Education Requirements for Becoming an English Teacher in South Carolina

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Every year the U.S. Department of Education releases a report showing the current state of teacher shortages. For several years in a row, most core subject areas have shown a critical level of teachers needed in South Carolina schools. In 2014-2015 English teachers in language arts was particularly notable for middle schools.

For students in South Carolina, this is an unfortunate situation. For teaching candidates, this is actually good news. Not all schools have openings for some subjects, but English language arts remain an area that shows a need year over year. If you are considering becoming an English teacher in South Carolina, there are certain steps to take to that will help you reach your goal:

Complete Your Degree
Pass the South Carolina State Exams
Apply for a Teachers Certificate
Renew the Certificate



Step 1. Complete Your Degree

Prospective English teachers in South Carolina will start their new journey becoming a teacher by seeking an approved educational training program. South Carolina’s minimum degree requirement is a bachelor’s degree for all beginning teachers. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) will be the agency that approves the degree programs. Check their website prior to enrollment to ascertain whether or not your chosen school is on their list.

A typical program that will train you for teaching will award you a degree and have a teacher-training program included. This may be an undergraduate or master’s program. You will need to complete the minimum undergraduate program, however, to qualify for a certification.

While you may be tempted to seek the shortest path to licensing, you may find now is the time to consider other options. There are benefits that will reward you in the future should you opt for a master’s degree in English or elementary education right now starting out at the beginning of your career.

The salary benefits, retirement benefits, and other possible perks may be worth looking into when you consider the time commitment you will invest in your education. Whether you choose an undergraduate degree or a master’s, the teaching program for both is generally similar in content.

You will be trained in the following categories:

  • How to manage your own classroom.
  • How to develop curriculum for each grade you teach.
  • Learn how students acquire knowledge.
  • How to teach English to English Language Learners.
  • How to relate to staff and parents.
  • How to appropriately grade a student’s work.

Alternative Programs

Some teaching candidates seek a career in teaching after they have already graduated in a different program. You may be one of those people. For you, there are alternative ways to go about becoming an English teacher. One such way is called the PACE program.

While not all students can qualify for this program, it is worth exploring. You will be awarded a three year temporary teaching license through the PACE program. To qualify you will have to do the following:

  • Go through an admission’s process.
  • Find a job at a local South Carolina school.
  • Finish the PACE program.
  • Complete three approved university courses required for this program.
  • Pass the necessary exams.

The PACE training program will prepare you for all of the following teaching tasks:

  • Taking care of the day-to-day requirements in a classroom
  • Training in content methods
  • Education courses in English
  • Gain understanding of the psychology of human learning, and student development
  • Knowing how to deal with gifted students and non-performing students
  • Understand the student assessment process
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Step 2. Pass South Carolina Proficiency Exams

There are three Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exams you will have to pass before you can earn your license in South Carolina. You can take all three core skills exams at once if you choose the “Core Academic Skills for Educators: Combined Test” (testing #5751) when you apply for your testing date. You also have the option of selecting each test individually if you prefer.

For all secondary educators you will need to take a language arts exam. This is your core content proficiency test that shows you have the skills needed to teach in this subject.

Middle school teachers will have a grade-level specific core content exam:

Elementary school teachers will also have grade-specific testing requirements:

To register for your Praxis exams, the best options for you will depend on your own level of testing comfort. Taking the exams at one time may be too rigorous. Splitting up the exams over a few sessions may offer you a better chance at success. Look over the study material available online for each test before you make that decision.



Step 3. Apply for Your Teaching Certificate

After you complete your education and testing you can register for state teaching certification. There are several steps needed to prepare you for this final phase. For instance, certain documents have to be sent. Your school degree transcripts will have to be sent in from the college you attended and have an unbroken official seal in order to qualify. This can take several weeks depending on the school you attended and how responsive they are at the time. You may also have to pay a fee for each requested set. It is a good idea to get several transcript copies at this time because you will likely need one for each district you apply to as well. The steps to proceed are broken down as follows:

  • Set up your account
  • Send in a copy of your social security card
  • Complete the Teaching Recommendation Form
  • Send state exam proof and transcripts (mentioned above)
  • Have your electronic fingerprint set made ($105 fee and an additional fee for the fingerprinting service as of 2014). Morph Trust services is the fingerprinting service center to use for this process
  • Send in any classroom work experience (such as your internship)

Initial Certificate

This certificate is assigned to new teachers when they have yet to fulfill all the requirements for a Professional Certificate. You can work as a teacher with the Initial Certificate, but it isn’t permanent; it must be renewed each year. Your employing school will have to request this certification for you. You do need to complete the continuing education renewal requirement each year if you want to renew.

Professional Certificate 

You will be eligible for the professional certification after you complete the program requirements. You will have three years to meet the requirements. The tests required by the State Board of Education and your formal evaluation must be completed within the three years to obtain your Professional Certification.

You can send in your application to:

Division of School Effectiveness
Office of Educator Services
8301 Parklane Road
Columbia, SC 29223

Fax: (803) 896-0368 Email: [email protected]



Step 4. Renew Your Certificate

You will have to complete a certain amount of coursework every five years in order to qualify for a renewal of your certificate. Each teaching certificate expires on June 30 of their fifth year. To renew your certificate you will have to log 120 points during this timeframe.

These points can be earned by taking professional development coursework or by college coursework. Many students, who started their career with an undergraduate degree, often see this as an opportunity to upgrade their education. By doing this you increase your chances of seniority and earnings.



South Carolina English Teacher Salaries

South Carolina is home to more than 1,200 public schools that serve nearly three quarters of a million students. The teachers that are employed throughout the state earn an average of $31,685 annually. Every school district will have the opportunity to offer it’s own salary incentives to teachers in order to attract the best teachers to its schools.

For example, a middle school English teacher in Abbeville will start at $31,443. He could eventually earn $64,099 if he stays there for twenty-two years and maximizes his college credits. In Charleston, the English teacher would earn $34,040. By year twenty-two he could earn $67,584. Here are a few other examples:


  • Entry-Level – $32, 460
  • Experienced – $69,084


  • Enter-Level – $31,443
  • Experienced – $64,099


  • Entry-Level – $31,999
  • Experienced – $67,538

Annual salaries are not the only consideration when it comes to how much money you will make as a teacher. There are other ways that you can earn additional income that can add or enhance your take home pay.

Additional stipends are one way to increase your yearly earnings. Some schools offer pay for extra services including clubs, coaching, yearbook, creating the school newspaper and attending functions. Other schools may offer pay for mentoring teachers and teaching extra classes. When you apply to a district, check to see which ones offer additional pay for these extra duties as they can add thousands of dollars to your yearly salary.

Other considerations are benefits. Not all districts offer the same in healthcare benefits for instance. Some districts may require you pay more money for doctor copays, or for premiums for spouses and dependents. This could reduce your take home pay by several hundred or thousands of dollars per year.

To see additional salary information for other metro areas around South Carolina see the table below:

Area Name
Annual Median Salary
Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville SC
Columbia SC
Greenville-Mauldin-Easley SC
Spartanburg SC
Lower Savannah South Carolina nonmetropolitan area

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