To teach in South Carolina, you’ll need a degree and a teaching certificate. On this page, we’ll go over each step you’ll need to get there.
On this page, you can:
- Decide what you want to teach.
- Choose the right certification area.
- Learn about critical need subject areas and loan forgiveness.
- Understand your pathway options.
- Review your pathway to certification.
- Get answers to frequently asked questions about teaching in South Carolina.
- Explore more resources.
We do our best to keep all information updated, but because certification requirements are regularly reviewed and revised, it is best to confirm requirements with the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) and your teaching program (also called an educator preparation program or EPP).
Decide What Subject and Grade to Teach
You’ll have more job opportunities—and make a bigger impact—teaching in a critical need area. When you get certified to teach in a shortage area, you may also qualify for generous student loan forgiveness programs.
Choose the Right Certification Area
Once you know your grade and subject preferences, you can choose your official certification area. Click on the tabs in the next section for a full list of South Carolina certification options. (2)
How to read this section
In the charts below, you’ll notice a few symbols next to certain certification areas. Here’s what those mean:
*There are currently no traditional programs in South Carolina that offer certification in this subject area. However, you can add it to your initial certification subject area or pursue certification through an alternative pathway.
**There are currently no programs in South Carolina that offer this subject as an initial certification area. However, you can add it to your teaching certificate in another subject.
+To earn your Montessori certification, you’ll need to complete a training program that is accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education. Learn more at the SCDE Montessori Certification Applicants page.
You can add additional endorsements in different subject areas throughout your teaching career. You don’t have to achieve all your certifications at once.
Consider a Critical Needs Subject
Why teach in a South Carolina critical need area?
You’ll have more job opportunities—and make a bigger impact—teaching in a high-need area. When you get certified to teach in a shortage area, you may also qualify for generous student loan forgiveness programs.
You can see which certification areas are critical need in the Choose the Right Certification Area section.
If you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $17,500 on your student loans.
— U.S. Department of Education (3)
Teacher loan forgiveness
If you commit to teaching in a state-designated shortage area, you also have loan forgiveness options (meaning you won’t have to pay your student loans back!):
- South Carolina Student Loan offers loan forgiveness options for teachers who have a South Carolina Teacher Loan, Career Changers Loan or PACE Loan. To qualify, you may need to teach in a critical need subject area, critical need geographic area or both.
- The federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program offers up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness funds if you teach in a school that serves low-income students for at least five years.
If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree or have vocational work experience, you may be eligible for alternative certification pathways that put you in the classroom faster.
Choose Your Teacher Education Pathway
Steps to a Teaching Certificate
Earn a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university.
Your bachelor’s degree should be in a field closely related to what you want to teach. South Carolina accepts degrees from a large number of universities, but you should confirm that yours is regionally accredited.
Keep in mind that you can earn your degree and your teaching certificate at the same time—so if you're an undergraduate, see Step 2 below.
Paying for your program can feel like a lot. That's where our Financial Aid Guide comes in: get our favorite tips to find grants, scholarships, loan forgiveness opportunities and other strategies to cover your costs.
Complete an approved teaching program through a regionally accredited college or university.
You can complete your teaching program as part of your bachelor’s degree or, if you already have a degree, you can attend a certification-only, master's degree or alternative certification program. (4)
Through your teaching certificate program, you will:
- Take coursework related to the specific subject and grade levels you want to teach, as well as the teaching profession more broadly. This might include courses on teaching strategies or classroom management skills.
- Participate in hands-on classroom experiences, where you can observe and practice with instructors, mentors and teachers who are effective and experienced.
The goal of South Carolina’s educator preparation providers is to design and implement programs that prepare teachers, service professionals, and leaders who will be competent practitioners… and will continue to grow in knowledge and skills throughout their careers.
—South Carolina Department of Education (5)
The TeachSC Teaching Certificate Program Eligibility Guide has all the info you need to ace your exams, request your transcripts, win over your interviewer and more.
Meet South Carolina teacher testing requirements.
You’ll have to pass one or more tests designed to show you know your subject well enough to teach it. Depending on your teaching program, you might take a test before you enroll, during your program or after you finish.
Before you finish your program, you'll also complete what’s called a “pedagogy assessment.” To meet this requirement, you'll prepare a portfolio of lesson plans, student work and other artifacts to submit for assessment as part of your student teaching experience.
Learn more about required tests at the SCDE Certification Assessments page.
Stressed about testing? You're not alone! Our Testing Guide covers everything from exam registration to study materials to what to expect on test day.
Submit your teaching certificate application to the state.
After you meet the requirements above, it’s time for you to formally apply for your teaching certificate. First, confirm with your teaching program that you are eligible to apply. After that, you can contact the SCDE with any questions.
To start your application, you'll create an online account with the SCDE Educator Portal. There, you can apply for your certificate online, pay fees, check the status of your application or get a copy of your teaching certificate. Learn more at the SCDE How to Apply page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn About Programs
Want to keep exploring? The TeachSC About Programs page has more in-depth information on teaching certification pathways, including the types of programs available and how to decide whether a program is right for you. Click below to take the next step.
- Critical Need Areas. South Carolina Department of Education. https://ed.sc.gov/educators/recruitment-and-recognition/critical-need-areas/
- South Carolina Certification Fields and Specialized Endorsements. South Carolina Department of Education. June 9, 2020. https://ed.sc.gov/educators/certification/certification-legislation-and-policy/certification-regulations/fields/
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education. https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/teacher
- Guidance for Prospective Educators. South Carolina Department of Education. https://ed.sc.gov/educators/teaching-in-south-carolina/pathways/
- “Introduction,” South Carolina Educator Preparation Guidelines: Standards, Policies, and Procedures. South Carolina Department of Education. December 10, 2019. https://ed.sc.gov/educators/educator-preparation/guidelines/introduction/
- Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE). South Carolina Department of Education. https://ed.sc.gov/educators/alternative-certification/pace/
- “Teacher Pay and Student Spending: How Does Your State Rank?” National Education Association. April 23, 2021. https://www.nea.org/resource-library/teacher-pay-and-student-spending-how-does-your-state-rank
- National Board Certification. South Carolina Board of Education. https://ed.sc.gov/finance/financial-services/national-board-certification/