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Michigan Teacher Programs and Careers

There are 842 open school districts in the state of Michigan, which spent $14 billion in 2018 to support education. That support helped more than 80% of the state’s youth graduate from high school. Nearly 86,000 of these graduates continued their education, going on to pursue college studies.  Unfortunately for the state’s young minds, Michigan is experiencing a crippling teacher shortage, according to a recent report from The Detroit News. In the Upper Peninsula alone, 29 of 36 districts are facing shortages, with some districts receiving zero applications for positions that have been open and advertised for years.

If you’re passionate about education and motivated to channel that passion into a career as a teacher, there are few places where your talents and ambitions are more needed than in Michigan. If you have the training, education, and preparation to be a successful teacher, you can leverage these assets into a rewarding career in the Great Lakes State.

This page will break down the training, education, and preparation required to become a teacher in Michigan. It will also cover the certification process, salaries and costs, and programs and incentives you can use to offset those costs on your quest to educate young minds in a state that’s in dire need of good teachers.

How to Become a Teacher in Michigan

There are several different paths to becoming a teacher in Michigan, depending on things like your background and what kind of teacher you want to be.

Traditional Teaching Route

You don’t need a master’s degree in education to teach in Michigan. You must, however, complete an undergraduate program. You don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree in education specifically, but it helps. That’s because Michigan requires all prospective teachers to complete a teacher preparation program for their area of concentration, such as math, elementary, or English education. If you enter your undergraduate studies with the intention of becoming a teacher, that component will be included in your bachelor’s program.

You’ll also need to complete required reading courses—three semester credit hours for secondary teachers and six for elementary. If you follow the traditional pathway at the undergraduate level, the required reading will be part of your coursework. If you pursue the traditional route post-baccalaureate, it will be included in your teacher preparation program. In addition, you’ll have to complete a first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation course, through which you can earn required certification from the American Heart Association, the Red Cross, or a comparable approved organization. Finally, you’ll have to take and pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC).

There are also two other traditional pathways:

  • Accelerated: This is an option if you’ve already completed a bachelor’s degree and you demonstrate the ability to leverage what the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) calls “demonstrated skills to complete the program in an accelerated manner.” Several Michigan colleges and universities offer accelerated programs, which include your required reading credits.
  • Accelerated residency: You can consider this option if you have a bachelor’s degree, you want to pursue certification while you work full time as a teacher, and you have a demonstrated skill or expertise in a specific field. This option also covers the required reading component.

It’s important to note that you must pass the MTTC no matter which traditional path you choose.

Alternative Teaching in Michigan

You can also pursue alternative teacher certification. This pathway lets you work full time as a teacher under what’s called an interim certificate while you’re working toward full Michigan teacher certification.

The interim certificate is good for five years. It can’t be renewed under any circumstances and you can’t add any endorsements to it. In order to keep the interim certificate in good standing, you must remain enrolled in the alternative route preparation program. To progress from an interim certificate to a standard teaching certificate, you’ll have to complete the alternative route program, get a recommendation from the program provider, and successfully work as a teacher for three years.

The requirements for the alternative teaching pathway aren’t any less stringent than for the traditional route—you still have to meet all requirements specified under Michigan state law. In fact, the standards are actually a bit higher for the alternative route.

You must have a conferred bachelor’s degree and you must have completed your undergraduate program with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You must also pass the MTTC test, but in this case, you’re required to take and pass the exam—along with all program requirements specific to your provider—before you’re approved for the alternative pathway.

Keep in mind that the alternative route is not an option for special education and early childhood endorsements and that this path also requires you to complete a CPR course.

Michigan Teaching Certifications and Licensing

In order to become a certified teacher, you’ll have to:

    • Earn a bachelor’s degree
    • Complete an approved teacher preparation program if the coursework wasn’t covered in your undergraduate degree program
    • Complete all required reading courses
    • Choose from the following certification pathways: traditional, accelerated, accelerated residency, alternative, or, if applicable, career and technical education (CTE)
    • Satisfy all requirements for your specific pathway
    • Take and pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC). Unlike many other states, Michigan does not administer the Praxis exam.

<liComplete all required clinical practicum experiences: The state of Michigan is currently debating whether to update current teacher preparation standards. If accepted, the new standards would require you to complete a minimum of 600 combined clinical hours in the form of a student-teacher/mentor apprenticeship and an internship.

Finally, you’ll have to renew your certificate throughout your career. A standard teacher certificate is good for five years, and with each renewal, a new five-year period begins. To keep your certificate in good standing, you’ll have to either:

  • Complete 150 hours of professional learning related to education
  • Earn a master’s degree or higher
  • Present a valid out-of-state teacher certificate

The final two options may be used for renewal only once. Approved professional learning options are outlined by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).

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Education Degree Costs in Michigan

Here’s a look at how much you can expect to pay to attend college in the state of Michigan. Keep in mind that costs vary based on criteria such as program of choice, number of credit hours, and the particular school.

How Much do Education Programs in Michigan Cost?

Michigan is home to more than 20 public colleges and universities, 15 of which are in the Michigan Association of State Universities . Among them, the average cost of tuition and mandatory fees is $10,274 or $18,845 for out-of-state residents. That’s about $349 or $676 per credit hour. The average cost of books and supplies is $3,003, and average living costs are $10,147 if you live on campus and $9,181 if you don’t. Private colleges and universities almost always cost significantly more.

Tuition Assistance, Scholarships, and Loan Forgiveness Programs for Teachers in Michigan

Aside from standard student financial aid packages, scholarships, and grants, you can take advantage of financial incentives specific to Michigan and to the field of education.

    • TEACH grants: Whether you’re planning to complete an education-related program or even if you’ve already started one, you might be eligible for a federal TEACH grant, which offers up to $4,000 if you’re interested in working in an underserved field in a low-income school.
    • Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program: If you work for at least five years as a full-time teacher in a low-income school, you could be eligible for as much as $17,500 on Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, as well as Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.
    • Critical Shortages Federal Loan Forgiveness: In an effort to combat Michigan’s critical teacher shortages, the MDE is required by law to create two annual lists of subject areas with the most open positions or where shortages are the most acute. If one of these areas is your specialty, you could be eligible for several loan forgiveness programs.
    • Affording College in Michigan: The state compiled a comprehensive guidebook for students and families with a broad range of financial aid, tuition reimbursement, and other awards and incentives not just for teachers, but all prospective college students in the Great Lakes State. All information is current and up to date for 2019-20.
    • Learn about the dozens of scholarship programs available to students in Michigan.

<li>MI Student Aid: Learn about specialty grants and scholarships available in Michigan.

Career Outlook for Educators in Michigan

  • The number of elementary school teachers in Michigan is expected to grow from 36,540 in 2016 to 38,600 in 2026. That’s about 2,840 annual projected job openings for lukewarm job growth of 6%. Projected growth in the country as a whole is 7%.
  • Job growth for middle school teachers is also expected to grow by 6% in Michigan, compared to 7% in the overall country, with the state moving from 14,240 middle school teachers in 2016 to 15,060 in 2026. That’s about 1,110 annual projected job openings.
  • When it comes to secondary school teachers, job growth in the United States is projected at 8%. In Michigan, however, it’s just 6%, with the number of positions set to grow from 19,440 to 20,570 between 2016-2026. That’s about 1,470 annual projected job openings.

2018 Median Teaching Salaries in Michigan

  • Elementary: $66,180 per year
  • Secondary: $64,540 per year
  • Post-Secondary*: $117,390 per year

Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

*Average of all individual post-secondary teaching salaries provided by BLS.

State Resources

Knowledge and networking are critical for you to succeed on your journey to becoming a certified teacher. Check out these helpful resources as you progress.

  • Michigan Department of Education: MDE is the state’s official governing body. You’ll find information on everything from laws and school data to job openings and district information.
  • Michigan Education Association (MEA):The self-governing education association that is the MEA represents 125,000 teachers and support professionals. The organization has roots dating back to 1852.
  • Michigan Association of Teacher Educators (MATE): MATE is dedicated to developing and maintaining quality teacher education and preparation programs.
  • Michigan Council for the Social Studies (MCSS): MCSS maintains a representative in the MDE, testifies at educational hearings, and advocates for pro-teacher legislation and policy. It also offers resources and professional development programs to teachers, often at a discount.
  • Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MIAEYC): There are far more elementary school teachers in Michigan than there are middle or secondary school teachers. MIAEYC promotes high-quality education programs and standards for the state’s youngest students and advocates for the tens of thousands of teachers who educate them.


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