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Emergency Teaching Credential Information and Requirements

Emergency, or alternative, teaching permits are issued when a school district immediately needs teachers. Emergency teaching permits bypass the state licensing requirements for teachers.

When a regular teacher is not available, an emergency teacher may be recruited. Covered here is background information about emergency teaching credentials, as well as requirements for emergency licensure and expected job duties for emergency teachers.

What Is an Emergency Teaching Credential?

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 required teachers to be highly qualified with the proper credentials and licenses. Since then, states have taken over to set their own parameters, but it can still be difficult for rural and urban areas to find qualified teachers that can fill vacant positions. Because a position cannot be left unfulfilled, states can issue emergency training certificates to teachers who can meet standards set by state boards. An emergency substitute certificate is also issued by some states that allow substitute teachers to work a specified number of hours per school year. These substitutes are only allowed to work in the school district that has declared a state of emergency due to a regular teacher being off-work.

As of January 2011, states generally cannot make a request for an emergency license until after July 1 of any school year. If there is a qualified teacher available to the district, administration must justify why that teacher is not acceptable. Budget constraints cannot be used to justify an emergency teacher. School districts are required to consider an applicant that is outside the district and must address salary concerns before an emergency teacher is considered. If the licensed applicant rejects a salary offer, only then can a school district consider an applicant who is not licensed in the subject area.

Why Is There a Need for Emergency Teachers?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that school districts in inner cities and rural areas often have a hard time recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers. Remote locations, poor salaries and budget constraints are common causes. There are also a high number of teacher retirees, which leaves vacancies at schools.

What Are the Requirements?

Some of the requirements for emergency teachers include:

  • Having at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • Submitting official transcripts
  • Passing the educator proficiency assessment exam with an acceptable score in the subject that they wish to teach
  • Passing a fingerprinting exam and background check

Some school districts may also require a valid teaching certificate from any state in the United States, or a valid certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Job Information

Emergency teachers are expected to perform the same job duties as regular teachers. They may teach at the elementary, middle or high school levels. While elementary school teachers typically provide general education in a variety of basic subjects, like reading, math and science, middle and high school teachers usually specialize in teaching a certain topic, like English or biology. Common job duties for all teachers include:

  • Creating lesson plans
  • Assessing student learning and improvement
  • Preparing students for state-mandated standardized tests
  • Providing supervision in the classroom
  • Supervising students in non-classroom environments, like the cafeteria or playground

Emergency teaching licenses may be issued when the school cannot provide a regularly licensed teacher. Emergency teachers must meet basic requirements in order to show that they are up to the job.


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