ESL New York State Teacher Certification

Jul 03, 2020

ESL teachers in New York are known as English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programs are designed to equip individuals with the skills needed to be effective ESOL teachers. New York has a high level of demand for ESOL teachers so those interested in teaching in this subject area may find there are good job prospects in New York.

New York ESL Teacher Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in New York (2019)* $78,140 (Kindergarten); $82,830 (Elementary); $87,050 (Middle School); $87,240 (High School)
Required Degree Master's degree or advanced certificate
Degree Field TESOL Education
Testing Requirements edTPA, EAS, CST

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Education Requirements

Although the typical requirement for teachers in New York is to earn a bachelor's degree through an approved pathway program, the only programs currently available that focus on teaching English to speakers of other languages are for master's degrees or advanced certificates. This means that those who are interested in qualifying to be an ESOL teacher need to be prepared to first earn a degree and then pursue additional postsecondary studies.

Earning a degree through an approved program will prepare individuals with the academic background needed for a career in teaching. Approved bachelor's education programs that can be useful for aspiring ESOL teachers include middle child education, adolescent education, or English education. These programs provide training in developing lesson plans, working with special needs students and evaluating students. Those who earn a degree in one of these disciplines will also be required to complete student teaching assignments. Other bachelor's degrees that are acceptable are in English/linguistics, foreign language, history/social science/anthropology, or even mathematics.

After earning a bachelor's degree in an appropriate subject area, it is necessary to earn a TESOL certificate or graduate degree from an approved program. This involves several semesters of additional study, student teaching assignments and learning strategies to teach English to individuals who speak different languages. Some programs offer a combined bachelor's/master's program that can be completed in five years.

Anyone pursuing their teacher certification credentials in New York through an approved program must receive a recommendation letter from their postsecondary institution.

Step 2: Pass Certification Exams


Since the edTPA evaluation must be based on the individual's desired certification subject, those who are pursuing their credentials to teach English to speakers of other languages must pass the English as an Additional Language edTPA. For elementary teachers the current passing score is 46. Middle and high school teachers need a passing score of 38 as of 2018. In 2020 the passing scores will increase by 1 in each teaching area. They will increase again another 1 point as of January 1, 2022. This means that as of 2022 the passing score for elementary teachers will be 48 and the passing score for middle and high school teachers will be 40.


Once you are ready to take the Educating All Students (EAS) exam, you must register for the exam and pay a fee of $92. The exam takes just over two hours and you must earn 500 or more to pass.


Content Specialty Test (CST) exams are designed to ensure that you have the skills needed to teach your chosen subject area. Those who are interested in teaching English to speakers of other languages must take the ESOL CST or Safety Net ESOL CST. The ESOL CST costs $134. A score of 520 is needed to pass. The Safety Net ESOL CST is only valid until June 30, 2019. It costs the same as the ESOL CST but applicants only need to score 220 to pass.

Step 3: Fulfill Additional Certification Requirements

All certified teachers in New York must attend the Dignity For All Students Act workshop. They are all also required to supply their fingerprints for a background check and pass the criminal records check.

Step 4: Apply For The Initial Certificate

Once all the criteria for certification has been completed you can apply for your initial certificate. The fee is $50 and the initial certificate is valid for 5 years. It is normal to be required to supply proof of your academic qualifications, including transcripts and proof of your identity.

Teacher Certification Resources

Practice and study guides are available to prepare you to successfully take the EAS exam and ESOL CST. Study resources for these tests are linked to here.

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