Ohio ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

In the state of Ohio, you have the option to apply for a teaching license with TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) as your primary content area, or you can add it to your teacher license as an endorsement later in your career. After completing the following steps, you will be qualified to work as an ESL teacher in Ohio:

#1 ButtonEarn Your TESOL Degree through A Teacher Prep Program
#2 ButtonComplete the Required Exams
#3 ButtonApply for Your Teacher License with an ESL Endorsement
#4 ButtonMaintain Licensure and Consider Further Education
Featured Programs:
The Master of Arts in Teaching - TESOL online program from the USC Rossier School of Education prepares you to teach students of all ages in the U.S. and internationally, gives you the option to pursue a teaching credential, and can be completed in 12 months.
Campbellsville University Offers an ESL Endorsement (P-12), M.A. in Teaching - Secondary Education, M.A. in TESOL
Liberty University Offers Undergrad Cert and B.Ed. in English as a Second Language.
Greenville University Offers a Master of Arts in Education - Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)
George Mason University Offers a Master of Education (MEd) in Curriculum and Instruction, Concentration in TESOL
Capella University offers online Master’s program in English Language Learning and Teaching designed to help educators advance their career in supporting diverse student populations. While it does not satisfy licensure requirements, the program can help you build the skills to use instructional strategies, emerging trends, and best practices to effectively teach English Language Learners to help students adapt to new cultural environments.
St. John's University Offers an Online Ph.D. in Literacy

There are more than 40,000 students enrolled in ESL programs throughout Ohio. The native languages of these students are incredibly diverse, with more than 110 languages represented throughout the state. ESL teachers are governed and licensed by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the State Board of Education.

As an ESL teacher in Ohio, you will be responsible for helping students increase their ability to communicate and comprehend the English language. It can be extremely helpful to have a firm grasp on the native language, culture and history of those students.



Step 1. Earn Your TESOL Degree through A Teacher Prep Program

The first step in becoming an ESL teacher in Ohio is earning your bachelor’s degree (at minimum) from an accredited college or university. There are 50 colleges and universities in the state of Ohio that offer approved teaching education programs, including 13 public universities.

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In order to qualify for licensure, you must fulfill these requirements:

  • 24 semester hours (36 quarter hours) of ESL classes
    • Finish with a minimum GPA of 2.50
  • Pass the TESOL content assessment
  • Complete 100 hours of field experience prior to student teaching
  • Complete at least 12 weeks of full-time student teaching experience



Step 2. Complete the Required Exams

On September 1, 2013, the Ohio Assessments for Educators (OAE) exams replaced the Praxis II test series.

The OAE is divided into two sections: the pedagogy assessment and the content assessment.

If you are applying for initial licensure as a TESOL educator, you must pass both the Assessment of Professional Knowledge: Multi-Age pedagogy assessment AND the English to Speakers of Other Languages content assessment.

If you are adding the TESOL endorsement to an existing teaching license, you must only pass the English to Speakers of Other Languages content assessment.

The basic highlights of the Assessment of Professional Knowledge: Multi-Age test are:

  • 100 multiple-choice questions
  • One case study written assignment
  • One work product written assignment
  • A testing fee of $105
  • A minimum passing score of 220

The basic highlights of the English to Speakers of Other Languages Assessment are:

  • 150 multiple-choice questions
  • A testing fee of $105
  • A minimum passing score of 220

You may apply to take both tests at any point during the year through the Perason Vue website.



Step 3. Apply for Your Teacher License with an ESL Endorsement

In Ohio, you have the option to apply for your ESL endorsement during your initial application for licensure. In order to apply for your license, you must make a SAFE account and apply online; there is no longer a paper application.

There are two initial license types, one for graduates of education programs in Ohio and one for graduates of out-of-state education programs. If you are an out-of-state applicant, you must contact the Office of Educator Licensure and request a fingerprint card to complete your criminal background check.

When applying for your initial license, you must pay the following fees, as applicable:

  • Application fee – $160
  • Evaluation of Out-of-state application – $50
  • Addition of a licensure area – $20

The Ohio Department of Education has a four tiered licensure system that breaks down in the following way:

  • Resident Educator License
    • You must have completed at least a bachelor’s degree and an approved teacher preparation program
    • Pass the OAE assessments
    • Valid for four years and is non-renewable

This license is structured to allow you to complete the Resident Educator program and move on to the next tier

  • Professional Educator License
    • Successfully complete the Resident Educator program
    • Renewable after five years
  • Senior Professional Educator License
    • You must earn at least a master’s degree from an accredited college or university
    • Nine years of experience with a standard teaching license
    • Complete a Master Teacher Portfolio
  • Lead Professional Educator License
    • You must earn at least a master’s degree from an accredited college or university
    • Nine years of experience with a standard teaching license
    • Earn a Teacher Leader Endorsement and successfully complete the Master Teacher Portfolio


    • Hold an active National Board Certification



Step 4. Maintain Licensure and Consider Further Education

Once you have begun to teach ESL in Ohio, you must renew your license online, using your SAFE account. Your renewal period will depend on your license type; all licenses except the Resident Educator License are renewable after five years.

You must complete these steps in order to renew your teaching license:

  • Create your Individual Professional Development Plan
    • This plan must be approved by your Local Professional Development Committee
  • Complete six semester hours of ESL courses or classroom teaching courses


  • Complete 18 continuing education units, totaling 180 contact hours


  • Other equivalent activities that are related to the teaching of ESL as approved by the Local Professional Development Committee
  • You may combine any of the three options to complete your continuing education

In addition to renewing your license, you may wish to pursue a master’s degree or higher level of education. The state of Ohio has established the Senior Professional Educator and Lead Professional Educator levels of teaching licenses in order to incentivize teachers in the state to increase their education levels. By pursuing these levels, you will be able to increase your pay and open other job opportunities, while also honing your ability to teach ESL.

Ohio ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the need for ESL teachers continues to grow rapidly as increasing numbers of families leave troubled countries to seek a better life in the United States. Approximately 13,000 new refugees settled in Ohio between 2003 and 2013 and roughly one-quarter of Ohio’s 459,422 (2011) immigrants live in Franklin County, including Columbus.

According to the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council, Latinos make up the largest block of the state’s non-native population. Central Ohio is also home to more than 45,000 refugees from Somalia, the second largest Somali population in the U.S.

The Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing Association lists the top five language groups as:

  • Spanish
  • Somali
  • Arabic
  • German (including Pennsylvania Dutch German dialect)
  • Chinese

National annual average teacher salaries reported by Bureau of Labor Statistics are:

  • Elementary school – $52,240
  • Middle school – $52,270
  • Secondary school – $53,390

By comparison, the Ohio averages are:

  • Elementary/middle school – $54,180
  • Secondary school – $55,870

Annual 2012-2013 teacher wages in different Ohio cities are:


  • Bachelor’s degree:  $39,202-$60,714
  • Master’s degree:  $42,937-66,428


  • Bachelor’s degree:  $42,500-$69,400
  • Master’s degree:  $42,000-$72,400


  • Bachelor’s degree:  $42,333-$65,143
  • Master’s degree:  $43,820-$72,225


  • Bachelor’s degree:  $31,842-$47,572
  • Master’s degree:  $34,867-$51.680

The table below provides 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) salary information for Adult, Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers (adult ESL teachers are included in this category).

Area name
Annual Median Salary
Akron OH
Canton-Massillon OH
Estimate Not Released
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor OH
Columbus OH
Dayton OH
Mansfield OH
Toledo OH
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman OH-PA
West Northwestern Ohio nonmetropolitan area
Other Ohio nonmetropolitan area
Eastern Ohio nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
Southern Ohio nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released

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