One of the most important considerations teachers must make if they move between states is the process and eligibility for a teaching certificate transfer. Thankfully, virtually every state has a reciprocal agreement with all other states, allowing teachers to transfer and maintain their credentials no matter where they move. While this is a great program and one that benefits the mobility of teachers, it’s important to understand that this process can often take weeks or months. There may also be special application requirements, education requirements, and more. Before looking into a license transfer, consider the most common fees, components, and requirements.
Certificate Transfer is Generally Not Free
Transferring a teaching certificate from one state to the next is often relatively pain-free, but it’s certainly not fee-free. Most states charge at least a small fee to handle and process the paperwork, review the teacher’s existing credentials, and produce a new license for use in that state’s classroom. This fee can be as low as $15 in some states, or even as high as $100 in many others. Before applying for the transfer, make sure that this fee can reasonably fit within an existing budget. Any inability to pay the fee will result in a cancellation of the transfer application.
Transferring a Certificate Requires Proper Documentation
Every state has a slightly different list of requirements for their teacher certification, and they certainly want to make sure that transfer applicants can meet the same standards as teachers who attended college in the state and earned their certificate through an approved, NCATE-certificated state program. This means that many states will require a formal application along with an official copy of undergraduate transcripts, a photocopy of the teacher’s current certificate, and a copy of their undergraduate diploma. If graduate work was pursued, it typically must be documented with transcripts as well.
A small handful of states will also request the submission of professional recommendations or copies of a teacher’s most recent classroom observation and formal evaluation. These documents simply assure the new state that the teacher will be capable of performing in the classroom, and that their application is not an “escape” from poor educational or classroom performance in another state.
Teachers May Not Be Granted a Full, Permanent Certificate
Many states split teacher licenses into “initial” and “continuing” categories. An initial license typically lasts between two and 10 years, giving teachers the ability to seek a full-time position while completing additional educational requirements. In many states, a permanent certificate is issued only after completion of a Master’s degree, 24 graduate-level credits, or at least five years of teaching without reprimand. If the teacher has not earned this permanent “continuing” license in one state, chances are good that they’ll be ineligible for such a license in another state.
Furthermore, teachers who have already earned their permanent license may find that their new state will not grant them one if they do not meet its requirements for that credential. As a result, some teachers may be downgraded to a more temporary license until they can meet that state’s full licensure requirements.
A Few Important Considerations Must Be Made When Transferring a Certificate
While it’s certainly possible and pain-free to request a teaching certificate transfer between states, some educators may find that the process comes with added costs in the form of application fees, additional education requirements, and a disparity between temporary and permanent licensing. Before making any application for a teaching certificate transfer, keep these common pitfalls in mind and prepare accordingly.