Investing in our future is vitally important and strangely difficult. In order to fight oppression from the greedy and power-hungry elite, to better our ways of life with advancing technology, and to increase our country's overall views toward the concept of acceptance, we need education to be a priority. Learn how you can be a spoke in this terribly important wheel. See how Arizona measures up to the rest of the country by viewing the percentage of state revenue going toward education in each state. (see State Education Spending vs. Overall State Revenue).
At the 2011 State of the State Conference sponsored by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, it was reported that 91 percent of Arizonans think that the state legislature should make kindergarten through twelfth grade education the highest priority. Becoming a certified teacher in Arizona is one way to demonstrate support for the educational system in the state. Teachers are needed all over Arizona, particularly in the state’s rural areas. If you are interested in pursuing teaching certification in Arizona, the steps to do so are outlined here.
The Arizona Department of Education (Phoenix office: (602) 542-4367 or Tucson office: (520) 628-6326) requires all new teachers to apply for a Provisional Teaching Certificate in their chosen area of specialization. Arizona certifies teachers in Early Childhood Education (birth through age 8 or Grade 3), Elementary Education (K-8), Secondary Education (7-12), Special Education, Career and Technical Education, and Arts Education (Pre K-12). The Provisional Teaching Certificate is valid for three years and must be converted to a six-year Standard Teaching Certificate at least two months prior to it expiring. Find schools offering teaching certification programs in Arizona.
All Arizona teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree and complete an Arizona state board-approved teacher preparation program in their chosen specialty. Your degree will correspond with the area in which you wish to be certified to teach.
Teacher preparation programs in Arizona may be at the bachelor’s level, master’s level or post graduate-level. Some teacher preparation programs in the state may offer a bachelor’s or master’s degree upon completion, while other programs combine master’s degrees with special teaching certificates. Still other Arizona teacher preparation programs lead to an Ed.S. or Ed.D.
If you did not graduate from an Arizona teacher preparation program, you may still become certified as a teacher in Arizona as long as you fulfill certain requirements. While you must still earn a bachelor’s degree or higher from a non-approved Arizona school, an accredited out-of-state institution, or an approved online school, the requirements you must meet to become certified vary according to your certification path. Coursework, examination and experience requirements for each certification can be found on the Arizona Department of Education website.
Additional Education Requirements:
In addition, all applicants for a Provisional Teaching Certificate must obtain the Structured English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement. This requires completion of 45 clock hours or 3 semester hours of state-approved SEI training and results in a Provisional SEI Endorsement. An additional 45 clock hours or 3 semester hours of SEI training must be completed within three years, before applying for the Standard Teaching Certificate. Once this second round of SEI training is completed, you will be granted the Full SEI Endorsement. State-approved SEI Training may be found through these college and university courses, individual trainers and educational service agencies, and local education agencies. File the Application for Certification Endorsement with the Arizona Department of Education to receive credit for your SEI Training. This may be filed at the time you file your Application for Teacher Certification.
Applicants for the Provisional Teaching Certificate must also show proof of completion of a course in the Arizona Constitution and a course in the U.S. Constitution. These courses must be reflected on your college transcript.
An overview of Arizona testing requirements is available through the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments (AEPA) website.
Basic Skills testing:
All prospective Arizona teachers must pass a Professional Knowledge Exam, administered through the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments (AEPA). Three levels of Professional Knowledge testing exist: Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary, with each test consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions and three written performance assessments. You must pass the test for the area in which you wish to become certified to teach. The minimum passing score for each test is 240.
Arizona statutes also allow for reciprocity of teacher certification exams from other states that have comparable professional knowledge exams. An updated list of comparable exams may be found here. Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is also accepted in lieu of the AEPA Professional Knowledge exams.
If you have three years of full-time teaching experience in your chosen area of certification, verifiable by the district for which you worked, you may be exempt from the Professional Knowledge Exam. Submit a letter on official school letterhead, signed by the School Superintendent or Personnel Director, to the Arizona Department of Education’s Certification Unit to qualify for exemption.
Content area assessment testing:
Once you have passed the Professional Knowledge Exam, you must pass the Subject Knowledge Exam. This exam is specific to the certification you seek, and is also administered by the AEPA.
- Early Childhood:
- If you are pursuing Early Childhood Education certification, you will take the Subject Knowledge Early Childhood Education Exam. You may also take a comparable subject knowledge exam offered by another state or agency, as long as it is approved by the Arizona Department of Education. Approved exams are listed here.
- If you possess a valid, comparable certificate from the NBPTS, you may be exempt from the subject knowledge exam.
- A master’s degree in Early Childhood Education also exempts you from the Subject Knowledge Exam requirement.
- Elementary Education:
- If you are pursuing Elementary Education certification, you must pass the Subject Knowledge Elementary Education Exam. You may also take a comparable subject knowledge exam offered by another state or agency, as long as it is approved by the Arizona Department of Education. Approved exams are listed here.
- If you possess a valid, comparable certificate from the NBPTS, you may be exempt from the subject knowledge exam.
- Secondary Education:
- If you are pursuing Secondary Education certification, you must pass the Subject Knowledge Secondary Education Exam in one of the following areas:
- Political Science/American Government
- Social Studies
- If you are pursing Secondary Education certification in an approved area that does not have a Subject Knowledge exam, you may satisfy the exam requirement by taking 24 semester hours of courses related to that subject at an accredited college or university
- For languages not listed above, you may obtain a passing score of Advanced Low on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) or take 24 semester hours of courses in that subject
- You may also take a comparable subject knowledge exam offered by another state or agency, as long as it is approved by the Arizona Department of Education. Approved exams are listed here.
- If you possess a valid, comparable certificate from the NBPTS, you may be exempt from the subject knowledge exam
- A master’s degree from an accredited college/university in the subject knowledge area also exempts you from the Subject Knowledge Exam requirement for that area.
Arizona teacher preparation programs will include an internship component. This will allow you the chance to work in a classroom situation in an Arizona (or possibly out of state) public school system. The classroom to which you are assigned will correlate with the area in which you seek certification.
You will be assigned a classroom teacher as a mentor, whom you will observe in the classroom and who will observe your classroom performance. Your internship may also include development of your own lesson plans. The length of your teacher preparation program will vary depending upon your college or university’s policies.
As noted above, possessing three years of full-time, paid classroom teaching experience can render you exempt from the Professional Knowledge examination. Internship experience usually does not count towards such exemptions, however.
Document and Application Requirements
The Arizona Department of Education requires all prospective teachers to submit an Application for Certification
once you have fulfilled the requirements. The completed application, fees and the following supporting documents must be mailed to Arizona Department of Education –Certification Unit, P.O. Box 6490, Phoenix, AZ 85005-6490; or if you are closer to the Tucson office, you may submit them to 400 W. Congress St., #118, Tucson, AZ 85701:
- Official, unopened transcript from your Arizona approved teacher preparation program or official, unopened transcripts documenting completion of the required coursework
- Photocopy of your Fingerprint Card (see below for specific details)
- Completed Application for Certification indicating the type of certification you seek
- Applicable application fees (listed on the application with each type of certification)
- Verification of SEI training/Application for Certification Endorsement
If you hold teacher certification in a foreign country, use Application to Extend a Provisional Foreign Teacher Teaching Certificate to apply for Provisional Certification in Arizona. If you hold a teaching certificate in another state, you may use Application for Reciprocal Teaching and Reciprocal Administrative Certificate to apply for Arizona certification. Other types of Arizona teaching certification requirements may be reviewed here.
Criminal History Background Check
Arizona requires all applicants for teaching certification to submit to a criminal background check, which includes fingerprinting. Call the Arizona Department of Public Safety at (602) 223-2279 and request an Identity Verified Prints (IVP) Fingerprint Card. You will be given instructions on where to go to complete this process. You must submit a photocopy of your valid IVP card with your Application for Certification.
Arizona has fingerprinting reciprocity with 19 other states. Contact the Arizona Department of Education to see if the fingerprinting process you completed in another state will be accepted in Arizona.
You must also disclose and explain any criminal history on Section 5 of the Application for Certification.
Contact Arizona colleges and universities offering approved Teacher Preparation Programs with any questions regarding their educational programs for future teachers.
If you require further information about Arizona teacher certification, contact the Arizona Department of Education’s Certification Unit in Phoenix at (602) 542-4367, in Tucson at (520) 628-6326, or via the Arizona Department of Education website.
State estimations based on analysis by Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, from the National Center for Education Statistics Student and Staffing Survey, and therefore include a slight margin of error.