Iowa Teaching Licensure and Certification

Iowa’s education system offers a number of different teaching licenses. An aspiring teacher’s background and education will determine which option is most suitable. Most teachers begin with a Class A license, an Initial license or an Exchange license. Iowa requires all teacher candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree, pass the PRAXIS I test and complete a “core of liberal arts knowledge,” consisting of courses in the humanities, natural sciences and the social sciences. The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners Requirements for Licenses sets the requirements.

Class A License

  • Iowa’s Class A license is valid for one year, and it is
  • not renewable. The Iowa Class A License allows qualified candidates to be certified to teach while still completing the Iowa state requirements.
  • The Class A License may be issued when following conditions are met:
  • The candidate has completed a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • An approved Teacher Preparation Program has been successfully completed at an accredited college, university or another institution of higher learning.
  • The required components in the Iowa Professional Education Core have not yet been completed.
  • The candidate meets Recency requirements for a valid license but has less than 160 days of teaching during last 5-year period.
  • The candidate has finished the required Human Relations training, which consists of developing awareness of different groups of students and staff, recognizing and dealing with dehumanizing biases and learning to relate effectively to various groups in order to foster respect for human diversity.

Once a candidate has completed all Iowa requirements for a Class A license, including a bachelor’s degree, a teacher preparation program, the human relations component, teaching endorsement (s); and has accomplished this within Iowa’s residency requirements, the candidate will qualify for a two-year Initial license.

Initial License

Iowa’s Initial teaching license is valid for two years, and it is renewable under prescribed circumstances. To qualify for the Initial license, candidates must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Receive a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college, university or another educational institution.
  • Meet the state’s Recency requirement for a valid license, with less than 160 days of teaching during last 5-year period.
  • Complete an approved Teacher Preparation Program.
  • Participate in Student Teaching, which is co-required while completing the Human Relations Component.
  • Complete the approved human relations component, which consists of training created to develop awareness of a diverse community of people; recognize and deal with dehumanizing biases, and learn to relate effectively to various groups in order to foster respect for human diversity. Emphasis on self-awareness in human relations issues and how this can be translated into positive relationships with others.
  • Complete requirements for a Teaching Endorsement, which is a statement on the certificate that identifies the grade level or subject matter area that the candidate is authorized to teach.

In addition to the required number of content area semester hours for each endorsement area, candidates who are seeking to add endorsements to teach other subject areas or grade levels, will have to complete other elements of the professional education core. These additional elements, which relate specifically to the grade and subject area of the new desired endorsement, may include the following:

  • Human growth and development.
  • Classroom management.
  • Instructional planning and strategies for teaching.
  • Curriculum organization, development.
  • Methods of teaching.
  • Student teaching.

Standard License

The Standard teaching license is valid for five years and
renewable under certain circumstances.

To satisfy the requirements for a Standard license, the candidate must have completed all mandatory steps for acquiring an Initial license. These include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Completion of an approved teacher preparation program.
  • Completion of an approved human relations component.
  • Completion of requirements for a teaching endorsement.
  • Meets the Recency requirement.

The candidate who is applying for a Standard license must present official evidence attesting that the candidate has completed two years of successful teaching experience based on a local evaluation process.

Master Educator

The Master Educator license is valid for five years and is
renewable under prescribed conditions.

To qualify for a Master Educator license, the candidate must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold or be eligible for a Standard license.
  • Verify five years of teaching experience.
  • Present official transcripts showing the candidate has earned a Master’s degree in a teaching endorsement area from an accredited university or college
  • Meet the Iowa’s Recency requirements.

Substitute Teaching Certificate

The Substitute Teaching Certificate is valid for five years.
It is renewable under certain circumstances.

A candidate wishing to be granted a Substitute teaching certificate must have or do the following:

  • Hold a full and valid regular license in Iowa or in some other state.
  • Demonstrate successful completion of all requirements for an approved Teacher Preparation Program.
  • Submit a copy of the official out-of-state license.
  • Send copy of official out-of-state transcripts.

Exchange License

Out-of-state teachers must qualify for an Exchange License, which requires candidates to verify specific criteria. To qualify, a candidate must:

  • Not have completed all Iowa requirements for a teaching endorsement.
  • Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Have completed a state-approved and regionally accredited Teacher Education program.
  • Hold a valid and full teaching license from their state, with no disciplinary actions pending.
  • Have passed the testing requirement if less than 3 years experience.
  • Have passed the PRAXIS testing requirement if the candidate wants to obtain an Elementary Teacher Endorsement.
  • Must meet any and all licensure deficiencies during the time- frame of the license.

Iowa does not have reciprocity with any state. All individuals applying for licensure in Iowa must meet Iowa requirements. An evaluation is done to ensure that the coursework completed by the applicant meets Iowa’s minimum requirements.

Alternative Licensure
The Iowa Board of Education also offers an Alternative Licensure that allows individuals to become a high school teacher, if they satisfy specific Iowa Board of Education certain requirements. To qualify for this Alternative license the candidate must:

  • Have completed coursework for a secondary teaching endorsement.
  • Have three years of post-baccalaureate work experience.
  • Have completed the introductory Teacher Intern program.

Elementary Teachers

Elementary teacher candidates are required to:

  • Select a subject-matter specialization, as part of a 30-semester-hour teaching major.
  • Complete coursework in methods and materials used in the teaching of elementary language arts, reading, mathematics, science, social studies, children’s literature and elementary curriculum.
  • Pass the Praxis II, a general subject-matter test and either a Praxis content knowledge test or a test combining content and pedagogical knowledge.

Secondary School Teachers

To satisfy requirements for middle and secondary school credentials, candidates are expected to demonstrate the following:

  • Already have a valid license with a general elementary endorsement or a subject-matter secondary level endorsement.
  • Complete 12 semester hours in two content core subjects, including language arts, science, social studies and mathematics.
  • Candidates who plan to teach middle school through high school (grades 5 – 12) are required to complete a major in their chosen content area(s).
  • Middle school teachers in Iowa are not required to pass a subject-matter test for licensure
  • Secondary teachers are not required to pass a test of pedagogy.
  • Iowa requires teachers who seek to be licensed instructors for grades 5 – 12 to obtain content-area-specific endorsements or recommendations from the secondary school(s).

Teacher Intern License

Iowa offers an alternate route to certification through the Teacher Intern license program. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree and passing the PRAXIS I test, the following are required:

  • Candidates’ transcripts must demonstrate previous academic performance with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5.
  • Candidates must meet the minimum coursework requirements to obtain endorsements in their subject areas.
  • Candidates must have had a minimum of three years of work experience.
  • Candidates must pass a basic skills test, however a subject-matter test is not required and cannot be used in lieu of coursework.
  • Coursework requirements for the Teacher Intern program are set by The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners and include classes in:
  • Learning environment and classroom management, instructional planning, instructional strategies, student-learning collaboration, ethics and relationships, diverse learners and assessment.
  • Other required coursework focuses on: reflection, professional development, communication and teaching exceptional learners.
  • All Teacher Interns are required to complete classes in reading strategies and computer technology, so they can integrate reading strategies into their content area and understand computer technology as it relates to classroom instruction.
  • Candidates are required to participate in 50 contact hours of field experience. This provides an opportunity for interns to interact with students in an environment that supports learning in context.
  • Each candidate must work with an assigned district mentor who provides supervision and support.
  • Alternate route candidates are eligible for full certification upon successful program completion, which is usually two years.
  • Teacher interns are authorized to teach grades 7 – 12. The term of the intern license will be one year from the date of issuance. This license is nonrenewable.