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Certification for new teachers and paraprofessionals

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. Be sure to check the main certification section of the UFT website for additional guidance and recent updates. Remember, when in doubt, reach out to an educational liaison in your UFT borough office or a certification specialist at UFT Certification Services: 212-331-6311.

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.

If you have questions or need additional information, talk to your chapter leader about scheduling a school visit with your borough educational liason, or call the UFT at 212-331-6311 and ask to speak with a certification specialist. 

What are CTLE hours and do I need them?

State regulations now require all teachers who hold professional certificates and paraprofessionals who hold Level III teaching assistant certificates to collect and track 100 Continuing Teacher and Leader Education hours (known as CTLE hours) by a state-approved provider in five-year cycles.

For all teachers, 15% of these hours must be related to instruction of English language learners. For English as a Second Language (ESL) certificate holders, the requirement is 50%.

It is the responsibility of the teacher to maintain a record of acquired CTLE hours (by collecting CTLE certificates) once the professional certificate has been issued. At the end of each five-year cycle, it is the teacher’s responsibility to inform the state Education Department’s office of teaching initiatives that the requirement has been met, using TEACH, the online certification registry. You can read more information in the Office of Teaching Initiatives section of the state Education Department website.

Please contact an educational liaison in your UFT borough office if you have any questions.


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

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 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 212-331-6311.
  • 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.  Paraprofessionals must follow the same rules of recordkeeping that teachers do. 

Pupil personnel service professionals

Pupil personnel service professionals such as school 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. Nurses, OTs and PTs are not PPS service titles; they hold professional licenses and must renew their licenses every three years under a different system.

Completing the process

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

Additional tips:

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. As of April 27, 2022, the edTPA exam is no longer required for state certification.
  • 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.