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License Requirements for School District Employees

The exterior of a school.

Certain individuals employed by a Texas school district must hold licensing credentials from their state agency to perform services within their profession.

According to Texas Education Code (TEC) § 21.003(b), school district employees that must be licensed include:

  • Audiologist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Physical therapist
  • Physician
  • Nurse and licensed vocational nurse (LVN)
  • School psychologist
  • Associate school psychologist
  • Licensed professional counselor
  • Social worker
  • Speech language pathologist
  • Marriage and family therapist (a person employed by a district before September 1, 2011, to perform marriage and family therapy is not required to hold a license if the person remains employed by the district)

Additionally, athletic trainers (Title 3 Texas Occupations Code (OCC) § 451.001) and specific career and technical education (CTE) teachers (see CTE and Certification Requirements) require a license.

Skilled electricians and plumbers also require appropriate licenses to perform certain aspects of their job duties and responsibilities.

Nurses & LVNS

A school nurse is an educator employed to provide full-time nursing and health care services and who meets all requirements to practice as a registered nurse (RN) pursuant to the Nursing Practice Act and the rules and regulations relating to professional nurse education, licensure, and practice and has been issued a license to practice professional nursing in Texas by the Texas Board of Nursing (Title 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) § 153.1022).

Full-time nurses are the only non-certified employees entitled to a Chapter 21 contract. Registered nurses (RN) must be paid on the minimum teacher salary schedule.

LVNs must complete a program at an accredited vocational nursing school and pass the appropriate examination to obtain licensing through the Texas Board of Nursing. An LVN scope of practice is a directed scope of practice and requires appropriate supervision by a registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse, physician assistant, physician, dentist, or podiatrist.

For more information on RNs and LVNs see the HRX article Health Services Staffing.

A licensed specialist in school psychology (LSSP) performs professional psychological work in assessment, behavior management, and counseling for students with emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.

Information on LSSP licensing can be found at Texas Association of School Psychologists.

A physical therapist and an occupational therapist plan and provide therapeutic interventions to eliminate or reduce problems or impairments that interfere with a student’s ability to derive full benefit from the educational program. The Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Examiners provides information for licensure of physical therapists and occupational therapists.

An audiologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss. A speech language pathologist (SLP) assesses students and provides therapeutic interventions to eliminate or reduce problems or impairments that interfere with a student’s education experience. A speech language pathologist assistant (SLPA) provides speech-language pathology services to students as directed by a supervising Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) licensed SLP or Texas Education Agency (TEA) certified speech therapist. Licensing information for these three positions is available from the TDLR.

Athletic Trainers

An athletic trainer plans, coordinates, and supervises all components of the athletic training program for student athletes. The individual works under the direction of the team physician to prevent, recognize, assess, manage, treat, and recondition athletic injuries and illnesses. Athletic trainers must be licensed through the TDLR. If an athletic trainer teaches a core academic course, the individual must also be certified as a teacher.

CTE Teachers Requiring a License

Certain CTE teachers require a professional license in addition to work experience and other educational requirements.

A health science teacher must hold an associate or more advanced degree as well as a current licensure, certification, or registration by a nationally recognized accrediting agency such as a health professions practitioner. Eligible military experience may be used in lieu of civilian licensure.

A trade and industrial education teacher doesn’t have to have a degree but is required to have a current licensure by a state or nationally recognized accrediting agency in any approved occupation for the classes the individual will be teaching. A passing score on a National Occupations Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) assessment can be used in place of a licensure. A cosmetology teacher also must hold a current cosmetology instructor’s license issued by the TDLR.

CTE teachers must also meet the TEA requirements for becoming a classroom teacher in Texas or obtain a school district teaching permit (SDTP) or another appropriate permit (e.g., emergency or temporary classroom assignment permit).

Those in possession of an existing and valid classroom teaching certificate can add any of the listed CTE certificates by passing an exam along with obtaining experience if required and/or licensure or certification. Detailed guidance on CTE certificates can be found on TEA’s Career and Technical Education webpage.

Licensed Trades

An electrician works under general supervision to maintain, repair, and install electrical systems, services, and equipment for a school district. A licensed electrician must have a valid TDLR journeyman license. TDLR provides a list of exemptions for persons who may not be required to be licensed or types of work an unlicensed individual may perform.

Plumbers must hold one of the four types of licenses issued by the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE). TSBPE was set to be abolished after the 86th Legislative session (2019), but a governor’s executive order extended its life until May 2021. The Sunset Commission had recommended transferring the regulation of plumbing to the TDLR. As of the date of publication, information on the plumbing licenses is available on the TSBPE website.

Military Spouse With Out-Of-State License

Military spouses from out of state have flexibility with obtaining a Texas license. They can temporarily work without obtaining the applicable license if the person is licensed and in good standing by another jurisdiction with equivalent licensing requirements. The spouse must follow a process that includes notifying the relevant state agency of the intent to practice and submitting proof of residency and military identification. This provision is allowed for a maximum of three years and is in effect only if the spouse remains stationed at a military installation in the state. For more information see Legislative Changes Related to Educator Certification and Information for Military Servicemembers, Veterans, and Spouses.

Ensuring Compliance

Understanding which job categories must be licensed can clarify the hiring process, provide compliance with licensure regulations, and ensure qualified individuals are employed.

Title 22 TAC includes links to the state’s examining boards outlining licensing rules for some of the positions mentioned above. Additionally, TEA provides information for positions considered Instructional Supports for Students with Disabilities.

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Cheryl Hoover
Cheryl Hoover

Cheryl Hoover joined HR Services in 2018. She assists with staffing and HR reviews, training, and other HR projects. During Hoover’s public school career, she served as an executive director of curriculum and principal leadership, executive director of human resources, principal, assistant principal, teacher, and coach.

Hoover earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin and obtained her master’s degree from Texas State University. She is a certified PHR.

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