How to Become a Teacher in South Dakota
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Before teaching in South Dakota, aspiring educators must obtain teaching certification. There are six pathways to earning a teaching certification in South Dakota. Example pathways include the initial educator pathway, two out-of-state pathways, and the alternative pathway. The initial educator pathway involves earning a teaching degree at a South Dakota college.
Teachers in South Dakota are in demand due to a teacher shortage. Special education teachers are in especially short supply. Low teacher salaries in the state may contribute to this shortage. According to salary.com, public school teachers in South Dakota earned a median salary of $52,140 per year as of March 2022. In comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that elementary school teachers nationwide earned a median of $60,660 in 2020.
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Ready to Start Your Journey?
This guide tells you how to become a teacher in South Dakota. It also shares what jobs you can expect to qualify for with teaching certification in South Dakota.
How Do I Become a Teacher in South Dakota?
In South Dakota, you need teacher certification from the South Dakota Department of Education to be a regular teacher, special education teacher, or career and technical education teacher. You do not need a license to be a substitute teacher.
There are two types of teacher certification in South Dakota. They include a professional teaching certification and an advanced teaching certification. To earn an advanced teaching certificate, teachers must have at least five years of teaching experience. They must also have either an advanced degree in education or national board for teaching standards certification.
There are six ways to become a certified teacher in South Dakota.
- Initial Educator Pathway: This pathway requires the completion of a South Dakota education preparation program. Prospective teachers must also take a South Dakota American Indian studies course and pass the Praxis pedagogy exam or Praxis NOTE.
- Out-of-State Based on Program Completion: This pathway requires completion of an educator preparation program in a state other than South Dakota. People who do not hold a valid educator certificate in that state must also complete an approved South Dakota American Indian studies course.
- Out-of-State Based on Certification: To qualify for this pathway, people need a valid educator certificate or license from another state. They also need three years of teaching experience within the past five years and must get verification from the issuing state.
- Out-of-Country Pathway: Applicants who are in the United States legally, hold a valid educator license from another country, and have received a transcript evaluation can apply through this pathway.
- Alternative Pathway: The alternative pathway provides a path to certification for those who have not completed an educator preparation program. Aspiring teachers need a bachelor's degree or higher if they are applying to be a regular teacher. Career and technical education teachers need either an associate of applied science, 4,000 hours of work experience, national certification, or transcript evaluation.
- Educator Permit Pathway: The educator permit pathway caters to people who do not want to become a regular teacher. This includes American Sign Language instructors, athletic coaches, braille educators, and driver's education instructors. Other examples include eminent scholars (Lakota, Dakota, Nakota language and culture), expert lecturers, and school business officials.
Popular Online Teaching Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
For most pathways, individuals need at least a bachelor's degree in education to become a teacher in South Dakota. Career and technical education teachers can satisfy the minimum education requirements with an associate degree, work experience, national certification, or transcript evaluation.
South Dakota has approved a variety of educator preparation programs. These programs include K-8 elementary education, K-12 physical education, and 5-12 English language arts.
South Dakota also requires teachers to complete an approved South Dakota American Indian studies course.
Gain Student Teaching Experience
All state-approved educator preparation programs include student teaching. Each student must complete at least 10 weeks of supervised student teaching, with most of the time spent in their primary subject and grade level. Students who complete at least 15 weeks of student teaching may complete preparation for two subject areas or grade levels.
Students in birth through grade three programs must complete student teaching experiences at both the elementary and preschool levels. Students in K-12 programs must also complete student teaching experiences at two different grade levels.
Pass Required Certification Tests
The initial educator pathway requires a passing score on the Praxis pedagogy exam or Praxis NOTE. This test covers the principles of teaching and learning.
The ETS website includes a downloadable study companion guide that includes an outline of the information covered by the test. Prospective test-takers can also purchase an interactive practice test through the ETS website.
Khan Academy offers a free Praxis preparation resource that helps students prepare for the Praxis exam. The resource includes sample questions and a full-length practice test.
Apply for Certification
Once you have determined which pathway you want to take and have completed all of the requirements, go to the South Dakota Department of Education portal to create an account and log in.
You must upload documents to prove you have met the certification requirements. The required documents could include official transcripts from the college that conferred your bachelor's degree, university verification of completion, and official Praxis test scores.
Aspiring teachers must pay a nonrefundable application fee when submitting an application. It may take 2-6 weeks for a certification officer to review an application.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in South Dakota?
All South Dakota teaching certificates expire on July 1 of the year in which they expire. Educators with a valid teaching certificate can look themselves up on Teacher 411 to see when their certificate expires. You can submit a renewal application after January 1st of the year in which the certificate expires.
Before renewing a South Dakota teaching certificate, educators must complete suicide awareness and prevention training. They must also do one of the following:
- Complete six education-related credits, including at least three transcripted credits or specialized learning experience hours.
- Participate as either a mentee or a mentor in a state-approved mentorship program for two of the past five years.
- Complete national board certification or recertification within the past five years.
Career Outlook for Teachers in South Dakota
A teacher shortage in South Dakota has led to an increase in demand for South Dakota teachers. The teacher shortage affects both rural and urban school districts. Unfortunately, South Dakota does not pay its teachers well. Certified teachers in South Dakota can expect to earn around $52,140 per year, which is about $8,500 less than the national median for elementary teachers. However, South Dakota's cost of living is also lower than the national average.
South Dakota teachers can increase their salaries by earning a master's degree in education or teaching. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, nationwide, teachers with master's degrees earn an average of $2,760 more in their first year of teaching and an average of $7,358 per year more at the top of the pay scale. This provides motivation for teachers to go to graduate school.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in South Dakota
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers create lesson plans for various subjects, including math, reading, and spelling. They teach students from ages 5-12 according to the lesson plans they have created, making modifications as necessary according to student needs.
Median Annual Salary: $60,660
Middle School Teachers
Middle school teachers evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their students and plan lessons accordingly. They teach students in grades 6-8. Middle school teachers help students overcome learning challenges and grade their completed assignments. They talk to parents about how their children are doing.
Median Annual Salary: $60,810
High School Teachers
High school teachers typically specialize in one or two subjects, such as science or math. They teach different groups of students throughout the day. High school teachers instruct learners in grades 9-12. They create lesson plans, grade assignments, and communicate with students' parents.
Median Annual Salary: $62,870
Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers instruct students with physical, emotional, intellectual, or learning disabilities. They typically specialize in one age group. Special education teachers create individualized education programs (IEPs) for their students and ensure that they are followed. Teachers judge their students by the progress made against their IEP.
Median Annual Salary: $61,500
Career and Technical Education Teachers
Career and technical education teachers typically work with high school students who plan to enter a trade after high school rather than pursue a college education. These educators teach subjects such as auto body, cosmetology, and culinary arts. They teach students how to safely use the equipment required for the vocation they are teaching.
Median Annual Salary: $59,140
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in South Dakota
How do I get teaching certification in South Dakota?
There are six pathways to teaching certification in South Dakota. The path you should take depends on whether you have taken an approved teacher education program, have a bachelor's degree in another area, or have licensure in another state or country.
South Dakota holds reciprocity agreements with other states based on prior licensure or completion of an approved educator preparation course in another state. People can also earn licensure in South Dakota if they hold licensure in another country.
Can I teach in South Dakota without certification?
You cannot get a regular teaching job in South Dakota without certification, but you can work as a substitute teacher. South Dakota does not license substitute teachers. The school district you apply to will determine whether you meet their qualifications.
For all other teaching jobs, you need either teacher certification or an educator permit. Educator permits allow you to take on jobs such as a driver training instructor, librarian, or junior ROTC coach.
How long does it take to become a teacher in South Dakota?
For most pathways, you need at least a bachelor's degree. This degree typically takes four years of full-time study to finish. Once you have completed your bachelor's degree, you may need to meet other requirements, such as taking the Praxis pedagogy exam. How long this takes depends on how much time you need to study before taking the test.
If you want to work as a career and technical education instructor, you only need an associate degree, national certification, 4,000 hours of work experience, or a transcript evaluation. It only takes about two years to earn an associate degree.
What can I do with teaching certification in South Dakota?
Once you have your South Dakota teaching certification, you can work as an elementary, middle school, or high school teacher. You may also work as a special education teacher. However, most schools require these teachers to hold a degree in special education. You could also work as a career and technical education teacher.
With the appropriate educator permit, people can pursue various teaching jobs. You could teach braille, American Sign Language, or American Indian language and culture. You could also teach performing arts or work as an expert lecturer.
How do I become a substitute teacher in South Dakota?
South Dakota has no statewide minimum requirements for substitute teachers. Each school district sets its own requirements for hiring substitutes. For this reason, requirements can vary. Some schools may not require substitutes to have a high school diploma.
To apply for a position as a substitute teacher, you can apply directly to the school district you wish to teach for. If you're unsure if you qualify, ask a school for their requirements.