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Alternative Teacher Certification in Wisconsin

Wisconsin teachers can follow traditional certification paths to get a provisional license. However, if you are still completing the requirements for full licensure, there is an alternative path to certification. Keep reading to find out more.

Overview of the Wisconsin Alternative Teacher Certification Pathway

Wisconsin offers more than 10 different ways to get a valid teaching license, including an alternative pathway that will allow someone to get an initial teaching license. If you already hold a bachelor's degree (and your major is in the subject you wish to be licensed in), you can follow the Alternative Route Program Pathway. Keep reading to learn more about this path to Wisconsin licensure.

Education Requirements Bachelor's degree
Exam Requirements Basic skills test, content test(s), edTPA
License Validity Period 1 year for initial license
Continuing Education Requirements None for initial license
Annual Mean Salary (2018, Wisconsin)* $26,550 (preschool); $57,340 (kindergarten); $56,770 (elementary); $59,880 (middle school); $58,360 (secondary)
Job Outlook (2016-2026, nationwide)* 7% (kindergarten and elementary school); 8% (middle school); 8% (high school)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Wisconsin's Alternative Route to Certification

If you have a bachelor's in your chosen area of focus (such as math, science, and so on), you can qualify to follow Wisconsin's alternative route to certification. You must pass a basic skills test and content test to be admittted. Then you can choose a teacher preparation program from nine different institutions around the state, from technical colleges and universities to non-profit organizations. It could take anywhere from 6-18 months to finish coursework, which might be offered on weekends or online, and another 18 weeks of student teaching. Then you'll need to pass the edTPA assessment to be eligible for certification.

If you haven't yet completed all the requirements of an approved educator preparation program, you can earn an initial teaching license (also called a 1-year license with stipulations) in the interim.

Applying for the Initial Teaching Certification

To apply for the 1-year license, a background check is required. You'll need to answer a Conduct and Competency Questionnaire and determine whether or not you need to submit fingerprints or explain any acts of misconduct (you can find out more on Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction website). You will also need documentation proving you have a bachelor's degree, and you will need to ask the school district where you'll be working to fill out a district request form for this type of license. Once you have all of that documentation, you'll submit it, along with your application and the application fee, using the DPI's Educator Licensing Online (ELO) site.

Teaching License Tiers

Wisconsin has 4 different tiers of teaching licenses. Tier I includes the 1-year license with stipulations, along with various substitute teacher licenses, reciprocity licenses, and more. Tier II includes provisional licenses, while Tier III includes lifetime licenses. Tier IV includes master educator teaching licenses. When you follow the alternative certification pathway, you'll complete the requirements for a Tier II license while you hold a Tier I license.

Upgrading from an Initial License to a Provisional License

Once your initial license expires, you'll need to upgrade to a provisional (Tier II) license. To get a provisional license, you must have a bachelor's degree in your chosen subject area and have completed an approved teacher preparation program. You can apply for provisional certification at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's ELO website.