How to Become a Teacher in Utah
Pursue teaching certification in Utah to become a teacher in a K-12 public or charter school. Discover incentives for teaching in a shortage area.
Published on April 8, 2022 · Updated on April 27, 2022
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Aspiring teachers can earn licensure through the Utah State Board of Education (USBE). Requirements include earning a bachelor's degree, obtaining clinical experience, and passing certification exams in the desired teaching subject and grade level.
The USBE awards teaching certification to teachers who have completed a university-based educator preparation program or employer-based preparation program. Teachers who meet all requirements qualify for a professional license. People still collecting field experience can pursue associate-level certification.
Among teachers in Utah, middle school, high school, and career and technical educators earn the highest salaries, respectively. Teachers in Utah also enjoy USBE financial incentives to earn advanced credentials or teach in a high-need subject or a high-poverty district.
Learn how to become a teacher in Utah below.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Utah?
The USBE offers three levels of teaching certification. These levels include local education agency (LEA) specific, associate, and professional. LEA-certified teachers must work in a specific district or charter school. Teachers with associate certification must meet minimum requirements, except for the required field experience.
Teachers who meet all requirements, including completing a teacher preparation program and clinical experience, qualify for professional teaching certification in Utah. Out-of-state educators must hold either a minimum of one year of licensed teaching experience in their home state or a passing score on the content knowledge and pedagogical performance assessment exams.
The USBE also requires background checks for all teaching certification candidates.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
Teaching in Utah requires a bachelor's degree. The USBE does not require teachers to hold a bachelor's degree in their subject of certification. But many students pursue majors in or near their desired teaching subject and grade level or specialization.
Utah is home to 10 approved universities offering educator preparation programs. Many university-based teacher-training programs also award a bachelor's degree. In addition, students can pursue an alternate path to a professional educator license. This option involves working in a particular Utah school district or charter school.
Additionally, all candidates must complete student teaching. They can complete this requirement either as an employed teacher if pursuing an associate license or as part of an approved educator preparation program. Candidates must pass the Praxis content and subject exams.
Gain Student Teaching Experience
To earn a teaching certification in Utah, all prospective teachers must complete clinical experience. Many university-based educator preparation programs include a student teaching experience. An employer-based preparation pathway builds experience through a teaching job.
Student teaching requirements vary by program and endorsement area. Students can teach with a nonrenewable associate license for up to three years. After those three years pass, teachers must earn a professional educator license to continue teaching.
Pass Required Certification Tests
Teachers must pass Praxis tests in their license area to obtain teaching certification in Utah. Educational Testing Service (ETS) offers Praxis certification tests in early childhood, multiple elementary subjects, and various individual secondary subjects. Teachers must take a separate certification exam for endorsement areas, including special education, ESL, and career and technical education.
Passing the Praxis test in a particular licensing area qualifies students for associate teaching certification in that specialization. Teachers can pursue professional certification once they complete an educator preparation program or hold a teaching job in Utah to gain experience.
Apply for Certification
The USBE requires candidates for teaching certification to register with the Comprehensive Administration of Credentials for Teachers in Utah Schools (CACTUS). Teachers can apply for associate licensure through the CACTUS as well. CACTUS also provides approved continuing education coursework categories for license renewal and LEA certification.
Supporting documentation requirements include a background fingerprint check, appropriate Praxis test results, and academic transcripts. Prospective teachers must also provide an educator ethics review and a pedagogical performance assessment. The USBE does not charge a fee to apply for teaching certification in Utah. The USBE reported that they are processing applications received before June 2021 as of March 2022.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Utah?
Educators must renew their professional teaching certification in Utah every five years. Renewal requirements include at least 100 hours of activity hours over the renewal period. These hours may include professional and alternate learning opportunities. The USBE recognizes many activity types, including educator collaboration opportunities, professional service, and workshops.
Teachers with a professional license must also complete two hours of youth suicide prevention training and hold a clear background check. In addition, they must complete an online Utah student data privacy teacher course and an online education ethics review. Teachers may maintain active or inactive (retired or expired) status to renew valid teaching certification in Utah.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Utah
Among teachers in Utah, middle school educators earn some of the highest salaries at $64,520, also according to the BLS. The USBE supports several educator incentive programs to boost teachers' salaries in Utah. For example, the USBE rewards teachers who earn an optional National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification.
Educators can also earn more through the Teacher Salary Supplement Program or the Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools program by teaching in a shortage subject area or high-need school, respectively.
Utah teachers are also eligible for federal loan forgiveness and TEACH Grants through the U.S. Department of Education. They can also receive local awards like the T.H. Bell Education Scholarship. While teaching certification in Utah requires only a bachelor's degree, students who earn a master's degree in education may qualify for additional endorsements in advanced specializations or postsecondary education jobs.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Utah
High School Teacher
Secondary teachers earn the second-highest teaching salary in Utah. Aspiring secondary teachers must pass the Praxis test in a particular subject or specialization for grades 9-12. High school teachers in Utah enjoy more financial incentives for committing to teach in a USBE-identified shortage area. Examples include special education, science, math, computer science, and deaf education.
Median Annual Salary: $64,350
Special Education Teacher (Middle School)
Qualified special education teachers are in demand across the U.S., particularly at the middle school level in Utah. Teaching certification in this specialization qualifies candidates to teach special education in grades K-12 in Utah. However, teachers enjoy higher salaries for working in middle school special education, which is a teaching shortage area in this state.
Median Annual Salary: $65,440
Middle School Teacher
Middle school teachers in Utah may hold elementary or secondary teaching certification, which cover grades K-8 and 6-12, respectively. Many aspiring middle school teachers pursue secondary education certification in a particular subject tailored to grades 6-8, as opposed to elementary certification, which includes many subjects.
Median Annual Salary: $64,520
Elementary School Teacher
Elementary school teachers in Utah enjoy diverse career options. Elementary teaching certification in Utah prepares educators to teach multiple core subjects, including math, reading, and science in K-8 classrooms. Elementary teachers may also become certified in special education or pursue an additional endorsement in a specific middle school subject.
Median Annual Salary: $60,300
Career and Technical Education Teacher
Career and technical education teachers in Utah can earn certification to teach college readiness and computer science in grades 6-12. These teachers are not required to take the Praxis test for general K-12 content knowledge but instead must pursue certification in a specific endorsement area and career cluster.
Median Annual Salary: $62,410
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Utah
The USBE requires candidates to complete a bachelor's degree, educator preparation program, and student teaching experience. They must also pass certification exams to earn teaching certification in Utah. Teachers can pursue a university-based or employer-based path to certification.
Teachers who meet all other qualifications but have yet to earn field experience qualify for an associate teaching license. Once teachers complete their clinical experience and a pedagogical performance assessment, they can upgrade to a professional license. This license is renewable every five years.
The USBE requires certification for all K-12 public school teachers, including those employed by local districts and charter schools. Educators without teaching certification in Utah may find employment in a private or unlicensed facility. But they do not receive benefits such as eligibility for the USBE's incentive programs and federal grants and loans.
Postsecondary teachers in Utah are not required to undergo the same licensing process as K-12 teachers. However, they typically hold a terminal degree which supersedes other public school certification requirements. The USBE provides a clear alternate path to professional certification for LEA teachers. This path requires teachers to secure employment in a USBE-approved district or charter school.
The time it takes to earn teaching certification in Utah varies by candidate. Teachers may achieve professional certification in 4-5 years. No matter their licensure path, educators must earn a bachelor's degree, which typically takes four years. Although, teachers may start working entry-level positions with an associate teaching license once they complete their degree, pass a background check and ethics review, and pass the Praxis test.
Students may use the associate license for up to three years before advancing to a professional license. Or, they may qualify for professional certification after meeting the individual terms of their clinical experience and pedagogical performance assessment.
Certified educators in Utah can teach grades preK-12 in public, charter, and specialized schools. The USBE offers licensure paths for aspiring teachers of various subjects and grade levels, including special education, computer science, and career and technical education. Candidates may teach multiple subjects in kindergarten or elementary classrooms. Or, they may pursue certification to teach a particular subject to elementary, middle, or high school students.
Teachers can also pursue a certification specialization such as special education, early childhood, or deaf education. The USBE also outlines a certification path for non-teaching education professionals. Examples include school counselors, speech-language pathologists, and school leadership administrators, all of which require licensure in Utah public schools.
Feature Image: Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images
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