Iowa Teacher Certification: How to Become a Licensed Teacher in Iowa

Teaching License Updated July 21, 2015

You may have debated several career paths to take looking for a profession that allows you to interact with children. As a certified teacher, you can have a fulfilling job providing knowledge to the children in your classroom. To become an Iowa certified teacher, you will need to know the general requirements and the types of tests to take to become certified.

Requirements for certified teachers in Iowa

Most teaching positions in the state of Iowa require for you to have bachelor’s degree from an accredited school in the region. According to the Iowa Department of Education, you are also required to complete an approved teacher preparation program, a human relations component, and teaching endorsement requirements.

An endorsement is a specialization in a grade level and subject in the early childhood or K-12 education levels. You are permitted to teach this grade level once you obtain your teaching certification in Iowa as you can advance in your career by obtaining more grade-level endorsements.

Before you complete these requirements, you will have to meet the recency requirements for a Class A license to become an initial educator. For a Class A license, you have to complete a practitioner preparation program, such as a teacher or administrator program, but have less than 160 days of teaching in the last five years. The Class A license is valid for one year as you complete the rest of the initial educator requirements.

You must take several tests to become a licensed initial educator, including a PRAXIS pedagogy test and content test appropriate to the grade level and subject you want to teach.

Once you have passed the required tests, you will receive your initial license, which is valid for two years. This license is renewable so long as you continue to meet the initial educator requirements.

Iowa jobs for licensed teachers

With an Iowa license in teaching, many job opportunities are open to you as you advance in your career. As you obtain more teaching experience, you can receive additional licensure to become a standard educator, a master educator, a substitute teacher, and an exchange teacher who travels to other states. Each available job has specific requirements you must obtain for that specific license:

  1. Initial: For new educators; valid for two years
  2. Standard: For educators with two years of teaching experience in public school or three years in combined public, private, or out-of-state schools; valid for five years
  3. Master Educator: For educators with a master’s degree and five years of teaching experience; valid for five years
  4. Substitute Teacher: For those who have had (or currently have) a regular license in Iowa or another state and has completed a teacher preparation program; valid for five years
  5. Exchange Teacher: For educators from other states who are still in the process of completing Iowa-specific requirements

If you plan to teach a subject designated as a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) by the U.S. Department of Education, you might be eligible for student loan deferment or cancellation. The following TSAs have been approved for Iowa for the 2015-2016 school year:

Regular Education

  • Agriculture (Grades 5 – 12)
  • English as a Second Language (Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • Family and Consumer Sciences (Grades 5 – 12)
  • Foreign Language (All)
  • Industrial Technology (Grades 5 – 12)
  • Mathematics (Grades 5 – 12)
  • Professional School Counselor (Kindergarten – Grade 8 and Grades 5 – 12)
  • Science (Grades 5 – 12)
    • All Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Science
    • Physics
  • Speech Communication/Theatre (Grades 5 – 12)
  • Talented and Gifted (Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • Teacher Librarian (Kindergarten – Grade 8, Kindergarten – Grade 12, and Grades 5 – 12)

Special Education

  • Early Childhood Special Education (Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten)
  • Instructional Strategist II Behavior Disorders/Learning Disabilities
  • Instructional Strategist II Mental Disabilities
  • Instructional Strategist II Mild/Moderate
  • Instructional Strategist II Physical Disabilities
  • Hearing Impaired (Birth to Age 21)
  • Visually Impaired (Birth to Age 21)
  • Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 3 Regular/Special Education (Serving in Special Education or in Early Childhood Inclusive Classrooms)

A full and current list of TSAs for each state is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

Teaching license reciprocity in Iowa

Iowa participates in a teaching license reciprocity agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). When you apply for a teaching certificate in one state using an existing license from another, the “destination state” is actually recognizing your credentials as verification that you are qualified to teach. You must still meet all requirements before you can teach there.

Fortunately, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure streamlines this application process and expedites the goal of teaching in your new state. For more information, see Teaching License Reciprocity Explained.

Disclaimer: Licensing requirements are subject to change. Please visit your state board of education to check for recent revisions to teaching license requirements.

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