Becoming a Lateral Entry Teacher

If you enter the teaching profession without first completing a teacher education program, you are called a "lateral entry teacher." Only the hiring school system can initiate the process for lateral entry status.

The following are the qualifications for lateral entry (per the NC DPI):

Qualifications for Lateral Entry

All lateral entry and prospective lateral entry teachers must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and


  • Have a bachelor's degree or higher relevant to the teaching area, or 
  • Have 24 semester hours of coursework in core area, or
  • Have a passing score on the Praxis II subject assessment test(s) for the area of licensure
  • Elementary, Exceptional Children (if teacher of record [meaning you give the grades in the core areas]), B-K if teaching K, and ESL (if teacher of record) must have passed the Praxis II before you can become lateral entry.

Plus one of the following:

  • Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA, or
  • Have five years of relevant experience that occurred after the bachelor’s degree (as determined by the LEA in collaboration with the licensure section of DPI; not the RALC), or
  • Pass the Praxis I tests with one of the following:
      o GPA of 3.0 for all coursework in the senior year, or
      o GPA of 3.0 in the major, or 
      o GPA of 3.0 on a minimum of 15 semester hours of coursework after the bachelor’s degree, related to the teaching area/licensure area completed in the most recent five years.

*If your GPA is less than 2.5, you’re still eligible if you pass the Praxis I examination and have a 3.0 in your major or a 3.0 in your senior year or 3.0 in the last 15 semester hours of post baccalaureate coursework taken in the last five years. 

Once hired, you must:

  • Complete a minimum of six semester hours of coursework from your plan of study during each year of employment on a lateral-entry license (maximum of three years to complete all coursework).
  • Attain a passing score on the appropriate Praxis II subject exam(s) during the first three school years of holding the lateral entry license if the exam(s) was/were not the basis of qualifying for the license.

The Educational Testing Service administers praxis examinations. All information regarding the Praxis is available on the Web. The Praxis II tests required for licensure would be listed under "State Requirements." 

The lateral entry license is issued for three years, but requires annual progress toward completion (at least six semester hours/year) of an approved teacher education program. This can be done through a university affiliation or a Regional Alternative Licensing Center (RALC). The university affiliation will give you nationally accredited backing. The RALC is recognized only by North Carolina. There are face-to-face and fully online teacher education programs available through Western’s College of Education.
Lateral entry teachers are employed when the pool of available licensed teachers is exhausted. Lateral entry teachers are therefore most likely to be employed late in the summer and in content areas where there is a shortage of teachers. The shortage of teachers is greatest, particularly, in the areas of math, science, special education, and middle grades.
The NC Department of Public Instruction website has an electronic application that can be used for all 117 school systems across the state. Choose “How to Apply.” You also can use this site to link directly to each school system’s Web information as well as postings of job vacancies. You should follow up with each school system to verify that they do not require additional documentation.
We encourage you to contact us to discuss developing the best plan for you to become a teacher.

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