How to Become a Teacher in Massachusetts

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In this guide, readers will learn how to become a teacher in Massachusetts. Aspiring teachers in this state need a bachelor's degree and a teaching license. In May 2020, elementary school teachers in Massachusetts earned the second-highest average annual wage for teachers in the country, at $84,810. The same year, secondary school teachers in Massachusetts earned the third-highest average annual salary at $84,130.

Deciding to go back to college for a teaching degree can be a big step. Readers interested in earning their bachelor's in education should consider the best online colleges in Massachusetts to earn their degree. These schools offer full-time and part-time accredited teaching programs with reasonably priced tuition options.

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After finishing their degree, aspiring teachers in Massachusetts must earn licensure to prove they meet the academic and professional standards of the state.

How Do I Become a Teacher in Massachusetts?

Teaching in Massachusetts requires a bachelor's degree to qualify for certification. Aspiring teachers must submit official college transcripts when applying for a license.

Teaching certification allows elementary and secondary teachers to become full-time employees in schools in the state of Massachusetts. All teachers must pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) to earn their Initial License. In general, teachers must take the Communication and Literacy Skills MTEL and specific subject tests.

Out-of-state teachers who have already passed different licensure exams may earn their Massachusetts license through reciprocity. The Massachusetts Department of Education offers a separate guide for out-of-state teachers.

Meet Minimum Education Requirements

Teachers need at least a bachelor's degree to earn certification in Massachusetts. The state does not list any specific course or credit hour requirements, meaning students do not necessarily need to complete a bachelor's in education to be eligible for a state license.

All teachers must meet the following requirements to qualify for licensure:

  • Hold a bachelor's degree at an accredited university
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program

The most direct route to becoming a licensed teacher is to complete a bachelor's in education. These programs prepare students to become teachers by demonstrating how to build a curriculum plan, give lessons, and incorporate strategies for diverse learners. Aspiring teachers can pursue a bachelor's in education online or in person.

Gain Student Teaching Experience

Teaching certification in Massachusetts also requires student teaching hours. Students earn their hours by teaching in a classroom under supervision. The state requires that aspiring teachers complete 150 student teaching hours before becoming eligible for certification.

Most education degree programs offer student teaching placements for students, partnering with nearby schools to help student teachers get the experience they need. Educators who do not enroll in a bachelor's in education will need to meet this requirement another way.

Student teachers learn how to put together lesson plans, deliver lectures, lead discussions, and grade papers.

Pass Required Certification Tests

All teachers in Massachusetts must pass MTEL tests to earn licensure. How many tests each teacher must take depends on the specific subjects and grade levels that the teacher wishes to teach in their professional career.

For example, most teachers in Massachusetts are required to take the Communication and Literacy Skills MTEL. However, a math teacher may also need to pass one of the following MTEL exams:

  • Elementary mathematics, grades 1-6
  • Middle school mathematics, grades 5-8
  • Mathematics, grades 8-12

Teachers of diverse learners, including teachers of students with disabilities, also need to pass MTEL skill tests for their specialties.

Apply for Certification

Teachers ready to apply for certification should create an account through the state's Educator License and Renewal (ELAR) portal. First-time applicants will need to create a profile. Teachers looking to renew their license only need to log in to their existing account.

After filling out an application, teachers must pay a fee. First-time teachers pay $100 for licensure. Licensure renewal requires an additional fee of $25 each time the license is renewed. Teachers also need to submit their official transcripts to verify that they received a bachelor's degree and submit proof of a passing score on their MTEL examinations.

How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Massachusetts?

All educators holding a professional level license in Massachusetts must renew their license every five years. Requirements for renewal include 150 professional development hours in the following areas:

  • 15 hours in content
  • 15 hours in pedagogy
  • 15 hours related to structured English immersion or English as a second language
  • 15 hours in training strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities and diverse learning styles
  • 90 hours through elective activities that address other educational issues and topics that improve student learning

Teachers can renew their licenses through the ELAR portal. They must pay a fee of $25 for each renewal. Educators who do not renew their licenses within the five-year time frame lose their eligibility for employment as teachers.

Career Outlook for Teachers in Massachusetts

Education careers in Massachusetts at both the elementary and secondary level are ranked in the top 5 for highest annual average wage in the nation, according to the BLS. In May 2020, elementary school teachers earned an average of $84,810, while secondary school teachers earned an average of $84,130.

There are plenty of teaching career opportunities in the state. The number of teachers employed in Massachusetts ranks in the top 15 for all states. Though teachers generally only need a bachelor's degree to teach in Massachusetts, readers may want to consider going to graduate school to make themselves more competitive.

Teachers with a master's degree can also earn a higher salary than their peers with a bachelor's degree. A master's degree is typically necessary for teachers looking to move into school administration.

In-Demand Teaching Careers in Massachusetts

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers teach grades K-5. These professionals instruct students in basic subjects such as math, science, reading, and writing. Unlike most secondary school teachers, elementary school teachers are usually responsible for teaching more than one subject.The BLS projects a 7% job growth for elementary school teachers from 2020-2030.

Median Annual Salary: $60,660


Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students in grades 6-8 in either private or public schools. Like elementary school teachers, many middle school teachers are responsible for teaching more than one subject to students. Middle school teachers must prepare their students for high school. The BLS projects a 7% job growth for middle school teachers from 2020-2030.

Median Annual Salary: $60,810


High School Teachers

High school teachers can teach in public and private schools. Many high school teachers specialize in a single subject — such as math or English — and teach that subject to multiple grade levels. These teachers must prepare students for college admissions and advanced placement courses. The BLS projects an 8% growth in jobs for high school teachers from 2020-2030.

Median Annual Salary: $62,870


Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers specialize in teaching learners with diverse needs. This may include students with intellectual, emotional, and physical disabilities. Special education teachers consult with parents and school counselors to adapt the standard curriculum to suit their students' needs. The BLS projects that jobs for special education teachers will grow by 8% from 2020-2030.

Median Annual Salary: $61,500


Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers offer specialized training for careers such as auto-repair and the culinary arts. Technical educators prepare students for the workforce by teaching practical skills that will help graduates find employment in a trade. The BLS projects a 5% job growth from 2020-2030 for career and technical education teachers.

Median Annual Salary: $59,140


Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Massachusetts

How do I get teaching certification in Massachusetts?

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Aspiring teachers can earn teaching certification by filling out an application, passing the required MTEL examinations, and paying a fee. Teachers also need to show proof of a bachelor's degree by sending in official transcripts with their application. Additionally, they must complete 150 student teaching hours.

Teachers with licensure from other states may not need to take any additional tests if they seek licensure in Massachusetts.

While Massachusetts does not require teachers to earn a bachelor's in education, these degree programs help students meet their student teaching requirements by giving students placements in nearby schools.

Can I teach in Massachusetts without certification?

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To teach in a classroom in the public school system in Massachusetts, teachers must hold a valid and current license from the state. However, teachers may teach in a private school without certification as the state has no jurisdiction over private school approvals. Whether or not private school teachers need licensure depends on each individual school.

Many private schools do require teachers to earn licensure, as this proves to potential parents that teachers meet the independent standards set by the state. Furthermore, any teachers who switch from the private school system to the public school system will need to earn their license.

How long does it take to become a teacher in Massachusetts?

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On average, students need four years to complete their bachelor's degree. Aspiring teachers enrolled in a bachelor's in education will most likely complete their student teaching hours while still in college. Aspiring teachers may need 4-5 years to earn licensure including time to graduate from college and take licensure tests.

Teachers transferring from other states with state licensure and a bachelor's degree will need much less time to become a licensed teacher in Massachusetts. These professionals may earn their licensure through reciprocity and could be eligible to teach in a classroom in less than a year.

What can I do with teaching certification in Massachusetts?

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Teaching certification allows professionals to teach in a classroom at levels K-12. Licensure also permits educators to teach students with special needs. Educators can receive licensure for teaching technical classes like cooking or cosmetology as well.

Educators must have a valid license to teach in the classroom. A professional license in Massachusetts must be renewed every five years. Teachers must complete 150 hours of professional development to renew their license.

How do I become a substitute teacher in Massachusetts?

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Substitute teachers do not need licensure to work in Massachusetts. In most cases, substitute teachers need a bachelor's degree in education or in the field they wish to substitute in (i.e. math or science).

Substitute teachers without a bachelor's degree may still qualify to teach if they have work experience related to the subject and an associate degree. Private schools may set additional requirements for substitute teachers, as they are not governed by the state.

Feature Image: Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

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