How to Become a Teacher in Massachusetts

Massachusetts provides a vibrant environment for teachers to practice their craft and influence the next generation of youth. Prospective educators should determine how to become a teacher in Massachusetts before beginning their educational process. The state has several important requirements of teachers seeking licensure. Carefully review all of the requirements to ensure that your road to becoming a Massachusetts educator is smooth.

Massachusetts Educator Fast Facts and Figures

As the third-most-densely populated state in the United States, Massachusetts is home to 6.6 million people and boasts several large metropolitan areas. The state has just under 1 million school-aged children enrolled in public schools, with thousands of others in the private school system. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Massachusetts public schools employ 68,754 teachers. This translates to a student-to-teacher ratio of 13.9-to-1, significantly below the national average of nearly 16-to-1. For educators, this low student-to-teacher ratio is an attractive reason to teach in Massachusetts. Smaller classroom sizes permit stronger student learning and more teacher flexibility.

How to Become a Licensed Teacher in Massachusetts

Initial License

Teachers just starting their careers in Massachusetts must seek an Initial License. This license lasts five years and can be extended one time for an additional five years. Candidates for an Initial License must meet several requirements:

  • Bachelor degree or higher. All applicants must hold a bachelor degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. Completing online degree programs is a great way for future teachers to complete their bachelor or master degrees.

  • Teacher-preparation program. To qualify for the Initial License, applicants must have completed a valid Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education-approved teacher preparation program. Commonly, majoring in education at an accredited university provides the didactic and practical experience to qualify as a teacher-preparation program. Programs from outside the state should be accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

  • Test scores. Unlike some states that use the Praxis II exam, Massachusetts requires would-be teachers to successfully complete the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). In many cases, this includes a test of general curriculum content and teaching methods as well as a test in a specific content area.

Preliminary License

Embarking on a new teaching career in midlife or deciding to teach after majoring in a different subject during undergraduate studies are common paths for educators. Fortunately, Massachusetts provides a way for people who have not completed a teacher-preparation program to become licensed in the state.

Obtaining a Preliminary License requires candidates to hold a bachelor degree from an accredited university and to pass relevant MTEL exams. Additionally, teachers in some subject areas may also need to demonstrate competency by completing relevant undergraduate-level coursework. A Preliminary License in Massachusetts is good for five years; it can be renewed one time for an additional five-year period. At the end of this period, instructors are expected to have completed the requirements for a standard teaching license.

Benefits of Working as a Teacher in Massachusetts

Excellent Job Outlook

One of the benefits of becoming a teacher in Massachusetts is the strong job outlook. The state has a relatively low unemployment rate compared to the national average, with 6.4 percent unemployment in April 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS). The education and health services sector is particularly robust, experiencing a 2.3 percent growth over the past year.

Strong Salaries for Teachers

Massachusetts also provides competitive salaries for teachers compared to surrounding states. The Boston Business Journal reports that the median salary for Massachusetts teachers in 2012 was $68,742. In more affluent areas, the average salaries were higher, with teachers earning an average of $93,700 in Concord-Carlisle and $81,900 in Boston. Although Massachusetts has a relatively high cost of living, these salaries provide teachers with competitive pay.

Motivated Students and Parents

In many Massachusetts school districts, parents are well-educated and motivated for their students to perform well. This, combined with a strong workforce of educators, translates into high standardized test scores. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that Massachusetts significantly outperforms the national average across a range of subjects. Massachusetts educators enjoy this work environment and the opportunity to work with bright, motivated students, making it an attractive place to become a teacher.