Do I Need to Be Licensed to Teach in a Private School?

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If you are looking to get your degree in education and have thought about where you might teach, you’ve probably wondered whether you need to be licensed to teach in a private school. By reading the information found below, you can obtain an answer to this and several other questions that pertain to the world of private school teaching.

Private School:A Brief Overview

Private schools (which are also referred to as non-state schools or independent schools) are schools that operate independently of local, state, and/or national governments. Because they operate independently, private schools maintain the ability to select their own students and establish their own educational goals and criteria. Despite the self-regulating nature of private schools, they are nevertheless subject to certain government directives. See the report by the U.S. Department of Education which outlines guidelines, including teacher certification rules, imposed by each state. Private schools are generally funded in part or totality by charging students tuition fees instead of using mandatory taxation fees. For further reading about school and education-related issues, see 30 Most Controversial Education Practices in U.S. History.

To Certify, or Not To Certify?

If you are interested in teaching in a private school, you should know that whether you have to be licensed to do so is contingent upon the school. This means that determining whether you need to obtain a license to teach in a private school is as simple as researching the prospective school’s website or calling one of its administrative representatives. However, even if a school does not require that you obtain a license to work for them, getting licensed is always a good idea for anyone who pursues a career in education. In his important article “Do I Need to be Certified?,” Robert Kennedy points out that licensure is a good idea because it adds to the list of credentials a teacher can place on his/her resume, thereby making him/her more marketable. If you decide to teach in a public school later in your career, already having your license will make the process easier.

Although licensing requirements are at the discretion of the private school, most accredited private institutions will require that teachers be licensed. However, some will waive this requirement in the event that they are recruiting an instructor to teach a specific subject for which they are experiencing a great need. In this case, when a private institution recruits a teacher who is not certified, she or he will generally be required to attain licensure within a specific time frame.

Public To Private Licensure Recognition

In addition to considering the role that licensure can play in helping you advance your career as a teacher within the private education setting, you should also consider the effects that being licensed can have if you opt to work within the public sector. Specifically, if you become licensed within the state where you teach at an accredited private institution, the years of accumulated teaching experience you gained from the private school might be recognized by the state if you opt to teach in the public sector at a later time. In the state of Tennessee, for example, licensed teachers who have taught for two years in a state-approved private institution might opt to work in a public school. If this decision is made, the teacher’s license and experience can contribute towards the salary and licensure level she or he attains within the public sector. Yet if you were able to teach in a private institution without attaining licensure for two years, those years of instruction would not be counted by the state.


If you are thinking about teaching in a private school, you should know that doing so can provide you with a plethora of personal and professional advantages that enrich your life. While you may not need to be licensed to teach in a private school in every case, it is in your interest to seek certification regardless. As a teacher, your seniority and potential salary depend upon your experience, so you should be sure that any time spent teaching in private school is duly counted.

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