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Teaching Endorsements – A Guide to Education Endorsements

Teaching Endorsements

Becoming a teacher is time-consuming and requires state licensure or certification. But even after leaving your first classroom, you can bolster your resume and expand your career potential through teaching endorsements. These are often easier to acquire than licensure and can open new professional doors. Read on for a detailed guide to teaching endorsements, their use, and how to acquire them.

What is a Teaching Endorsement?

Teaching endorsements, also known as education endorsements, are a declared specialty or competency area you can display on your resume or your teaching license documents. Let’s review what you need to become a teacher in the first place:

  • A bachelor’s degree in education or a subject you plan to teach
  • A teaching license or certification which qualifies you to teach a specific grade level or subject in your state of residence

You do not need a teaching endorsement to instruct, although completing a teaching program may result in you earning several. Think of education endorsements as ancillary qualifications that prove you can instruct well in one area or another.

For example, you might have a bachelor’s degree in education and a Colorado teaching license. However, you want to specifically teach at the high school level rather than at the elementary or middle school levels. You pursue a teaching endorsement for high school education to ensure your ideal job opportunities are available.

That teaching endorsement is then displayed alongside your degree or other academic credentials whenever someone researches you for a position. Education endorsements are available at all skill and grade levels and for many different (sometimes niche) subject areas.

Depending on the teaching program you complete, you may have several teaching endorsements already. For example, take a bachelor’s degree in teaching and concentrate your degree on middle school education. You’ll likely graduate with a middle school teaching endorsement right off the bat.

But even if you don’t have an endorsement, you can pursue one after beginning your career. You can add as many teaching credentials to your resume as you like.

The Basics

Adding an endorsement to your resume provides a lot of professional value. First, it enables you to teach a wider range of subjects or grade levels. Second, it allows you to negotiate a higher salary since your more versatile skill set is more valuable to your employer.

Generally, getting one or more teaching endorsements a few years after you begin teaching is a good idea. After your first few years of teaching, and you have some experience under your belt, you’ll know:

  • What grade levels or subjects you want to teach
  • Whether you want to continue teaching in your current state or for your current employer

Armed with this information, you can pursue specific education endorsements through programs that can be completed online or in person (or through hybrid programs).

Teaching Certificate vs. Teaching Endorsement

A teaching certificate is not the same thing as a teaching endorsement.

Let’s reiterate: a teaching certificate is required to teach legally at public schools in the US. Every state has its own teaching certificate requirements, including:

  • What degrees they accept for certification
  • How much experience you have to have
  • What exams you have to pass

Teaching certificates are the second credential required to become a public school teacher after a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject.

Teaching endorsements are optional and are not necessary to work as a teacher. However, they improve your career potential and the kinds of subjects or levels they allow you to teach.

For example, apply to a private school. You are more likely to be hired by having several education endorsements showcasing your qualifications. Qualifications might be for instructing multiple grade levels, desirable subjects, etc.

If you want to maximize your opportunities and your salary, teaching endorsements are something you should pursue.

Can You Transfer a Teaching Endorsement to Another State?

Sometimes. However, it is complicated, just like teaching licensure. In most cases, the more experience you have, the less important it is how or where you earned your credentials. Still, many states have specific teaching endorsement credential requirements.

For example, some states may not recognize all teaching areas or endorsements. One state might recognize an endorsement for teaching ESL, while another may only recognize an endorsement for teaching English.

Because of these contradictions, you can’t assume that your education endorsements will transfer perfectly from state to state. Instead, you’ll need to do your research and determine the following:

  • Whether your education endorsements count in the state you plan to move to
  • Whether you can earn similar or equivalent teaching endorsements in the state you plan to move to through a test or a few brief classes

Should you need to earn an equivalent endorsement to the one you already have, most states provide an exam to prove your competency in the endorsement. For instance, suppose you have a calculus teaching endorsement in Virginia, but you’re moving to California. In that case, you may only need to take a California state-registered exam in the subject to qualify for it again.

But some states may require you to take a completely different program, including different coursework. Again, this highlights the importance of doing your research before moving from one state to another.

How to Add Endorsement to Teaching License: The Steps

Obtaining an education endorsement is usually faster and easier than acquiring a teaching degree or license/certification to teach in a specific state. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to do to acquire a teaching endorsement.

Check That Your State Needs a Teaching Endorsement

First, make sure that you require a desired teaching endorsement in the first place. States have many rules regarding who can teach what subject and at what grade level.

For instance, one state may require that you have a teaching endorsement for teaching ESL to become an English teacher. This endorsement is more common in US border states like Texas, Arizona, etc., with more students requiring ESL studies.

On the other hand, another state may allow you to instruct English classes without that endorsement. This lack of endorsement is more common among states whose populations speak English as a first language or fluently. If your state doesn’t require a given endorsement to teach a specific subject, you don’t need to pursue that endorsement.

Remember, experience is more important than a credential. If you teach calculus for five years, that is more important to an employer than whether you have an endorsement.

Apply to a Teaching Endorsement Program

Should your state require an endorsement for a subject or grade level you wish to teach, you’ll need to apply to an accredited teaching endorsement program. Education endorsement programs come from:

  • Colleges
  • Community colleges
  • Online universities
  • Other educational institutions

In many cases, the university that offers your degree may also offer a teaching endorsement program in one area or another. Note your program’s accreditation status. A well-respected accreditation like the HLC, MSCHE, SACSCOC, or some other institution is ideal.

Most education endorsement programs require the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree in education or a related subject
  • A license or certification to teach. In most cases, you cannot pursue a teaching endorsement without a teaching license. However, this is changing due to the teacher shortage currently affecting the United States.
  • Some experience teaching a classroom, either as an assistant or as a teacher
  • A GPA requirement (though not all endorsements have this standard)

Make sure you meet the admission requirements before applying to a teaching endorsement program.

Complete the Program

Most teaching endorsement programs take less than one year to complete, although some may take between one and two years. In this way, they are comparable to graduate certificates.

Regardless, you’ll need to complete the education endorsement program’s courses, which are usually between four and eight classes. You must pass the classes with a certain grade level average, like B-, to graduate from the endorsement program.

Fulfill University Field Experience Requirements

You don’t just have to complete classes to acquire a teaching endorsement. You’ll also need to fulfill any field experience requirements set by your university.

Most universities require you to have between one and five years of instruction experience for a given endorsement program. Yet, these tend toward the lower side of that range, such as one to two years. Suppose you don’t yet have field experience. In that case, you can work as a classroom assistant or teaching assistant or spend a few years instructing in a classroom before returning to the endorsement program.

Take Necessary Tests

At the program’s conclusion, you’ll take a final exam analyzing your retention of the materials. Pass the exam, and you will technically complete the program.

Most education endorsement final exams are multiple-choice, though some require written answers. Note that, as noted above, some states may only require you to take a test to acquire an education endorsement if you move from one state to another.

Apply for Teaching Endorsement

Should you complete the program’s courses, pass the exam, and have the right field experience requirements, you can apply for teaching endorsement from your university/state. Once you acquire the endorsement, you can display it proudly on your resume and any other professional certification list, like your LinkedIn profile.

Types of Endorsements

There are many different types of teaching endorsements you can pursue as an educator. Most education endorsements are separated based on the grade level or types of students you wish to instruct.

Early Childhood

Early childhood teaching endorsements qualify you to teach pre-kindergarten kids at preschools or elementary schools with pre-K educational programs. These may include endorsements for teaching early literacy, teaching early mathematics, child supervision, etc.

Elementary Education

Elementary education teaching endorsements are more common than early childhood endorsements, which are unnecessary in many cases. Two of the most common and desirable elementary education endorsements are:

  • Elementary education endorsement qualifies you to teach at the elementary educational level. Depending on your state and school district, this can range from kindergarten up to fifth grade or kindergarten up to fourth grade (some school districts count fifth grade as part of middle school).
  • Elementary mathematics specialist endorsement. This endorsement proves that you are an expert at teaching mathematics to elementary-level students. Also, it can help you acquire higher-paying positions at private schools or schools for gifted children.

Middle Grades

Middle school endorsements are also in demand and highly desirable, particularly if you want to instruct exclusively at this grade level.

  • General science endorsements qualify you to teach subjects like biology, chemistry, physics, etc.
  • Language arts endorsements
  • Mathematics endorsements
  • Social science endorsements qualify you to teach subjects like history, social studies, middle school psychology, etc.

Senior High

Senior or high school endorsements are among the most desirable, especially because many US states now need qualified high school teachers more than ever. The right senior or high school endorsements can mark you as a desirable employment candidate.

  • English/language arts endorsements
  • Mathematics endorsements. Mathematics endorsements can be further specialized into specific subjects like geometry, calculus, algebra, and more. Generally, higher mathematics endorsements (for subjects like geometry and up) are more in demand than endorsements for teaching algebra.
  • Safety and driver’s education endorsements, which qualify you to teach driver’s ed classes
  • Science– Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Space, Environmental, and Physics endorsements
  • Social Science – Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology & anthropology endorsements

As you can see, senior and high school endorsements are more specialized than those for teaching elementary or middle school kids. That’s because high school students take classes on specific subjects, whereas elementary and middle school students often take classes on more general subjects, like “social studies.”

PEL CTE 5-12

PEL CTE 5-12 endorsement is a professional educator license that qualifies you to teach career and technical education subjects. It requires passing a continent exam and completing specific classes in business, marketing, computer education, applications, etc.

Once you have this endorsement, you can instruct students in topics such as:

  • Agricultural education
  • Business, marketing, and computer education
  • Business computer programming
  • Computer applications
  • Computer science
  • Family and consumer science
  • Technology education or industrial arts

Special PK-12

Special PK-12 certification qualifies you to teach special needs students, such as those who are differently abled or have learning disabilities. This endorsement requires 18 semesters of credit and coursework in various subjects, like the foundations of bilingual education. You’ll also need 100 clinical practice hours of experience verified by your university or your employing school district.

Although special education teachers typically pursue this endorsement, it is also beneficial for teaching-focused or niche subjects. Some of the classes you can teach with a special PK-12 endorsement include the following:

  • Bilingual education
  • English as a second language or ESL
  • Dance
  • Drama or theater arts
  • World languages
  • Gifted education
  • Health education
  • Music
  • Physical education
  • Reading for special needs kids
  • Technology
  • Visual arts

In addition, this endorsement qualifies you to work as a library information specialist at many schools (so you can be a teacher and a library employee). With this endorsement, you may further acquire reading or technology specialist positions.

Supervisory Endorsement

A supervisory endorsement qualifies you to supervise students with special needs, such as those who are blind/visually impaired or deaf/hard of hearing. It requires several hours of graduate professional education coursework and passing an exam.

Teacher Leader

Teacher leader endorsements are crucial for educators who may wish to move into the administrative or managerial track in the educational industry. As a teacher leader, you’ll lead discussions on curriculum development, student educational plans, and much more. It’s perfect for educators who know they will acquire a graduate or doctoral degree in education sometime in the future.


Literacy endorsements mark you as qualified to teach students struggling with reading and writing, especially those who speak English as a second language.


Specific coaching endorsements qualify you to work as a sports coach for your school, like a football coach, basketball coach, etc.

Foreign Language

You may also pursue specific foreign language endorsements, which naturally qualify you to teach certain foreign languages to students. Common foreign language endorsements include Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and more.


Business endorsements are most desirable for college teachers. They’re good if you want to teach some business classes without having a dedicated business degree or a teaching degree with a concentration in business education.

Benefits of Acquiring a Teaching Endorsement

There are many benefits to pursuing and acquiring at least one teaching endorsement, especially if you plan to teach for your whole career. These benefits include:

  • Being able to teach a wider range of subjects and grade levels. The more flexibility you have, the more you can decide who and what you teach. This way, you can enjoy your career more personally. In addition, it allows you to teach at more schools if you find better employment opportunities later.
  • Overall, endorsements aren’t as time-consuming to obtain as another college degree or a graduate certificate.
  • Endorsements frequently enable greater flexibility should you choose to transition into another field.
  • Teaching endorsements offer financial benefits (i.e., raises or higher starting salaries. It’s particularly true if you have in-demand ones, such as an endorsement in Spanish, a reading endorsement, a math endorsement, or a special education endorsement.
  • Professionals with endorsements generally find greater opportunities for advancement or promotions.
  • Education endorsements make you a more attractive hire, which can be advantageous if you want to instruct at a desirable institution like a private school.
  • Adding endorsements to your teaching credential is easier than earning another certification.

In addition, education endorsement programs are always cheaper than graduate degrees, like a master’s in education or teaching. Suppose you want to improve your career prospects or teaching potential. In that case, an education endorsement could be the right thing to pursue.

Professional Organizations for Teachers


What does teacher endorsement mean?

A teacher endorsement means you are qualified or experienced enough to instruct students in a specific area, subject, or grade level.

Is an endorsement the same as a certification?

No. Certification qualifies you to teach in a specific state. It requires you to pass specific tests and have a degree and a certain amount of teaching practice experience.

What does school endorsement mean?

A school-specific endorsement shows that you are qualified to teach at a specific type of school, like elementary, middle, high, or college.

How do you get a teaching endorsement?

You get a teaching endorsement by acquiring the required amount of experience. Then, apply to an endorsement program, and complete that program’s requirements, like courses and passing an exam.

Advance Your Career with Education Endorsements!

Ultimately, teaching endorsements are a great way to improve your resume and open up new possibilities for your educational career. With the right education endorsement, you could instruct in a new subject, grade level, or even an entirely different group of students in college.

Fortunately, acquiring education endorsements is easy with online programs. has extensive resources to help you find the right online teaching endorsement programs. Check these resources out today!

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