How to Become a
Teacher in Hawaii


How to Become a Teacher in Hawaii

To embark on a teaching career in Hawaii, you’ll need to obtain state certification. The certification process consists of four major steps: 

  1. Meeting the state’s educational background requirements as well as those for a state-approved educator preparation program
  2. Completing a program, including a teaching residency
  3. Passing the appropriate exams for your desired teaching position
  4. Applying for your certificate and participating in a background check

As a Hawaii teacher, you can expect to initially make about $50,432 (the starting salary for new teachers). Excitingly, the Hawaii State Teachers Association also states that a new contract for 2023 – 2027 guarantees teachers a 14.5% raise over four years in addition to a new salary schedule. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through each step and point you to useful resources to make your journey to Hawaii teacher certification smoother.

Get Your Hawaii Teacher Certification

As mentioned, to get your Hawaii teaching certification, you must meet educational requirements, complete an educator preparation program, and pass the required tests. You’ll need to consider a few factors as you go through each of these steps.

Educational Requirements to Become a Teacher in Hawaii

Hawaii requires most teaching applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited college or university. If you’re unsure whether the institution you attended is accredited, you can search for it at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board website. 

Educational background requirements will be set by the state-approved educator preparation program you select. You have the choice of enrolling in a university program or taking the shorter options of a post-baccalaureate program or an alternative certification program.

Opt for either a post-baccalaureate or an alternative certification program. Candidates for Hawaii Alternative Teacher Certification must have a minimum of a 2.5 GPA for acceptance and pass the same exams as traditional pathway educators, the required Praxis exams in Hawaii. Before registering for an exam, it is recommended that applicants review the requirements for approved subject areas and endorsement they are seeking.  There are several ways to meet exam requirements for both the professional knowledge or subject knowledge exams.

Complete an Educator Preparation Program

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, a university program gives you the opportunity to earn one while also fulfilling your educator preparation program requirements. You’ll have to go through a four-year degree program, take courses in the specific content areas you’ll need for your certification, and do one year of fieldwork. While completion time will vary from person to person, this certification route generally takes about five years. 

Completing an alternative certification or post-baccalaureate program will take less time since you won’t have to earn credits for a degree. You usually will be able to complete the program’s coursework alongside the required two semesters of field experience. That means you will usually complete the program within a year. 

Another benefit of alternative certification or post-baccalaureate programs is that they’re likely to offer paid internships. Some alternative certification programs offer an unpaid clinical teaching placement that’s shorter in duration than the internship. Also, in all cases (including university programs), once you are eligible for your teaching residency and secure a teaching position, you must apply online for a teacher license, pay an application fee, submit your transcripts, and undergo a criminal background check. Application steps for your teacher certification or an emergency substitute license can be found here. 

Pass Required Tests to Become a Teacher in Hawaii

To demonstrate your grasp of educational theory and pedagogical best practices, you will have to take a Praxis Core Skills Exam for Educators (Core), Principles of Learning and Teaching Assessment (PLT) for the grade level you are interested in instructing, and your Praxis Subject Assessments for the subject areas you are interested in teaching. You will create an account and register for your tests on the ETS Praxis website. 

Submit Your Certification Application to Become a Teacher in Hawaii 

Your educator preparation program must recommend you for certification before you can apply. Once they do, you can complete the application form and pay the fee via your online HTSB account. The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board will perform a national criminal background check, which includes fingerprinting, as part of the process. 

The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board issues a standard certificate, but you won’t receive a paper copy. Instead, the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board will post a virtual certificate to your online account. This will also act as the official record of your certification as a Hawaii educator. Potential employers will search for that virtual certificate via the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board certificate lookup tool. 

Teaching Careers in Hawaii

A high demand for teachers makes Hawaii an appealing place to start a teaching career. While the median starting salary for teachers is $50,432, the state has devoted a significant amount of funds to supporting school systems’ strategic compensation models. According to the U.S. Department of Education data from the 2022-2023 school year, Hawaii struggles with shortages in the following areas: special education, science, language arts, career and technological education, English as a second language, mathematics, and world languages.

Hopefully, you now have the information you need to begin your journey toward a satisfying new career. If the alternative certification option sounds right for you, visit our Hawaii Success Guide for more information. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions about Alternative Teacher Certification

How do I get a teaching certification in Hawaii?

To get a teaching certification in Hawaii, you will need to meet educational background requirements, complete an educator preparation program, pass state-required tests, submit an application to the Hawaii Department of Education, and undergo a background check.

You must go through four steps. First, you’ll have to meet the educational background requirements set by the state and the educator preparation program. One of those prerequisites will be a bachelor’s degree. Second, you must complete your educator preparation program, which will involve a mix of coursework and field experience. Third, you must pass all the tests required to confirm your teaching capabilities. Once you have completed all the program requirements and passed the tests, your program will send a recommendation for your certification to the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board.

Your fourth step will be completing an online application and going through a background check, including fingerprinting. The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board will issue a virtual standard certificate for you, which potential employers can find online.

How long does it take to get teacher certification in Hawaii?

If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can earn your certification in 12 – 16 months by completing a post-baccalaureate or alternative teacher certification program. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, it takes about five years on average to become a certified teacher in Hawaii. This includes the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree and complete an educator preparation program.

How long it takes to become a certified teacher in Hawaii often depends on whether you have a bachelor’s degree. If you don’t have a degree, you should enroll in a university program so that you can obtain your degree while also completing an educator preparation program. That process usually takes about five years.

If you already have a degree, you can opt for a post-baccalaureate or alternative certification program. You can usually complete a post-baccalaureate or alternative certification program in 12-16 months.

What is the fastest way to become a teacher in Hawaii?

For a prospective teacher with a bachelor’s degree, the fastest way to become a teacher in Hawaii is through an alternative certification program.

Can you become a teacher in Hawaii without a degree in education?

Yes. If you have a bachelor’s degree that is not in education, you can become a teacher in Hawaii by completing an alternative teacher certification program.

In lieu of a degree in education, you can become a teacher in Hawaii by enrolling in an alternative certification program. Hawaii requires alternative certification programs to identify the content area (subject) enrollees will pursue for certification. If your degree directly relates to a certification field, the program will identify that field as your content area. Once you’re enrolled, you have the option of taking a certification test in a different content area.

How long does my teacher certification last in Hawaii?

Your certification lasts approximately five years. Hawaii has different tiers of certification. The length of certification depends on which you obtain. A provisional certificate is valid for three years and is non-renewable. A standard certificate is valid for five years and is renewable. For more information, see the Hawaii Standards Board Certification Chart. 

How do I renew my Hawaii teacher certification?

To renew your Hawaii teacher certification, visit The Hawaii Department of Education website to learn the types of certifications and renewal requirements here. 

Can I teach in Hawaii without certification?

You must have a certification to teach in Hawaii.

Can I take more than a year to complete a Hawaii alternative teacher certification program?

You can take more than a year to complete most Hawaii alternative certification programs if the need arises. The program will often even extend your probationary certificate for up to two years. Your educator preparation program can advise you regarding the possibility of an extension.

How do I get approved to teach in Hawaii if I have a teacher certification from another state? 

If you have a standard, renewable certificate from another state, you must apply to the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board for a review of your credentials. Your certificate does not need to be currently valid, but it must have been a standard level certificate when it was issued. The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board has created a detailed out-of-state reciprocity resource. 

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