The process of becoming a teacher can be overwhelming, especially for those who are new to the field. Every state has different requirements for its prospective teachers.

If you’re considering applying to become a teacher in Arizona, you should know the steps you must follow.

This is a comprehensive guide on how to become a teacher in Arizona. We’ll outline all the necessary steps to obtain the required education, certifications, and clearances.

The Grand Canyon State has been experiencing teacher shortages for years, so getting a job shouldn’t be an issue once you’ve met all the requirements.

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Arizona

The Arizona Department of Education requires you to follow some steps before you become a teacher in Arizona.

Let’s look at the steps in detail.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.

To become a teacher in Arizona, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. 

The degree program typically includes coursework in education, teaching methods, classroom management, teaching philosophies, and information about the specific subject areas you intend to teach.

2. Get practical experience.  

During the final year of the degree program, you’ll complete a student teaching experience. This involves managing and instructing a real classroom to gain hands-on experience.

You will get to work under the supervision and guidance of a mentor teacher. You will receive feedback and help as you apply what you learned during the degree program.

3. Pass the required exams

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, many states require you to pass state-specific exams before you become a certified teacher. 

You’ll be required to pass the Arizona Educator Proficiency Exams (AEPA), and the National Evaluation Series Assessment of Professional Knowledge (NES).

The type of exam you take depends on the grade levels you intend to teach.

AEPA is a set of exams designed to assess the skills and knowledge required to teach in Arizona. These exams cover a range of subject areas and grade levels. For example, early childhood education, special education, elementary and secondary education, and more.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers the National Evaluation Series (NES) exams, which are utilized by several states to evaluate the proficiency and expertise of educators across different levels. These exams have gained nationwide recognition and span a variety of subjects and grade levels.

4. Pass a background check

Teachers in Arizona must pass a background check before certification. The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) requires you to undergo a new fingerprint clearance card application with the Arizona Department of public safety.

To practice as a teacher, it is mandatory for individuals to possess a valid Arizona Identity Verified Prints (IVP) fingerprint card, as required by the state. This card is renewed every six years to ensure the teachers maintain the state’s standard for certification.

5. Apply for your teaching certification

Once you’ve met all the teacher certification requirements, you can apply for the ADE certificate.

Entry-level educators in Arizona can earn a three-year provisional certificate to begin their teaching career. 

To apply for the teacher certification, you must visit the ADE website to download and print an application.

Include the following in your application: 

  • A copy of your exam scores
  • A copy of the IVP card
  • Proof of completion of a teacher preparation program

You will also be required to pay a fee before submitting the application.

how to become arizona teacher

How to become a Teacher in an Elementary school in Arizona

To become an elementary school teacher in Arizona, you must meet the state’s requirements for teacher certification. 

Here are required steps:

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: You will need to have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  2. Complete a Teacher Preparation Program: If you don’t possess a degree in education, you must complete a teacher preparation program. The program is focused on elementary education or 45 semester hours of education courses in addition to at least 8 semester hours of practicum.
  3. Get certified: After you have completed your teacher preparation program, you’ll need to pass the state-required exams for teaching certification. You’ll also need to pass fingerprint clearance, after which you can apply for certification through the Arizona Department of Education.

How to Become a Teacher in Middle School in Arizona

To become a teacher in a middle school in Arizona, you will need to follow these general steps:

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university. 
  2. If your degree is not in education, you must complete a teacher preparation program focused on secondary education.
  3. Once you’ve completed your degree and passed the required exams, you can apply for certification through the Arizona Department of Education. You will have to pass a background check before teaching certification.

How to Become a Teacher in a High school in Arizona

All Arizona high school teachers  (grades 6–12) must hold a Standard Professional Certificate. This is the minimum requirement for teaching in any public school in the state. 

To obtain a standard professional certificate, a teacher must meet certain education and training requirements, including:

  1. Complete a degree in education or related field: you will need to have a bachelor’s degree in your subject area or a closely related field.
  2. Complete the approved teacher preparation program: The ADE maintains a list of approved teacher preparation programs on its website, which includes both traditional undergraduate programs and alternative certification pathways. 
  3. Get certified: To obtain a teaching certificate from the ADE, you must clear the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments (AEPA) and undergo a fingerprint background check as part of the certification process.

In addition, Arizona teachers must maintain their certification by meeting continuing education and professional development requirements.

Certification Process for Teachers in Arizona

Once an aspiring teacher has completed the bachelor’s degree or teacher preparation program, they can begin the certification process by applying for a teaching certificate in Arizona. 

There are two educator exams relevant to Arizona, namely:

  •  Arizona educator proficiency assessments (AEPA)
  •  National Evaluation Series (NES)

These exams determine an applicant’s professional teaching knowledge and specific subject knowledge. Secondary school teachers require a secondary professional knowledge assessment.

There are different subject knowledge assessments depending on the area of specialization. For example:

  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Spanish
  • Physical education

You may renew a valid teaching license in Arizona six months before it expires and up to one year after it has expired.

In-Demand Teaching Careers in Arizona

The state of Arizona has been facing a teacher shortage in recent years. We will now look at the high-need subject areas and the job information.

1. High School Physics Teacher

A high school physics teacher is responsible for planning, delivering, and assessing lessons on physics for students in grades 9-12. 

Their responsibilities include:

  • Developing and delivering physics lesson plans for high school students
  • Supervising the classroom for good behavior for positive learning environment
  • Assessing student progress using exams, tests, and assignments
  • Communicating with parents and other educators to support student learning and success
  • Using technology and other tools to enhance teaching and learning and adjusting instructional strategies as needed

According to, the average annual salary for a high school physics teacher in Arizona is $50,475. However, salaries can range from around $41,000 to over $99,000 per year depending on the specific school district, years of experience, and level of education.

2. Middle School Math/Science Teacher

A middle school math/science teacher is responsible for creating and delivering lesson plans that cover the math and science curriculum for students in grades 6–8. 

The key responsibilities of a middle school math/ science teacher include:

  • Creating and implementing engaging and effective lesson plans that cover the math and science curriculum for middle school students.
  • Assessing and evaluating student progress using tests, quizzes, and projects.
  • Providing feedback to students and parents about student progress and areas for improvement.
  • Maintaining precise documentation of student grades and attendance.
  • Creating a safe and positive learning environment for students 

The median annual salary for middle school math and science teachers was $54,523 as of February 2023. However, middle school math/science teachers with more experience and higher levels of education can expect to earn higher salaries.

3. English as a Second Language Teacher

An ESL teacher instructs individuals who do not have English as their first language on how to speak, read, and write the language proficiently

The teacher’s key responsibilities include:

  • Creating and delivering lesson plans and instructional materials that target students’ English language levels and learning styles.
  • Assessing and evaluating students’ progress in English language proficiency.
  • Providing feedback to students and parents on their English language proficiency and areas for improvement.
  • Creating a positive learning environment that encourages students to feel comfortable communicating in English.
  • Incorporating cultural elements into lesson plans to help students understand and appreciate different cultures and customs.
  • Collaborating with other teachers and staff to provide English language support for students as needed.
  • Stay up-to-date with best practices and strategies for teaching English as a second language.

The salary for an ESL teacher’s job ranges from $44,177 to $60,927 per year in Arizona. However, some ESL teachers may work in private language schools or tutoring centers, where salaries may be higher or lower depending on the organization and location.

4. High School Special Education Teacher

A high school special education teacher is responsible for creating and implementing individualized education plans (IEPs) for students with disabilities in grades 9-12. 

The teacher must be knowledgeable in various subjects and able to modify curriculum and instructional strategies to meet the needs of their students. 

Their primary duties may include:

  • Modifying curriculum and instructional strategies to meet the needs of students with disabilities in various subjects.
  • Evaluating student progress using various methods, such as tests, quizzes, and assignments.
  • Collaborating with other teachers and specialists to support students’ social, emotional, and academic needs.
  • Providing feedback to students and parents on their progress and areas for improvement.
  • Staying up-to-date with best practices and strategies for teaching students with disabilities.

The average special education teacher’s salary in Arizona is $59,801. The salaries vary widely depending on city, certifications, and experience, with the lowest earning $47,141, and the highest earning $78,317.

5. Elementary and Secondary School Education Administrators

Elementary and secondary school education administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of schools, ensuring that students receive a high-quality education and that the school is run efficiently. 

Their key responsibilities include the following:

  • Developing and implementing policies and procedures that support student learning and achievement.
  • Managing budgets and allocating resources to support teaching and learning.
  • Hiring and supervising teachers and staff and providing ongoing professional development and support.
  • Evaluating teacher and staff performance and providing feedback and coaching as needed.
  • Communicating regularly with parents and other stakeholders to build strong relationships 
  • Ensuring that the school complies with all relevant laws and regulations, such as student safety and well-being.
  • Monitoring student progress and achievement and using data to make informed decisions about instruction and support.

The median annual salary for elementary, middle, and high school administrators is $81,812, but the range typically falls between $73,505 and $93,231.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Teacher in Arizona

The exact timeline for becoming a teacher in Arizona can vary depending on factors such as the specific program you choose, your academic background, and your ability to pass the required certification exams. 

However, Arizona’s typical timeline for becoming a teacher can range from six months to six years.

The table below shows the steps you need to take and how long it will take you.

Bachelor’s degree4 years
Teacher preparation program, which includes passing. AEPA/NES exams3–6 months
Teaching experience2 years

In addition to completing the requirements for initial teacher certification in Arizona, some teachers may choose to pursue a master’s degree in education or a related field. 

Pursuing a master’s degree is optional, but it provides you with advanced knowledge and skills in your subject area or specialization and opens up opportunities for career advancement.

The timeline for completing a master’s degree can take 1-3 years to complete depending on the specific program and whether you choose to pursue the degree full-time or part-time while continuing to work. 

Arizona school districts and schools offer incentives for teachers who hold a master’s degree, such as increased pay and opportunities for career advancement. 

Salary Expectations for Teachers in Arizona

The mean annual wage for public school teachers in Arizona is $55,542, but the range typically falls between $46,385 and $67,733. 

The salaries vary widely depending on their level of education, years of experience, subject area, and the district or school where they work.

The top 25% earn between $67,733 and $78,833.

The entry-level salary for teachers in $41,916, with a range between $35,006 and $51,117.

In general, teachers with more education and experience tend to earn higher salaries. Additionally, some districts or schools offer higher salaries to teachers in high-need subject areas, such as STEM or special education, to attract and retain qualified teachers in those fields.

Job Outlook for Teachers in Arizona

The job outlook for teachers in Arizona is positive, with a growing demand for qualified educators across the state. Additionally, the job market isn’t as competitive as in many other states.

The number of students enrolled in Arizona public schools has been increasing in recent years, which has led to a need for more teachers to meet the demand.

The state has tried to address the teacher shortage with emergency certifications for substitute and contract teachers. 

Furthermore, Arizona has a diverse student population, with a significant number of English language learners and students with special needs. 

This has created a demand for teachers with specialized skills and experience, such as STEM subjects teachers, ESL teachers, and special education teachers.

The need for qualified and dedicated teachers in Arizona is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, making it a great time to pursue a career in education in Arizona.

teach in arizona

Becoming a Teacher in Arizona

Becoming a teacher in Arizona is a fulfilling and noble career with job security and career advancement opportunities.

To become a teacher in Arizona, you have to meet the educational and certification requirements set by the Arizona Department of Education.

You must also be prepared to pass the state-specific exams and obtain the necessary clearances.

By following the steps we’ve discussed, you, too, can achieve the goal of becoming a teacher and positively impact the lives of your future students.