The U.S. requires that all teachers must be licensed by their particular state in order to teach. In addition to the mandated licensing, a teacher may seek certification in an area of specialization. For example, teachers who work with students from kindergarten to twelfth grade may seek certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. Teachers holding this national certification are often given hiring preference, as well as increased pay and benefits. As a national certification, it is recognized as a "gold standard" throughout the country.
The national teacher certification process includes a review of the teacher's portfolio of accomplishments in the classroom, and the successful completion of a written examination. Teachers can attain certification in one of seven different areas, which are defined mainly by the age of the students they want to teach, as well as the teacher's preferred area of specialization, such as teaching science. The background requirements for teacher certification vary between the seven areas. For example, an elementary teacher certification is more general and covers the full gambit of subject areas. An upper grade (high school) teacher certification requires the teacher to specialize in an area of study, such as history or biology.
In order to obtain most teacher certifications, a candidate must successfully complete a four-year training program at an accredited teaching school or university and be able to pass a teaching examination.
According to PayScale.com, special education, preschool, and kindergarten teachers earn between $34,680 and $50,810 a year. Individuals with an elementary education teacher certification earn between $34,018 and $50,810. High school teachers earn an average of $36,177 to $53,192 per year.