How to Become a Teacher in Georgia
Teaching is a great way to use your passion and talents to make a positive contribution to the world. By choosing this career path, you can positively affect hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of lives!
The following steps will help guide your journey toward becoming a teacher in the state of Georgia.
Choose What You Want to Teach
First, you need to think about where you want to teach. For example, would you like to see yourself teaching in elementary school? Would you like to be in special education? Answering these questions will determine some of the steps you take. The Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission have guidelines for becoming a teacher in Georgia and choosing the right pathway for yourself.
Complete Bachelor's in Education Requirements for a Teaching Certificate in Georgia
In Georgia, the basic education requirements for becoming a teacher are:
- Obtaining a bachelor's degree in education along with a state approved teacher education program at a regionally accredited college or university
- Completing a student teaching experience, and
- Passing the Georgia certification exams
For a list of regionally accredited institutions, refer to the GA Department of Education's list of Approved Programs.
Most colleges and universities offer joint teacher education and bachelor's degree programs. In other words, you can earn your degree and teaching certificate simultaneously.
If you have not yet earned your bachelor's in education, consider deciding on a college major based on the grade level and subject(s) you wish to teach. This is recommended but not required in Georgia. For example, you may pursue a bachelor's degree in Chemistry if you wish to become a chemistry teacher. If you are not sure what to major in, a school advisor or counselor may assist you in deciding on the one right for you.
There are four main induction paths to becoming a teacher in Georgia depending on the level of education with which you are beginning. The main pathways for those with a bachelor's degree include:
Pathway 1: You've completed a GA teacher preparation program.
Pathway 2: You've completed a teacher preparation program in a state other than GA.
Pathway 3: You've completed a teacher preparation program in a state other than GA or are certified as a teacher in another state (with less than 3 years of experience), or you are certified as a teacher in another state and have meet the induction score (but not Professional) for the GA certification exams.
Pathway 4: You've not completed a teacher preparation program but have been hired to teach in a GA school.
For more information on these alternative paths to teacher certification, consult the Georgia Professional Standards Commission's Induction section.
Alternative Teacher Certification in Georgia
Master's Degree in Teaching / Master's Degree in Education (M.Ed)
Another pathway to obtaining a certificate to teach in Georgia is the completion of an advanced degree program (e.g., Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education). You may wish to do this while you do a teacher preparation program. If choosing this route, you may elect to take Induction Pathway 4 (listed above) which will allow you to teach for up to three years during your graduate studies.
Teacher Certification Programs
You can also do a "certification-only" program which does not lead to a degree (therefore, you should already have a bachelor's degree) but does lead to GA teacher certification.
Georgia Alternative Educator Preparation Program
Yet another pathway is completing a GA alternative educator preparation program which can be completed if you have a bachelor's degree and have been hired by the Local Unit of Administration (LUA). This pathway gives more flexible schedule options than a traditional teacher preparation program.
Pass the Required Tests for Teacher Certification in Georgia
After completing your education requirements, the next step to becoming a teacher in Georgia is to pass the required state tests.
Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE)
The following tests are required in Georgia for those wishing to become teachers:
- Test I - Reading
- Test II - Mathematics
- Test III - Writing
- Content Assessments (if required for your certification area)
At some colleges or universities, you may have to pass some or all of these tests before entering or exiting a teacher preparation program. Consult with a program advisor or counselor to find out more about requirements.
Apply for your Georgia Teacher Certification
You may obtain an induction certificate in by submitting an Application for Certification. Additionally, you must submit:
- Official college transcripts
- Verification of Lawful Presence Documentation
- Employer Assurance Form
Georgia Professional Standards Commission
200 Piedmont Avenue SW
Atlanta, GA 30334-9032
Phone: (404) 232-2500
Find a Teaching Job in Georgia
After completion of the above steps, you will be ready to positively affect the lives of many children in Georgia. You will be ready to begin your career as a teacher!
The state of Georgia has one official website for recruitment purposes-TeachGeorgia. Using this site, prospective employees can easily view job opportunities and requirements as they're posted. The site is also a resource for recruitment activities around the state. Georgia is currently seeking candidates with certification in math, sciences, special education, foreign languages, ESOL, and Speech Language Pathology.
GAE and PAGE
The successful candidate may join a professional organization like the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) or the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). These organizations are not unions, but support and assist their members in a variety of ways.
Teachers who prefer an alternate education philosophy may seek employment with any of the state's 861 private schools, which served almost 155,000 students as of 2021. Professional opportunities may vary significantly from the public sector.
Teacher Benefits in Georgia
Teacher benefits in the public system are comprehensive, and retirement pensions are offered through the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia, a subsidiary of the Georgia Department of Education.
Teacher Shortage in Georgia by Subjects or Discipline (2021-2022)
The following list of teacher shortage areas in Georgia has been obtained from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) report for the 2021-2022 school year:
- Basic and Advanced Mathematics 4-12
- Special Education PreK-12
- Social Studies 4-12
- Life Sciences 6-12
- Physical Science 4-12
- Spanish PreK-12
- Health Science PreK-12
Number of Public and Private School Teachers By Grade
The following Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) table highlights the number of teachers in Georgia in both private and public schools, by grade level, as of May 2021:
|Grade Level||Number of Teachers|
|Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education||7,820|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||45,170|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||24,990|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||22,370|
|Special Education Teachers, Preschool||360|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||7,020|
|Special Education Teachers, Middle School||3,080|
|Special Education Teachers, Secondary School||3,660|
Continue Your Education and Professional Development
Classroom teachers and administrators are renowned in North America as being ready to engage in ongoing professional development. The purpose of the professional development system is to evaluate and improve student achievement, integrate classroom instruction, and help students move on to higher academic goals. There is no greater testament to an individual's commitment to self-evaluation and improvement than professional development. All groups of educators engage in PD throughout the course of their career. In addition to developing skills necessary in today's evolving educational system, teachers who engage in professional development activities will likely earn more money and accreditations throughout the course of their career.
Professional Development in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, the Department of Education's professional development structure supports educators' commitment to their career and their students. Georgia teachers are required to create a professional learning plan to establish goals for professional development, and a measure by which to demonstrate what they have learned in real world applications. Teachers in this state complete Professional Learning Units which are tracked statewide. Teachers seeking professional development resources, courses, or assistance should check in with their Regional Education Service Agency for relevant professional development opportunities.
Benefits of Earning a Master's in Education to Become an Advanced Professional
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) has made it possible to achieve the highest tier of teacher certification in the state by earning a master's degree.
The top-end Advanced Professional Certificate introduces a number of high standards for teachers who hope to advance from the Professional level certificate, including a minimum of ten years of experience as an educator and compliance with the Standards of Conduct. The major educational requirement you will have to meet for the APC includes earning an advanced degree in a teaching field.
The state has stringent requirements for the type of degree and awarding institution you will have to meet in order to qualify as well, all outlined in Rule 505-2-.33. Most importantly, the degree has to be in an existing certification field in which you are currently qualified and must either be obtained at a Georgia institution approved by GaPSC, or one holding a Carnegie Classification of Research University High or Very High, or that has been accredited by NCATE, TEAC, or CAEP at the time you are admitted.
It's possible to earn your master's in a field outside of your current certification if you later add that field to your certificate.
Like the Professional Certificate, you'll have to renew your Advanced Professional Certificate every five years. Doing so will require an exemplary performance rating on the TAPS component of the TKES evaluation system… a rating that will be a lot easier to meet with the advanced training you will get with your master's degree.
You Could Fast-Track the T-5 Track with a Master's
Although Georgia has moved to a primarily performance-based salary schedule based on the TKES system, a master's degree results in a salary increase by making you eligible to move to the T-5 track on the GaDOE official salary schedule.
Even at the lowest end of the pay scale, a master's degree was worth about $5,000 annually as of FY2022.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Teachers (Preschool, Elementary, Middle School, High School) and Special Education Teachers, (Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary, Middle, High School) reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2023.