FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is required to teach in the State of Illinois public schools?
  2. Can an individual who is certified in another state obtain a corresponding Illinois certificate and endorsement?
  3. Are there ways for a person with a degree in another field to obtain a teaching certificate in Illinois? Can it be done without completing a regular or traditional program or earning another degree?
  4. Are there opportunities to teach in Illinois without a teaching certificate?
  5. Does a master's degree certify a person to teach in a public school?
  6. Is a master's degree required to teach in the State of Illinois?
  7. What is a "highly-qualified" teacher in Illinois and how does a teacher earn that status?
  8. In which areas of education is an individual most likely to get a job? What areas of certification are in high demand?
  9. I want to teach outside of the State of Illinois. How do I find out what is required in other states?
  10. I want to teach in another state. How do I prove that I completed an approved NIU program?

1. What is required to teach in the State of Illinois public schools?

For additional information, please refer to the Guide to Requirements for Certification, Endorsement and Assignment of Teachers, School Service Personnel, and Administrators and the Northern Illinois University Endorsement Application page.

A teaching certificate issued by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) based on

  • Completion of a bachelor's degree,
  • Completion of a state approved certification program at an institution of higher education,
  • Completion of coursework related to the exceptional child, particularly the learning disabled,
  • Passing all state-required certification tests, and
  • Recommendation for certification from the higher education institution.

2. Can an individual who is certified in another state obtain a corresponding Illinois certificate and endorsement?

Yes. In most cases, an individual who holds a valid certificate from another state, territory or country can obtain a corresponding Illinois certificate upon submission of appropriate documentation and passage of the relevant tests. Information on specific requirements for out-of-state teachers, administrators, and school service personnel is available through the State Board of Education and/or a Regional Office of Education.


3. Are there ways for a person with a degree in another field to obtain a teaching certificate in Illinois ? Can it be done without completing a regular or traditional program or earning another degree?

Illinois law authorizes higher education institutions to develop and, with state approval, provide alternative routes to certification programs. Although these programs are designed to provide a faster way to obtain certificates, the programs must address the same standards as required for "regular" route programs.

Candidates for alternative route certification programs must have at least a bachelor's degree in a field other than teaching and some experience in a position related to their degree. They must complete an intensive program of study and at least a year of mentored teaching on a provisional alternative certificate. More information about alternative route programs and the Illinois institutions of higher education that have such programs is available on the alternative certification  pages of the State Board of Education website.

NIU has received state approval for implementation of certain alternative route programs; however, due to limited funding and institutional capacity, no alternative certification programs are in operation at this time.


4. Are there opportunities to teach in Illinois without a teaching certificate?

State law allows individuals to teach in non-public and charter schools without a teaching certificate. However, many of these schools choose to require that some or all of their teachers hold such relevant certification.

State law also allows individuals who do not hold a teaching certificate to teach on a substitute certificate. Substitute certificates may be issued to individuals who meet the general requirements for certification in Illinois; i.e., be 19 years of age, be a citizen of or legally present in the United States, and have good character and sound health; and have either a bachelor's degree or two years of teaching experience plus 60 hours of college credit, including six semester hours of professional education courses.

Substitute certificates are also issued to individuals who meet the general requirements for certification and have a certificate valid for teaching in the public schools.

Some individuals who do not have a certificate may be eligible for a transitional bilingual education certificate. This certificate has a limited period of validity during which the holder must work toward full certification. It is available to individuals who have a bachelor-equivalent degree from the U.S. or a foreign country; or who have held a valid certificate or comparable teaching authorization from another state, territory or foreign country; and who can meet specified language requirements in English and another language.

For more information, contact a Regional Office of Education  or the State Board of Education.


5. Does a master's degree certify a person to teach in a public school?

No, an Illinois teaching certificate is required. However, some master's degree programs provide opportunities for acquiring Illinois teacher certification.


6. Is a master's degree required to teach in the State of Illinois?

No.


7. What is a "highly-qualified" teacher in Illinois and how does a teacher earn that status?

In response to the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 , the State Board of Education has established criteria for teachers to be considered "highly-qualified." The state criteria are aligned with the federal requirements and are intended to provide educators and school districts with guidance for assuring that all teachers in core academic subjects are "highly-qualified" in each area of teaching responsibility by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. To learn more, please refer to Part 25, Appendix D of the State Board Administrative Rules.


8. In which areas of education is an individual most likely to get a job? What areas of certification are in high demand?

Demand for teachers and education specialists depends on many factors, including region of the state, district type and size, district finances, prior year turnover, etc. However, in general, there is a strong and continuing need for special education teachers and other specialists such as speech-language therapists; bilingual education and ESL teachers; school service personnel (counselors, social workers and psychologists); remedial reading teachers; and math and science teachers. There is also an increasing need for superintendents and principals.

Although there is a need for general classroom or self-contained elementary teachers in some districts, the overall supply of elementary teachers exceeds the demand in any given area. Prospective elementary teachers may want to talk with an advisor about the pros and cons of seeking certification in subjects other than, or in addition to, elementary education.

The State Board of Education regularly studies the supply and demand for various types of educators in Illinois. For more information, please refer to the 2003 Educator Supply and Demand in Illinois.


9. I want to teach outside of the State of Illinois. How do I find out what is required in other states?

The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) website provides links to the certification departments in all states and territories.


10. I want to teach in another state. How do I prove that I completed an approved NIU program?

Call NIU's Office of Registration and Records at 815-753-8214 and request a State-Approved Program Verification Form.