- Teacher Certification Map
- Become a Teacher in Illinois
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To become a licensed teacher in Illinois, you will need to fulfill all prerequisite coursework, teacher preparation, and testing requirements.
Our goal is to make this process as easy as possible, and we are dedicated to updating the site with new information on a regular basis.
A few quick notes on Illinois' teaching landscape:
- Incentives to teach in high-needs schools or shortage subject areas: Illinois provides loan forgiveness support for teachers teaching in high needs schools and teachers teaching in shortage subject areas
- Policies in place that articulate elements of effective induction: Illinois has strong induction policies in place
- Chicago Board of Education: Chicago, Illinois is one of the most populated cities in the United States, and is home to the third-largest school district in the country. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are separate from the Illinois Public School System, but both accept the same teaching credentials and have the same licensure requirements for prospective educators. The Chicago Board of Education offers prospective teachers additional opportunities while searching for an appropriate teacher preparation program, including alternative licensure programs and high-needs teaching incentives.
Step One: Prerequisite Coursework
Important Note: Education licensure requirements and salary statistics (for teachers and administrators) are subject to change. CertificationMap.com 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: 3/22/2016
The first step to getting licensed as a teacher 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: 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.
- Secondary Mathematics: 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.
- Secondary History/Social 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.
- Secondary 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.
All states require that licensed teachers at a minimum have a Bachelor’s degree. Additionally, some states have undergraduate credit hour requirements for licensure in specialty areas. Illinois, however, does not have any undergraduate credit hour requirements.
Visit The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs database to verify whether your if your institution is accepted.
Step Two: Teacher Preparation
Next, you'll need to complete an approved teacher preparation program. Visit Illinois Board of Education's Center of Educator Effectiveness page to find a state-approved teacher preparation program in Illinois. After, 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 includes instruction on foundational knowledge and skills, pedagogy (or 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.
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. Click here to learn about obtaining your alternative teacher licensure in Illinois.
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.
Step Three: Required Tests
The next step in getting your Illinois teaching license, complete a Basic Skills Assessment and Content Area test(s). Under the Illinois State Board of Education, all teaching candidates must complete the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) Test of Academic Proficiency, ILTS Content Area test(s) and edTPA tests.
Visit the Illinois Board of Education for more information on state testing requirements and registration dates.
- 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 Plus Writing scores with a minimum score of 22 or a SAT (critical reading + mathematics) with a minimum score of 1030.
- 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.
Step Four: 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.
Make sure you have all your supporting documents! Here's a complete checklist of things you need to submit along with your license application for first-time applicants:
- Fingerprint-based CHRI 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
Step Five: License Endorsements
In addition to your teaching license, if you would like to earn additional endorsements to your valid Illinois teaching license, complete the appropriate Illinois' Board of Education-approved content exam.
Visit the Illinois' Board of Education Illinois Licensure, Endorsement, and Approval Requirements page to find out more.
Illinois License Reciprocity
Illinois will accept some teaching credentials from all but the following states: Alaska, Iowa, and Minnesota. 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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