There are very few professions out there where you can leave work every day and say to yourself, “Wow, I made a difference in someone’s life today.” Teaching is definitely one of those professions. There is a joy and satisfaction that comes with knowing you are making a change for the better and helping shape and mold the future through our children whether you are looking to each kindergarten or highschool. There is a place for your in Illinois.

If you are passionate about working with and caring for students, there are many ways you can do this in Illinois - from substitute teaching to becoming a full time teacher - and we can guide you through what you need to know to change your life and help change others’ as well.

The day of a teacher may be tough, but the rewards are infinite

A teacher wears many hats, and their job is not an easy one. In fact, teaching is often considered one of the hardest professions, but most teachers would not change jobs for anything. Why? Because the rewards of your work make it all worthwhile.

Becoming a teacher starts with continuing your education to prepare you for what you need to know in the classroom and is similar throughout the country, regardless of the state you live or plan to teach in, with a few differences specific to each state.

Types of teacher certifications

All teachers in Illinois are required to hold a bachelor’s degree, but certification can be specialized depending on the grade level you are interested in teaching. Certifications must go through the state’s Board of Education. Teaching certificates available in Illinois are:

  • Early childhood - birth to third grade
  • Elementary - kindergarten to grade nine
  • Secondary - grades six to twelve
  • Subject Specific - kindergarten to grade twelve
  • Special education - preschool to age 21

In addition to full time teaching certificates, you can also obtain a substitute teaching certificate and administrative or principal certificates.

Illinois’ certifications come in three levels: Initial, which is for the first 4 years of teaching; Standard, which is valid for five years and is renewable; and then Master, for after ten years of teaching, and is renewable.

There is a need for all types of teachers in Illinois

Job stability and security is important, and Illinois provides both for teachers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2016 there were 1,565,300 teaching positions in the United States, with the projected growth of jobs expected to increase seven percent over the next ten years.

Glassdoor, a site that follows and reports wages and job statistics across the United States, quotes that teachers in Illinois receive an average pay of $45,483 a year, and this can vary based on what you are teaching exactly, how much experience you have, and what your education is.

Currently, there is a teacher shortage, so no matter where you live, if you want to become a teacher in Illinois, you are likely going to find a position. According to the Illinois State Board of Education 2018 Triennial Report on Educator Supply and Demand in Illinois, “Illinois public districts reported a total of 2,014.6 unfilled positions in 2016‐17, the plurality of which were instructional positions (49.6 percent). The next largest group was school service personnel staff, which account for 44.3 percent of the total.”

Substitute teachers are in great demand as well, so if you are interested in teaching but are not ready for full time teaching and what it entails, you can read on to learn how to become a substitute teacher in Illinois.

Steps to getting your Illinois teaching certificate

The requirements to teach in Illinois are similar to those throughout the country. First, you must complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, and any preliminary coursework that they require. Once that is completed, you will need to pass a state-approved teacher preparation program, and then any required exams. Finally, an Illinois teaching application must be submitted and approved.

Illinois’ test is the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) Test of Academic Proficiency, which is subject specific.

Already have your bachelor’s degree in education?

If you already have your bachelor’s degree and just need a certificate to teach in Illinois, you are just a few steps away! There are just a few things you need to know regarding how to obtain a teaching certificate in Illinois when you already have your bachelor’s in education.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, to receive your teaching endorsement, you must have proof of the following:

  • A bachelor's degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher education
  • Proof of a valid, comparable, out of state license or State Approved Program Verification (Use form 80-02: State Approved Program and Completion of Standards Verification)
  • 32 semester hours, or a major in the content-area, from a regionally accredited institution of higher education
  • Student teaching or equivalent experience
  • Completion of coursework addressing methods of teaching exceptional children, reading methods, content area reading, and methods of teaching English learners (Use form 80-02: State Approved Program and Completion of Standards Verification)

Licensure Tests: All test scores are valid indefinitely. View the options below to see the required tests for each area. Click here to register for the tests.

With your bachelor’s already in hand, you have the hardest part out of the way. Now you can cross off the next few requirements and start teaching in the near future!

You have your bachelor’s, but it’s not in education? No problem!

So you have a bachelor's but not in the education field. You can pursue an alternative teaching certification through one of three routes in Illinois: Alternative Teacher Certification, Alternative Route to Teacher Certification, and Resident Teacher Certification Programs.

After completing one of these state approved programs, you will receive a Provisional Alternative Teaching Certificate or a Resident Teacher Certificate, depending on the route you chose. However, admission into these programs is based on you meeting certain criteria, such as having been in the work field at least five years and completing and passing a criminal background check. For a complete list of requirements, you can click here.

You are not a United States Citizen, but want to teach in Illinois? Just a few extra steps!

To be eligible to teach in the United States, each state has different requirements regarding citizenship. Illinois teacher licensure does not require you to be a citizen, but you must become certified in the state by following these steps:

Step One: Your degree must be evaluated by a credentialing organization that is approved by the Illinois Board of Education. This can cost between $100 and $500 and take a month or longer to complete, but when it is done, you will have documents explaining what your degree is and what each course you took entailed so that it can be compared to what is available in the United States.

Step two: After you receive your evaluation paperwork, you will need to apply for certification with the Illinois Board of Education. Your application will need to have all of the documents from the credentialing organization, your original untranslated documents, a chronology of your education, proof of a permanent work authorization, an agreement letter stating that you will apply for US citizenship in a timely manner, and your application itself plus fees.

Step three: Most likely, after an examination of your application, you will receive a “deficiency” letter. This is perfectly normal, and it just states the requirements you will need to meet before you can receive your teacher certification. These deficiencies are usually courses that the state requires that your education did not cover. As long as you take them by the deadline, you do not have to reapply. Depending on the deficiency that you may have, the state may offer you a Provisional Teaching Certificate, with which you can begin teaching and take the courses necessary while you are working by a given deadline. If this is not optimal for you, you may want to consider substitute teaching while you are meeting your requirements.

Step four: Finally, you will be required to pass certain tests that Illinois requires for all teachers, administered by the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS). These will include the Basic Skills Test, Content Area Test, and the Assessment of Professional Teaching.

Once all of these requirements are met, you can begin to teach in Illinois.

You are already teaching in another state but want to move to Illinois, what do you do?

Illinois does not have full reciprocity with any state, but there are just a few requirements for a teaching certificate in Illinois, if you already have one in another state, that you will need to complete.

To begin, you will have to have already completed an approved teacher education program or have a teaching certification from another state when you apply for your Illinois license. Once this has been verified, you will need to apply for a Professional Educator License, which will have stipulations on it while you are getting endorsed in an approved area. For more information on what is considered pre-approved coursework, check out the Illinois State Board of Education Out-of-State Institutions.

You are already teaching in Illinois, but want to branch into a new subject area

If you already hold a teaching certificate, you will be required to pass a certification test on the subject area that you are interested in teaching in. These tests will require proficiency in the specific standards for that subject.

Illinois teacher training programs are available

There are over fifty training programs for teaching available in the state of Illinois. Some of the institutions available that are accredited by the NCATE, TEAC, or CAEP include:

Augustana College - offers educators programs in Elementary education (1-6) with the option to add a Reading Teacher endorsement, Middle grades education (5-8) for English, mathematics, science and social science, Secondary education (9-12) in English language arts, mathematics, science (biology, chemistry, physics), and social science (geography, history), and K-12 art, foreign language (French, German, Spanish), and music education.

Bradley University - offers programs in early childhood education, Elementary education, Middle school education, Special Education, Art or Music K-12, and High school education.

Chicago State University - offers Elementary education and Elementary education with a middle school option.

Concordia University Chicago - offers a wide range of education programs, including Early childhood, Elementary, Middle grades, Secondary, Lutheran teachers, Art, Music, Physical Education, Art Education, Special Education and the Illinois middle school endorsement.

Governors State University - offers accredited programs in Early childhood education and Elementary education.

There are many other education programs available as well that may be more convenient to your location, so if these do not work for you, just do a little research on educator licensing programs in your area and you will be pleasantly surprised as to how easy it is to find a school that provides what you need at a nearby campus.

Going to the classroom is not for you? Try online instead

There are hundreds of online teacher training programs that are accepted by the Illinois Board of Education. Be sure before you choose one that it is accredited by an institution that is approved by the Illinois board. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

Roosevelt University - offers a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning (TLRN) in which licensed teachers can receive an endorsement in concentrations such as Bilingual/ESL, Special Education, Reading, Spoken Word Education, Middle School Education, Early Childhood Special Education and Focused Programs.

School of Education, American University, Washington DC - offering students a master of Arts in teaching, this university is CAEP-recognized and perfect for those who already have their bachelors degree and are looking to teach at the elementary level. The program boasts that students will be able to earn their degrees in twenty months, and no previous education training experience is necessary.

Baker College Online - offers students the ability to receive their undergraduate bachelor of science as an elementary teacher with an emphasis on early childhood education. Although it is based out of Michigan, it is an approved institution of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA).

Depaul University - offers a completely online Master of Education (MEd) in General Educational Leadership. Students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA to complete the program.

Alternative routes to teach in Illinois

If you do not have your bachelor’s in education, you can still teach in Illinois using an alternative route. For example, if you have completed at least 20 semester hours of coursework - at a regionally accredited school - in the subject you wish to teach and have 8,000 hours of work experience within the last ten years in that subject, you can apply for a Provisional Career and Technical Education license.

If that does not apply to you, there is a dire need for good substitute teachers as well. To receive your license in substitute teaching, you need to have a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, and this will allow you to substitute in any grade kindergarten through 12. A substitute teaching license is good for five years and can be renewed.

The Illinois teaching exams and what you need to know to pass

To teach in Illinois, you have to pass three exams. The first is the edTPA, which is a “a performance-based, subject-specific assessment and support system used by more than 600 teacher preparation programs in some 40 states to emphasize, measure and support the skills and knowledge that all teachers need from Day 1 in the classroom.” This done through Pearson, and Pearson will send your scores to the Illinois Department of Education.

General Exam - Test of Academic Proficiency

This is a computer based test that measures your overall reading comprehension (60 multiple choice questions), language arts ability (60 multiple choice questions), mathematics skills (50 multiple choice questions) and your writing ability (one constructed response assignment). You will have five hours to complete all four subject areas and must receive a passing score of at least 240.

Subject Area Exams

Your content area tests is specific to the grade or subject you are wishing to teach. The most commonly sought is the Elementary Education, Grades 1-6, but you can look for your subject on their testing page.

The Elementary Education exam

This is a six hour, thirty minute computer based test in which you have four sub parts:

Subtest 1: Language and Literacy (197): 60 multiple-choice questions Subtest 2: Mathematics (198): 60 multiple-choice questions Subtest 3: Science/Social Science (199): 60 multiple-choice questions Subtest 4: Fine Arts, Physical Development, and Health (200): 50 multiple-choice questions

Ready to teach in Illinois?

Teachers are an important part of our past, present and future. You really can make a difference in the world by changing the mind of a child. Passionate, caring teachers are needed, so if you feel that this is your calling, you can start your path to educating the children of Illinois today with any of the avenues available that works for your individual needs.

Works cited

“Illinois State Board of Education Memorandum: Supply and Demand.” (February 23, 2018). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ed-supply-demand-2017.pdf.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm.

“Teacher Salaries in Illinois.” (April 11, 2018). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/illinois-teacher-salary-SRCH_IL.0,8_IS302_KO9,16.htm.

Illinois Licensure Testing System Test of Academic Proficiency. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.il.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/IL400_TestPage.html.

Illinois Licensure Testing System Overview of Tests. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from http://www.icts.nesinc.com/.

Illinois State Board of Education Professional Educator License. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Professional-Educator-License-Teaching-Endorsements.aspx.

Illinois State Board of Education Standards Verification Form. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.isbe.net/Documents/80-02-standards-verification.pdf.

Illinois State Board of Education Alternative Licensing Program Standards. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.isbe.net/Documents/alternative-lic-prog-stds.pdf#search=state%20approved%20alternative%20certification%20program.

Illinois State Board of Education Pre-Approved Coursework. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Pre-Approved-Coursework-for-the-Illinois-Professional-Educator-Out-of-State.aspx.

Augustana College Education Program. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.augustana.edu/academics/areas-of-study/education.

Bradley University Education Program. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://www.bradley.edu/academic/departments/te/.

Chicago State University College of Education. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from http://www.csu.edu/collegeofeducation/EMER/elementaryeducation.htm.

Illinois State University. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from https://illinoisstate.edu/.

edTPA Illinois State Testing. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from http://www.il.nesinc.com/PageView.aspx?f=GEN_Tests.html.

Elementary Education Testing. (n.d). Retrieved April 11, 2018 from http://www.il.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/IL197_TestPage.html.

Nedda
Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.