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What are the Teacher Certification Requirements for Foreign-Educated Teachers?

Are you thinking about becoming a teacher? Do you already teach overseas? Or maybe you just love teaching children and would like to work with kids around the world?

In order to become a certified teacher in the United States, you must pass a rigorous test called the Praxis Exam. This exam tests your knowledge of English grammar, vocabulary, writing skills, math, science, social studies, history, and geography. It also tests your ability to apply these subjects to real-life situations.

If you want to become a teacher in the U.S., you will first need to get your certification from a foreign country. But how do you find out what the requirements are? And how do you prepare yourself for the test?

This article will answer both questions. We'll go over the exact requirements for teachers in each state and we'll share tips on how to study for the exam.

Teacher Certification Requirements for Foreign-Educated Teachers

Many teachers from around the world choose to spend some of their professional careers teaching in the United States. This practice can help many of them learn new methods of instruction that they can take back to their home countries and incorporate into classrooms there. However, there are some requirements that these candidates need to meet in order for the US to allow them entry.

Foreign-Educated Teacher Certification Applicants

If you are a teacher from outside the US looking to spend some time sharpening your skills in North America, our blog post here can help you do that. We’ll go over the details of what you might need for temporary professional rights in the country, how a typical application process should go, and the usual kinds of certificates you can get. Further, we can outline what you might need in order to get your own Social Security number for job purposes, and we’ll wrap up with a checklist to make sure that everything is in order.


Different states in the US have their own requirements that teachers must meet, but all foreign educators will need to get either temporary or full visas before they can start working anywhere. This process can be fairly lengthy. Government sources that help people deal with all of this usually advise applicants to get things started early. If you plan to teach at some point in the near future, it is a good idea to start looking into teacher visa applications at least a full year prior to when you would like to arrive in the US with a job placement. Once you start this process, it will have its own requirements that are separate from your qualifications as a teacher. Depending on your life goals, you may want to get a permanent visa to stay in the States. If so, this would be one part of your path to full citizenship. However, many people choose to go for sponsored programs that give them specific placements in certain schools (both public schools and private schools)or subject areas for a limited time. After that, they can choose to try to extend their temporary visa, or they may return to their home countries to put what they’ve learned into practice.

Application Process and Application Instructions

The Department of Education oversees much of what happens regarding the administration of the country’s schools. However, it is not responsible for evaluating the skills of teachers who received their training in another country. In most cases, a specific evaluating body will look at the training and credentials of the foreign-educated teacher. Once this happens, the organization will determine whether the candidate has the necessary skills to teach at a school in the United States. Typically, the credential evaluation team is one that the state in which the educator would like to teach chooses for themselves. If the organization finds that the equivalents the teacher received are satisfactory, it will prepare a report explaining all of this to the state school board. This is only one of the steps on the path to teaching in the US, and most states will require the professional to take other tests.

One-Year Certificate

Once the state has reviewed your teaching qualifications, you can apply for a temporary certificate of employment. In most cases, there will be a non-refundable fee you will need to pay in order to get this certificate, and it does not guarantee any kind of employment. The exception to this may be if you have set up the placement of some kind through an academic program working with your school. If you wish, you can apply for this certificate and pay the fee during the credential review process. Otherwise, you can apply for it after you know that the state has approved you to teach in its schools.

Standard Certificate

The one-year certificate is optional, and most states recommend it for foreign educators who need some kind of document for teaching employment quickly. Otherwise, you can also get the standard version. This certificate still carries many of the same requirements as the temporary one. You will need to take additional testing to prove your proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking English. Once you do, many states have web portals that allow you to submit an application for the standard certificate online.

Social Security Number Required for Certification

All teachers working within the US need to go through various background or safety checks, and fingerprinting is part of this process. To complete it, you will need a valid Social Security number. Although you won’t have this at first, the Social Security Administration has created paths to allow foreign educators to get their own numbers for employment. You can still complete much of a state’s application process by registering for accounts that will give you temporary authorization codes you can use.

Out-of-Country Application Checklist

To help educators from outside the US make sure that they’ve done everything they should in order to start teaching seamlessly, many states offer checklists that can keep track of the tasks. We can outline some of the major milestones here.

  1. Register for an account with the state of your choice. This will help you access the online credential verification portal.

  2. If necessary, complete your own educator profile on the site.

  3. Check with the state to see where to submit your credential application review.

  4. Pay any applicable fees.

  5. Wait for your evaluation to process. The organization will expect you to have the equivalent of a bachelor’s or higher.

  6. Take your test for your proficiency level in the English language.

  7. If your review is successful, apply for the certificate of your choice. Keep in mind all the requirements you may need to meet for this, including application fees and background checks.


There may be specific steps you need to take in your own country before applying for teaching certification in the US. Although these processes can vary, most educators will need to hold the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree, complete a training program in their own countries, and exhibit a good degree of skill with all aspects of the English language. Although these are the basics, some states may require candidates to complete extra courses or training hours in order to become eligible to teach there.

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