Oklahoma ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

You may apply for your initial teacher license with ESL as your primary content area, or add it to an existing teaching certification in another content area.

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By following these steps, you will fulfill the requirements to become an ESL teacher in Oklahoma:

#1 ButtonComplete Your TESOL Degree and Teacher Prep Program
#2 ButtonTake and Pass the Required Exams
#3 ButtonApply for Licensure with an ESL Endorsement
#4 ButtonMaintain Your Certification and Continue Your Education

Oklahoma State Board of Education is responsible for licensing, testing, regulating, and, if necessary, disciplining all teachers throughout Oklahoma. The board is made up of seven members, including Superintendent of Public Instruction, Janet Barresi. Since her appointment in 2011, Superintendent Barresi has made it a point to raise teaching standards in an effort to provide the students of Oklahoma with the best possible education.

By the end of the 2011-12 school year, there were 44,593 students enrolled in ESL programs throughout the state. These students represent nearly 7% of the total number of students in public schools in Oklahoma. In order to teach ESL in Oklahoma, you must have a firm grasp of the native language of your students and how that language will influence the way that they learn English.



Step 1. Complete Your TESOL Degree and Teacher Prep Program

The first step you need to take in becoming a certified ESL teacher in Oklahoma is to complete your bachelor’s degree from an approved teacher preparation program. There are 43 colleges and universities with such programs in Oklahoma that offer TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) degrees.

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If you complete your degree at a college or university in Oklahoma, you must receive certification recommendation from that institution.

If you completed your degree from an out-of-state institution, you will be required to submit a form for an out-of-state review.

During the final years of study, you will be required to complete a student teaching process, the duration of which will be dictated by your college or university. Student teaching is an important aspect of your teacher training, as it will allow you to gain invaluable field experience and receive immediate feedback from a certified, experienced teacher.



Step 2. Take and Pass the Required Exams

The Oklahoma State Board of Education requires that prospective teachers take and pass the Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators (CEOE) before they can be certified. As an ESL teacher, you will have to take the following exams:

  • Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET)
    • Examination covering the core general education knowledge
    • 100 multiple-choice questions
    • One writing assessment
    • The minimum passing grade for this test is 240
    • Exam fees
      • Test fee – $75
      • CBT fee – $35
      • Registration fee – $40
  • Oklahoma Professional Teaching Examination (OPTE)
    • Examination covering professional knowledge
    • 75 multiple-choice questions
    • Three written assessments
    • The minimum passing grad for this test is 240
    • Exam fees
      • Test fee – $150
      • CBT fee – $35
  • Oklahoma Subject Area Test (OSAT) #077
    • This test will cover the specifically subject of ESL
    • 80 multiple-choice questions
    • One written assessment
    • The minimum passing grade for this test is 240
    • Exam fee – $90
      • This test will be transitioning to a computer based test in December of 2014



Step 3. Apply for Licensure with an ESL Endorsement

After passing your exams, you will be qualified to apply for your ESL teacher’s certification from the Oklahoma State Department of Education. If you already have a teacher’s certificate, you may add ESL as an endorsement. These steps must be followed when applying for certification in Oklahoma:

  • Submit a criminal background check to the Oklahoma State Board of Education
  • You may apply for certification via the State Board of Education website or a paper application
  • You must submit a $50 application fee
  • You must submit your official transcripts to the State Board of Education
  • If you already hold a full out-of-state certificate, you do not need to have a recommendation from your director of teacher education from your degree conferring institution
    • You will need to submit a proof of teaching form
  • Your certification will be valid for 5 years

All certification application materials may be sent to:

Oklahoma State Department of Education
Professional Standards Section, Room 212
2500 North Lincoln Boulevard
Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4599



Step 4. Maintain Your Certification and Continue Your Education

After holding your ESL teaching certification for five years, you must apply for a renewal of that certificate. This may be done online, or by sending a paper application to the State Department of Education. When submitting your application for renewal, you must include a $50 renewal fee. In addition, you must also satisfy one of the following options for continuing education:

  • Complete at least three years of school experience from an accredited college or university


  • If your have completed less than three years of school experience, you may substitute coursework in professional education from an accredited college or university based on how many years you have completed:
    • Two years completed – three semester hours
    • One year completed – four semester hours
    • Zero years completed – five semester hours

You must complete all your continuing education requirements during the five-year period that your ESL teaching certificate is valid. By setting up these requirements for continuing education, the State Board of Education has incentivized teachers to pursue further education.

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In addition to fulfilling your continuing education requirements, pursuing a master’s degree related to TESOL will allow you to increase your pay, open up job opportunities, and further your expertise in the ever-changing field of ESL.

Oklahoma ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives

For many decades Native American tongues were the most common languages other than English spoken in the central plains state of Oklahoma. Today Spanish is by far the most heard second language. The Hispanic population in the state almost doubled from 179,000 in 2001 to 332,000 in 2011.

Today, the most common languages other than English are (in descending order):

  • Spanish or Spanish Creole
  • Native American languages
  • German
  • Vietnamese
  • French
  • Chinese

Other languages spoken by less than one percent of the population include Korean, Tagalog, Japanese and African languages.

An article in Tulsa World noted that there is currently a strong push in Oklahoma public schools to keep Native American languages alive and nine different languages (Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Comanche, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee and Ponca) are currently being taught in about 34 schools across the state.

The state average teacher salary in Oklahoma is $44,343. Education beyond a bachelor’s degree increases annual earnings. Average starting salaries for different educational levels are:

  • Bachelor’s degree – $31,600
  • Master’s degree – $32,800
  • Ph D. – $34,000

After 25 years:

  • Bachelor’s degree – $42,325
  • Master’s degree – $43,950
  • Ph D – $46,000

Salaries also differ by location. Beginning salaries in the three largest cities are:

Oklahoma City

  • Bachelor’s degree – $32,925
  • Bachelor’s plus 15 credits – $33,225
  • Master’s degree – $35,475


  • Bachelor’s degree – $32,900
  • Master’s degree – $33,956


  • Bachelor’s degree – $31,882
  • Master’s degree – $32,998

It is noted that Oklahoma City offers a financial incentive for 15 semester hours of credit beyond a bachelor’s degree, which applies to ESL certifications.

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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
Lawton OK
Oklahoma City OK
Tulsa OK
Northeastern Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area
Southeastern Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area

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