International graduates can obtain teaching certificates in America.

People from around the world can become a teacher in America if they are appropriately trained, educated and get a US teaching certificate.

Certification is necessary for anyone wishing to teach kindergarten through 12th grade. Each state maintains its own Department of Education that issues such certificates and establishes licensure eligibility requirements.

The Difference Between a Certificate & a Credential

A teaching certificate is a general educator license that typically does not specify what subject or grade one is qualified to teach. A credential (also state-issued) is an extension of the certificate that establishes one’s proficiency in a particular subject and grade range.

Although credentials vary state by state, they are usually offered in four categories:

  • Early Childhood: nursery school through 3rd grade
  • Elementary Education: 1st through 6th grade
  • Middle Education: 5th through 8th grade
  • Secondary Education: 7th through 12th grade

It is possible to receive credentials in more than one grade range. In addition, individuals holding credentials in Middle or Secondary Education specialize in a specific subject: mathematics, for example, or chemistry.

The Certification Process

To receive a US teaching certificate, applicants must demonstrate competence to teach professionally.  In most states, this means completing mandatory exams and (sometimes) additional coursework. Many states also require a period of assistant teaching prior to certification.

At the beginning of the certification process, an applicant must submit English translations of academic transcripts (if records are in another language). Many states also request a Credential

Evaluation Report of US Equivalency, a document that converts international coursework and grades into their American equivalents.

Applicants can contact the Department of Education of the state they wish to teach in for specific requirements. Remember: A teaching certificate issued in one state may not be recognized in another, although agencies like the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards do offer nationally transferrable certificates.