The Licensure Section of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is pleased to assist candidates for lateral entry with information on how to enter the teaching profession. Lateral entry is an "alternate" route to teaching for qualified individuals outside of the public education system. Lateral entry allows qualified individuals to obtain a teaching position and begin teaching right away, while obtaining a professional educator's license as they teach. The NC Dept of Public Instruction authorizes lateral entry professional educator's licenses on a provisional basis in licensure areas that correspond to the individual's academic study. Please review the following information and remember that only the hiring school system can initiate the process for lateral entry status.



Beginning August 1, 2015 new and existing professional educators will be able to apply for and update their North Carolina licenses online. Instructions and more information are available within the online licensure system.

Go to the new NCDPI Online Licensure System



What are the steps for becoming a lateral entry teacher and pursuing a professional educator's license?

Step 1: Qualify

The individual must first qualify as a lateral entry teacher to be able to seek a position with a school system.

Step 2: Employment

The individual is hired by a school system, which recommends the individual to the NC Department of Public Instruction for a lateral entry professional educator's license. The individual is issued a three year lateral entry provisional professional educator's license.

Step 3: Plan of Study

Upon being issued the initial provisional lateral entry professional educator's license, the individual affiliates with a college or university with an approved teacher education program in the license area, or with one of the Regional Alternative Licensing Centers (RALC) in North Carolina. An individual plan of study is prescribed for the lateral entry teacher.

Regional Alternative Licensing Centers (RALC)

Teaching candidates with a lateral entry license have another option for pursuing full professional educator's licensure and that is to utilize one of the states' four Regional Alternative Licensing Centers located in Charlotte/Cabarrus, Fayetteville, Elm City and Catawba, NC.

The Regional Alternative Licensing Centers were created by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) specifically to help lateral entry teachers in North Carolina achieve full professional educator's licensure. The centers assist teaching candidates by evaluating their applications, prescribing a course of study, recommending requirements they need in order to receive full professional educator's licensure, and clearing the license so that they become fully licensed. Candidates can take the necessary coursework at any of the state's colleges or universities.

The RALC complements what local universities and colleges provide teaching candidates - not replace it. The centers provide a number of benefits for lateral entry teachers including more consistent evaluations, evaluations targeted to the requirements the teacher needs to attain full professional educator's licensure, flexibility as to where candidates can take their coursework, and training opportunities through local school systems to meet some of the professional educator's licensing requirements.

Step 4: Coursework and Testing

The individual follows their plan of study prescribed by the college or university or the RALC. A minimum of six semester hours per year from the plan of study must be taken until the plan has been completed. All coursework and the

for their licensure area must be completed within three years.

Step 5: Recommendation for Standard Professional 1 Professional Educator's License

When the individual completes the required coursework prescribed by the college, university or RALC and satisfies professional educator's licensure testing requirements, he/she is recommended for professional educator's licensure by the institution or RALC. This recommendation is sent to the NC Department of Public Instruction where it is evaluated and if the individual has met all their requirements, they are issued a Standard Professional 1 Professional Educator's License.




The North Carolina STEM Teacher Education Program (NC STEP) is a cost-free, alternative teacher program for individuals who have an interest in becoming a teacher of STEM courses in a NC secondary school. To be eligible, applicants must have at least a four-year college degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics related field. Please visit for more information.


NC INSPIRE is an alternative teacher preparation program designed to recruit, prepare, support, and license recent non-education major college graduates and mid-career professionals to teach high-need subjects in high-need schools in North Carolina.