Human Resources
Licensure FAQ

Certification or Licensure?


In July 1995, the state of North Carolina adopted a name change from certification to licensure. A certificate is now called a license.   Formally, it is called a North Carolina Professional Educator’s License.

Who needs a Professional Educator's License in North Carolina?

All instructional professional employees of public schools must hold a professional educator's license for the subject or grade level they teach or for the professional education assignment that they hold. 

In what areas are NC Professional Educator's Licenses issued?

Professional educator's licenses are issued in administrative, supervisory, student service and teaching areas. These areas encompass birth through kindergarten, elementary (K-6), middle grades (6-9), secondary grades (9-12), special subjects (K-12), i.e. music, art, PE, etc., exceptional children (K-12) and career and technical education.

How do I qualify for a North Carolina Professional Educator's License?

The standard basis for a professional educator's licensure is the completion of a state approved education program at a regionally accredited college or university or the completion of another state's approved alternative route to professional educator's licensure, met the federal requirements to be designated as "Highly Qualified" and earned a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college.

Initial Professional Licenses...
...are intended for teachers with 0-2 years of teaching experience, and are valid for three years. To be issued an Initial Professional Educator's License, an individual must have:

  1. completed a state approved teacher education program from a regionally accredited college or university, or

  2. completed another state's approved alternative route to licensure, met the federal requirements to be designated as "Highly Qualified," and earned a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college.

Continuing Professional Educator's Licenses...
...are intended for teachers with 3 or more years of teaching experience, and are valid for five years. Teachers who are fully licensed and "Highly Qualified" in another state who have three or more years of teaching experience in another state AND who meet NC State Board of Education approved licensure exam requirements OR have National Board Certification are issued a Continuing Professional Educator's license.

When Should I file for a NC Professional Educator’s License?

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) encourages individuals who have completed an out-of-state approved education program to file their paperwork for a NC Professional Educator’s License as soon as possible when considering employment in NC.  This will ensure proper salary placement upon hire, as individuals who are not licensed are paid at the beginning teacher scale, bachelor’s level, zero years of experience until the license is approved and issued by the NC Department of Public Instruction.  Steps to obtaining a professional educator’s license may be found at https://www.dpi.nc.gov/educators/educators-licensure

If you do not hold a license upon hire with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, you must file your paperwork within 30 days of employment.   Note: Individuals who have completed an approved education program through a NC college/university, the college/university will file the paperwork with the state of NC on your behalf. 

 Note: Alternative License candidates must qualify and be hired as an instructional employee and file a joint application with the CMS Licensure Department. 

How much does it cost to apply for a professional educator's license?

There is a fee for licenses. Please create an account and login to the NCDPI Online Licensure System for fee information. All fees are paid online to NCDPI. *Affiliate your license with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. 

How does reciprocity work?

North Carolina does NOT have 100% reciprocity with any state. You must complete the steps for obtaining a Professional Educator’s License. Email asklicensure@dpi.nc.gov.  

What tests do I need to obtain a North Carolina Professional Educator's License?


NC State Board of Education approved licensure exam requirements:
  1. Praxis II Testing (www.ets.org/praxis/nc)
  2. Pearson Test for North Carolina: Foundations of Reading and Foundations of Math (www.nc.nesinc.com/ )

Can other tests be substituted for the NC State Board of Education approved licensure exams?

Email asklicensure@dpi.nc.gov for out of state testing information.

Can I apply for a professional educator's license, if I have not met the testing requirement?

Yes, if applying from out of state, you will be given a Provisional License. You will be required to meet testing requirements before it expires. 

I am from out-of state and have previous teaching experience. Will this experience be credited to my NC professional educator's license?

Properly documented professional experience is creditable under the criteria outlined by the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).  Salary placement in CMS will be at the beginning teacher level until a license has been approved and issued by NCDPI.  All experience, whether K-12 teaching, teacher assistant, post-secondary or non-teaching work related experience must be approved by the state of NC.  Note: Experience is not granted based on being posted on an out-of-state license.


Who do I contact for further information about NC Licensure?  

Contact the NC Department of Public Instruction Licensure Section at 919-716-1800.  If you are employed in a licensed position with CMS, you may contact your assigned Licensure Case Manager at 980-343-1908.


P.O. Box 30035
Charlotte, NC 28230-0035
Phone: 980-343-3000
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools website (www.cms.k12.nc.us) is in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any website accessibility concerns may be brought via the following, Email the Web Accessibility Team at WebAccessibility or Call: 980.343.0115. In compliance with Federal Law, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administers all education programs, employment activities and admissions without discrimination against any person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Inquiries regarding compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities, may be referred to the District's Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator or to the Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education.