Become a Teacher in Illinois

Illinois Highlights

Avg. Elementary Teacher Salary: $62,620
Avg. Secondary Teacher Salary: $68,380
Vacation Weeks Per Year: 15

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics External link  report.

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics, and other information are subject to change. makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 08/09/2018

This page is sponsored by Rossier Online, a Master’s level teaching degree program delivered online that enables you to earn a Master’s degree and teaching credential. Learn more about how the University of Southern California can help you become a transformative teacher in Illinois.

To become a certified teacher in Illinois, you will need to fulfill these requirements:

  • Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
  • Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program
  • Step Three: Pass required exams.
  • Step Four: Submit an Illinois teaching credential application.

Our goal is to make this process as easy as possible, and we are dedicated to updating with new information on a regular basis.


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Step One: Illinois Prerequisite Coursework

The first step to getting licensed as a teacher in Illinois is choosing a specialization and/or grade level and earning your Bachelor’s degree.

Here are some examples:

Elementary Education

Licenses are not usually endorsed at the primary level, since teaching at that level in most subjects requires only an appropriate license and formal training in the subjects taught. However, there are some subjects that require 18 hours, or more, to teach at the middle grades and primary level.

Although teachers with middle grades endorsements are automatically qualified in those subjects at the primary level, it is possible a teacher who has the content hours required may wish to have the endorsement at the primary level because they do not have the necessary middle grades pedagogy courses required for a middle grades endorsement.

The primary level is K-4 for elementary licenses and K-3 for early childhood licenses. Illinois, therefore will issue primary level endorsements in the following subjects when the applicant does not have the required middle grades pedagogy coursework: English as a Second Language, Bilingual Education, Reading Teacher, Media, Library Information Specialist, and Technology Specialist. Except for the middle-grades pedagogy courses, the requirements in the content area are identical with those for the middle grades for each subject.

Secondary English/Language Arts, Mathematics, History/Social Science, and Science

A major in the content area indicated on the transcript or 32 semester hours in the content area; OR 24 semester hours in content courses completed at one or more institutions and passing the relevant content area test. If a person seeks an endorsement in a subject where there is no content test, the default requirement is a major or 32 semester hours of content.

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Master’s Requirements

Many schools of education now offer online MAT programs that provide increased flexibility by allowing aspiring or working teachers to attend class and complete coursework from any location that has an Internet connection. Online MAT programs are a practical option for students who have professional and personal commitments that make it difficult to obtain teaching certification through a full-time program.

The best online programs offer the same curriculum as the school’s on-campus program and apply the same admission requirements. Providing students with the ability to communicate with instructors and classmates in a face-to-face online environment is another hallmark of a good online program. In addition, candidates in online MAT programs should be provided with the opportunity to complete student teaching fieldwork in the local community.

Learn more about getting your MAT online with USC Rossier School of Education.

Step Two: Illinois Teacher Preparation

Next, you’ll need to complete an approved teacher preparation program. Visit the Illinois Board of Education’s Center for Educator Effectiveness page to find a state-approved teacher preparation program in Illinois. Afterward, make sure to fill out a State-Approved Program and Completion of Standards Verification Form to verify the completion of an approved program.

Typically teacher education programs consist of a combination of curricula and fieldwork involved in an accredited teacher preparation program. The curricula often include instruction on foundational knowledge and skills, pedagogy (the art and science of teaching), and preparing students to research, design and implement learning experiences in their field of study. The fieldwork component can include field observations, student teaching, and an internship.

While the involvement in an education program may seem financially daunting, a number of financial resources specifically for teachers exist around the country. For more information on this, visit our page on scholarships for teachers. For more scholarships for teachers exclusive to the state of Illinois, visit our Illinois Teacher Scholarship page.

Alternative Certification

Graduates of accredited colleges or universities whose Bachelor’s degree was not in education, and who have not yet earned a traditional teaching license, can still receive an alternative teaching license by satisfying certain requirements. Learn more about obtaining your Alternative Teacher Licensure in Illinois.

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Step Three: Illinois Required Tests

The next step in getting your Illinois teaching license is completing a Basic Skills Assessment and Content Area test(s). All teaching candidates must complete the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) Test of Academic Proficiency, ILTS Content Area test(s) and edTPA tests:

  • Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP): The ILTS Test of Academic Proficiency measures teaching candidates’ fundamental skills in the areas of reading comprehension, language arts, writing, and mathematics. This content is based on appropriate expectations for students in teacher preparation programs and for teaching in the state of Illinois.
    • In lieu of the TAP, students may also submit their ACT scores with a composite score of 22 with a writing score of 6, or SAT scores of 1110 or higher in evidence-based reading and writing and mathematics, as well as a minimum score of 26 on writing and language.
  • edTPA: edTPA tests measure teaching candidates’ knowledge and skills on both a professional and pedagogical level, depending on their level of licensure.
  • Content Area Tests: The ILTS Content Area tests are designed to measure teaching candidates’ knowledge of specific content area(s), depending on their desired level of licensure. Visit ILTS’s Test Selection for a list of all available Content Area tests.

Visit the Illinois Board of Education for more information on state testing requirements and registration dates.

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Step Four: Illinois Application Requirements

Finally, submit a completed licensure application to get the show on the road! You can do this by making an Educator account on the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS). After that, you’ll need to submit non-refundable $100 or $150 application fee, depending on whether you completed your educator preparation program in Illinois.

In addition to your application and fee, you will need:

  • Fingerprint-based CHRI (Criminal History Records Information) checks through both the Illinois State Police and the FBI
  • Check of the Illinois Sex Offender Registry
  • Check of the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry

For more information contact the Illinois State Board of Education.

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Illinois License Reciprocity

Illinois will accept some teaching credentials from some states. Contact the Illinois State Board of Education to inquire about your specific situation. Please see our interstate reciprocity disclaimer for more information.

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Illinois Teacher Salary

  • Incentives to teach in high-needs schools or shortage subject areas: Illinois offers loan forgiveness for teachers teaching in high needs schools but offers no support for teachers teaching in shortage subject areas
  • Policies in place that articulate elements of effective induction: Illinois has no induction policies in place
  • Average Elementary Teacher Salary: $62,620
  • Average Secondary Teacher Salary: $68,320
  • Average Number of Vacation Weeks Per Year:15

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

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