Certification for New Teachers

Navigating teacher certification regulations can be confusing to veteran educators, let alone new teachers and paraprofessionals. Don’t wait to complete your requirements for certification.

The UFT has a team of UFT consultants and educational liaisons to provide new members with clear, reliable answers. If you have questions or need additional information, talk to your chapter leader or call your UFT borough office and speak to an educational liaison.

Check your credentials

To answer any questions about your certification, you first must know the type of certificate you currently hold. You’ll find that by checking your TEACH account information.

First-year teachers can consult a recent New York City Department of Education (DOE) email that clearly identifies the individual license appointment code, certification and date of hire.

Once you know your certificate type and the expiration date, it’s possible to determine the requirements you need to fulfill and how much time you have to complete them.

Here are the most common types of certificates New York City teachers hold:

Internship Certificate

Students enrolled in an approved graduate teacher education program may qualify for this certificate, provided they have completed half of the program’s credit hours. The graduate school has to request this certificate for you and it allows you to teach full time in a position that matches the certificate title. You have two years to complete your course and test requirements for the initial certificate; in addition, your college must recommend you for the initial certificate. You cannot renew or extend your Internship Certificate. In order for you to be hired under an internship certificate, the city requires you to have passed all exams except the edTPA, which is the student teacher performance assessment developed by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE).

Transitional A Certificate

Districts that need teachers in specific technical or vocational fields may offer this temporary certificate to candidates who have related work experience but who do not meet all the requirements for an initial certificate. With this certificate, you have three years from the issue date to complete the requirements for a career and technical education initial certificate. For details on those requirements, call an educational liaison in your UFT borough office or UFT Certification Services at (212) 420-1830.

Transitional B Certificate

This temporary certificate is issued to those enrolled in an alternative teacher certification program, such as Teaching Fellows. The college in which you are enrolled for the master’s degree under this alternative teacher certification program is responsible for recommending you to the state Education Department for a Transitional B Certificate.

To ensure you get credit for the years of service under your Transitional B certificate, it is very important that the title of your Transitional B Certificate matches:

  • the master’s program in which you are enrolled; and
  • the teaching position for which you were hired.

You have three years from the issue date of your Transitional B Certificate to complete your master’s degree and fulfill any test or other requirements for the initial or professional certificate. When you have done so, your college must recommend you for either the initial or professional certificate, whichever pertains.

Initial Certificate

This is an entry level certificate. With this certificate, you have five years from the issue date to complete the following requirements for a professional certificate:

  • A master’s degree;
  • 12 graduate credits in the certificate area’s content core (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.

Professional Certificate

With this advanced certificate, you have met all current state requirements. However, even after you achieve your professional certificate, the state Education Department currently requires you to complete 100 hours of Continuing Teacher Leader Education (CTLE) within five years of the issuance of the certificate. The cycle will begin on your birth month after the certificate has been issued. The five-year cycle will repeat for as long as you wish to keep your certificate active.

The UFT Teacher Center and the LearnUFT program offer many professional learning activities that teachers with professional certificates and teaching assistants with Level III certificates can use to meet the CTLE requirement.


Paras who want to apply for Teaching Assistant certificates for Levels I, II and III must complete the application online.

  • If you are already registered with TEACH, click “Log in to TEACH.” If you are not yet registered, click “Self register with TEACH” and follow the instructions to register.
  • Complete the basic profile and then click to apply for the certificate.
  • If you have difficulties with the online system, contact a certification specialist at (212) 420-1830.
  • If you are applying for a state Teaching Assistant Certificate Level 1, you will need to submit an OSPRA 104 form to the DOE. This will authorize the city to release the results of your fingerprinting to the state.
  • If you need more information, call your UFT borough office educational liaison.

Please note: Teaching assistants (paraprofessionals) who obtain a Teaching Assistant Level III certificate must also complete 100 hours of CTLE and the same rules of recordkeeping as for teachers apply. For additional information about CTLE hours, please see the PROFESSIONAL GROWTH section of this book, or contact an educational liaison at your UFT borough office.

Pupil personnel service professionals

Pupil personnel service professionals such as guidance counselors, speech therapists and school psychologists and social workers are required to hold a certificate issued by New York State or city in order to be employed in the city’s public schools. Licenses of social workers, nurses, occupational therapists and physical therapists must be renewed every three years. Members in these functional chapters also have requirements for continuing education credits. Nurses also require CPR certification.

For information about your specific requirements, see Our Chapters for the link to your functional chapter. You can also contact your functional chapter leader or speak to one of our educational liaisons in the UFT borough offices.

Nurses, OTs and PTs are not PPS service titles; they are professional licenses and have to get their licenses renewed every three years under a different system.

Completing the process

Even after you have passed all your tests, fulfilled all your mandates and achieved all your degrees, you’re still not done. Remember that no certificate is issued automatically. Once you complete your requirements, you have to apply to the state Education Department online for your professional certificate.

Additional tips:

  • Check your TEACH online account for the documents you need to submit with your application fee. 
  • Make copies of everything before you send them in.
  • Mail your packet Return Receipt and file the receipt with the copies of your paperwork. It can take up to six months for the state Education Department to process your application.

Programs and services

The UFT offers many programs and services to help you hone your skills and meet certification and licensing requirements:

  • Low-cost coaching sessions to help you prepare for state-mandated exams.
  • A two-hour course in child abuse detection and reporting for those who have not already fulfilled this state requirement.
  • Violence prevention, a two-hour course that meets state Education Department requirements that all new teachers take a violence prevention workshop.
  • Children with autism workshop that fulfills the state Education Department’s requirements for all teachers who are seeking initial or professional state certification in special education. The three-hour workshop on the needs of children with autism is given in one day.
  • The Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) requires anyone applying for a New York State teaching certificate after Dec. 31, 2013 to complete six hours of training on harassment, bullying and discrimination in schools.

Times and locations for courses and workshops appear online.

Once you complete a workshop, the UFT will forward your certificate of completion to the state Education Department electronically.

The UFT Teacher Center offers many professional learning activities that teachers with professional certificates and teaching assistants with Level III certificates can use to meet the CTLE requirement.

Additional resources

Information regarding colleges and universities within New York State that have an approved teacher preparation program can be found online. If you plan to take individual courses at an institution located in New York, determine what courses would be acceptable. New York State’s Office of Teaching Initiatives does not endorse, pre-approve, or accredit programs or coursework completed at institutions located outside the State of New York.

Questions about certification or license appointment?

Navigating state teacher certification regulations can be confusing to veteran educators, let alone new teachers and paraprofessionals. Don’t wait to complete your requirements for certification.

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: 1-212-420-1830.

Certification and licensing clarification fact sheet for teachers of English language learners

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