How to Get Certified to Teach in South Carolina

Every state requires certification for public school teachers. South Carolina's teacher certification requirements include a bachelor's degree, teacher training, exams and a background check. Individuals who are interested in advancing into educational leadership roles might consider earning a master's degree.

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Steps to Become Certified to Teach in South Carolina

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Aspiring teachers must first earn their bachelor's degrees, which can be in education or another subject. Those who major in a subject other than education can usually fulfill their state's teaching requirements during or after their bachelor's degree program. To fulfill the teacher preparation component of the bachelor's degree program, the program must be accredited by the State Board of Education or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Students can usually major in special education, elementary, middle or secondary education.

These teacher preparation bachelor's degree programs combine coursework on curriculum planning and classroom management with supervised practice teaching. Students will also look at child and adolescent development and explore effective communication techniques with groups of children at particular ages. Those who major in secondary education usually specialize in a particular subject, such as math, English, biology or language studies.

Step 2: Complete an Accredited Teacher Training Program

Students who didn't complete a teacher preparation bachelor's degree program must complete an alternative teacher training program before becoming certified in South Carolina. Many aspiring teachers choose the Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE).

If participating in PACE, individuals can take education courses while teaching in the classroom under a provisional license. They must successfully teach for at least three years and pass their courses before receiving certification. The subject they teach must match the subject for which they are pursuing certification.

Step 3: Take Skills Exams

South Carolina has its own exam requirements for teacher certification. All prospective teachers must first pass a basic skills exam that includes math and verbal topics. This exam is called the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test and must typically be taken before students begin their teacher preparation programs.

Aspiring teachers also must pass a specialized content exam called the Praxis II after they complete their teacher program. The content exam must match the grade level and subject that the student intends to teach, whether that is in elementary education, special education or secondary school biology. These exams must have been taken within the last ten years for applicants to qualify for teacher certification.

Step 4: Pass a Background Check

South Carolina requires teachers to pass a background check to receive certification. The State Board of Education reviews any discrepancies or issues before making a final decision. Individuals must also be fingerprinted by a representative from the FBI. The fingerprinting procedure usually requires a fee.

Step 5: Get a Master's Degree

For those who wish to earn a higher salary or pursue an administrative position, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that a master's degree can help advance a teacher's career (www.bls.gov). A graduate education can also lead to a job as an instructional coordinator or an instructional technology specialist. Graduate programs usually require applicants to earn their teaching certification before gaining acceptance.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Job opportunities for kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers are expected to increase by 17% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS. Positions for high school teachers are expected to increase by 7% in that same time period.

According to the BLS, as of May 2012 South Carolina had 19,760 elementary school teachers who earned a mean salary of $48,620 a year. The state also had 10,170 middle school teacher who made a mean annual salary of $49,070, and 13,120 high school teachers, who earned $50,370 on average.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics