How to Become a Teacher in New York

Dr. Maya Angelou once said, "When you get, give. When you learn, teach." Indeed, teaching is one of the most powerful vehicles in the world for creating change. The following steps will help guide your journey toward becoming a teacher in the state of New York.

Choose What You Want to Teach

First, you need to consider in which setting you would like to teach. For example, would you like to see yourself teaching in elementary, middle, or high school? Would you like to be in special education? If you have a passion for a specific subject, perhaps you can consider becoming a high school teacher. If you prefer teaching multiple subjects, you might enjoy teaching elementary school. Answering these questions will determine some of the steps you take. The New York State Education Department has information on educators and students in the state, which could help you make your decision.

Complete Your Education Requirements for Teaching in New York

In New York, the basic education requirements for becoming a teacher are the possession of a Bachelor's Degree and completion of a teacher preparation program from an approved institution of higher education.

Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Teacher preparation programs are generally structured on combination of curriculum and fieldwork. Curricula tends to include a focus on pedagogy (the art and science of teaching), teaching methods, differentiated instructional strategies, classroom management, technology integration, and more. Fieldwork often includes classroom observations, student teaching, and/or interning. Student teaching includes creating and implementing lesson plans, assessing student progress, writing reflections, and often putting together a culminating portfolio.

For a list of the New York state registered teacher preparation programs, view the Inventory of Registered Programs provided by the NY Department of Education. If you need further guidance, you may consider consulting with a guidance counselor about such programs at one of the approved institutions.

If you do not have a Bachelor's Degree yet, you can complete a blended Degree and teacher preparation program. In other words, you will be able to fulfill teacher preparation requirements as you complete the requirements for a Bachelor's Degree, this is often referred to as the traditional pathway to teacher certification in New York.

If you already have a Bachelor's Degree, you can consider completing an alternative or post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program. You can even find a blended Master's Degree and teacher preparation program.

Alternative Teacher Certification in New York

There alternative pathways to becoming a teacher in New York.

Alternative Certification "Transitional B" Program

For example, if you are a person who already graduated from college but did not graduate from an approved teaching program, you could complete an Alternative Certification "Transitional B" Program. This pathway is also for candidates who have decided to change their career to teaching from another field. If you already hold a Bachelor's Degree with a GPA of at least 2.5 and passed the NY state exams, you will qualify. You may become a teacher by enrolling in an Alternative Teacher Certification (ATC) program in New York. In addition, you must be recommended for certification by the college or university at which you completed the ATC program.

Teacher Certification Reciprocity in New York

In addition, if you hold teaching certification in another state and are interested in moving to New York State to teach, you may be eligible to obtain certification through the interstate reciprocity pathway. Keep in mind that you will need to pass the appropriate New York State Exams. Sometimes, candidates are able to receive a conditional certificate, which allows applicants two years to fulfill the testing requirements.

Pass the Required Tests for New York

Another step to becoming a teacher in New York is to pass the required state tests. These tests are offered by the New York State Teacher Certification Examination (NYSTCE) Program. The exception to doing this is if you are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in a title which is the same as or comparable to a New York State title (i.e., interstate reciprocal).

The following tests are required in New York:

  • Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST)
  • Educating All Students (EAS)
  • edTPA
  • Elementary Assessment of Teaching Skills - Written (ATS-W)
  • Secondary Assessment of Teaching Skills - Written (ATS-W)
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST)
  • Content Specialty Tests (CSTs)
  • Bilingual Education Assessments (BEAs)
  • Communication and Quantitative Skills Test (CQST)
  • Assessment of Teaching Skills-Performance (ATS-P) (Video)

Note that some colleges or universities may ask that you pass some or all of these tests prior to entering or exiting a teacher preparation program. Check with a program advisor or representative to find out more about your specific requirements.

Apply for your New York Teacher Certification

Application Requirements

You may apply for a New York teaching certificate online by going through the TEACH system of the New York Department of Education. Note that if you are enrolled in a teacher preparation program or alternative teacher preparation program, you need to indicate "Pathway: Approved Teacher Preparation Program" in the online system. Your college certification officer also needs to use the online system to submit your institutional recommendation.

After completing the online application, you need to submit supporting documentation including:

  • Official transcripts of all earned college credits;
  • CLEP, DANTE, ACTFL, or Excelsior exam score reports
  • If applicable, documentation of paid teaching experience that have been requested
  • Documentation of experience in lieu of student teaching
  • If applicable, copy of teaching certificates from other state
  • Any other information that may have been previously requested that will enable the Department to complete an evaluation

Contact Information

New York State Education Department
Office of Teaching Initiatives, Room 5N-EB
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234
Teacher Certification: (518) 474-3901

Teacher Certification Exams Contact Information:
NYSTCE Evaluation Systems - Pearson
PO Box 660
Amherst, MA 01004-9008

Testing questions, admin procedures, and score reports: (413) 256-288

Find a Teaching Job in New York

After completion of the above steps, you will be prepared to begin your career as an empowering educator in the state of New York!

Teaching in a Public School in NY

New York state has a consistent need for high-quality, motivated educators who are child- and career-focused. In order to keep pace with the state's need, the New York Department of Education uses a number of recruitment websites. This method allows candidates to search for jobs that are tailored to the geographic location that he or she chooses to work in. Teachers are encouraged to contact the school district directly for salary and benefits information. TEACHNYC is specifically for listings in the NYC Public School System, while OLAS - Teacher Application Online focuses on teaching in New York state.

Teacher Unions

Once hired in the public school system, teachers in New York can join their colleagues in a union membership. Teachers may join the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), an affiliate branch of the national AFT, and NYSUT, a union of educational professionals.

Retirement Benefits

Finally, upon retirement, state employees are able to drawn from the pension to which they made mandatory contributions throughout their working life. This monthly amount varies according to length of service, and retirement multiplier.

Teaching in a Private School in NY

Just as the public school system needs applicants qualified to teach languages, math, science, and special education, so do private schools throughout the state. New York's 2,181 private schools may have different compensation, benefits, and advancement protocols. Most private schools have small class sizes which makes it easier for teachers to meet the needs of all their students. Private schools may or may not require their teachers to be certified. However, a certified teacher will be highly valuable in this environment. If you wish to seek employment in a private school, it is recommended that you apply directly to the school as there may be additional requirements.

Teacher Shortage in New York by Subjects or Discipline (2014-2015)

The following list of teacher shortage areas in New York has been obtained from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) list for the 2014-2015 school year

  • Bilingual Education (General and Special Education)
  • Business and Marketing Education
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Technical Education
  • Technology Education (High School)
  • Technology Preparation
  • Trade Education
  • Computer Studies/Programming
  • Family and Consumer Sciences Education
  • Health Occupations Education
  • Home Economics-Business

Number of Public School Teachers By Grade

The table below lists the number of public school teachers in New York by grade level during the 2012-2013 school year.

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Pre-kindergarten & Preschool Teachers2,452
Kindergarten Teachers13,492
Elementary Teachers93,137
Middle & High School Teachers97,751
Ungraded Class Teachers227

Data obtained from the State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data 2013

Number of Private School Teachers By Grade

There are more than 1,720 private schools with an estimated 35,200 private school teachers in New York. The table below details the number of teachers by grade level during the 2011-2012 school year.

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Elementary School Teachers13,477
Middle & High School Teachers6,190
Combined K-12 School Teachers15,537

Data obtained from the Private School Universe Survey (PSS) 2012

Continue Your Education and Professional Development

Data-driven studies and professional insight show that highly skilled teachers have a distinct positive influence on student academic achievement. Teachers who engage in professional development on an ongoing basis enhance their knowledge of subject matter and teaching strategies in the classroom, as well as knowledge of special student populations, communication skills, and evaluation skills.

Professional Development in New York

The state of New York's Department of Education mandates that teacher's licensure is maintained through continuing professional development. The state has set up infrastructure so that teachers can take in-service courses that offer teachers high-quality and convenient professional development accreditation. A great resource for these courses is through the New York City After School Professional Development Program (ASPDP).