How can I become a teacher in the Netherlands with a foreign teaching qualification?

In short

In some cases you can teach in the Netherlands with a foreign teaching qualification. Your qualification must first be recognized by DUO, and often you will have to meet certain language requirements.

How can I become a teacher in the Netherlands with a foreign teaching qualification?

Have you obtained a teaching qualification or worked as a teacher outside of the Netherlands? This does not automatically guarantee the ability to teach in the Netherlands. First, you will have to get your teaching qualification certified. This is done by the education implementation service DUO: Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs. In this article we will inform you about DUO’s certification process, to which professions in education this applies and what additional conditions are in place.

Who certifies my foreign qualification?

It is DUO who certifies (erkent) teaching qualifications obtained outside of the Netherlands. If necessary, DUO makes use of the services of Nuffic or SBB. These institutions assess foreign diplomas by comparing them to a Dutch equivalent. Nuffic assesses diplomas from secondary education and higher education, while SBB assesses diplomas on mbo level. However, this diploma assessment alone is not sufficient, as this is a different type of service than qualification certification. DUO is the only authority that can certify your foreign teaching qualification.

DUO implements educational laws and regulations as a service commissioned by the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture & Science (OCW – Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap) and the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education (MPVO – Minister voor Primair en Voortgezet Onderwijs).

When do I have to apply for certification from DUO?

There are several education related professions for which you must receive certification of your foreign qualification This can vary per education sector. These are mentioned in greater detail below.

Teacher in po, so, vo, mbo and vavo

If you want to become a teacher at a school in the Netherlands, you must have your teaching qualification certified in most cases. This applies to the following sectors: primary education (po), special needs education (so), secondary education (vo), post-secondary vocational education and training (mbo) and secondary general adult education (vavo).

Instructor at an mbo-school

DUO also certifies instructors diploma’s for the mbo sector. To clarify this position; instructors supervise students primarily during the practical elements of their education at an mbo school. You may independently provide (parts of) the lessons. However, you always do so under the responsibility (but not necessarily under the supervision) of a teacher or a teaching team. In the Netherlands there is a specific qualification to become an instructor. Should you want to occupy this position in Dutch education, you will need to demonstrate a similar equivalent and have this certified by DUO.

When do I not have to apply for certification from DUO?

There are several education related professions for which you do not have to receive certification of your foreign qualification.

Teacher in higher education

Legally, there is no teaching qualification required to work as a teacher in higher education, which comprises of research universities (universiteit) and universities of applied sciences (hogeschool). The universities themselves decide which requirements their teachers have to meet. However, Dutch universities have drawn up a quality mark for teachers. This so-called Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO) is proof of the didactic competence of teachers at research universities and universities of applied sciences. The training is typically offered by the university under which you become employed.

Educational support staff

If you want to become a teaching assistant, an administrative assistant, janitor or guest lecturer, you do not need to have a specific qualification and therefore do not need to have your previously obtained qualification certified by DUO. The school where you apply might want an indication of your previous education. You can contact Nuffic to have your diploma(s) assessed.

International or foreign private schools

If you want to teach at an international or foreign private school (B4-school), your diploma or qualification does not have to be certified by DUO. For this type of international school, the rules of the respective country apply, and the Dutch government is not involved in decision making procedures. You can read more about international schools in this article.

What additional conditions are there if I want to work as a teacher in the Netherlands?

Besides getting your teaching qualification assessed and certified, an important additional condition is the language requirement. This depends on the education sector you wish to work in.

You have to demonstrate sufficient command of the Dutch language if:

  • You want to become a teacher in primary or special needs education, and you possess a teaching qualification that is not obtained in an EU/EEA country.
  • You do not yet have a teaching qualification and want to obtain one in the Netherlands.
  • You want to become a teacher at a primary school (basisschool), and you already have a teaching qualification from an EU/EEA country.

You are not obligated to show proof of your Dutch language proficiency if:

  • You want to become a secondary school teacher (middelbare school) or a teacher in post-secondary vocational education and training (mbo) and have a valid teaching qualification.

You can read more about language requirements in this article.

Are there costs associated with the certification procedure?

Recognition of a teaching qualification by DUO (or notification of temporary employment as a teacher or lecturer) is free of cost. If you want to have other diplomas translated or assessed by Nuffic, there will be a fee charged for this. DUO only recognizes diplomas.

Where can I submit my DUO certification request?

Your request can be submitted through this application form on the website of DUO. Please note that it can be an extensive process, as DUO often requests input from the respective educational institution from the country where the teaching qualification was obtained. For a precise time indication, it is best to inquire with DUO.

Who can I consult with remaining questions?

If you have any remaining questions or want to learn more about the certification procedure, we kindly refer you to DUO. You will also find a phone number and email address for their helpdesk staff. For general questions about working in education in the Netherlands you can also contact het Onderwijsloket.

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