How to Become a Teacher in Mississippi
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Public school teachers in Mississippi should hold a bachelor's degree in education. They must also complete student teaching experience, background checks, and exams before earning their teaching license.
Some prospective educators go back to college to earn a teaching degree, while others pursue this career from the get-go. Regardless of your career path, consider the best online colleges in Mississippi for future teachers, specific steps to the state's licensure process, and available jobs for licensed teachers in Mississippi.
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How Do I Become a Teacher in Mississippi?
Teachers in Mississippi must meet minimum education standards set by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). In addition to teaching licensure, MDE issues administrator licenses for those looking to work as principals or vice principals.
Prospective teachers who hold a bachelor's degree in a subject other than education can follow a nontraditional pathway to becoming an educator. Likewise, teachers who gained licensure outside of Mississippi can follow the reciprocity pathway.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
To teach in Mississippi, individuals must earn at least a bachelor's degree in teacher education from a properly accredited college or university. These programs only count if they specifically lead to certification and are licensure-track programs. MDE provides a list of educator preparation providers to help prospective students select qualifying programs.
All education programs must include a student teaching or field experience component for which the MDE issues a pre-service teacher license. Applicants for licensure must meet one of the three standards:
- Score a 21 or higher on the ACT
- Achieve a passing score on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam
- Maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA on the final 60 hours of coursework undertaken
Popular Online Teaching Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Gain Student Teaching Experience
To gain licensure, all Mississippi teaching students must participate in a full-time field placement lasting one semester. These usually take place during junior or senior year, after learners complete prerequisite student teaching courses.
At the University of Southern Mississippi, for example, students complete an application to begin teacher candidacy before being placed at a school within 60 miles of campus. Through these experiences, future teachers build skills in classroom management, lesson planning, assessments, and working within the educational system.
Pass Required Certification Tests
After completing a student teaching experience and graduating from a teacher education program, students must then pass a series of assessment exams. These exams measure learners' preparedness for teaching. MDE currently mandates three exams:
- Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching, grade-level specific
- Praxis II Content Area
- Foundations of Reading (only required for those seeking elementary education certification)
Students can use online and in-person exam preparation materials to get ready for these tests. Some universities also offer preparation courses.
Apply for Certification
Applicants must fill out their licensure request forms through the Educator Licensure Management System (ELMS) online. They must also provide an application, plus the following materials:
- Verification of lawful presence (submitted by mail or in person)
- Transcripts submitted directly from the student's alma mater(s)
- Institutional program verification or online recommendation showing completion of an approved educational program
- Official documentation of attainment showing qualifying scores on all required examinations
After completing all requirements and earning licensure, this initial license remains valid for five years.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Mississippi?
As previously mentioned, initial teaching licenses issued in Mississippi remain valid for five years. At that time, educators must meet at least one of the following continuing education requirements:
- 10 hours of continuing education units in the teacher's content area and/or grade level
- Three college semester hours related to the teacher's content area and/or grade level, plus five hours of continuing education in their content area and/or grade level
- Six college semester hours in their content area and/or grade level
When preparing to renew their teaching certification, educators can use MDE's online portal to complete the renewal application and pay the associated fee.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Mississippi
According to O*NET OnLine, jobs for kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in Mississippi are projected to grow at average rates from 2018-2028. These jobs are projected to expand by 7-8%, creating a steady need for qualified educators in the coming years.
Teaching professionals in Mississippi earn relatively low salaries compared to the national average. However, the cost of living in Mississippi typically falls below the national average as well.
Those considering graduate school to earn a master's in education may make higher salaries than their colleagues with only bachelor's degrees.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Mississippi
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers work with students in their early years of education, typically from Kindergarten through fifth grade. In addition to teaching students to interact with their peers and be respectful of others, these educators teach foundational topics in subjects such as math, reading, science, and spelling.
Average Annual Salary: $44,920
Middle School Teachers
Middle school teachers educate students in grades 6-8, building on the knowledge gained in elementary school and preparing learners for high school. Rather than teaching all subjects like elementary educators, middle school teachers typically focus on teaching one subject to multiple classes and grades. Aside from creating lesson plans and assigning homework, these educators work with students in small groups and individually as needed.
Average Annual Salary: $48,210
High School Teachers
High school teachers work with students in grades 9-12 and prepare them for the next stage of life, be that entering the workforce or starting a college program. In addition to teaching advanced topics in standard subjects, some teachers lead AP classes. They work directly with students to help them prepare job and college applications and frequently act as references for both.
Average Annual Salary: $46,100
Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers focus their efforts on supporting students with emotional, learning, mental, and/or physical disabilities. In addition to creating individualized education plans for each learner, special education teachers regularly update these documents and confer with other teachers and administrators to ensure learners get the support they need to thrive.
Average Annual Salary: $50,490
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals
Whether working in an elementary school or a high school, principals oversee all school staff and operations. Aside from managing teachers and administrators, principals also oversee all budgetary requirements and work to create safe, effective learning environments. They also report to district supervisors and implement new curricula and teaching standards as required.
Average Annual Salary: $77,530
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Mississippi
How do I get teaching certification in Mississippi?
To qualify for teaching certification in Mississippi, applicants must complete an approved teacher preparation bachelor's degree. They must also participate in a semester-long student teaching experience and pass all subject area, grade level, and state-specific exams (including a background check).
Individuals who already possess a bachelor's degree in an unrelated subject can follow an alternative pathway by completing either a certification program or a master's degree in education. They must then follow the same exam and background check steps.
Can I teach in Mississippi without certification?
This depends on where an individual wants to teach. Every public school in Mississippi requires applicants to hold a valid and active teaching certification issued by the Mississippi Department of Education. However, some private schools may hire individuals without teaching certifications.
It is typically preferred for private school teachers to have extensive training in education or specific subject areas. Many private schools in Mississippi still ask for certification despite it not being state mandated.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Mississippi?
Becoming a teacher in Mississippi takes several years, and prospective students should prepare for this before committing to any educational program. Most teacher preparation bachelor's degrees require four years of full-time study or six years of part-time study, including a semester devoted to full-time student teaching experience.
After graduating, students must pass all required examinations. If they have not previously studied, this may add some time to when they can apply for licensure. From there, the Mississippi Department of Education must review all paperwork and required documentation before issuing a certification. This can take several weeks.
What can I do with teaching certification in Mississippi?
Teaching certification in Mississippi qualifies individuals to teach in public K-12 schools at both the primary and secondary levels, depending on certification type. Anyone planning to become a public school teacher in the state must earn certification, regardless of the grade level or subject area they plan to teach.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Mississippi?
As of 2022, the Mississippi Department of Education does not require substitute teachers to hold any type of licensure. MDE does expect candidates to hold at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. MDE prefers applicants with at least an associate degree.
Kelly Services manages the hiring process for substitute teachers in the state and posts job listings based on county and/or city in the state. Before receiving any substitute teacher posting, individuals must submit to and pass a background check.
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