How to Become a Teacher in Minnesota
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Before you can get a teaching job in Minnesota, you must be licensed. In order to be licensed, you must meet the requirements under the tiered licensure system to become a tier one, tier two, tier three, or tier four licensed teacher in Minnesota. This involves attending college and earning a degree.
The median salary for teachers varies depending on where you work. According to Salary.com, the median pay for public school teachers in Minneapolis is $65,650 per year. Demand for teachers is high due to a teacher shortage in Minnesota. Seventy percent of Minnesota school districts report being "somewhat significantly" or "very significantly" impacted by the shortage.
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This guide provides information on how to become a teacher in Minnesota, including information on the tiered licensing program.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Minnesota?
For all subjects except career and technical education and career pathways, teacher certification in Minnesota requires a bachelor of arts (BA) degree. At tier one, that is all that is required. Those who will be teaching career and technical education or career pathways must have either an associate of arts (AA) degree, professional certification, or five years of relevant work experience for tier one licensure.
Each tier adds additional licensing requirements. Some of these requirements include completing a teacher preparation program, completing upper-division credits in the subject area, or passing test scores on content and pedagogy.
Out-of-state teachers can skip directly to tier three with a bachelor's degree, passing scores on content and pedagogy, and two years of teaching experience.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
To qualify for teacher certification in Minnesota, applicants must complete a BA degree. The tiered licensing guide does not specify a certain type of degree, but schools likely look for appropriateness of the degree to teaching or to the subject matter when hiring teachers. For example, a school might hesitate to hire a science teacher with a degree in English. A science-focused degree would be more appropriate.
Career and technical education teachers and career pathways teachers do not need a BA degree. They can be licensed with an associate degree, professional certification in the subject they will be teaching, or five years of relevant work experience.
You do not need to complete a Minnesota-approved teacher preparation program to qualify for tier one licensure. However, it is one of the options for moving up to tier two and is required for tier four.
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Gain Student Teaching Experience
Although most teacher education programs include a student teaching experience, that is not a requirement for applying for licensure with the Minnesota Department of Education. The Minnesota teacher licensure process does not require any experience for tier one licensing. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, student teaching experiences should last at least ten weeks, at least five of which take place in the same location.
Teachers should be strong communicators, with good speaking, writing, and listening skills. They must work well with others and be able to encourage teamwork among students. They should be engaging and value education. They should also be patient and demonstrate empathy to their students.
Pass Required Certification Tests
There is no test required for tier one licensure. However, passing scores on state subject area and pedagogy tests are one of the options for meeting tier two licensure requirements and are required for tier three and tier four. Tier four licensing also requires passing scores on a board-approved skills exam.
There are three different pedagogy tests, based on the grade level of the children being taught. There are tests for early childhood, elementary, and secondary.
There is also a long list of content-area tests. Teachers who are required to take these tests must have passing scores in every subject that they teach. For example, a high school science teacher may need to pass chemistry (grades 9-12), earth and space science (grades 9-12), life science (grades 9-12), and physics (grades 9-12).
Apply for Certification
The State of Minnesota has an online licensing system for first-time applicants. Those applying for renewals or adding subjects or grade levels to an existing license must use a paper application. The processing fees for the Minnesota educator license total $91.95.
If you are a first-time applicant using the electronic system, you will need to select "Minnesota Education License" and check whether you are applying for a teaching license or a career and technical education career pathways license. Then check the appropriate tier.
On the next page, enter your personal information and check if you have an educator license from another state or country. After you have completed that information, you will be asked for information about your college degree. If you are applying for a tier two or higher license, you will have to provide proof that you are qualified for the tier you are applying for. You will also need your fingerprint card for the application.
The whole application process takes just a few minutes, and licensure requests are processed within 30 days. If you are a new applicant, the 30-day processing period starts after your background check is completed.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Minnesota?
You can renew your Minnesota teacher's license by using the paper application. A tier one license is valid for one year and can be renewed three times. A tier two license is valid for two years and can be renewed three times. A tier three license is valid for three years and can be renewed indefinitely. A tier four license is valid for five years and can be renewed indefinitely.
Tier one and tier two teachers do not have continuing contract rights, so it makes sense to try to move up to a tier three or tier four license as quickly as possible. A tier three license requires a bachelor's degree (or AA for career and technical education or career pathways), passing scores for content and pedagogy, and one of the following:
- Minnesota-approved teacher prep program
- An equivalent teacher prep program from another state
- Portfolio in licensure field
- Three years of teaching experience at tier two
- Teaching license from another state and two years of teaching experience
Career Outlook for Teachers in Minnesota
According to the 2021 Minnesota Teacher Supply and Demand Report published by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, 70% of the school districts in the state report being impacted at least "somewhat significantly" by the teacher shortage. This means that teachers are in demand in those school districts.
Salary.com lists the median public school teacher pay in Minneapolis as $64,650 as of January 27, 2022. This is a little bit higher than the median provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for elementary, middle, and high school teachers around the country. According to the BLS, elementary school teachers make a median of $60,660 per year, middle school teachers make a median of $60,810 per year, and high school teachers make a median of $62,870 per year nationwide.
Going back to school to further your education may help increase your salary. Teachers who hold a master's degree often earn more than their peers with bachelor's degrees. Check with your school district to find out how much more you can expect to make if you go to graduate school.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Minnesota
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers work with young children to teach them the alphabet, counting, math, reading, science, and more. They teach young kids how to interact with their peers and with authority figures. They create lesson plans for each subject and grade students' finished assignments.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $60,660
Middle School Teachers
Middle school teachers typically work with students in grades six through eight. They work to prepare students to start high school by evaluating their strengths and weaknesses and adjusting their lesson plans accordingly. They create lesson plans, teach students, and grade students' assignments. They may specialize in one or more subjects.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $60,810
High School Teachers
High school teachers work with students in grades 9-12. They help prepare their students for life after high school, whether that is college or a job. They plan their lessons, teach students according to their lesson plans, and reflect on student outcomes. They also consider students' strengths and opportunity areas when updating or making new lesson plans.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $62,870
Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers work with students who have special needs, either in small groups or one-on-one. They evaluate their students' skills and make educational plans that suit their individual needs. Special education teachers help develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student and ensure that the plan is followed.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $61,500
Career and Technical Education Teachers
Career and technical education teachers work with high school students to help them learn job skills that may help them succeed on the job after school. They may teach auto repair, graphic arts, cosmetology, culinary arts, or another job-related subject area. Career and technical education teachers often use hands-on projects to give kids real-world experience in their field of study.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $59,140
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Minnesota
How do I get teaching certification in Minnesota?
To get your teaching certification in Minnesota, you must first complete a bachelor's degree, unless you are teaching career and technical education. Career and technical education and career pathways teachers need either an associate of arts degree, professional certification, or five years of relevant work experience. All other teachers need a bachelor's degree.
This is enough to get a tier one educator license, but this license is only valid for one year at a time and can only be renewed three times in most circumstances. Therefore, it is a good idea to start working on meeting the tier two requirements as soon as possible.
Can I teach in Minnesota without a license?
No, you cannot teach in Minnesota without a license. However, you can teach for up to three years on a tier one license, which only requires a bachelor of arts degree for most subject areas. Teachers of career and technical education are not required to have a bachelor's degree, but they must have either an associate of arts, professional certification, or five years of experience in the field they are teaching.
The tiered licensing process means that the longer you teach in Minnesota, the more requirements you must meet to get your educator's license. However, you will gain continuing contract rights once you reach tier three.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Minnesota?
For most positions, you need a BA degree to become a teacher in Minnesota, which typically takes four years to complete.
However, you may be able to finish your degree faster if you find an accelerated program. You might also be able to graduate sooner by taking extra classes each semester or by attending school during the summer. You may be able to complete your bachelor's degree in three years instead of four by using these strategies.
What can I do with teaching certification in Minnesota?
After earning your educator's license in Minnesota, you will qualify to work either as an elementary teacher, middle school teacher, high school teacher, career and technical education teacher, or special education teacher, depending on your degree.
Most schools try to hire teachers whose degree matches what they will be teaching. For example, if you have a degree in English, you may be well-suited to landing a job as a high school English teacher, but you may not be well-suited to teaching high school science or elementary students.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Minnesota?
To work as a substitute teacher in Minnesota, you must possess a Minnesota short-call substitute license. If you are a retired teacher receiving a pension, you can get a lifetime short-call substitute license. Otherwise, the license must be renewed every three years.
You must either have a bachelor of arts degree, or, if you are applying to be a substitute for career and technical education, you must have either an associate of arts degree, professional certification, or five years of work experience. If you meet these requirements, you can file the Minnesota short-call substitute license application. First-time applicants must file the form along with a fingerprint card and a $90.25 fee. For renewals, no fingerprint card is required and the fee is $57.00.
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