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North Carolina Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification



Meet the minimum requirements to teach in this state.

The Licensure Section of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is pleased to assist candidates for lateral entry with information on how to enter the teaching profession. Lateral entry is an “alternate” route to teaching for qualified individuals outside of the public education system. Lateral entry allows qualified individuals to obtain a teaching position and begin teaching right away, while obtaining a license as they teach. The NC Dept of Public Instruction authorizes lateral entry licenses on a provisional basis in licensure areas that correspond to the individual’s academic study. Please review the following information and remember that only the hiring school system can initiate the process for lateral entry status.

Graduates of approved education programs who are not recommended for licensure by their college or university are not eligible for a lateral entry license. However, a person who has satisfied all major degree requirements but has a minor deficiency or technical requirement can apply for a lateral entry license if employed by a school system. Such a deficiency cannot exceed six semester hours and must be corrected during the first year of licensure. Individuals who have completed all education program requirements except the Praxis Series tests (if applicable) are not eligible for lateral entry licensing.


What are the steps for becoming a lateral entry teacher and pursuing a “professional” teaching license?

  • Step 1: Qualify
  • The individual must first qualify as a lateral entry teacher to be able to seek a position with a school system.

    To Qualify for Lateral Entry in North Carolina Praxis Series Tests

  • Step 2: Employment
  • The individual is hired by a school system, which recommends the individual to the NC Department of Public Instruction for a lateral entry license. The individual is issued a three year lateral entry provisional license.

  • Step 3: Plan of Study
  • Upon being issued the initial provisional lateral entry license, the individual affiliates with a college or university with an approved teacher education program in the license area or with one of the Regional Alternative Licensing Centers (RALC) in North Carolina. An individual plan of study is prescribed for the lateral entry teacher.

  • Step 4: Coursework and Testing
  • The individual follows their plan of study prescribed by the college or university or the RALC. A minimum of six semester hours per year from the plan of study must be taken until the plan has been completed. All coursework and the Praxis II exam for their licensure area must be completed within three years.

  • Step 5: Recommendation for Standard Professional 1 License
  • When the individual completes the required coursework prescribed by the college, university or RALC and satisfies licensure testing requirements, he/she is recommended for licensure by the institution or RALC. This recommendation is sent to the NC Department of Public Instruction where it is evaluated and if the individual has met all their requirements, they are issued a Standard Professional 1 License.


    NC Teach

    Link textNC TEACH is an alternative teacher preparation program designed to recruit, train, support, and retain mid-career professionals as they become licensed teachers in NC.

    Regional Alternative Licensing Centers (RALC)

    Teaching candidates with a lateral entry license have another option for pursuing full licensure and that is to utilize one of the states’ three Link textregional alternative licensing centers located in Charlotte, Fayetteville and Nashville, NC.

    The regional alternative licensing centers were created by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) specifically to help lateral entry teachers in North Carolina achieve full licensure. The centers will assist teaching candidates by evaluating their applications, prescribing a course of study, recommending requirements they need in order to receive full licensure, and clearing the license so that they become fully licensed. Candidates can take the necessary coursework at any of the state’s colleges or universities.

    The regional alternative licensing centers complement what local universities and colleges provide teaching candidates – not replace it. The centers provide a number of benefits for lateral entry teachers including more consistent evaluations, evaluations targeted to the requirements the teacher needs to attain full licensure, flexibility as to where candidates can take their coursework, and training opportunities through local school systems to meet some of the licensing requirements.

    The North Carolina Department of Education

    Learn more about teaching careers in this state.

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