How to Become a Teacher in Hawaii

How to Become a Teacher in Hawaii

Ready to teach in the Aloha State? Good news -- Hawaii teacher certification requirements are pretty straightforward, especially for the traditional path:

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.
  2. Complete a State Approved Teacher Education Program from a school that's regionally accredited. This educator prep program must include student teaching.
  3. Pass licensure exams including the Praxis Core and the appropriate Praxis Subject Assessment or pass the professional fitness check.
  4. Apply for licensure with transcripts, test scores, a background check and a fee.

If you're a first-time teacher in Hawaii, you'll be awarded a Provisional License. After three years, you'll have the chance to apply for a Standard License. Educators who complete a graduate degree or complete National Board for Professional Teaching (NBPTS) certification can apply for an Advanced Licence.

Hawaii alternative teacher certification pathways are also available and we will cover these in greater detail below. First, we'll look at how to get a teaching certificate in Hawaii the conventional way.

Hawaii Teacher Certification Programs

There are several schools and organizations that offer teacher certification programs in Hawaii. The following colleges and universities offer at least one teacher certification program:

  • The University of Hawaii at Manoa, which boasts a wealth of degrees in education including a Bachelor of Education (BEd) in Early Childhood/Early Childhood SPED, a BEd in Secondary Education, a BEd in Exceptional Students & Elementary Education and a unique BEd in Elementary Education & Hawaiian Language Immersion.
  • Brigham Young University Hawaii, which offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Elementary Education and a wealth of bachelor's degrees for secondary education including Art Education (BS), History Education (BA), Social Science Education (BS) and TESOL Education (BA).
  • Chaminade University, with bachelor's degree offerings in Early Childhood Education for Oceania (Chuuk students), Secondary Education and Elementary Education.

You'll also find programs at institutions like Hawaii Pacific University, Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Education Ka Haka 'Ula o Ke'elikolani College of Hawaiian Language, Leeward Community College and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

In addition to regional accreditation, teacher licensure programs must continually meet several standards to remain a Hawaii State Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP). These include (but are not limited to) producing candidates who can:

  • Teach the history and culture of Hawaii
  • Work with students with reading difficulties
  • Help limited English proficiency students
  • Integrate technology into the classroom effectively
  • Teach students with disabilities

Hawaii Teacher Education Requirements

The coursework you might take in a bachelor's degree program in education depends in part on the area you wish to teach. For instance, aspiring elementary school teachers might take coursework like Elementary Math, Child Development and Elementary Language Arts. A prospective high school art teacher might have the chance to complete coursework such as Drawing and Design Principles, Art Methods for Secondary Teachers and Principles of Secondary Education.

However, there are some general courses that most education students take:

  • Educational Psychology
  • Educational Technology
  • Hawaiian Studies
  • Methods of Literacy and Instruction
  • Introduction to Teaching

In addition to coursework, all Hawaii teacher certification programs include a student teacher practicum. This teaching internship places aspiring teachers in real classrooms in the Aloha State where they assist current teachers with lesson plans, observe educators as they teach and even get up in front of students to lead class sessions.

Required Tests for Hawaii Teachers

While many states explicitly require the Praxis test, the state of Hawaii makes it optional. In their place are professional fitness requirements, a set of questions to which candidates must answer 'no.' These include (but are not limited to) questions about:

  • The revocation of a previous teaching license
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Felonies or misdemeanors
  • Having been dismissed from a job because of misconduct

Candidates who choose to take the exam will need to achieve the Praxis passing scores on the Praxis Core and the Praxis Subject Assessment. Current license holders can also add a teaching field by passing one of the Praxis Subject Assessment exams.

The Praxis Core includes three exams:

Test Name Test Code Passing Score
Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading 5713 156
Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing 5723 162
Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics 5733 150

The Praxis Subject Assessments cover a wide range of topics, from Psychology and Geometry to Social Studies and Economics. To see the full list of exams you might want to take in Hawaii, check out the ETS Praxis Hawaii Test Requirements

Additional Hawaii Teacher Certification Requirements

In addition to a bachelor's degree, an educator preparation program and the professional fitness requirements, a criminal record background check must be submitted. Typically, applicants for teacher preparation courses will submit a fingerprint as part of this process before beginning the course. Your teacher prep program is required to identify a point of contact where you can get your fingerprinting done.

Hawaii Teacher Certification Application Process

Once you are ready to apply for the Praxis teacher certification in Hawaii, review your credentials. Make sure you have a valid photo ID, transcripts from your bachelor's degree, an endorsement for the teaching hours required by your program, and Praxis scores from Praxis exams for your desired subject area (if applicable).

The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB) website is where to head next. There, you will create a profile and follow the steps to complete your application. It may take up to six weeks for HTSB staff to review and respond to your application, but you may contact them with any questions during this period through their website. Applicants will receive a notification once their status is approved or if any additional information is needed for review.

Hawaii teaching license renewal is done between January and July on the year you must renew. Renewal is done online through the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board website.

Hawaii Alternative Teacher Certification

Although earning a bachelor's degree in education is the most straightforward way to get a teaching certificate, Hawaii offers alternative paths to the Praxis teacher certification. For teaching candidates who completed a degree in a field other than education, there are stand-alone educator preparation programs that fulfill the teaching coursework and practicum requirements. There are several Hawaii-approved teaching licensure programs:

  • iTeach Hawaii
  • Kahoiwai
  • Teach Away
  • Teach For America

Individuals who wish to teach a career and technical education (CTE) subject must possess at least an associate degree (in any subject) and have three years of work experience in their desired field. Additionally, candidates must pass 15 semester-hours of coursework for the grade level they desire to teach, or pass 12 hours of coursework from a Hawaii-approved teacher prep program and pass the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) license test in the grade level they desire to teach. Prospective teachers must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Pass the Praxis in their field, if available
  • Hold a valid National Industry Certification in their field
  • Hold a valid industry license in their field
  • Pass 30 hours of coursework in their license field

There may be other requirements, depending on the individual's desired position. Career and Technical Education Standard Limited Licenses are valid for five years.

Certification in Hawaii for Out-of-State Educators

For those seeking Hawaii teacher certification reciprocity (to transfer existing teaching certification from outside of Hawaii), one must hold a bachelor's degree and a valid teaching license that was issued on or after July 1, 2006. Those holding a Standard License will need to also verify their three years of full-time teaching experience in a contracted, P-12 position. Along with these requirements is a professional fitness check and validation of a government-issued photo ID.

If a candidate has completed a teacher education program outside of Hawaii, they must pass the Praxis exams for their area(s) and verify the passing of their program.

Opportunities for Advancement & Development for Hawaii Teachers

Teachers may apply for further certification once they have substantial experience. There are three paths to obtain an Advanced License in the state of Hawaii. All require a Standard License and verification of five years of full-time, recent teaching experience.

Those who hold a master's, specialist, or doctoral degree, or have passed 30 hours of graduate coursework that is relevant to their teaching subject, can apply for an Advanced License, as well as those who are certified by the National Board and those recognized as teacher leaders. An Advanced License is valid for 10 years.

Teachers can also add a teaching field. There are four ways to do this:

  1. Completing a state-approved program in the new area
  2. Getting an advanced degree in the new field
  3. Pass the Praxis Subject Assessment Test in the desired area, plus experience or pedagogy
  4. Getting a Hawaii Advanced License, plus specific coursework or test

The details of each of these options are complex. For more information on each route, see the 'Add a Teaching Field' section of the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board website.

Hawaii Teacher Employment Outlook & Salary

Job availability for Secondary School Teachers (Except Special and Career/Technical Education) in Hawaii is projected to decrease by 8% from 2021 to 2028, according to data compiled by the University of Hawai'i. This is true for elementary and middle school teachers in the Aloha State, also. Kindergarten teachers are projected to see a 1% decrease There are 287 public schools across seven islands in Hawaii including 31 charter schools. There are around 13,000 teachers employed in the Hawaiian educational system and the student-to-teacher ratio in Hawaii is 15:1.

The following table shows the mean annual salaries for Hawaii teachers, according to 2020 data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Elementary School (except special education) Middle School (except special education) Secondary School (except special education)
Average Salary $65,060 $65,150 $66,340
Number of Employed 4,810 1,940 3,600

Expert Contributor

Amy Mayers

Amy Mayers, M.Ed. has taught middle school math for over 7 years. She is a Texas certified teacher for grades 4-12 in mathematics and has passed the TExES Math 4-8 and the TExES Math 7-12. Amy graduated with a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences from the University of Houston and a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Thomas.

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