How to Become a Teacher in Kansas
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Kansas, situated in the heart of the United States, boasts Midwestern hospitality and a low cost of living. The state has many small, rural communities as well as sprawling large cities like Wichita and Topeka.
Teacher salaries in Kansas are becoming more competitive. Although pay for educators has been historically lower than the national average, Kansas has seen a salary increase of 9.5% between 2018 and 2020, which is higher than the national average increase (8%) for teacher salaries.
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Ready to Start Your Journey?
With several Kansas colleges offering degrees in teaching, future educators have several options for pursuing a traditional path to teacher licensure. For those who have not completed a degree in education, there are paths for going back to college to earn a teaching degree and to complete a licensure program.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Kansas?
The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) outlines the various ways in which you can obtain your Kansas teaching license. In order to become a licensed teacher, you must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university as well as a state-approved teacher preparation program.
First-time applicants must also complete one year or at least eight credits of accredited teaching experience, commonly referred to as student teaching, which is typically part of the university teacher preparation program.
To teach in Kansas, you will need to pass tests, like the Praxis, in the specific content areas you wish to be certified in as well as a Praxis pedagogy assessment.
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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
Teaching in Kansas requires that those seeking an initial teaching license meet the following minimum education requirements:
- Hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
- Complete a teacher education preparation program
- Complete at least eight credits or one academic year of student teaching
As long as you complete a state-approved teacher education preparation program, you should meet the minimum education requirements for the state of Kansas. Consult with an advisor to make sure your degree program will prepare you for Kansas requirements.
The type of degree you complete will depend on your specific teaching plans. For instance, you may enroll in a bachelor's in elementary education program if you are interested in pursuing an elementary teaching career.
However, if you are interested in teaching high school English, you can complete a bachelor's in English degree while also satisfying the requirements for a certificate in secondary education.
Check with each program to see if the school requires minimum GPAs or if you need to maintain certain letter grades in program-specific classes in order to graduate.
Gain Student Teaching Experience
KSDE requires at least eight credit hours or one year of student teaching experience in order to apply for your initial teaching license.
However, each college may have differing student teaching requirements for their education degree programs. Wichita State University, for example, requires a 10-credit internship that is a one-semester course.
Students enrolled in a student teaching course get real-life teaching experience under the supervision of a mentor teacher.
Participants learn to create and implement lesson plans, assess student growth, and monitor classroom behavior. Universities may require students to be evaluated on their teaching or submit lesson plans for review.
Pass Required Certification Tests
Regardless of what age group or content area you wish to teach, all prospective teachers must take and earn a passing score on the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) Praxis exam. Applicants will choose from PLT exams in:
- Early childhood
- Grades K-6
- Grades 5-9
- Grades 7-12
- Grades pre-K-12
Which exam you take is determined by which grades you will be teaching.
Along with the PLT Praxis exam, you may also have to take a Praxis exam in specific content areas to earn endorsement. For example, to teach secondary English language arts, you would need to pass an English Language Arts Content Knowledge Praxis exam.
Apply for Certification
Once you have completed your minimum teaching requirements, you can apply for your initial Kansas teaching license. You will create an account through the Kansas Licensure Application System.
The application may ask for your official transcripts and official Praxis test scores. Along with providing evidence of meeting your minimum requirements for initial licensing, you will also need to submit fingerprints and pay a $50 fingerprint fee in addition to the application fee.
Applications typically take 4-8 weeks to process.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Kansas?
In order to maintain a Kansas state teaching license, teachers must complete professional development hours. The number of hours needed depends on whether the applicant holds a bachelor's degree or a master's degree.
When candidates with a bachelor's degree and an initial teaching license have finished at least 160 hours of approved professional development, they are eligible to apply for a professional teaching license. Candidates with a master's degree require only 120 hours of professional development to recertify.
Professional teaching licenses need to be renewed every five years.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Kansas
Kansas is experiencing an increased demand for teaching jobs. Although all of education has a need for teachers, some teaching positions are in higher demand than others.
U.S. high school teaching jobs are projected to increase by 8% from 2020-2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Likewise, kindergarten and elementary teaching positions are projected to increase 7% during that same time.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for U.S. teachers ranged from $60,660-$62,870, as of May 2020, depending on the grade level taught. Several factors contribute to a teacher's salary: years of experience, level of education, and location. You may also earn a bonus for accepting a hard-to-fill position.
Olathe Public Schools, the largest school district in Kansas, compensates teachers on a pay scale, which is a common system for school districts across the United States. The Olathe teacher salary schedule allows educators to earn higher salaries for their years of teaching experience and the years of educational training they have completed.
Completing a master's degree in education bumps you up on the pay scale and could also help you stand out when applying for teaching jobs.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Kansas
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers can work in a variety of roles. They can teach a content area to students who require special education instruction in subjects like math or reading. Or they may work with students 18-21 who are enrolled in a transition services program.
Special education teachers adapt curriculum for students with physical, mental, emotional, or learning disabilities.
Prospective special education teachers must receive passing scores on the PLT Praxis exam and the applicable special education Praxis exams.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $61,500
High School Science Teacher
High school science teachers will usually teach specific science courses, such as chemistry, biology, or Earth sciences. As a science teacher, you must be comfortable creating assessments and using assessment results to inform your teaching.
High school science teachers plan engaging lessons and typically teach several blocks of classes a day with one or more planning periods.
Secondary science teachers must earn passing scores on the PLT Praxis exam and content-specific Praxis exams like biology, chemistry, or Earth sciences.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $62,870
Middle School Math Teacher
Typically, middle school math teachers work with grades 6-8, differentiating math lessons to meet the unique needs of each student. Along with creating engaging math lessons, many middle school math teachers collaborate with other grade-level teachers as a set grade-level team.
Completing a middle school (5-9) mathematics content Praxis exam along with the PLT Praxis exam is required for licensure.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $60,810
English Language Learner (ELL) Teachers
Certified ELL teachers are a valuable part of the educational team for a child who is learning English. ELL teachers collaborate with classroom teachers to make content accessible for students.
They also support the reading and writing instruction for students. ELL teachers administer tests and assess student growth in the English language.
In order to become a licensed ELL teacher in Kansas, you must complete the English to speakers of other languages Praxis and the PLT Praxis exams.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $55,350
As special educators, gifted teachers work with students who have been identified as advanced students and create individualized instruction to meet the needs of each of their driven students.
Gifted teachers identify goals for students to work on and develop lessons to help each student meet their academic goal.
Licensed gifted teachers must pass the PLT Praxis exam and the gifted education Praxis exam.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $61,500
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Kansas
How do I get teaching certification in Kansas?
In order to get teaching certification in Kansas, you must complete a bachelor's degree program from a state-approved accredited college or university. And you must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.
Other requirements include meeting minimum student teaching hours, passing state exams, and passing a background check.
Nontraditional paths to teaching certification exist as well. Whether or not you qualify for an alternative license depends on many factors. You can contact KDSE to figure out if you are a candidate for alternative licensure.
Can I teach in Kansas without certification?
You may be able to find teaching positions at private schools without a teaching certificate. In order to work as a teacher in a public school, you will need to hold a teaching license.
If you already hold a bachelor's or master's degree and are interested in becoming a teacher, you could pursue a Restricted Teaching License Alternative Pathway that allows you to accept a teaching position while completing license requirements.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Kansas?
For people pursuing a bachelor's degree to satisfy the requirements of an initial teaching license, the process for becoming a teacher in Kansas takes about four years.
You may be able to accelerate the process depending on previous credits earned or by finding an accelerated program.
For those seeking an alternative path to a teaching license, you may be able to earn your teaching license in less than two years depending on whether you already hold a bachelor's or master's degree.
What can I do with teaching certification in Kansas?
When you earn your teaching certification, you are licensed to be a classroom teacher in the state of Kansas. Your specific certification determines which age groups and content you are licensed to teach.
Those who have completed teaching licensure may also decide to pursue careers in educational consulting, tutoring, or curriculum writing.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Kansas?
To become a standard licensed substitute teacher in Kansas, you need to hold a degree from an accredited university and have completed a teacher preparation program. As of spring 2022, Kansas is also accepting emergency substitute licenses.
Applicants need to have at least 60 credit hours from an accredited university.
Both types of substitute licenses require you to submit fingerprints and to complete the application on the KSDE website.
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