Louisiana Teacher Certification Guide

How to Become a Teacher in Louisiana

The three requirements that all candidates must meet to secure a teaching certificate in Louisiana are:

  1. acquisition of a bachelor's degree
  2. completion of a Louisiana-approved teacher preparation program
  3. receipt of attainment of Praxis passing scores on Praxis tests applicable to the candidates' certification area

Louisiana-based bachelor's programs which include teacher preparation build 180 hours of field experience and a full year of classroom residency into the bachelor's degree curriculum.

Candidates who have earned bachelor's degrees that did not include teacher preparation can get certification through an alternative path. Louisiana's tiered structure of teacher certification licensing provides for three levels of certification with Level 3 representing fully qualified candidates. Others can work with the Level 1 or 2 certificates while progressing toward full certification.

Louisiana Teacher Certification Programs

For those interested in obtaining Louisiana teacher certification, there are twenty-nine teacher preparation programs in Louisiana that turn out more than 2,000 new teachers per year. These programs are divided into those leading to a bachelor's degree and programs designed for candidates who already hold a bachelor's degree but lack teacher training.

For those beginning their undergraduate years, teacher preparation programs lead to either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree and will include general education courses, an area of focus, 180 hours of field experience, and a student teaching, internship, or residency in a Louisiana school.

Some schools will require a passing score on Praxis Core, formerly called Praxis One exam, to be admitted to the teacher preparation program. Candidates need to review the requirements of the university or college that they wish to attend to determine the exact admission requirements. All programs at approved schools will include sufficient coursework for content area mastery and for those seeking secondary certification, an academic major or its equivalent in the content area of the certificate. All candidates will be required to take coursework in the teaching of reading and literacy development.

Candidates already holding a bachelor's degree that did not include teacher preparation can take advantage of Louisiana's alternative preparation programs. There are three types of programs offered:

  • Practitioner Teacher Alternate Certification Program which provides intensive coursework while the candidate is teaching full-time.
  • Master's Degree Alternate Certification Program for completing a master's degree as well as the necessary coursework for certification.
  • Certification-Only Program for candidate's who wish to work the program on a part-time basis.

Bases for admission to all of these programs include a bachelor's degree and a passing score on Praxis Core.

Louisiana Teacher Education Requirements

A typical teacher training program in one of Louisiana's colleges or universities will offer admission after the student has attempted at least 45 credit hours, or midway through the sophomore year. The student will need to have an ACT score of 22 or higher or Praxis scores required to pass the Praxis I Core Academic Skills for Educators exams. The applicant must have achieved a minimum 2.5 GPA on all courses to that point. The candidate must complete all courses specified by the program for certification as elementary, middle, secondary, early childhood, art or music, or kinesiology teaching. The candidate must maintain an overall 2.5 GPA and many of the courses will require a grade of "C" or better for satisfactory completion.

Louisiana teacher certification requires all candidates to complete a year-long supervised residency program. Before being allowed to begin the residency requirement, candidates must pass all parts of the Praxis II exams covering content knowledge and principles of learning and teaching. During the teaching residency, candidates will work with an assigned mentor teacher under whom they will co-teach at least 40% of the instructional time during the year. This work will begin on the first day of the school year and must include at least 12 hours per week. Candidates must earn a grade of "C" or better in Teacher Residency to be eligible for certification at the completion of the program. Students who fail to meet that level of achievement will need to repeat the teacher residency experience.

Required Tests for Louisiana Teachers

There are three categories of Praxis exams designed and given by ETS: Core tests, Subject tests, and Content Knowledge for Teaching tests. The Praxis Core consist of three tests: Praxis Core Reading, Praxis Core Writing, and Praxis Core Math. In Louisiana, these exams are required for admission to the teacher preparation programs and must be taken by the time of application midway through the sophomore year of college. Some Louisiana universities accept sufficiently high scores on the ACT, a college admission test, in lieu of the Core Praxis exams.

The Praxis Subject Tests or Praxis 2 measure knowledge in subject-specific content areas and include tests such as Praxis PLT K-6 (PLT stands for Principles of Learning and Teaching), Middle School Language Arts, or Chemistry Content Knowledge. Candidates must check the ETS website to ensure that they are taking the correct exams as designated by the Louisiana State Board of Education. The Praxis Content Knowledge for Teaching tests measures the candidate's ability to apply content knowledge in day-to-day teaching.

Additional Louisiana Teacher Certification Requirements

In addition to providing evidence of required educational achievements including teacher residency and field experience, applicants for a teaching certificate will need to provide a social security card and driver's license. A Professional Conduct form must be completed and sent which will require the candidate to reveal any criminal or disciplinary actions in their history, and will be required to authorize a criminal background check. The candidate will also needs to pay fees appropriate to the type of application. Fee schedules can be found on the Louisiana Department of Education website.

Louisiana Teacher Licensing Procedure

Applicants for Louisiana Teaching Certificates should begin by creating an account on the TEACH LA Live! portal. The candidates will then select the type of certification sought from the Louisiana Department of Education website. Most first-time applicants will file the Certification and Exam Verification form. Those seeking renewal, out of state applications or specialty applications such as for early childhood or to serve as mentor teachers will make different selections. Candidates should note that the forms cannot be handwritten but can be completed online, then printed for submission. The applicant will be asked to send verification of exam scores. The Professional Conduct form must be completed and signed.

Alternative Teaching Certification in Louisiana

There are three pathways to alternative teaching certification in Louisiana, however, they all begin by requiring the candidate to already possess a bachelor's degree.

  • Practitioner Teacher Alternate Certification Program

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of at least 2.20. They must take and pass the Praxis certification tests applicable and then apply to an approved teacher preparation program. Successful applicants will receive a Practitioner License I allowing them to teach full time while progressing in the teacher preparation program. At the completion of the program, the applicant is eligible for a Level I Professional License.

  • Master's Degree Alternate Certification Program

Candidates on this path to teacher certification in Louisiana will also be able to teach full-time while completing both a master's degree and the teacher preparation program. These candidates will be required to show a GPA of 2.5 in undergraduate work and to pass the Praxis tests for teachers that are required for admission to the program. A Practitioner License 3 is given to successful applicants allowing them to teach while completing the master's program. At successful completion, the candidate receives both a master's degree and a Level 3 Professional Certificate.

  • Certification-Only Program

This program is for candidates with bachelor's degrees who seek certification through a less intensive path without pursuing any additional educational credentials. At the end of the program, the candidate will receive certification, but no additional degree or certificate of completion. These applicants must present a minimum 2.20 GPA for undergraduate work and Praxis passing scores on required Praxis exams to be given a Practitioner License 2 allowing them to teach while completing at least 405 contact hours of teacher training. At the end of the program, those candidates can receive a Professional License.

Louisiana Credentials for Out-of-State Teachers

Candidates who have completed teacher training outside of Louisiana are eligible for Louisiana's Out-of-State certificate. They must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college. If the study was done in another country, the candidate's transcript will need to be reviewed by a credentialing agency following the standards set by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. The candidate must submit transcripts and an out-of-state certificate if one was issued. The transcript must show that the candidate completed internship or teaching experience equivalent to that required in Louisiana. Successful candidates receive a letter of eligibility to seek employment in Louisiana schools.

If the candidate secures employment, the school system will request a three-year non-renewable certificate allowing the candidate to begin teaching. That teacher must still pass all required Praxis exams to receive a regular Professional Certificate. If the candidate had already completed the exams, the Professional Certificate application can be put forward immediately. Candidates with at least three years of successful teaching experience out-of-state can have the Praxis test requirements waived after one year of successful teaching in Louisiana.

Teachers with out-of-state licenses may also be able to become certified in Louisiana through reciprocity agreements. Louisiana is a participant in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) interstate agreement which encourages certification reciprocity by allowing agencies to verify teacher licensing in other states. Nevertheless, Louisiana does not have complete reciprocity with any other states and allows immediate certification through reciprocity only under limited circumstances. Military spouses can receive temporary practice permits just by supplying out-of-state credentials. All others with out-of-state credentials or valid out-of-state teaching certificates can receive Louisiana certification only through the steps outlined above.

Opportunities for Advancement & Development for Louisiana Teachers

There are several advancement opportunities for Louisiana teachers including becoming a mentor teacher, a content leader, or an educational leader.

  • Mentor Teachers

Mentor teachers coach and support new and resident teachers and even experienced teachers who can benefit from support. Beginning in 2017, Louisiana established a training program to develop a cadre of mentor teachers. Teachers earn the mentor distinction by demonstrating competency in areas such as classroom management or content instruction. They will attend training that prepares them to establish strong relationships with developing teachers, identify areas of weakness, deliver coaching and resources to help them improve, and track their progress and improvement.

  • Content Leaders

Teachers serving as content leaders have demonstrated competency in:

  • Adult Learning,
  • Classroom Culture,
  • Written expression of text,
  • Analysis of complex test, and
  • Spoken expression of text.

Content leaders are expected to implement these skills in adult group settings.

  • Educational Leaders

Teachers trained for leadership positions serve as principals, assistant principals, or in other leadership positions. Educational leaders need to earn the EDL certification which can be accomplished in four ways. There is a master's degree pathway and three alternate pathways for accomplishing this certification. All three pathways begin by requiring the applicant to hold or be eligible for a Level 2 Teaching Certificate. Additionally, they must have three years of teaching experience and pass the school licensure assessment.

To complete the requirements, the candidate can acquire a master's degree in educational leadership. One alternative path for teachers already holding a master's degree in a subject other than educational leadership or any other area of education is the completion of an educational leadership program which might be partially satisfied by having served as a mentor or content leader. Teachers holding a master's degree in an area of education other than leadership can give evidence of having served 240 or more hours in leadership experiences with up to 100 hours of this requirement being met by having served as a mentor or content leader. Finally, teachers who do not hold or seek master's degrees can complete an educational leader practitioner program in the area of educational leadership. Serving as a mentor or content leader can also fulfill part of these kinds of programs which are offered through many Louisiana universities and colleges and through other accredited providers.

Louisiana Teacher Employment Outlook & Salary

According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting, Louisiana teachers earn average salaries of $49,000 - $52,000 per year. There are extra salary inducements for teachers willing to work in high demand areas or in subjects with teacher shortages. There are a number of benefits provided for teachers including vested participation in a state retirement system, health insurance, paid holidays, sick and annual leave. Some of the subject areas with the most severe teacher shortages are English as a Second Language, Mathematics, Science, Special Education, and Languages.

There are a total of 87 schools districts in Louisiana currently enrolling a total of 690,000 students. Almost 44,000 teachers are employed by the Louisiana public school system giving a student-teacher ratio of approximately 15:1. There were approximately 6,000 new hires of teachers in each of the last three years. The minimum salaries for teachers are designated by six salary levels based on the teacher's certification and assessment ratings. Those with proficient or highly effective ratings receive higher salaries up to designated salary caps.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I teach without a certificate?

    All teachers in Louisiana must have teaching certificates. However, there are alternative programs that allow applicants to teach under practitioner teacher certificates while completing requirements for full certification.

  • What is required to become a teacher in Louisiana?

    All teachers in Louisiana must have a bachelor's degree and passing scores on all required Praxis exams depending on the type of certificate sought. There are several alternative paths to certification for applicants who wish to teach while completing all requirements.

  • How do I become a teacher in Louisiana?

    All teachers in Louisiana must have a bachelor's degree and passing scores on all required Praxis exams depending on the type of certificate sought. There are several alternative paths to certification for applicants who wish to teach while completing all requirements.

All Teacher Certification Exams