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You can teach in North Carolina with a residency license.

North Carolina teachers are in demand more than ever. In fact, in the 2020–2021 school year, North Carolina had over 3,200 open teaching positions across the state. (1) Those are job opportunities, just waiting for someone to pursue them!

If you have a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to start teaching — and getting paid — while you become a fully licensed teacher.

Pathways to licensure

In North Carolina, you can get licensed to teach through either a standard teaching program or a residency licensure program (a.k.a alternative licensure).

Who should consider residency licensure?

Residency licensure could be a great option if you: 

  • Recently completed an undergraduate degree but have not completed a teacher preparation program.
  • Are mid-career but are interested in making a difference.
  • Are a community member with a college degree and life experiences you could apply to the classroom.
  • Are a school staff member who wants to get your teaching license faster.

If you’re a school staff member, our School Staff page has more information and resources just for you!

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction explains:

The residency license is a one-year pathway, renewable up to two times (for a total of three years). It is for candidates that meet all of the content requirements of licensure but may still need pedagogy requirements. (3

Basically, if you have experience in the content area you plan to teach, but still need classes on how to teach, the residency pathway could be for you!

What if I have an out-of-state teaching license? If you already have a teaching license or certificate from another state, you may not have to apply for a residency license in North Carolina. Learn about North Carolina’s out-of-state licensing process at the Department of Public Instruction’s Forms and FAQs page.

Download the guide

A North Carolina residency license teacher candidate leads a class of high school students

Want to learn more about residency licensure? Download our free Residency Licensure Guide! Get the scoop on eligibility requirements, benefits of a residency pathway and step-by-step instructions to get your residency license.

Download the free guide

Residency licensure lets you earn your teaching license while you teach in your own classroom. You’ll get on-the-job experience, earn a paycheck and usually become a fully licensed teacher in under three years. 

Steps to a Residency License

Let's talk about how to get started on your residency licensure.
  1. 1

    Have at least a bachelor’s degree

    To enroll in a North Carolina teaching program, you’ll generally need:

    • At least a 2.7 undergraduate GPA (on a four-point scale). 
    • At least 24 credit hours (about six classes) of coursework in the subject area you plan to teach. (4

    If you don’t meet the credit hours requirement, you may still be able to teach with a residency license. You’ll need to take the content exam for your teaching subject area, to show you know your stuff.

    The TeachNC Praxis Guide and Testing Guide can help you prepare for exams! Get information on how to register, find study tools and tips and learn what to expect on test day.  

  2. 2

    Find a teaching job in a North Carolina school district

    To get your residency license, you’ll need a teaching job. The teaching positions you apply for should match the subject and grade level you want to get licensed to teach. Our Resume Guide and Cover Letter Guide have tips and downloadable templates to help with your applications.

    To start exploring job boards and teaching positions across the state, check out the TeachNC Jobs page!

    You may find a job more quickly if you plan to teach a critical need or shortage area subject. Our Areas of Licensure page has a list of current shortage areas in North Carolina. You can also call or email the human resources department at the school districts that interest you to ask what positions are available for residency licensure candidates. 

    Pay and benefits vary by district, so make sure to check out district salary schedules! You can learn more about North Carolina teacher salaries at our Salary and Benefits page.

  3. 3

    Research teaching programs

    The TeachNC Program Explorer lets you filter programs by the grade level and subject area, tuition, online course options and more.

    You can apply to teaching programs before or after you’ve secured a teaching job. If you already have a job, the HR staff in your district may be able to help you narrow down your list of programs. You can also check out TeachNC’s How to Choose a Program page to help decide what to look for! 

  4. 4

    Apply to teaching programs and enroll

    Each teaching program has its own admissions requirements. Reach out to the programs that interest you to find out what you’ll need in terms of coursework, GPA or other pre-service requirements.

    Check out the TeachNC Application Guide, and create an application checklist to help keep your program applications on track.

    Scholarships and other financial aid can help cover your teaching program costs! Visit our Scholarship page to find out how you could get $1,000 from TeachNC. You can also check out our Financial Aid Explorer and Financial Aid Guide for more resources and funding opportunities! 

  5. 5

    Apply for your residency license

    Once you have a teaching job and are enrolled in a teaching program, your school district will apply for a residency license on your behalf through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. 

    Your school district will let you know once your application has been approved. Then you’re ready to start teaching! 

    You may need to complete a few other steps, such as a background check, to get your residency license. Check with your school district’s HR department to find out about any additional requirements.  

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  1. “Report to the North Carolina General Assembly: 2020–2021 State of the Teaching Profession in North Carolina,” North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. February 17, 2022. https://www.dpi.nc.gov/media/14558/download 
  2. Residency Licensure, NC Department of Public Instruction. https://www.dpi.nc.gov/educators/educators-licensure/residency-licensure
  3. “Residency License Process,” North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. July 31, 2019. https://www.dpi.nc.gov/media/12935/open  
  4. Troops to Teacher: Residency License, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. https://www.dpi.nc.gov/educators/troops-to-teachers/residency-license