Illinois Educator - Becoming a Teacher

Becoming a Teacher
Becoming a Teacher in Illinois

An individual wishing to teach in a public school in Illinois must be certified by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Currently, there are different types of teaching certificates in Illinois: Early Childhood (birth-grade 3), Elementary (grades Kindergarten-9), Secondary (grades 6-12), and Special Education (grades Kindergarten-12, or pre-school to age 21). The website for Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is A guide to requirements for teacher certification in Illinois can be found at:

Illinois New Teacher Collaborative

The mission of the Illinois New Teacher Collaborative is to coordinate a network of services and resources through a state-wide partnership of concerned stakeholders in order to attract and retain new teachers and enhance their ability to promote student learning. More information is available at:

How do I find a Teacher Preparation Program?

An individual must successfully complete an approved teacher education program at a college or university to be certified to teach in Illinois. Certification requirements will vary significantly based on the type of certification desired. For example, an Elementary certification may require one to take courses in "teaching reading" and in "teaching math" while for teaching mathematics at the high school level, courses such as Geometry and Linear Algebra may be required. A college/university advisor will explain the specific course requirements for the desired type of certification. Information on Teacher Preparation Programs from Illinois colleges and universities is available at:

Will I be required to do Student/Practice Teaching?

All types of teaching certification in Illinois require "practice teaching" in a classroom. This is typically a 12-16 weeklong classroom experience under the guidance of a classroom teacher and faculty member of the college or university. Additional classroom observations may also be included in teacher education programs. It is necessary to have time available during traditional school classroom hours to fulfill these certification requirements.

Are there any tests required?

Specific tests are also required. The Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS) includes a Basic Skills test that covers reading, writing, grammar and mathematics. Everyone applying for an Early Childhood, Elementary, Special Education, and Secondary certificate must successfully complete the ICTS Basic Skills test prior to admission. An additional subject-matter knowledge test, which closely corresponds to the field or area in which one wants to teach, must be passed prior to practice teaching. Prospective teachers are also required to pass a test on the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards, the Common Core Language Arts Standards, and the Common Core Technology Standards. Testing information is available at:

What if I Already Have a Bachelor's Degree?

It may be possible, if one already has a bachelor's degree, to take just the courses, including practice teaching, required for certification. Again, the specific requirements will depend on what grade-level one wants to teach and in which college or university one enrolls. These courses and the practice teaching experience are generally found at the undergraduate level, but may also be at the graduate level in some colleges and universities. There are also many colleges and universities that offer Master's degrees designed for the person who wants to teach and who already has a bachelor's degree.

There are also a number of "Alternative Routes to Certification" which you might want to explore. Information is available at:

Where do I start?

To begin the process of becoming a teacher in Illinois, contact a college or university for information regarding their education program at the bachelor's or master's level. A list of colleges and universities with approved education programs may be found at the following website:

Can I begin at my local community college?

Working closely with an academic advisor, it is possible to begin coursework at a community college and later transfer to an approved bachelor's degree program. Throughout Illinois, many community colleges have developed Associate of Arts in Teaching programs in Math, Science, Early Childhood, and Special Education. To find out more about those programs go to

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