How to Become a Teacher in Georgia

Georgia Teacher Certification Requirements

Aspiring educators in Georgia must fulfill a set of basic requirements in order to become certified teachers. These requirements include:

  • Earning a bachelors degree
  • Completing a state-approved teacher preparation program
  • Passing several state-mandated assessments
  • Completing the licensing application process

These steps are discussed in further detail below.

Completing a Georgia Teacher Preparation Program

You must complete a teacher preparation program recognized by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The traditional route to certification is getting your bachelor's degree in tandem with a teacher preparation program. Once you have your degree, have completed the teacher preparation program, and passed the requisite state exams, you will be eligible for an induction certificate.

Teacher preparation programs leading to an induction certification must include field experiences and/or student teaching. Student teaching takes place while you are completing your educator preparation program. You will be required to teach at a Georgia school full-time for a semester under the supervision of a mentor teacher. During your student teaching you will develop and give lessons, manage the classroom, correct homework, facilitate parent teacher conferences and any other responsibilities required of a teacher in Georgia. Field work can consist of observations of experienced teachers, as well as academic case studies and enquiries.

Prerequisite Coursework for Georgia Teachers

Teacher preparation programs in Georgia include a variety of courses and field work. If you plan on teaching at the elementary school grade level you will take classes on early childhood development, foundational skills, and pedagogy. If you will be teaching in middle school or high school, you will also complete courses in pedagogy, as well as courses in the specific subject area of your desired certification.

Assessment Requirements

In order to receive your initial teaching certificate, you must pass three Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE). One is a basic skills test in reading, writing, and mathematics, called the Program Admission Assessment. It is a combination of multiple-choice questions and a writing section. You will also take a content specific assessment depending on what grade level and subject you will be teaching. The content assessment will measure your knowledge of that specific subject. Candidates are also required to pass the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment, which focuses on professional standards for teachers.

Additional Georgia Teacher Certification Requirements

The state requires the following additional steps to receive a teaching certification.

  • Pass state and national criminal background checks
  • Provide bachelor's degree transcripts including evidence of completion of an approved teacher preparation program
  • A passing score on the required state assessments
  • A completed application
  • Payment for processing the application

Georgia Alternative Teacher Certification

If you have your bachelor's degree in a content area taught in Georgia schools, but have not completed a teacher preparation program, there is an alternative route to a Georgia teacher certification using a three-year non-renewable provisional certificate. This certificate allows a candidate to be hired and begin teaching in Georgia schools while completing an educator preparation program. The provisional certification must be requested by the Georgia school that has hired the candidate. Before being granted an induction certificate, you must pass the Program Admission Assessment, the Content Assessment, and the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment.

The Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTapp) is a popular pathway to alternative certification. To qualify as a GaTapp candidate with a non-renewable provisional teaching certificate, you must pass the state-mandated assessments. Employment at a Georgia school is required, with the school providing coaching and mentorship to the teacher.

Teacher preparation programs can be for certification only, or they can lead to a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT).

Certification in Georgia for Out-of-State Educators

Out-of-state teacher preparation programs with regional accreditation from SACS must be approved by GaPSC before licensure can be granted in Georgia. Georgia is a member of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement. All fifty states are members of the NASDTEC interstate Agreement, so all states have reciprocity with the state of Georgia with regards to teaching licenses. However, requirements for each state may be a little different and should be investigated on a state-by-state basis. Additional requirements for all teacher certification candidates including out-of-state educators are listed below.

Georgia Teaching Certificate Renewal

In Georgia, a renewable teaching certificate is given for five years. In order to be eligible for a certificate renewal at the end of the five years you must complete one of the following:

  • Obtain a grade of B or better for 6 semester hours at an accredited college or university
  • 10 Professional Learning Units (PLUs) from a Georgia school system or Regional Education Service Agencies
  • 10 continuing education units (CEUs) from the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training
  • 10 credits from the US Department of Education Teacher-to-Teacher Workshops

Additionally, each candidate must pass state and national criminal background checks

What are the Tiers of Georgia Teaching Certification?

There are five different levels of certification in Georgia. They are as follows:

  • Pre-Service - This certificate allows a candidate to do student teaching or field work while completing a teacher preparation program.
  • Provisional - This is a three-year non-renewable certificate for those who already have a bachelor's degree and want to change careers. It allows the applicant to teach while completing the requirements for an Induction certification.
  • Induction - When a teacher preparation program has been successfully completed and state-mandated tests have been passed, this certificate will be awarded.
  • Professional - This certification is earned after five years of successful teaching under an Induction certification
  • Advanced and Lead Professional - Advanced Professional certification is granted after ten years of successful teaching experience and continuing education. Advanced Lead certification can be granted after five years of teaching experience, continuing education, and passing the Teacher Leadership Assessment.

If you are interested in moving from teaching to an administrative position, there are two types of Educational Leadership certificates; Tier I and Tier II. A Tier I certificate is an initial certificate meant for entry level administrators such as an assistant principal. For this certification you must:

  • Complete a GaPSC approved Tier I program at the master's level
  • Pass a GACE content assessment
  • Pass a special education course with no less than a B grade
  • Pass the Ethics of Educational Leadership Assessment

A Performance-Based Professional Tier II certificate is awarded to administrators above the assistant principal. The requirements for this certification are as follows:

  • Hold a Tier I Educational Leadership certificate
  • Complete a GaPSC approved Educational Leadership Tier II Educator Preparation Program at the specialist or doctoral level
  • Pass a GACE Content Assessment
  • Pass a Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL)

Georgia Teacher Employment Outlook and Salary

According to the Georgia Department of Education, there were 1,686,318 students enrolled in 219 public school systems in 2019. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 Georgia employed about 128,000 teachers in pre-school through 12th grade. This includes special education teachers, and career and technology education teachers. The average ratio of teachers to students is 15:1.

Annual mean salaries for teachers range from $34,720 for pre-school teachers to $62,980 for a special education teacher in kindergarten or elementary school. The highest wages for each grade level are shown in the table below.

Educator Role/Setting Top of the Salary Scale
Preschool $58,230
Special Education
Preschool
$115,020
Kindergarten $91,980
Special Education
Elementary
$98,480
Elementary School $100,480
Middle School $98,840
Career & Technical
Education MS
$100,780
Special Education MS $99,750
Secondary School $102,130
Special Education
Secondary
$101,050
Career & Technical
Secondary
$96,020

Between 2020-2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting the following national employment growth for teachers:

Setting Projected Growth
Preschool 18%
Kindergarten & Elementary 7%
Middle School & Secondary 8%

The Georgia Department of Labor is estimating that 45,160 jobs in education, training and library services will be added by 2028.

Expert Contributor

Nadim Tabsch

Nadim Tabsch is an adjunct English professor with over 15 years of experience. He has deep expertise in Literacy and Social Sciences and has been an educator at the elementary, middle school, high school, and collegiate level. Nadim graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education from Barry University and a Master's degree in Literacy from the University of New England.

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