Early Childhood Teacher Certification in North Carolina

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North Carolina’s Early Childhood Education Scene

North Carolina, a state known for its beautiful beaches and majestic mountains, has a great reputation for its commitment to early childhood education as well. While it ranks in the lower 50 percent of states for overall education, it ranks among the top four states for pre-kindergarten standards (Thrive in North Carolina). Smart Start and the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program help provide high-quality day cares and schools within the state, too.

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Getting Your North Carolina Teaching Certification or Licensure

The Public Schools of North Carolina website includes extensive information about getting certification/licensure. You will need to familiarize yourself with this site, as it contains many resources valuable to both aspiring and current teachers.

There are three professional educator’s licenses available in North Carolina.

  • The Standard Professional 1 (SP1) Professional Educator’s License is intended for new teachers with two or fewer years of teaching experience who have completed a state-approved teacher preparation program or earned a license from another state.
  • The Standard Professional 2 (SP2) Professional Educator’s License is intended for teachers with at least three years of teaching experience, whether in-state or out-of-state.
  • The Lateral Entry License is intended for candidates with a bachelor’s degree who meet certain other requirements.

To apply, you will need to submit the following:

  • An application for a North Carolina Professional Educator’s License
  • A license from another state, or verification of graduation from an approved teacher preparation program
  • Official transcripts
  • Test scores
  • Verification of K-through-12 teaching experience
  • International verification (if applicable)
  • An application package with a check, money order or certified check

In-state applicants must pay a fee of $55.00, while out-of-state applicants must pay $85.00. The process takes approximately six weeks. To renew an expired professional educator’s license, you must earn 15 units of renewal credits within five years or complete 10 semester hours of coursework.

Be sure to contact the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction should you have any further questions about the certification/licensure process.

North Carolina’s Degree Programs in Early Childhood Education

There are approximately 75 accredited early childhood education colleges in North Carolina.

is a reputable multi-campus school that offers bachelor’s degrees in child development and family studies (birth to K) and elementary education (K through six). It also offers a master’s degree in teaching (K through 12) and another master’s for experienced teachers in early childhood intervention and family support (birth to K). Several specialized doctoral education degrees are available as well.

is the largest education school in North Carolina. It offers a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in elementary education (K through six), as well as a doctorate in educational leadership (K through 12).

is a historically African-American university that offers a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (birth through K) and elementary education (K through six). It also offers a master’s degree in elementary education (K through six) and a doctorate in education.

is a school with small class sizes that adheres to Christian principles. It offers bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education (birth to five) and elementary education (K through six). A master’s degree in elementary education (K through six) is also available.

is part of the NC Community College System and offers an Associate in Applied Science in Early Childhood Education. Students learn instructional theories and benefit from actual classroom practice with children under the guidance of qualified teachers. This program can be completed entirely online.

Getting a Job as an Early Childhood Teacher in North Carolina

There are several different avenues you can take to pursue a career in this dynamic field.

Public schools employ the vast majority of career-seekers in early childhood education. There are 115 Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and 100 charter schools. Start by viewing the employment web page and recruitment web page to gain insight about the application process as well as job fair information.

Other employers to become familiar with are private schools, Head Start, Bright Horizons, and Montessori schools. Be sure to research the child care centers in your local area, as many of these centers are in constant need of highly-qualified teachers and assistant teachers. GreatSchools.org can also help you find top-rated preschools and elementary schools in your community.

Professional Groups for Teachers

There are many professional organizations for teachers in the state of North Carolina that share similar goals.

The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) is a special teacher’s organization that advocates for teachers while providing them with training opportunities and protection from possible workplace issues. Joining your local association automatically enrolls you in the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest professional employee organization.

The North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children (NCAEYC) has been improving early childhood education for 60 years. It is a state affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and their 16 local affiliate groups.

The Classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina (CTANC) also promotes early childhood education, as does the Professional Educators of North Carolina (PENC) and the North Carolina Association of Elementary Educators (NCAEE).

There are also a few subject-oriented interest groups teachers can join. The North Carolina Science Teachers Association (NCSTA) promotes excellence in science teaching and learning, while the North Carolina English Teachers Association (NCETA) enriches reading and writing instruction across the state.

North Carolina’s ECE Bloggers

NewsObserver.com covers hot topics current in North Carolina schools, while the North Carolina Education Policy Blog covers the political aspects of education policy and reform within the state. These well-known teacher blogs can serve as valuable resources for both aspiring and current teachers.

Kelly Hines, the author of the blog Keeping Kids First, is an elementary school teacher who offers insight into the different ways technology can be incorporated into the regular curriculum.

Jeff Barger, the author of NC Teacher Stuff, is a second-grade teacher who provides many useful resources for early childhood educators.

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