Become a Teacher in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary $68,330
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary $66,580
Vacation Weeks per Year 17
Pupil/Teacher Ratio 14.46
Expenditure per Pupil $14,767

Teacher salaries are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903

Rhode Island Teacher Shortage Areas

A teacher shortage area is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as “an area of specific grade, subject matter or discipline classification, or a geographic area in which … there is an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary school teachers.” The Department allows states to identify their own teacher shortage areas, but encourages them to follow a prescribed methodology based on unfilled teaching positions, teaching positions filled by instructors with irregular certifications, and positions filled by teachers certified in other subject areas.

  • Early Childhood
  • Middle Grades
    • Mathematics
    • Science
  • Secondary Grades
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • English
    • General Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Social Studies
    • World Language
  • Special Education
    • Early Childhood
    • Elementary/Middle
    • Middle/Secondary
    • Severe Profound
  • Special Subjects
    • Library Media
    • Music
    • Technology Education
  • Support Professionals
    • ESL Specialist
    • Reading Specialist Consultant
  • Other Areas
    • Bilingual and Dual Language
    • Career and Technical Education
    • English as a Second Language
    • School Nurse Teacher

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Rhode Island

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 10/21/2016

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of Rhode Island, teaching candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
  • Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.
  • Step Three: Pass required exams.
  • Step Four: Submit a Rhode Island teaching credential application.

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your Rhode Island Teaching Credential

The Rhode Island Department of Education issues educator certifications. New teachers receive their Initial Educator Certificate through issuance, which requires that applicants complete a Rhode Island-Approved Educator Preparation Program. The Initial Educator Certificate is valid for three years. Upon its expiration, teachers may apply for their Professional Educator Certificate, which require the demonstration of competencies, successful performance on assessments and completion of field experience. The Professional Educator Certificate is valid for five years and may be renewed for the same period.

Step One: Prerequisite Coursework in Rhode Island

Generally speaking, states require that certified teachers hold, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. There are some states that have requirements for coursework in particular subjects, or undergraduate credit hour requirements in order to be certified in specialty areas. For initial certification, Rhode Island only requires that applicants complete an approved Educator Preparation program.

Step Two: Rhode Island Teacher Certification Programs

Teacher certification programs can be taken online or on-site. They typically include courses on educational theory,classroom skills seminars, and a fieldwork component of student teaching at a local school. A list of teacher preparation programs approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education can be found on the agency’s website.

Step Three: Required Tests for Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Education requires applicants for Initial Licensure complete certification area-specific tests administered by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Pearson, and ETS – specifically, from its Praxis Series. A full list of the tests necessary for each certification area can be found on the Department of Education website.

You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting the Praxis information page provided by Teachers Test Prep, where you can also access free online Praxis Practice Tests and Praxis Study Guides, plus a variety of paid Praxis Test Prep options for those who need additional help, including live prep classes, one-on-one tutoring, and on-demand online prep.

Read more about teacher certification tests on

Return to the top

Featured Online Programs

Explore your career options in education:

Boost your credentials: in this 8-week online course, you'll engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective and engaging teaching methods in the higher education context. Refine your own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy and set yourself apart as effective educator.

BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons is the highly respected Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program delivered online from Simmons College. The program prepares students for leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.

Counseling@NYU offers an online master of arts in Counseling and Guidance program, with concentrations in school and bilingual school counseling to prepare students to become collaborative leaders elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. Part-time and full-time options are available to fit student schedules.

Vanderbilt University's Peabody College offers an online Master of Education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling for students interested in becoming school counselors and making a meaningful difference in K–12 settings.

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT) is for aspiring teachers who want to gain the skills and knowledge they need to become great educators.

The online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.

Sponsored Programs

Alternative Certification in Rhode Island

Graduates of accredited colleges or universities whose bachelor’s degree are not in education, and who have not yet earned a traditional teaching certificate, can still receive Alternate Route Preliminary Certificates from the Rhode Island Department of Education. Requirements for this certificate include: holding a bachelor’s degree in the desired teaching area; passing all subject matter testing required; enrolling in a department-approved alternative route educator preparation program; completing pre-service field experience; and receiving an offer of employment from an agency.

Return to the top

Benefits of a Master’s Degree in Rhode Island

Public school teachers are generally not required to have a master's degree in the field of education, but educators across the country are realizing more and more the value of an advanced degree. Since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Every Child Succeeds Act of 2015, greater emphasis is placed on teacher performance, teacher qualification, and the results of teachers in the classroom.

A master’s degree carries a lot of weight in the teaching job market and those who have their master’s are regarded as experts in their field. Teachers with a master’s degree are more likely to be hired, promoted, and better compensated for their work. According to the Providence Teachers Union, for example, educators holding a master’s degree can earn up to $3,105 more than their peers who only hold bachelor’s degrees.

Learn more about the benefits of a Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education on  

Return to the top

Certification Reciprocity in Rhode Island

Rhode Island participates in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification’s (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement. It will accept valid, current, full, out-of-state certificates that align with Rhode Island’s certificate grade range and content area, as well as NASDTEC. Certification reciprocity is somewhat complicated, so it’s best to contact the Rhode Island Department of Education to inquire about specific details.

Return to the top

Financial Aid in Rhode Island

Rhode Island residents are eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and the TEACH Grant, which offer financial aid to students in return for agreements to teach in high-needs schools.

Learn more about how to finance your master's degree on

Return to the top

Rhode Island Teacher Salary and Incentives

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, , Rhode Island ranked 10th in the nation for teacher pay in 2013, with an average salary of $63,474. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for elementary school teachers in the state is $68,330, and the average salary for secondary school teachers is $66,580.

Many school districts in Rhode Island establish their own salary schedules for teachers, with organizations like the Providence Teachers Union and Howard Union of Teachers bargaining with local government on behalf of educators.

Learn more about teacher salaries on

Return to the top

Rhode Island Teacher Benefits and Retirement

The Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island provides retirement plans for public school teachers in the state. It offers pension benefits, disability pensions and other resources to members. For more information about the services offered by the system, see the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island Handbook. Teachers in Rhode Island additionally receive  around 17 weeks of vacation each year, and those on the tenure track have three years of teaching before they are eligible for tenure.

Learn more about benefits for teachers on

Return to the top

Professional Development for Rhode Island Teachers

The Rhode Island Department of Education offers numerous professional development opportunities for teachers continuing their growth and learning throughout their teaching careers. These include grants, workshops, self-directed modules and more.

Return to the top

Rhode Island Teaching Jobs

The Rhode Island Department of Education offers numerous professional development opportunities for teachers continuing their growth and learning throughout their teaching careers. These include grants, workshops, self-directed modules and more.

Return to the top

Sponsored Program