Best Teacher Certification Programs in South Carolina 2024

Published On: January 30th, 2024·By ·

Prospective teachers in South Carolina need to be certified to teach full-time. The South Carolina Department of Education has approved many certification programs, including traditional and alternative pathways.

However, not all certification programs are equal. They vary widely in cost, flexibility, time to complete the program, and whether or not you can teach for pay as you complete your studies. Nor do all certification programs offer the same amount of support or quality of resources. 

SimpleK12 is committed to helping all prospective teachers reach their goals. To help you get started, we've gone through all the approved certification programs South Carolina offers and selected the top five. We evaluated them on the quality of their program and resources. We also examined their cost, duration, and flexibility.

In addition, we've outlined the pathways to becoming a teacher in South Carolina, the types of certifications available, how to maintain certification, and the job and salary outlook in the state. 

Are you ready to begin your journey to becoming one of South Carolina's top teachers? Let's go!

Happy teacher in class at the school

How to Become a Teacher in South Carolina

Teaching candidates who want to work in a South Carolina school must become certified using a pathway approved by the South Carolina Department of Education. The process involves the following steps: 

  • Earn a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university. Like all states in the country, South Carolina requires teachers to have a bachelor's degree or higher. Those following the traditional route select a degree in education. 
  • Complete an approved teaching program through a regionally accredited college or university. Those choosing the traditional route will typically find that their college or university offers the teacher certification program as part of their degree in education. However, career changers with a bachelor's or higher will need to select a certification that is either independent or part of a university.
  • Meet South Carolina teacher testing requirements. All candidates must take the Praxis Exams that apply to their grade level, subject, and any endorsement or specialty. 
  • Complete a fingerprint-based criminal background review. All candidates must complete a background check for the safety of the state's students and educational staff. The fingerprints will be run through state and national records.  
  • Submit your teaching certificate application to the state. Candidates must ensure all paperwork, test scores, transcripts, and fingerprints are included with their submission. There is also a nonrefundable processing fee. 

Types of Teacher Certifications in South Carolina

South Carolina offers a variety of teaching certifications. Candidates must apply for the one that fits their educational level, years of experience, and the area they wish to teach. 

  • Initial Certificate: Valid for three years and can be renewed annually if requested by the employing school district. To qualify, candidates must have a bachelor's or higher from an accredited institution, have passed the required exams, 
  • Provisional Initial Certificate: Valid for one year for candidates who meet all requirements except for certification assessments. It is renewable upon the employing school district's request. 
  • Professional Certificate: Valid for five years and renewable for teachers who have completed the required credits of professional development courses. To qualify for a Professional Certificate, teachers with an Initial Certificate must complete the Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating Professional Teaching (ADEPT) process.
  • Limited Professional Certificate: Valid for three years over in one certification area. It is open to candidates employed by a South Carolina non-public school with an Initial Certificate.
  • Retired Educator Certificate: The renewable certificate allows retired teachers to teach in certain capacities, such as substituting, without having to complete the renewal requirements of the Professional Certificate. 
  • Internship Certificate: Allows candidates with a bachelor's degree or higher to teach if enrolled in an approved teacher certification program in South Carolina.
  • International: Enables teachers from another country who are part of an exchange program to teach. 
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Induction and Pre-professional Certificates: Per Regulation 43-63, the certificate issued reflects a candidate's combined education and work experience. 
  • Alternative Route Certificate: Issued to candidates enrolled in an approved alternative route preparation program to teach. They may apply for a Professional Certificate once their pathway has been completed. 
  • Adjunct Certificate: Allows experts in certain subjects to share their expertise in the classroom on a limited basis if approved by the State Board of Education. 
  • PACE Adjunct: For career changers who have not had educator preparation training. It is only available in certain counties, and candidates must have a bachelor's degree or higher, a minimum of two years of work experience, and have passed relevant exams to obtain a Statement of Eligibility. Those that qualify will take part in a 10-day pre-service training. 

Getting Certified to Teach in South Carolina

Candidates ready to become certified teachers in South Carolina must apply online with the South Carolina Department of Education.

Steps to submit include:

  1. Complete a certification application. 
  2. Submit materials for the fingerprinting process and criminal records review.
  3. Pay a nonrefundable processing fee of $105.
  4. Submit official transcripts and the college recommendation form.
  5. Submit score reports for pedagogy and content knowledge assessments.

Who should consider alternative certification? 

Alternative certification is an excellent option for career changers with a bachelor's degree or higher. The option is especially attractive for those who majored in teaching subjects such as English or math. Alternative certification is also an option for those who already have experience working with students, such as in a paraprofessional role. 

Alternative certification programs are designed for adults who already have hectic lives. Many are online, providing a flexible system that allows participants to study while working. In addition, they are usually much more affordable than the traditional route. 

Best Teacher Certification Programs in South Carolina

Alternative certification programs in South Carolina allow candidates who meet the eligibility requirements to obtain certification and teach in the state's public schools. Most alternative programs leave to the issuance of a professional, renewable certificate upon completion.  

To help you begin your new teaching career, we've rounded up the best teacher certification programs in South Carolina for you to consider. 

1. Teachers of Tomorrow

Teachers of Tomorrow is the nation's leading alternative teaching certification program. Their research-based curriculum has been created by educators for educators and is 100% online and done at your own pace. The South Carolina program costs $4,100 once you begin teaching, and payments are spread over the year. 

Other highlights from the program include:

  • AAQEP accredited
  • Career guidance from advisors
  • Classroom support from field supervisors
  • Interactive video content
  • 1:1 live classroom 
  • Exam study resources
  • Resume writing guide, workshop webinar, and review support

2. Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification (APEC) Program

Columbia College's Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification program (APEC) is designed for working public school personnel looking to make the leap to becoming a fully qualified teacher. The two-year flexible program is designed to allow candidates to work in a teacher residency as they study. Graduate tuition is $580 per semester hour. 

  • Only need an associate's degree to apply
  • Associate candidates will work towards a bachelor's
  • Bachelor candidates will work towards a master's
  • Evening and hybrid courses

3. Carolina Collaborative for Alternative Preparation (CarolinaCAP)

University of South Carolina, Mira Education, and South Carolina school districts have collaborated to provide the CarolinaCAP. It is a non-degree pathway for candidates to obtain full licensure. The program fees are $7,500 for up to three years of development and support.

Those selected for the program are given coursework designed by the university. They also provide access to virtual learning communities and individualized coaching. 

As of the summer of 2023, they also offer the CarolinaCAP Residency pathway for 20 candidates. Those selected must be rising college seniors majoring in a STEM content area. They are offered paid teaching residencies with coaching and co-teaching support. 

4. Converse Alternative Certification – Art Education (CACAE)

Converse University offers an online alternative certification to teach K-12 for those with a bachelor's or higher. The program design allows candidates to work full-time at a South Carolina school while studying. After completing the certification process, candidates can apply their coursework toward a Masters in Education (MEd), should they wish to study further.

CACE 2023-2024 Tuition & Fees (including books):

  • ART 564: $380
  • Art 501: $1,550
  • Art 500: $1,550
  • EDU 525: $1,550

5. ​Call Me Mister

Call Me MISTER® is dedicated to increasing the diversity of the pool of available teachers. Clemson University runs the program, working in partnership with other institutions in the state, including the University of South Carolina

The cost of taking part in the program varies, but the objective is to make obtaining an education license more accessible by providing more support, including:

  • Tuition assistance and loan forgiveness
  • Academic support
  • Social and cultural support
  • Job placement assistance

The program is designed in a more traditional format and only requires candidates to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. The application requires essays, letters of recommendation, and a signed statement certifying that the applicant is from an underserved, underprivileged, or economically disadvantaged background.

Maintaining Your Teaching Certification in South Carolina

South Carolina requires educational professionals to hold an active teaching license issued by the South Carolina Department of Education. Explain that teaching in South Carolina requires an active teaching license issued by the South Carolina Department of Education. These are only valid for a limited time and must be renewed per that certificate's requirements.

For example, the Professional Certificate is the most popular certificate for educators who have been teaching for more than three years. The Professional Certificate is valid for five years. It is renewable throughout an educator's career, provided they complete 120 renewal credits during each five-year period and complete suicide prevention training and the Read to Succeed endorsement program. 

Renewal credits are earned through local college and university classes or professional development courses offered through independent organizations such as SimpleK12. Courses are available on many topics, including:

  • Unlocking student potential.
  • Strategies for cultivating emotional intelligence in the classroom.
  • Leveraging AI for K-12 learning.
  • Enhancing reading comprehension.
  • How to bring coding into the classroom.

Salary and Job Outlook for Teachers in South Carolina

The average public school teacher salary in South Carolina is $54,180, but the range typically falls between $45,240 and $66,082. Salaries are based on various factors, including grade level, subject, any specialties, education level, and school district. 

Obtaining a master's degree in education is an excellent way to boost pay, give candidates an edge in the hiring pool, and opens career opportunities not available to those with a bachelor's, such as working as a principal. 

Job growth in South Carolina's education sector for elementary, middle, and high school teachers is slated to grow by 3-4% from 2018-2028, compared to these positions' national growth projection of 7-8%. 

However, the state's teaching shortage is growing. The CERRA 2022-2023 report found a 39% increase in teaching vacancies from the previous year. Consequently, the need for new, quality teachers in South Carolina is rapidly increasing. 

According to the US Department of Education, some of the most critical areas are:

  • STEM Subjects (Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics)
  • Special Education
  • World Languages
  • Language Arts
  • Art and Music Education

Get Certified to Teach in South Carolina

Certification is required to have a career in education in South Carolina. Those wishing to teach can choose between the traditional route or an alternative teacher certification program offered by organizations such as Teachers of Tomorrow

Alternative teacher certification programs are designed for career changers with bachelor's degrees or higher. They allow candidates to teach in South Carolina schools while studying. The programs are typically online and offer a more flexible, affordable, and quicker route into teaching than the traditional pathway. 

SimpleK12 is always happy to support candidates and teachers wherever they are in their educational careers. We are happy to answer any questions, including advice on teacher certification programs or how to earn professional development credits for license renewal. 

Teaching is a rewarding vocation that makes a difference. Don't wait! Start working towards inspiring the next generation today. 

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