How to Become a Teacher in Illinois: Certification & Requirements

Teaching preschool through high school in Illinois requires specific education, training and exams. Get an overview of the requirements and the certification process below. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Illinois Teacher Career Overview

Illinois has the fifth largest employment levels for preschool and elementary school teachers in the U.S., with 24,120 and 65,630 teachers employed, respectively. No matter what kind of teacher you want to be in Illinois, you need a Professional Educator License in teaching, which requires a bachelor's degree and other relevant training.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree; teacher preparation program approved by the state
Exams Required Basic skills test; edTPA; Content test(s) depending on grade level and subject
License Validity Period Five years
Requirements for Renewal 120 professional development hours
Mean Salary for Illinois Teachers (2018)* $31,500 (preschool); $55,660 (kindergarten); $62,140 (elementary school); $63,860 (middle school); $72,370 (high school)
Estimated Job Growth for Teachers Nationwide (2016-2026)* 10% (preschool); 7% (kindergarten and elementary school); 8% (middle and high school)

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

Required Education and Coursework

Getting a Professional Educator License in Illinois comes with education and testing requirements. You need at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. You also need to have completed a teacher preparation program accepted by the state along with a student teaching experience. When you apply for your certification, your college or university will need to complete a form verifying that its program is state-approved and meets the Illinois requirements.

Illinois also requires the completion of courses for teaching ESL students, special education students and reading methods. See a list of approved courses at the state Board of Education website.

Required Exams

No matter which grade level you teach, you must pass a basic skills test requirement. To do this, you must submit your ACT or SAT exam scores. Check the Illinois State Board of Education website for required test scores based on when you took the exam.

Teachers must also take the edTPA, a test that covers teaching standards in your particular area of specialization, and this is usually completed after one's student teaching.

Then, you must take an exam specific to your specialization and/or grade level. For middle and high school teachers, this is in the specific subject you want to teach. Special education teachers take an exam based on their specific special education area.

Whichever exams you have to take, you can register for the tests at the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) website.

Applying for Your Certification

Once you've completed your testing and education requirements, you can apply for the Professional Educator License online through the Illinois State Board of Education website. You must also send relevant transcripts and forms confirming your teaching experience via email or regular mail.

After your application is accepted and you receive your license, you must pay registration fees. As of 2019, it was $10 per year.

Renewing Your License and Adding Endorsements

The Illinois teaching license is valid for five years. To be able to renew after five years, you must complete 120 hours of professional development. In addition, once you have your initial license, you can get certified in additional areas and add those as endorsements to your certificate.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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