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How Do I Transfer My Certification from State to State?

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Because teaching certification is sanctioned by individual states, teacher candidates often wonder how to transfer their credentials from one state to another. While there are requirements that are unique to each state, the process is manageable. Here are some tips:

1) Begin with the State Certification Office - Typically this agency is referred to as the Department of Education (DOE) for the state. The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) provides a comprehensive list of state certification offices in its annual Job Search Handbook for Educators. You can also Google the DOE for individual states.

2) Navigate as an Out-of-State Candidate or Educator - Regardless of each state's respective jargon, you will want to ensure that you are looking for teaching or instructional positions as an out-of-state candidate.

3) Transferability "Clearinghouse" - State certification offices have procedures to facilitate the process of accepting (and "translating") a teaching certificate from other states. According to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education Certification (NASDTEC): "Nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement giving teachers who are certified in other member states eligibility for certification in their state; however, not all states have signed all tenets of the agreement." While states who are members of the Interstate Agreement are open to providing procedures for you to teach in their state, they may impose additional requirements in order to teach. For example, they may require additional testing and/or state-specific clearances.

4) Transitional Certificates - Many states will allow you to temporarily transition by offering a provisional certificate that is valid for a limited range of 1 to 5 years. NASDTEC data indicates that "39 states use a transitional certificate to help facilitate the licensure process for teachers who hold a license in another state."

5) Talk to Someone! - While much information is available via websites, there is no substitute for talking with a real person. If you have any questions about state certification guidelines, contact an individual at the respective DOE office you are pursuing. Jot down their name, the date, and key points. If you have subsequent calls to this DOE, request the same individual. (My students have found this approach to be very helpful!)

6) Ask School District Personnel for Advice - Ask an administrator in the state you are pursuing for advice on the certification process for their state. Indicate that you have done your homework so that you are familiar with their state guidelines. An administrator, especially in human resources, may be able to give you tips on procedures, timing and even testing guideline nuances. Sometimes employers prefer to hire new teachers and then file a provisional certificate for out-of-state "new hires." If this is the case, you'll save time and money by knowing this ahead of your own investment in the application process.

7) College or University - Again, "insider information" is helpful and may be available through your university's Certification Officer or alumni. I often refer teacher candidates to alumni, especially if they are relocating to a state that has challenging certification requirements. Alumni are eager to help their colleagues--with certification "hoops" and other aspects of teaching in a new location. Your career services or alumni relations offices are good places to connect with for these alumni contacts.

While looking for employment in a state beyond the one in which you obtained your initial certification can be challenging, it IS manageable. Are there other tips from readers who have pursued out of state certification?

--Deborah R. Snyder
Associate Director, Education Career Services
Grove City College

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