How to Become a Teacher in Iowa
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Several of Iowa's metropolitan areas, including Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, rank among the best places in the U.S. for teachers. Iowa is dedicated to helping its educators with an official state website of career listings.
Employment opportunities for teachers in Iowa are estimated to grow 8% from 2014 to 2024. The median Iowa teacher's salary is $58,150 as of 2022.
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To earn an Iowa teaching certificate, candidates must first complete a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Iowa then offers two paths to becoming a teacher.
The traditional path requires coursework and 14 weeks of student teaching in Iowa. There are in-person and online colleges in Iowa to earn an initial teaching license.
For those with a degree in a teaching field, the alternative pathway requires only 12-18 credits of teaching coursework to earn an intern license. After one year of teaching in Iowa full-time and a few more credits, these educators can receive a full teacher's license.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Iowa?
An Iowa teaching certification allows graduates to teach in the certified subject area(s) at the specified education level. For example, a teacher may be certified for general primary education or mathematics for secondary education.
Types of educator certifications in Iowa include an intern teaching license, an initial teaching license, a standard teaching license, and a master educator teaching license.
Newly licensed educators receive an initial teaching license. The standard teaching license is granted after two years of teaching in Iowa at a public school or three years at an accredited private school or out-of-state.
Iowa offers a regional exchange teaching license for out-of-state educators.
Popular Online Teaching Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
Students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to get a teaching certificate in Iowa. There are then two pathways to earning a teaching license in Iowa.
The traditional path requires attendance at an approved teacher preparation program and a 14-week teaching internship. Many of these programs require students to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5 or 2.75.
The other path is open to students with a degree in a field of education. This requires 12-18 credits of additional coursework before an intern teaching license is granted.
Some bachelor's degree programs include teacher licensure. Specialization options include education degrees in art, mathematics, social studies, science, and special education.
The minimum education requirements for a standard Iowa teaching license include:
- An accredited bachelor's degree
- Completion of all teaching program requirements
- Completion of endorsement requirements for the subject and grade level
- Passing the Praxis pedagogy and Praxis subject tests
Gain Student Teaching Experience
For standard teacher education programs, 14 weeks of student teaching is required. This is usually completed in the final semester of the teacher education program.
Iowa prefers educators to gain student teaching experience in the relevant subject area. Additional experience to understand Iowa's model educator system is useful but not required.
For students with an intern teacher license, one year working as a full-time teacher is required to earn a standard teaching license.
In addition, some colleges require relevant field experience to enter a teacher education program. The University of Iowa, for example, requires 10 hours of relevant field experience.
Pass Required Certification Tests
To earn a teaching license in Iowa, candidates must complete an approved program for the endorsement they plan to teach. There are more than 100 endorsements available in Iowa.
Endorsements are grade and subject-specific. For example, one endorsement is middle school math, while another is grades 5-12 science.
Candidates for Iowa teaching licenses are required to pass at least two exams: a Praxis® pedagogy exam and subject-specific Praxis® exams. Teachers may earn endorsements in more than more subjects if they meet the endorsement requirements.
Apply for Certification
To apply for certification in Iowa, educators must fill out an online application form with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners (BoEE). The application fee is $40. Applicants must answer questions and upload educational transcripts. The BoEE provides detailed instructions on the process.
In addition, all teachers in Iowa must pass a background check and pay a $75 background check fee. Mandatory reporter training is required every three years. It is available online.
The online application can be completed in under an hour. Processing times can take up to six weeks or longer.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Iowa?
Educators in Iowa must maintain an active, valid certification. A valid, active Iowa teaching license allows educators to teach. An educator that has met all requirements, but whose license is expired cannot teach.
To renew an initial teaching license or expired license, educators must complete the application for conversion from an initial to a standard license. The same form is used for each subsequent renewal application. The renewal fee is $85.
All teachers must meet the licensure renewal requirements for continuing education credits. A standard teaching license renewal requires six credits. Credits must be relevant to license or endorsement areas.
After five years of teaching, educators may apply for a master's teaching license through the same webpage.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Iowa
Individuals in teaching careers are in demand in Iowa. Licensed teaching professionals can search for jobs on the Iowa government website.
To further meet the demand for teachers, Iowa has created a fast-track program and a program for military personnel to become teachers. The state government maintains a list of areas of teacher shortages, which is updated annually.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean salary for elementary and secondary teachers in Iowa is $55,970. For college and university teachers, the mean salary is $86,640.
Job opportunities for high school teachers are projected to grow 8% from 2020-30. Postsecondary teacher positions are projected to grow 12% during the same time frame, according to the BLS.
A master's degree in education opens the possibility of a significant salary increase for education careers in Iowa. Many community colleges and some 4-year institutions will accept a master's degree with experience for professor positions.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Iowa
Earth Science Teacher (Grades 5-12)
Earth science is geoscience related to the earth. It encompasses biology, chemistry, and physical structures related to the earth's spheres. The curriculum covers the earth's oceans, geology, and nature.
Median Annual Salary:
Early Childhood Education Teacher
Early childhood education encompasses the years from birth to eight years old. The early years of education lay the foundation for lifelong academic and social growth. Early childhood educators focus on children's physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language development.
Median Annual Salary:
World Language Teacher
Language teachers help students to write, speak, and understand a foreign language. They also introduce students to the culture and literature of the language. There is currently a demand for teachers of all world languages in Iowa.
Median Annual Salary:
Deaf or Hard of Hearing Educator
Educators for deaf or hard of hearing students must demonstrate fluency in American Sign Language. Some positions require educators to move with students to classes, while other positions offer a full-time classroom.
Median Annual Salary: $61,500
Social Studies Teacher (all levels)
Social studies teachers present a curriculum that studies the world's societies. In Iowa, this includes immigration and migration, world religions and cultures, U.S. government, economics, U.S. and world history.
Median Annual Salary:
- $62,870 for high school teachers
- $60,880 for middle school teachers
- $60,660 for elementary school teachers
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Iowa
How do I get teaching certification in Iowa?
To get a teaching certification in Iowa, you need a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Iowa then offers two pathways for individuals to become teachers.
In the traditional pathway, you will need to complete an educator preparation program. A part of this program is one semester or 14 weeks of student teaching in Iowa.
In the alternate pathway, you only need to complete 12-14 credits before receiving an intern teaching license. This pathway is open to anyone whose bachelor's degree is in a teaching-related field.
After one year of teaching full-time, intern teachers can apply for a standard teaching license. This pathway is for high school teachers only.
Can I teach in Iowa without certification?
No, you cannot teach in Iowa without certification. Even if you hold a teaching license that has expired, you are not allowed to teach.
Teachers in Iowa must have a valid teaching license in their subject area endorsement. That means that a 5-12 teacher endorsed in science, for example, cannot teach literature.
On the other hand, Iowa facilitates teachers' license renewal. Teachers from other states can also apply to receive a teaching license in Iowa. Iowa recognizes many non-traditional teaching programs from other states. Check with the BoEE to determine eligibility.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Iowa?
Getting a standard teaching license can take seven years. Candidates must first complete an accredited bachelor's degree. If the bachelor's degree is in a teaching field from an approved Iowa institution, students may then be eligible to apply for an initial teaching license.
Otherwise, teachers will need to take an additional 24 credits or more for specific endorsements.
Educators must then teach full-time for two years in a public school or three years in an accredited private school to be eligible to apply for a standard teaching license.
What can I do with teaching certification in Iowa?
There are four main teaching certifications in Iowa: intern, initial, standard, and master. New teachers will earn either an intern or an initial teaching license. This allows them to teach full-time until they can apply for a standard teaching license.
With a teaching certification in Iowa, an educator is certified to teach in their endorsement field(s).
Endorsement fields vary by subject and grade level. An educator with an endorsement in post-secondary physics, for example, is qualified to teach physics at the college or university level.
A full list of Iowa endorsements is available from the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Iowa?
Substitute teachers in Iowa need a paraeducator certification. This involves a 90-hour preparation program. The prerequisite for this program is a high school diploma.
Paraeducators can do an additional 45 hours of training in a concentration area through a paraeducator certification program. Paraeducators must also complete mandatory reporter training for children and dependent adults.
Iowa recently reduced restrictions on substitute teachers in response to an emergency need. As of February 15, 2022, all types of licensed educators are approved for substitute teaching in Iowa for up to 90 days per placement.
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