Find an Education Path For Teaching in Illinois, IL

Once the decision has been made to become a teacher, the level of education completed determines the next steps.

Choose Your Highest Level of Education:

Look over the information below and discover steps you should take to become a teacher in Illinois.

If You Have a High School Diploma or a GED

Having a high school diploma or a GED opens doors to many institutions of higher learning that can lead you to a teaching career in Illinois. Bachelor’s degree programs typically require applicants to have a high school diploma.

  1. Learn about accredited schools that offer Associate degrees or Bachelor’s degrees focusing on education, child development, specific academic content areas or student populations.
  2. Decide what grade level and subject area you are interested in teaching.
  3. The Illinois Department of Education recommends that, once you decide what you want to teach, the next step is to attend a four-year college and earn a Bachelor in Education degree, with a major in the subject area and grade level you hope to teach.
  4. Aspiring teachers can enroll at a two-year or community college and earn transferable credits, an Associate degree or certification in the field of Early Childhood Education.
  5. Contact colleges that fit your needs, and request information to help with making a decision about which school to attend and what degree program to pursue.

If You Have Completed Some College or Earned an Associate’s Degree

Attending a community college and earning an Associate’s degree is a valuable step toward becoming a teacher in Illinois. Taking community college classes before entering a Bachelor’s degrees program may provide some necessary prerequisites for courses in the four-year program.

  1. Many community college credits can be transferred to public and independent four-year colleges and universities, where students can complete a Bachelor’s degree that may lead to an Illinois teaching certificate.
  2. Investigate various state-approved Bachelor’s degree programs to find out which ones will accept transfer credits from the college you attended. Contact the schools that interest you to request more information.
  3. Attending an Illinois community college or another two-year college is an essential step toward earning an Associate degree. Some Illinois community colleges offer programs that lead to Associate of Science Liberal Arts And Sciences degrees in Early Childhood Education, Childhood Education and Adolescence Education. Illinois community college graduates who have earned an Associate degree, may have enough prerequisites and transferable credits to be admitted as Juniors to a four-year Illinois university. Continuing your education by pursuing and earning a Bachelor’s degree in Education will lead you closer to a teaching credential.
  4. Some aspiring teachers, who have earned Associate Degrees or Credentials in Early Childhood Education, choose to begin working with infants, toddlers and pre-school children. They may be eligible for employment as assistants or teachers in early child education programs, including child care centers, preschools and Head Start classrooms.

If You Have a Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution is essential to qualify for an Illinois Teaching Certificate. If you want to teach in Illinois and already have a Bachelor’s degree, the next steps toward teacher certification will often depend on your undergraduate major.

  1. If you have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education that included an accredited Teacher Preparation Program, you will have fulfilled many essential academic and teacher preparation requirements. Successful completion of all degree and teacher preparation requirements will qualify you to apply for an Initial teaching license.
  2. Receiving a Bachelor’s degree with a major in liberal studies can be an important step toward certification as an Elementary level teacher. Many certification programs recommend the Liberal Arts major, because it prepares educators to teach the many different subject areas taught in Elementary school classrooms.
  3. Illinois teaching candidates who earn a Bachelor’s degree in a major other than Education, or who have not finished a Teacher Preparation requirement, must complete a Teacher Preparation Program at a regionally accredited institution. Before being admitted to a teacher certification program, all candidates must pass the state-required Basic Skills Test. Mandatory educator preparation can be completed in a stand-alone Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Preparation program or as an integral part of earning a Master’s in Education degree.
  4. If you received a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in the specific subject you wish to teach, you may already have satisfied certain academic requirements recommended by many credential programs. Majoring in a specific subject that is commonly taught at the secondary school level, prepares individuals to be endorsed or qualified to teach high school and middle school classes in that content area.
  5. Once you have successfully completed all academic and experiential requirements in either a standard or alternative teacher certification program, you are ready to begin the multi-phased application process that will lead to your certification as an Illinois educator.
  6. All prospective teachers must pass mandatory tests before applying for certification or licensing with the Illinois State Board of Education.
    • The Basic Skills Test assesses reading comprehension, grammar, writing and math.
    • The Content-Area Tests align with the Illinois Learning Standards for each subject area endorsement attached to a teaching certificate. The content-area tests are also required for the issuance of additional endorsements.
    • The Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) assesses candidates on professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills.

If You Have a Master’s Degree or Are in a Master’s Degree Program

Master’s degrees in Education typically offer a course of study that includes an Accredited Teacher Preparation Program that has been approved by the state of Illinois. If your Master’s degree major was not Education, a Teacher Preparation Program must be completed prior to applying for a teaching credential. You can move forward in a few different directions once you have earned a Master’s degree.

  1. Colleges and universities in Illinois offer various education-based Master’s degrees, which include: Master of Education, Master of Arts in Education, Master of Science in Education or Master of Arts in Teaching. These degrees combine academic courses with a Teaching Credential program, and completing this degree is a major step towards becoming a credentialed educator.
  2. If you are ready to begin your teaching career, you must demonstrate that you have completed all requirements, which include finishing the academic coursework, passing the required tests and fulfilling student teaching. The next step is to apply for your teaching certificate and begin searching for a teaching job. Contact the Illinois Department of Education to request information and an application.
  3. Some people who have earned a Master’s degree in Education may decide to continue their education and pursue a Doctorate in Education. Illinois has a variety of Educational Doctoral Programs. Gather information to discover the best school and program for you.