Title 20, Education, of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Code establishes the requirements for teacher certification in the state. Under this code, all teachers must gain a state-issued certificate prior to teaching in Georgia classrooms at the preschool through 12th-grade levels. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission oversees the certification of teachers in the state, offering six levels of credentialing for would-be educators.
Levels One and Two
Level One teacher certification in Georgia requires a high school diploma or GED, while to qualify for Level Two, candidates must have an associate degree. Both level certificates are valid only for vocational education teachers. Typically, vocational instructor certification requires the completion of a state-approved baccalaureate degree program, similarly to other types of teacher certificates; however, due to the limited number of vocational education preparation programs approved in the state, exceptions are possible. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission makes decisions to grant these exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Those who receive an exception will receive a Level One or Level Two certificate.
Levels Four and Five
No Level Three exists for teacher certification in Georgia. Level Four teacher certification is the standard credentialing received by most entry-level teachers in Georgia. Professionals receive this level of certificate if they have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. As of January 2011, 38 private and public Georgia colleges offered state-approved baccalaureate degree programs that qualify candidates for Level Four certification. With a master's degree, Georgia teachers qualify for Level Five certification. Georgia served as home to 28 state-approved master's programs in education as of January 2011.
Levels Six and Seven
Level Six teacher certification in Georgia requires a specialist degree from an approved college or university. As of January 2011, 17 colleges and universities in Georgia offered state-approved specialist courses of study. The majority of these schools were public institutions, such as the University of Georgia and Augusta State University. Educators may also qualify for Level Six certification by completing the coursework for a Ph.D. degree without completing the mandatory doctoral dissertation. The highest credential granted in Georgia, Level Seven certification requires a full Ph.D., including the culminating dissertation. Fpur state-approved universities in Georgia offered such programs as of January 2011: Clark Atlanta University, Georgia State University, Mercer University and the University of Georgia.
Other Certification Features
Georgia teacher certificates have other features in addition to level. All teaching certificates have a field, which corresponds to the grade levels recipients have permission to teach. Four fields exist for teachers: early childhood, or preschool through fifth grade; middle childhood, or fourth through eighth grade; secondary, or ninth through 12th grade; and preschool through 12th, which is awarded in fields like special education and art. Georgia teachers may obtain a conditional certificate if their hiring school district wishes to grant employment while they complete the necessary requirements for full certification. The standard or full certification for Georgia teachers is known as the clear certificate.