Teaching in Kentucky is a rewarding, in-demand occupation. Teachers shape the minds of the future and inspire students to become their best selves. If you have been thinking about earning a teaching certification in Kentucky, you should know there are a few steps you’ll need to follow. Familiarizing yourself with the process will help make getting your teaching certification easier and more rewarding. Here's what you need to know:

1. Know your goals—start with the basics of teaching in Kentucky.

Before you can start working toward your teaching certification, decide what kind of teacher you would like to be. What age range would you like to teach? Elementary school? Middle school? High School? Which subjects? The decisions you make now will affect your teaching career for many years to come.

If you're not sure which type of teaching is right for you, do some research. Speak with teachers you know to find out what they like about working with their selected grade. Having these conversations and reading more about teaching will help you set goals that will benefit you.

Learn about the Kentucky Rank System

Teachers in Kentucky are ranked in a tiered certification structure. Educators begin in Rank III status and must complete continuing education in order to ascend to higher ranks. Rank I can be attained by achieving the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification. It can also be achieved by earning a master's degree and conducting 30 semester hours of additional graduate work or continuing education.

Each rank increase comes with an increase in pay. Teachers with a master's degree in Kentucky can earn $5,400 more each year than teachers that do not have an advanced degree. Teachers who eventually earn the Rank I see an average increase in salary of 21 percent. Rank I teachers also have more job security and enjoy higher standing at the schools where they teach. 

Altogether, this means you'll want to continue pursuing higher education well after earning a teaching certificate. Being a life-long learner is a must.

2. Pursue your initial teaching education … or choose an alternative path.

Most teachers start by earning their undergraduate degree. They must also complete an approved teacher preparation program. However, earning your bachelor's degree isn't the only way to get your initial certification. There are many alternative paths to teacher certification in the state of Kentucky.

Temporary Provisional Certificate

The Temporary Provisional Certificate may be awarded to candidates under certain circumstances. This certificate allows candidates to teach while they take steps to complete the teacher preparation program. There are eight alternative paths to teacher certification as approved by the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB). These alternative paths include:

  1. College Faculty Certification
    Anyone who has been teaching for five years or more in a college or university may have an opportunity to teach 8th grade through 12th grade.
  2. Adjunct Instructor Certification
    Adjunct professors who have been teaching for five years or more may have an opportunity to teach 8th grade through 12th grade.
  3. Veterans of the Armed Forces
    Veterans with a bachelor's degree may be eligible to become teachers through this alternative path.
  4. Exceptional Work Experience Certification
    People with a bachelor's degree and 10 or more years of exceptional work experience may be eligible to get a teaching certificate through this alternative path.
  5. Local District Training Program Certification
    Applicants with five years of exceptional field experience and a bachelor's degree may qualify to get their teaching certificate in Jefferson County Public Schools.
  6. University-Based Alternative Route to Certification
    In a case of an emergency, this alternative program gives bachelor’s degree holders temporary certification.
  7. Teach for America (TFA) Alternative Route to Certification
    Teach for America is a national nonprofit organization. Members are given a temporary certificate to teach.
  8. Institute Alternative Route to Certification
    Any person in a field that is not education may receive a one-year provisional certificate, provided that they meet certain additional qualifications.

3. Take required tests.

To qualify for a teaching certificate, individuals must pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exams (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics). These exams are typically required as a condition of admission to a teacher education program. They must also complete applicable Praxis Subject Assessments.

Basic Skills Test

The basic skills test for educators is designed to assess a candidate in reading, math and writing. This test is sometimes required before entering a teacher education program, depending on the institution.

Subject Tests

Candidates taking the Kentucky educator certificate route must also complete a Praxis II exam. This test measures teaching knowledge (both general and subject-specific). In addition, test takers must apply for the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT).

Anyone with an out-of-state teaching certificate and two or more years of teaching experience may not have to take the Praxis exam. The Kentucky Department of Education can tell you whether or not you are required to take the Praxis exam.

4. Apply for certification and a teaching job!

Once prospective educators have completed requirements for a teaching certificate from the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board, they must submit an application with:

  • Application fee
  • Passing scores on Praxis exams
  • Completed teacher certification application form
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Verification of teaching experience
  • Verification of completion of a Kentucky teacher preparation program from an approved school

Applications should be mailed to:

Division of Certification
Education Professional Standards Board
300 Sower Blvd, 5th Floor
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

5. Seek any additional certification or education required.

Some people who work with students require different certifications. There are many programs that you can sign up for that provide additional certifications, so you can choose the right education path for you. From early childhood education to special education, there are many certifications you can pursue.

Guidance Counselor Certification

Kentucky guidance counselors must pursue and earn a master’s degree in school counseling. Often, people who enter these master’s degree programs already have teaching experience or some other relevant experience working with students. Once a master's degree is complete, the graduating student may be granted a provisional certificate to be used in any level of school. Following one year, the guidance counselor may be granted a five-year certificate.

Principal Certification

Prospective principals must have three years of full-time teaching experience before they can become a principal. Principal candidates must also have a master’s degree and must complete a Kentucky Principal Internship program. After they have finished their program, principals can receive a five-year certification.

6. Work towards Rank 1

The requirement for a master's degree was removed by the Education Professional Standards Board in 2018, but teachers in the state of Kentucky are still rewarded for earning this advanced degree.

Teachers are not allowed to renew their five-year teaching certificate unless they've taught three of the last five years and have either completed half of the Continuing Education Option (CEO) requirements or have earned 15 graduate hours.

During the second five-year renewal, teachers must have three more years of teaching experience and either a completed master’s degree or a fifth year program. Or they must have completed the CEO requirements. Anyone who hasn't taught the required three year minimum during the five-year renewal period needs at least six semester hours of additional graduate credit.

Working as a teacher is a rewarding experience that many people turn into life-long careers. Teachers are in high-demand and have job security that many adults find compelling.

And finally, the possibility of influencing children and future generations is an experience that you'll never forget. If you're interested in teaching in Kentucky, start by learning more about the undergraduate & graduate teaching programs offered at University of the Cumberlands. Contact an admissions counselor or request more information today.