Teachers would have to pass “classroom MOTs” or be dismissed if they fail rigorous checks, under plans put forward by Labour today.
Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt told the BBC: “If you're not a motivated teacher - passionate about your subject, passionate about being in the classroom - then you shouldn't really be in this profession.”
He claimed licences would “re-professionalise” teachers and drive up standards.
The idea was unpopular with teaching unions when it was originally floated by then schools secretary Ed Balls in 2009. The proposals were dropped before the 2010 general election.
Mr Hunt told the BBC he wanted the “enormously important” role of teachers to be recognised.
“Just like lawyers and doctors they should have the same professional standing which means re-licensing themselves, which means continued professional development, which means being the best possible they can be,” he said.
Labour previously said it would ensure all teachers have qualified status and staff in academies would be given a deadline to complete a formal qualification.
Ian Fenn, the headteacher of Burnage Media Arts College in Manchester, told BBC Breakfast that in principle he would welcome the plan.
“I think that if we can see this as a way of validating the profession, of developing ourselves into becoming better practitioners, then it's to be welcomed,” he said.
“If it's going to be a test, that would be absolutely the wrong way to go about it - we're not cars, we don't need an MOT.”
The examinations would use a portfolio of work and look at evidence of how teachers support young people in their care.
A Conservative Party spokesman said it would look at any proposals that would “genuinely improve the quality of teaching”.
He added: "Fixing the schools system so young people have the skills they need is a key part of our long-term economic plan."
The government has given headteachers the power to remove substandard teachers from the classroom in a term, as opposed to a year previously, and scrapped time limits on classroom observations.
Teach First, a training programme, has also been expanded.