How to Get ESL Teaching Certification in North Carolina

Jun 06, 2018

Learning English as a non-native speaker can be intimidating, but your presence in the classroom can help students feel at ease. Find out what you should study, which exams to take, and the licenses you need to earn to become an ESL teacher in North Carolina!

View Popular Schools

If you're interested in teaching English to non-native speakers in North Carolina, you'll have a few steps to take before you can earn an additional license. Getting your teaching degree and some classroom experience will have to come first, along with several exams.

Requirements for ESL Teaching Certification in North Carolina

Average Salary for ESL Teachers in North Carolina (2017)* $44,650 (Kindergarten), $45,690 (Elementary and Middle), $46,370 (Secondary)
Required Degree Bachelor's plus add-on academic license
Degree Field Teaching English as a Second Language
Testing Requirements Praxis English to Speakers of Other Languages, Praxis Core Academic Skills, Pearson General Curriculum and Foundations of Reading for K-6 students

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor's Degree

You won't be able to obtain ESL teaching credentials without first getting a bachelor's degree. Your degree choice will depend on your preferred age of the classroom, and a teacher education component that includes student teaching is a requirement. If you wish to teach students from kindergarten through sixth grade, a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education is exactly what you'll need. Here, you'll explore classes such as teaching of reading, class assessment principles and practices, and arts for elementary education. For fifth through ninth grade, a Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades Education with a concentration in language arts and social studies will give you the necessary education. Courses in this degree program can include educational psychology, intro to twenty-first century teaching, and literature for adolescents. Finally, a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Teacher Education program can prepare you for high school classrooms, allowing you to take courses like film, applied criticism, and teaching writing across the curriculum.

Step 2: Pass Your Exams

Your grade level will determine how many standardized tests you have to take before you can earn a North Carolina teaching license. To begin, the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam, a three-part test covering reading, writing, and math, is a requirement for every teacher in North Carolina. This test can be broken up into multiple sections, or taken in one block. Each section contains multiple-choice questions, and the Writing subtest holds open-response prompts. There are also the Middle School English Language Arts and English Language Arts: Content Knowledge (for the secondary level) exams, comprised entirely of multiple-choice questions. Teachers in grades 7-12 must also include the Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 Praxis Exam, while teachers for grades K-6 must take two exams administered by Pearson: The North Carolina Foundations of Reading and General Curriculum tests. The Pearson tests both contain a combination of multiple-choice and open-response assignments.

Step 3: Obtain Your Teaching License

Once you have completed your degree program and passed your initial exams, you can apply for your credentials to teach. The North Carolina Professional Educator's Initial License is issued once, and it expires after three years. The cost for the initial application is $70. All applications are handled through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's website. Official transcripts must be included with your application - copies are accepted as long as they are marked as official from the issuing institution.

Step 4: Add Your ESL License to Your Existing Credentials

To secure employment as a teacher of English to non-native speakers in North Carolina, you need to get another license. This can be earned through academic programs designed for those who already have a degree and are working as teachers. Programs can last for fifteen semester hours, which can be completed in about one year. Some programs may require documented evidence of your previous studies of a foreign language, so check with the admissions department before applying. Courses can include applied linguistics and the legal, historical, and cultural implications of English as a second language.

Additional Resources for ESL Teaching Certification in North Carolina

As you prepare for your exams, you can check out the practice guides available on They contain self-paced review material that will give you an idea of what to expect on each test, including the ones you see below:

  • Praxis Exams
  • Praxis ESL|
Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?