renewals require a specific amount of credits to have been completed prior to issuance (typically 8 credits). North Carolina requires renewal credits to maintain that educators are continually updating their professional knowledge as well as their technical competency. Renewal credits can be completed in service (one credit is equal to ten contact hours), or through college coursework (one semester hour is equal to 1.5 credits). The renewed license will have the same validity period of five years.

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