How to Become a Teacher in Missouri
Missouri needs competent, passionate, and certified teachers. This guide examines the paths to teaching certification in Missouri.
Updated June 10, 2022
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Like many locations in the United States, Missouri urgently needs competent and certified educators. A recent study reveals that 5% of teaching jobs in Missouri are vacant or filled by an unqualified individual. And while these vacancies present a challenge to Missouri schools and students, it also presents an opportunity for education students at Missouri colleges and those interested in switching careers.
The following guide explores the ins and outs of what it takes to earn teaching certification in Missouri. In addition to academic requirements and the specifics of applying for certification, we also look at the career opportunities and earning potential for new teachers in Missouri.
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Ready to start your journey?
Continue reading to learn how to earn and maintain teaching certification in Missouri.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Missouri?
There are several paths people can take to earn their teaching certification in Missouri. These paths can vary depending on academic and professional experience, but Missouri guidelines require a bachelor's degree from all prospective teachers.
A bachelor's in education is a popular path for future educators, but those with an unrelated undergraduate degree can supplement their degree with education classes and student-teaching experiences — this track can lead to a master's degree in education.
Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers reciprocity for out-of-state teachers and provides a clear path to teacher certification. Credentialed out-of-state teachers must submit institutional recommendations and provide all relevant documentation. Out-of-state teachers do not need to complete additional coursework or examinations in most cases.
Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to earn teaching certification in Missouri.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
Those interested in pursuing a teaching career in Missouri must meet minimum education requirements. The typical path finds learners tackling a bachelor's degree in education from one of the state's many approved education programs.
Schools like Washington University and the University of Missouri offer standout programs that offer the theoretical and practical skills degree-seekers need to begin their career. Common undergraduate coursework includes classes such as educational psychology, history of education in the United States, and education and public policy.
Missouri also offers additional certification pathways for individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree in a non-education field. These individuals can complete a 30-credit education track that meets the various academic requirements for certification. Some individuals are eligible for a Temporary Authorization Certificate while completing certification requirements. Below are the standard education requirements.
- Bachelor's degree from a state-approved education program; those with a non-education degree can complete a 30-credit graduate program
- Core academic requirements
- Specialization coursework
- A minimum GPA of 2.75
Gain Student Teaching Experience
All individuals seeking teacher certification for the first time must gain student teaching experience before earning certification through the state of Missouri. The Missouri Standards for the Preparation of Educators (MoSPE) ensures that education students receive ample opportunities to gain essential hands-on experience in the classroom under the supervision of experienced teachers.
Missouri education students clock a minimum of 75 hours of supervised student teaching in various settings to ensure that they experience multiple grade levels with a diverse set of students. Certification-seekers spend a minimum of 12 weeks working with an experienced teacher in their future certification and grade level before graduating.
Pass Required Certification Tests
Whether testing to gain admission into an education program or securing teaching certification in Missouri, students must pass various assessments before beginning a teaching career. Before enrolling in an educator preparation program, students must pass the Missouri General Education Education Assessment (MoGEA). This assessment covers math, reading, science, social studies, and writing.
Students must successfully complete the Missouri Standards-Based Performance Assessment upon completing a teacher preparation program. Additionally, prospective teachers must complete various content assessments based on their area of academic specialization, such as math, science, and social studies.
Apply for Certification
Students can apply for teaching certification in Missouri once they complete all necessary academic and testing requirements. Through an online application portal, future teachers pay all respective fees and submit all necessary documentation, including official transcripts, test scores, and verification of student teaching requirements. The application also includes questions regarding professional conduct and an affidavit.
In addition to education-based documentation, applicants must submit fingerprints and request a criminal background check. The time it takes for Missouri's Department of Education to process applications can vary and often takes more than six weeks. Applicants can check their application status through the application portal.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Missouri?
Once earned, initial teaching certification in Missouri is valid for four years. During this initial certification, Missouri teachers must complete 30 hours of professional development and participate in an annual performance evaluation program. Some standard continuing education courses include building relationships in the classroom, social and emotional learning, and student anxiety awareness.
Certified Missouri teachers must also complete a mentoring program and create a professional development plan maintained by their school district. Teachers can also upgrade their teaching certificates by earning a graduate-level education degree.
Teachers can earn a lifetime Career Continuous Professional Certificate after either ten years of professional experience or completing national teacher certification, or earning a master's or doctoral degree.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Missouri
There are teacher shortages across the country, and Missouri is no exception. Elementary, middle, and high schools all face teacher shortages and need certified teachers in most academic areas, including math, chemistry, biology, and physical education. Other areas include reading specialists, special education instructors, and early childhood education professionals.
Teacher salaries in Missouri can vary depending on experience, education, and grade level. Certified teachers in Missouri can anticipate about 600 annual job openings. While wages can fluctuate, high school teachers in Missouri earn an average salary of about $49,000 per year.
For teachers wanting to boost career options and increase pay, earning a graduate-level degree offers a clear path. Graduate school can provide specialized skills for those with teaching certification in Missouri while preparing them for administrative and leadership roles. In addition to campus-based programs, online master's degrees in education can offer a flexible and affordable option for working teachers.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Missouri
High School Teacher
High school teachers work with students in grades 9-12 and teach classes in various disciplines like math, English, and social studies. In addition to standard classroom instruction, high school teachers prepare students for postsecondary education and life beyond high school.
Median Annual Salary: $47,310
Middle School Teacher
These professionals instruct students within their area of expertise and cover disciplines including science, language arts, and social studies. Middle school teachers design lesson plans and assessments to enhance student learning and performance while preparing students for high school and standardized tests. Art, music, and physical education instructors also work in the middle school environment.
Median Annual Salary: $55,110
Elementary School Teacher
These education professionals traditionally work with students in grades K-5 and lean on a holistic background, teaching subjects like reading, science, and math. Alongside the foundational academic skills required for future success, elementary school teachers also focus on student emotional and social development.
Median Annual Salary: $47,950
Career and Technical Teacher
Career and technical teachers traditionally work in vocational schools and high schools, offering instruction in subjects like automotive mechanics, culinary arts, and cosmetology. These professionals design curricula and prepare students to enter the workforce post-high school. Other areas of specialization include computer programming, digital media, agriculture, and healthcare.
Median Annual Salary: $38,400
Special Education Teacher
Working within elementary, middle, and high schools, special education teachers apply unique skills to offer educational support for students with various physical, emotional, and learning disabilities. These workers create individualized education plans (IEPs) for each student, set attainable goals, and evaluate progress. These educators also work closely with other teachers and families to create a network of academic and social support.
Median Annual Salary: $47,310
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Missouri
How do I get teaching certification in Missouri?
Those interested in seeking teaching certification in Missouri must hold a bachelor's degree in education or complete both a bachelor's and a state-approved teacher preparation program. Both paths provide prospective teachers with the theoretical and practical knowledge that informs effective teaching.
Missouri has a tiered licensing system, which ensures that teachers continue to develop their professional skills. After securing their Initial Professional Certificate (IPC), teachers benefit from mentoring, in-person professional development coursework, and regular evaluations. This initial certification lasts for four years, after which teachers can apply for their lifetime Missouri teacher certification.
Can I teach in Missouri without certification?
Whether pursuing a teacher preparation program as a college graduate, or a student earning a bachelor's in education, any individual teaching in Missouri K-12 public institutions must hold teacher certification. Substitute teachers at public institutions must meet certain certification benchmarks.
Those interested in teaching at private schools can often bypass the federal and state requirements for teaching certification in Missouri. Potential private school teachers should reach out to prospective employers to review hiring guidelines and academic and professional experience requirements.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Missouri?
For those pursuing an education degree and teaching certification in Missouri, completing the process typically takes about four years. Alongside standard classroom-based academic requirements, undergraduate education students complete a semester-long student teaching experience.
Those already holding a bachelor's degree can earn their teaching certification by completing a master's in education that includes a teacher preparation component. Qualified professionals with ample academic experience can receive a temporary certification, which is renewable on a yearly basis. Those holding temporary authorization must work towards meeting the standard requirements associated with teaching certification in Missouri.
What can I do with teaching certification in Missouri?
Completing teaching certification in Missouri leads to a relatively narrow set of careers and is typically an option for individuals interested in a teaching career. Education students can prepare for various academic disciplines in elementary, middle, and high schools depending on their skillset and academic interests. If students want to pursue multiple teaching areas, they must secure certification for each discipline.
Prospective teachers should recognize the significant difference between high school and elementary school teaching. High school teachers typically gain skills in one academic area, while elementary school teachers develop skills in multiple areas like reading, writing, and math.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Missouri?
Missouri offers two paths for individuals interested in becoming substitute teachers in Missouri. The state recently amended substitute certification requirements to address teacher shortages, requiring prospective substitute teachers to complete an online, 20-hour certification course. The online course covers topics like classroom management and lesson planning.
Those interested must also hold a high school diploma or GED and complete a criminal background check. Additionally, those with 60 credits of college-level coursework can bypass the online certification class requirement.
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