Help with Teacher Certification

Need Help With Certification?

We know. State certification is complicated — but our union is here to help.


One of our union’s most valued services is help for members navigating the complex New York State certification process.

Whether it’s answering a question about requirements to move from initial to professional certification or addressing a certification issue that could impact your employment, we have experts who know their stuff.

It can be hard to get answers from the State Education Department. NYSUT certification experts handle thousands of calls and emails per year. It’s good to know you have someone who is on your side and will listen.

What You Should Know

Under state Education Law, you can’t teach in a public school unless you have a valid certificate. SED expects YOU to know the requirements and maintain your certification. NYSUT understands that the demands of teaching may distract you from state certification requirements, so we’re here to help if you need it.

Here are some of the common issues we can help with:

  • How do I get my professional certificate?
  • My certificate’s expiring. What can I do?
  • What’s required for me to get an additional certificate, such as Students With Disabilities?
  • What does it take for a teaching assistant to move from Level I to Levels II and III?
  • Are there NYSUT Education & Learning Trust courses available to help me get additional certificates?

Some general tips about certification:

  • If a certification issue is threatening your job, contact your local union rep immediately!
  • If you have an entry-level certificate (initial teaching certificates, provisional pupil personnel certificates or Level I teaching certificates), you need to know that it can expire and when that can happen. For example, if you have an initial teaching certificate, it is valid for five years. Next, you must earn professional certification. To do this, you must complete:
    • Three years of teaching
    • One year of mentored teaching experience
    • An appropriate master’s degree
  • Don’t wait until your certification deadline looms to start meeting requirements.
  • You should periodically check your SED TEACH account to make sure it is properly updated as you complete requirements.
  • Most BOCES have certification specialists but they vary as to the type of assistance they can provide.
  • Always check with your local union if you have questions about certification, concerns about what your district is telling you, or you’re thinking about getting another certificate. (It can impact your tenure and seniority.)

The good news:

Once you get your professional certification, it gets easier.

Then it’s all about maintaining your license with Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) hours. Members with professional teaching certificates and Level III teaching assistant certificates must complete 100 hours of CTLE every five years to maintain certification.

Also, our union has an office of experts devoted completely to answering our members' certification questions.