How to Become a Teacher in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a small state that places a big emphasis on the quality of its education. The state has strict requirements for its licensed educators, so those interested in learning how to become a teacher in Rhode Island are best off if they learn the requirements before they begin any online degree programs or enroll in a traditional school.

Rhode Island by the Numbers

Rhode Island is a small state with a smaller-than-average population. Yet it is a state that values education, and as such, has a high number of teachers in comparison to its population.

In the 2010-2011 school year, the National Center for Education Statistics said that Rhode Island employed 11,211 teachers educating 143,793 students in 325 schools, generating an average pupil-to-teacher ratio of 12.83, far below the national average of 15.97-to-1.

The National Education Association says that Rhode Island pays its teachers an average of $58,407 a year, which is among the top 10 in the country. In comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) says the average pay for high school teachers across the nation is $53,230, while the average pay for elementary school teachers is $51,380.

Demand for Teachers in Rhode Island

Rhodes Island is expecting a growing demand for teachers though 2018. Both elementary school teachers and middle school teachers are listed as one of the top jobs for job growth during this period. This means that the Department of Labor and Training is expecting at least a 7.8 percent growth rate in these vocations. Specifically, elementary school teachers are expected to grow from 4,017 to 4,542, a growth rate of 13.1 percent, while middle school teachers will jump from 2,508 to 3,147, a growth rate of 25.5 percent. Secondary teachers did not make this list.

Teacher Education Programs in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Education says that the state has eight institutions of higher learning with approved educator-preparation programs. Those who graduate from these programs and who pass the licensure testing area automatically qualify to receive certification.

Those who complete a program that is not within these eight institutions, such as someone looking for online degree programs or those coming from out of state, must be able to show that they completed the requirements in a state that is a member of an interstate certification compact. They may also be able to seek certification in Rhode Island through reciprocity. Out-of-state applicants will be asked to complete the necessary Praxis testing.

Requirements to Become a Teacher in Rhode Island

To become a teacher in Rhode Island, students must complete a bachelor degree program from an accredited school, according to the Rhode Island Department of Education. In addition, they must complete a state-approved teacher-preparation program in the five years prior to applying for a teaching certificate. Those majoring in education can complete both of these requirements in the same degree. Finally, prior to applying for licensure, the applicant must pass the Praxis exams for their grade level and specialization. All teachers must also complete student teaching and field experience in their chosen fields.

In addition, secondary education teachers must also major in a content area in which they wish to teach. For instance, someone applying for a history teaching license needs to have a degree in history. A history education degree would cover this requirement, the bachelor degree requirement and the requirement for a state-approved teacher preparation program.

While these qualifications are strict, the higher-than-average pay is a perk to teaching in Rhode Island. For those who are interested in learning how to become a teacher in Rhode Island, the answer starts with choosing an appropriate degree program. With a degree in education, a student can start a lifelong career inspiring the next generation of learners.