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October 29, 2020

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Many accredited colleges and universities offer teaching degrees completely online for those searching for a flexible education program. Earning a degree online allows you to take classes largely on your own time and at a pace that suits you. This means you can continue to meet any other personal or professional obligations in your life while continuing your education. In many cases, you can earn your teaching degree without ever having to attend a traditional college campus classroom.

You can also get an MA teaching license even if you attend a school located in another state. As long as you have a bachelor's degree from an accredited postsecondary institution and pass the MTEL exams associated with your prospective areas of focus, you will be able to practice as a licensed teacher throughout the state. As part of the application process, you must provide your official transcripts and present a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 to qualify for a Massachusetts teaching certificate.

Teaching certification requirements differ from state to state. Obtaining licensure in Massachusetts might not mean you can do the same in another state -- or vice versa. Be sure to carefully examine each state's requirements to best prepare for a fulfilling and successful career as a K-12 educator.

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How to Become a Teacher in Massachusetts

Since every state differs in teacher licensing requirements, it's not often possible to automatically transfer a teaching certificate in MA to another state. However, there are instances in which you may be able to transfer your certification.

In addition to paying a filing fee, you will likely need to submit your college or university transcripts, a copy of your current Massachusetts teaching certificate, your Praxis scores, and a copy of your undergraduate and/or graduate diploma. Some states also require letters of recommendation and teacher evaluation reports completed by a supervisor. This is to ensure the teacher in question is a skilled educator and is not transferring due to poor performance in the classroom.

To start, you may only receive an initial teaching license, a temporary certification typically valid for several years. Once this predetermined timeframe has elapsed, you may seek a continuing license, which may require you to complete a master's in education in Massachusetts or have five years of continuous teaching on your record without any disciplinary actions.

How to Get a MA Teaching License

Earning a teaching license in MA is a critical step toward becoming an educator in a K-12 setting. In fact, you will not be able to teach unless you hold official licensure. To get your Massachusetts teaching certificate, you need to take several steps, including getting a bachelor's degree, meeting certain academic standards, passing an MTEL exam, and submitting an application. To learn more about this process and the various requirements, visit Massachusetts' Department of Education website.

Completing an undergraduate degree indicates that you have a well-rounded education and have studied various subjects at an advanced level. This enables you to competently instruct K-12 students. Your bachelor's degree does not have to be in teaching or education to meet this requirement.

You must have achieved a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a four-point scale) across all your undergraduate coursework. You will need to submit official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions you've attended.

You must complete 150-300 student teaching hours in the grade level and subject area of your MA teaching license. Some subjects and grade levels have different requirements than others. Your student teaching experience must involve classroom instruction with an experienced and licensed educator. You should also be able to demonstrate that you helped develop lesson plans and worked directly with students. You will need to provide an official performance assessment from your classroom mentor.

Instead of the Praxis exams, Massachusetts requires teachers seeking licensure to take one or more MTEL exams, covering 41 subject areas. You must receive a passing score on any exam any certification exam taken. The score needed to pass varies depending on the subject area, and you may retake any of the tests if you fail on your first attempt. For some speciality subjects, such as instructional technology or moderate special needs, a competency review is held in place of an MTEL exam.

The state Department of Education runs background checks on all candidates seeking teaching certification in MA. In conducting these checks, the state looks for any current or pending criminal cases or past criminal convictions. While a conviction may not necessarily disqualify you from receiving a teaching license, the Education Department will investigate further if a criminal record is found. Any school or district to which you apply may also conduct a background check of its own.

You can apply for a Massachusetts teaching certificate online or through the mail. The current application fee is $100, payable by credit card, check, or money order. Be sure to attach any necessary documentation, such as recommendation letters or transcripts, and include your social security number or educator license number on all documents. All materials will be sent to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for official review.

The cost to apply for a teaching license in MA is $100, although this fee changes every few years. You must provide payment when you submit your application and all relevant documents. A failure to do so many result in the delay or denial of your application.

Student Teaching in Massachusetts

Before you can get a teaching certificate in MA, you must complete at least 150 hours of student teaching, even if you hold a master's degree in education. The state considers student teaching critically important to the success of K-12 educators, as it gives them experience and insights into the day-to-day activities and challenges of working with students in a real classroom.

As you prepare for student teaching, consider writing a letter or email to your mentor teacher to thank them for allowing you the opportunity. Be sure to read through all materials provided to you in advance and prepare an ice-breaking activity to get to know the students in the class.

In nearly all programs, your department will find a student teaching placement for you. Many education schools have partnerships with local K-12 school districts for this purpose. If you take classes fully online, you can likely secure your own placement near you, although you may need to seek approval from your program before moving forward.

When starting your student teaching experience, you'll typically spend the first few days observing your teaching mentor and assisting them as needed. As time goes on, you will help students with assignments and group work and eventually instruct the entire class on your own. The role of the teacher mentor is to observe you in action and provide feedback and guidance.

In most cases, you will complete your student teaching experience while still enrolled in your undergraduate program. In fact, most programs require you to complete this experience before you can graduate at all. However, some programs may allow you to start or finish out your student teaching after you've already received your degree.

Career Outlook for Teachers in Massachusetts

For those with a master's degree in education, Massachusetts is a great place to embark on a fulfilling and well-paying career. The average salary for educators in the state is more than $10,000 higher per year than the rest of the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects demand for new teachers to continue in the years to come as large numbers of current professionals move into retirement.

Generally, teachers make more money working with older students than they do teaching younger students. However, even kindergarten teachers make an annual mean wage of nearly $70,000 per year, and elementary-level teachers (those who work with students in grades 1-5) tend to be the highest-paid educators. In all, there are more than 75,000 K-12 teachers in Massachusetts.

Employment and Annual Wage for Teachers in Massachusetts by Teaching Level
Occupation Employment Annual Mean Wage
Preschool Teachers 15,610 $35,900
Kindergarten Teachers 2,960 $69,050
Elementary School Teachers 27,900 $74,470
Middle School Teachers 18,610 $71,870
Secondary Teachers 25,650 $74,040

Excludes Special Education Teachers, May 2016

Scholarships for Massachusetts Teaching Students

If you plan to earn a bachelor's or master's degree in education in Massachusetts, numerous available scholarships can help you fund your studies. These come from a variety of sources, including private foundations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be a permanent resident of Massachusetts and have at least one year of experience as an early childhood education teacher or care provider. They also must remain employed as an educator while in school.

Amount: Up to $500 per credit

View Scholarship

Mathematics and Science Teachers Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants must be residents of Massachusetts, employed as an educator at a public school, and actively teaching science, math, engineering, or technology. Priority is given to those serving in high-needs schools and districts.

Amount: Full tuition, fees, and other expenses

View Scholarship

Paraprofessional Teacher Preparation Grant Program

Who Can Apply: This grant is available to current education paraprofessionals who aim to become full-time licensed teachers. Applicants must live in Massachusetts, work in an education setting, and not yet have received a bachelor's degree.

Amount: Up to $625 per credit

View Scholarship

Aspiring Teachers Tuition Waiver

Who Can Apply: The waiver is open to current college students who are enrolled in a four-year teaching program at a Massachusetts postsecondary institution. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be ready to enter a field experiencing a teacher shortage.

Amount: Full tuition and fees for 1-2 semesters

View Scholarship

TEACH Grant Massachusetts

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to U.S. citizens who have maintained a minimum 3.25 GPA and who are enrolled in an education program in Massachusetts. Applicants also must serve as a full-time teacher in a school that serves primarily low-income students.

Amount: Up to $4,000

View Scholarship

Massachusetts High Demand Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Students must major in a high-demand field, including education. Requirements also include a minimum 3.0 GPA and proof of state residency.

Amount: Up to $4,000 per year

View Scholarship

Resources for Teachers in Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts Department of Education: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides teacher licensing, maintains teaching and learning standards, and allocates federal and state funds to schools and districts. The agency also shares best practices and collects education data to inform officials and lawmakers. In this way, the department works to prepare students for success in both college and later careers.
  • Massachusetts Executive Office of Education: This state-level office oversees four key Massachusetts agencies: Department of Early Education and Care, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Higher Education, and the University of Massachusetts. It is responsible for ensuring each of these organizations fulfills its mission to serve the children and adults of the state through high-quality educational opportunities. The department's main office is in Boston.
  • MEES: The Massachusetts Environmental Education Society works to improve, promote, and sustain environmental education in schools, colleges, and universities. MEES provides free resources to educators and holds an annual conference that includes numerous seminars, speakers, and professional development opportunities. The organization also publishes a regular e-newsletter, coordinates social media chats, and advocates for environmental literacy efforts in public and private schools.
  • Massachusetts Historical Society: The MHS Center for the Teaching of History delivers a variety of programs to help promote history education. The center's services include professional development workshops, curriculum resources, and a comprehensive digital library. It also offers four yearly fellowships, through which teachers create lesson plans during an intensive four-week session on-site at MHS. The center hosts field trips and provides volunteer and mentorship opportunities for both children and adults.
  • Massachusetts Society of Science Teachers: MAST is a professional association that helps science teachers improve the quality of instruction they deliver to students. It serves as the state chapter of the National Science Teachers Association, taking part in state and federal advocacy efforts to boost funding for science education. MAST hosts an annual conference each November and honors teachers who have distinguished themselves in the classroom.

Networking Opportunities in Massachusetts

In addition to securing a teaching certification in MA, networking can provide a variety of benefits as you move ahead in your career. Meeting other professionals and forming strong connections can help you do your job more effectively and open up future career opportunities. You can also access valuable resources, professional development, trainings, and other resources, simply by networking and getting to know others in the education field.

The Teacher Collaborative

The Teacher Collaborative is open to all teachers and school leaders. It provides opportunities for these professionals to get together and discuss common teaching challenges and develop solutions. It offers education co-labs, an educator exchange and a virtual community.

Boston EdTech Meetup

This regular meetup allows teachers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and other professionals to discuss technology and its impact on teaching and learning. Events include mixers, presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and hands-on learning experiences. Educators in this group come from public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities throughout the Boston area.

Stay Informed

ELearn Space This blog provides regular updates on open-source software, emerging technologies, best practices, networking, and various other topics relevant to today's educators. Many of the posts come in slide presentation form, making the content easier to digest -- especially for visual learners.
The Curriculum Corner This blog, run by two teachers, provides insights, guidance, and information on how to best teach to the Common Core State Standards. The authors are known for their interesting takes on these standards and how they affect classroom learning.
Cool Cat Teacher This practicing teacher has a wide variety of tips and tricks that make the learning process more engaging and fun across all grade levels. It's particularly helpful for educators in need of fresh ideas or experiencing burnout in the classroom. The author helps breathe new life into the teaching profession.
@DenaSimmons Dena Simmons is a teacher and advocate, who often gives her take on how schools can be more equitable and close achievement gaps. She has given a TED talk and conducted research on bullying and other issues highly relevant to today's schools, students, and educators.
@TeachMrReed This Twitter feed, run by young teacher Dwayne Reed, offers a light-hearted take on the day-to-day work and challenges of the average educator. In addition to his humor, Reed also provides regular insights and notes of inspiration for his fellow teachers. His 2016 Medium article "I'm a First Year Teacher and I'm Burned Out" has been widely shared on social media.
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