New teacher articles

Attaining your professional state certification

Navigating state teacher certification regulations can be confusing to veteran educators, let alone new teachers. Now is a good time to take stock of the progress you’re making toward your professional state certification.

You have five years from the date of your initial teaching certificate to fulfill the requirements for your professional certificate. You should make sure you’re keeping track of your completed requirements by logging into your online TEACH account at the State Education Department website. Do not wait until your fifth year to apply for your professional certificate!

To get your professional certificate, you’ll need to show that you’ve completed the following requirements:

  • A master’s degree;
  • 12 graduate credits in the certificate area’s content core or a related field (if your master’s degree is pedagogical, this 12-credit requirement is already met by the program);
  • Three years of full-time teaching experience;
  • One year of mentored experience; and
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency.

Your school’s human resources director must sign an OT-37 Verification of Employment form and send it to the state. Without this form, your professional certificate will not be issued.

If you want to claim teaching experience as a substitute teacher or in a district outside New York State, you will have to submit written verification with a short letter on district letterhead. Get these letters as soon as possible and while people who knew you are still reachable.

Make sure to look at your college recommendations on your TEACH account before applying. If you were recommended for your professional certification, you will need the five-digit program code to apply through a college-approved teacher preparation program. If you do not have a recommendation, you must apply through certificate progression and send proof of a completed master’s program.

In your first year of teaching, you should receive mentoring by an experienced teacher. It’s your mentor’s responsibility to log 40 hours into the DOE mentoring system, and you should see this reflected in your online TEACH account at the State Education Department website.

You’ll also need to complete state-mandated courses on child abuse identification, school violence prevention, the needs of children with autism and the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).

Since it takes time to process your application, apply for your professional certificate as soon as you finish all the requirements, or at least six months before your certificate expires. Then, mail your official sealed transcripts and other supporting documents together with your $100 application fee (reduced to $50 if you have a college recommendation) to the New York State Education Department, Office of Teaching Initiatives, Room 5N-EB Education Building, 89 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12234. It’s a good idea to make and keep copies of everything. Mail your documents certified return receipt requested.

If you move, remember to notify the DOE, the State Education Department and the UFT about your change of address. Otherwise you may not receive mailed notices or certificates and may miss important deadlines or other vital information.

After you achieve your professional certification, the State Education Department requires you to complete 100 hours of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) every five years.

The UFT is here to provide new members with clear, reliable answers. Remember, when in doubt, reach out to an educational liaison in your UFT borough office or a certification specialist at UFT Certification Services at 212-420-1830.

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