Teaching Programs in Illinois
With an eclectic landscape of rural, suburban, and urban areas, Illinois has many challenges to address when it comes to ensuring all students have equal educational opportunities.
Those challenges are heightened because of their teacher shortage in key areas such as special education, English as a second language (ESL), and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). In a 2018 report titled Teach Illinois: Strong Teachers, Strong Classrooms, the Illinois State Board of Education defined these shortages and described policy solutions to address them.
Illinois needs people like you to help fill the gap and secure the future of education. Keep reading to learn more about education programs in Illinois.
How to Become a Teacher in Illinois
To teach in Illinois, you need a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. There are several educational paths you can take to earn your license.
The traditional route for becoming a teacher in Illinois is to first get a bachelor’s degree in education. These programs will include a teacher preparation component. Programs may vary depending on the grade levels and/or subject areas you want to teach. Degree offerings include elementary education, degrees in specific subject areas for middle school or high school, and specialty degrees such as English as a second language (ESL) and special education.
Before graduating you will spend 12 to 16 weeks working as a student-teacher. Once you graduate, you can apply for licensure.
Alternative Teacher Certification
Alternative (non-traditional) teacher certification is an option for those who have a bachelor’s degree in an area other than education but are interested in becoming teachers.
To enter an alternative teaching program, you’ll need to:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree (or higher) from a regionally accredited institution
- Have a GPA of at least 3.0
- Pass the appropriate content test
Alternative teacher certification programs entail some coursework, but the main component is teaching. After taking methods/pedagogical coursework and getting a temporary teaching license, you will spend two years of full time, paid teaching under the guidance of a mentor. Before your second year you may need to complete additional coursework; you will also need to be recommended by the program for the second year.
At the start of your second year, you will be given a performance-based assessment. Upon passing the test and completing the rest of the year, you can exchange your temporary license for a regular teaching license.
Career and Technical Educator Programs
If you have work experience in a recognized occupation you can apply for a license endorsement in career and technical education. Recognized areas include agricultural; business, marketing, and computers; family and consumer sciences; health science technology; and technology and engineering (industrial).
There are three types of career and technical educator licenses. One requires you to document at least 2,000 hours of work and have completed at least 60 semester hours in a career and technical educator program. The other two require a minimum of 8,000 documented work hours.
Scaling Education Pathways In Illinois Program
In May 2019, the Joyce Foundation and Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University announced a new initiative, Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois, that will help eight communities in Illinois build streamlined teacher career pathways. The programs will begin at the high school level and stretch into postsecondary education. About 450 students are expected to participate in the first iteration and would graduate as the class of 2021.
For more information, visit the Joyce Foundation website.
Licensure in Illinois
Illinois has three types of teacher licenses: Professional Educator License (PEL), Educator License with Stipulations (ELS), and Substitute License.
The PEL is the standard license for teachers. It requires a bachelor’s degree with teacher preparation coursework and student teaching experience. In order to earn this license you will need to take a teacher performance test (edTPA) and contents tests, as appropriate.
The ELS is a license for those who have not earned the PEL license but are teaching in Illinois—for example, those in an alternative teacher certification program or career and technical educators.
The Substitute License is required in Illinois for those who wish to be substitute teachers.
For more information about licensure, visit the website of the Illinois State Board of Education.
Paying for Your Education
Illinois has quite a few financial aid opportunities for aspiring teachers, particularly those who are willing to go into high demand specialties. The Illinois Special Education Tuition Waiver Program waives tuition fees for special education teachers who agree to work in Illinois after graduation.
The Illinois Teachers Loan Repayment Program assists students with paying back loans, provided they go on to teach in Illinois schools in low-income areas. A listing of Illinois schools in low-income areas is provided at the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory.
To learn about other financial aid opportunities, refer to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission website.
Career Outlook for Educators in Illinois
Job openings for teachers in Illinois will increase between now and 2026. According to CareerOneStop, average annual job openings at different education levels will be:
|Illinois Mean Teaching Salaries (2018)|
|Elementary:||$62,140 per year|
|Middle School:||$63,660 per year|
|Secondary:||$72,370 per year|
|Post-Secondary:||$77,800 per year (averaged from all mean salaries)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
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