While bachelor's and master's programs are vital to success for current and aspiring Kentucky educators, these academic credentials only represent the beginning. The state's tiered certification program also involves a variety of rank designations based on experience in the field and completion of continuing education requirements. These mandates may seem strict, but they ensure that local teachers and other education professionals are thoroughly qualified for the positions they hold within the state's esteemed school districts. 

A variety of certifications can be called upon to designate Kentucky educators' experience. At the upper level, Rank I recognizes leadership ability, as well as extensive skills and knowledge in a specific area of education. This certification can take significant time and effort to obtain, but educational professionals who manage to secure this distinction argue that it is more than worthwhile—particularly for current teachers who hope to take on administrative or leadership positions. 

Unfortunately, a great deal of confusion exists surrounding the benefits of Rank I and the process for obtaining this valuable certification. Below, we clarify the purpose of this designation, as well as the many steps needed to advance through the official Classification of Teachers as highlighted in the Kentucky Revised Statute 161.1211

How Teacher Ranking Works in Kentucky 

Kentucky's Education Professional Standards Board identifies five main ranks for teachers and other professionals within the state's education system. These ranks are ordered based on skill, experience, and continuing education credits. Rank V, for example, is the easiest to obtain but also the least likely to lead to significant career opportunities. In general, Ranks IV and V are reserved for those with emergency certification. 

Teachers with standard certificates and four-year degrees typically find themselves in Rank III, while Rank II is reserved for graduate-level educators or those with sufficient continuing education hours. Rank I confers the highest honor and the most benefits—but it's also the most difficult certificate to obtain. 

How Rank I Certification Benefits Kentucky Teachers 

With each additional step up in rank, Kentucky teachers gain a variety of benefits. Chief among these, access to a greater variety of positions. This provides valuable flexibility when searching for jobs—particularly for those intent on working in a particular niche or hoping to reside in a specific town or city. Rank level also influences educators' ability to secure in-demand leadership roles, which are typically reserved for Rank I (or, in select situations, Rank II) professionals. 

Those with a desire for greater influence over the local education system quickly find that Rank I grants them an air of authority not seen with other levels of certification. Educators who obtain this key certificate are better capable of making their mark through esteemed positions that might otherwise not be available. 

Finally, pay is worth considering. While a master's degree holds the potential to provide a significant bump up in pay for Kentucky educators, the leadership roles associated with Rank I may lead to especially lucrative opportunities. In many situations, Rank I professionals are capable of earning over six figures. Of course, love for the field plays a vital role in local educators' work—but many view Rank I certification primarily as an option for improving pay. 

How to Become a Rank I Educator 

As the highest designation in the Kentucky teaching certification program, Rank I holds stringent requirements. Prior to applying for Rank I certification programs, educators should hold relevant bachelor's and master's degrees. Additionally, Rank II certification is required for most administrative programs. Applicants should provide proof of, at minimum, three years of teaching experience as well as letters of recommendation into the highly coveted program. 

Exceptional conduct is critical to obtaining and keeping Rank I certification. Kentucky's Education Professional Standards Board specifically references misconduct as a possible reason for losing the state-based certification on the basis of national board certificate revocation. 

Upon acceptance into a qualified Rank I certification program, educators must complete 30 credit hours. Required courses depend largely on preferred areas of specialization. Top options include: 

  • Strategic Management in Education 
  • School Law 
  • School System Administration 
  • Issues and Trends in Special Education 
  • Curriculum Management and Assessment 
  • Consultation and Collaboration for Curriculum Design 

These and other courses explore advanced pedagogical material while providing ample opportunities for reflection on the latest research and best practices. 

How Long Does It Take to Achieve Rank I? 

Much of the appeal of Rank I certification lies in the streamlined process of obtaining this valuable credential. A total of 30 credit hours spanning a variety of graduate courses must be completed prior to receiving this certificate. Many educators are able to secure certification in just ten months. Those who desire greater flexibility, however, can complete the program at their own pace. 

The University of the Cumberlands Rank I certification program is ideal in that it allows educators to tackle multiple certifications simultaneously. In addition to pursuing a Rank I certificate, those admitted to this esteemed program can also seek certification as school principals, directors of special education, or directors of pupil personnel. This is a great option for educators with ambitious goals and the drive to quickly advance within the profession. 

If you're ready to take a step up in your career, it's time to take a closer look at Rank I certification. Continuing education could be all that stands in the way of achieving your most ambitious career goals. 

If you want to pursue an undergraduate, graduate degree, or any of our other degree options, look no further than University of the Cumberlands. The youth of tomorrow deserve your commitment for continued educational excellence. Let University of the Cumberlands stand beside your commitment by helping you obtain your Rank I certification online. With professors who have years of real-world experience in the same field they are teaching, very competitive tuition rates, and a sense of honor in everything we do, why look any further? See what UC can do for you by contacting an admissions counselor for more information.