Early Childhood Teacher Requirements in Illinois

Early childhood teachers in Illinois teach some of the youngest students. Learn more about what you need to become an early childhood teacher, such as degree, exam, and experience requirements. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Illinois Early Childhood Teacher Career Information

Teachers in Illinois who receive the Professional Educator License in Early Childhood education are qualified to teach students general education from birth to grade 3. Depending on the grade level, this can include subjects such as art, basic mathematics, social studies, and language literacy development. Read below to learn more about this license and the requirements needed, such as degree and specific exams.

Education Required Bachelor's degree and a state-approved teacher preparation program
Experience Required Student teaching or equivalent
Exam Requirements Basic skills test; edTPA; ILTS early childhood content exam
License Renewal Period Five years
Renewal Requirements 120 hours of professional development
Average Salary (2018) $31,500 (preschool teachers); $55,660 (kindergarten teachers); $62,140 (elementary school teachers)*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) 10.2% (preschool teachers); 3.9% (kindergarten teachers); 3.7% (elementary school teachers)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Illinois Department of Employment Security

Education Requirements

All prospective early childhood teachers must obtain at least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Students generally complete a degree with a major in early childhood education. The major includes coursework covering topics such as child development, child language, early childhood literacy, and foundations of early childhood education.

Prospective teachers must also complete a teacher preparation program, including coursework that covers four content areas: ESL/bilingual methods, reading methods, cross-categorical special education methods, and reading in the content area. The Illinois State Board of Education provides a list of pre-approved courses at colleges and universities throughout the state. Students should confirm that the courses they complete meet this requirement.

Required Experience

As part of the license requirements, prospective teachers must have student teaching experience. This is typically completed as part of the fieldwork component in the teacher preparation program. This fieldwork allows students to gain experience teaching in a local school and develop their skills in planning classes, managing a classroom, and instructing students. Students may also spend time observing licensed teachers in their classroom.

Exam Requirements

The Early Childhood Professional Educator License requires a basic skills test, Illinois teacher preparation assessment (edTPA), and the ILTS content area exam in Early Childhood Education. The basic skills test requirement is fulfilled by submitting scores from either the ACT or SAT. The minimum passing score for the ACT is 22 (writing score of 6) and the minimum passing score for the SAT is 1110 (writing and language score of 26).

The ILTS in Early Childhood Education content exam contains 100 multiple-choice questions covering subjects such as curriculum methods, childhood development, language, literacy, and student assessment. Applicants must receive a score of at least 240 to pass this exam.

Once students have completed their teaching experience, they must also complete the edTPA in Early Childhood Education and receive a minimum score of 39.


To apply for your professional license, submit a completed application, transcripts, exam scores and the fee to the Illinois State Board of Education. Applicants must also show proof that they completed a teacher preparation program and coursework in the four content areas. Once issued, the license is valid for five years.

Renewal Requirements

To renew an Illinois license, teachers must complete at least 120 hours of professional development. The hours must be completed through a provider that is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Applicants must also submit an application and pay a renewal fee.

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