How to Become a Teacher In Illinois

Illinois values education, as those learning how to become a teacher in Illinois will learn. By paying their teachers at a rate higher than the national average, the state rewards those who are willing to invest in the future of its children. While Illinois reports a shortage of teaching jobs statewide due to a large population of teachers and recent budget cuts, those with certification in the right fields who stand above the crowd can create a rewarding career after completing one of the many online degree programs in education.

Illinois Teachers by the Numbers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), Illinois has 80,580 elementary school teachers, 29,020 middle school teachers and 53,500 secondary school teachers. Combined, this puts teaching among the top 15 careers in the state. For every 1,000 people who are employed in the state, 28.915 teach on the elementary, middle or high school levels.

Teaching is among the higher-paid professions in the state. Elementary school teachers make an average of $59,270 a year. Middle school teachers make slightly more at $60,170 a year, with secondary school teachers making the most at $66,020 a year. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the salary of teachers increases by about 1 to 2 percent each year. Educational advancement, such as attaining a master or doctoral degree, as well as experience in the field all influence how much teachers are able to make.

The Need for Teachers in Illinois

According to the USA Today, Illinois is training more teachers than it has positions for. In fact, the state has approximately 10 teachers for every one position that is open. While the career pays well and has intrinsic rewards, some candidates may not find sufficient job opportunities.

Certain geographic areas and educational specialty areas, however, are still in high demand. Math, reading, science and bilingual education are all in demand in the state, so those interested in learning how to become a teacher in Illinois may want to focus their studies in one of these areas. Special education is also in high demand. Teachers for rural schools are in higher demand than those in suburban or urban settings, and the city of Chicago also has a higher-than-average demand for new teachers.

How to Become a Teacher in Illinois

To teach in public schools in Illinois, a teacher must be certified through the Illinois State Board of Education. The board offers three different levels of certification. Early Childhood covers children from birth through third grade. Elementary certification covers kindergarten through ninth grade. Secondary education covers sixth through 12th grade. Teachers can also receive certification in special education.

Certification Tiers

Illinois offers three tiers of certification for its teachers. The initial certification is awarded to teachers with up to four years of teaching experience. After four years of teaching, teachers can renew their certification for an additional five years; this is known as standard certification. Teacher who pass the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification process can receive master certification.

Required Coursework

Certification requires successful completion of an approved teacher-education program. Online degree programs and traditional programs from approved colleges and universities provide the necessary training to be able to teach well. For elementary teachers, these degree programs cover a long list of subjects, as elementary teachers will teach everything from reading to science. Secondary-education teachers will focus on one particular subject field for their certification.

Required In-Field Experience

In addition to completing the required coursework, the Illinois State Board of Education requires its teachers to complete practice in the classroom under the supervision of a licensed teacher. According to the Academic Employment Network, the state requires a minimum of five semester hours, and this needs to include evidence of successful teaching experience under the direction of the supervising teacher.

Required Testing

The final step for Illinois teacher certification is testing. Teachers must complete the Illinois Licensure Testing System’s tests for their teaching degree. All teachers start with the Basic Skills test that covers basic academic skills. Subject-matter tests in the subject area a teacher will be teaching are also included. Finally, teachers must pass a test covering Common Core Language Arts Standards, Illinois Professional Teaching Standards and Common Core Technology Standards.

Those interested in learning how to become a teacher in Illinois face a competitive, but rewarding, career field. With the right online degree programs and the proper experience, teachers can have a rewarding career in Illinois.