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Teaching License Updated August 8, 2014

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

By Room 241 Team August 8, 2014

If you are considering a teaching career in the state of Illinois, it’s important to know the requirements to obtain a teaching license. Understanding the level of education you’ll need and the available Illinois teaching license options will help you start down the road to success as a teacher in this state.

Requirements for certified teachers in Illinois

If you are considering a career in education, the first step is to get the proper credentials so that you can become a certified teacher in Illinois. This begins with choosing the proper college program. You will need to complete an approved certificate preparation program from the accredited school of your choice. You can find a full list of approved schools from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Upon successfully completing your degree program, you will then need to take the Illinois certification test, known as the Test of Academic Proficiency. You will also need to take the Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) test for the age group you wish to take. Finally, if you will specialize, you will need to take a content area exam.

The Test of Academic Proficiency contains four sections: 60 reading comprehension questions, 60 language arts questions, 50 mathematics questions and 1 constructed response writing assignment. These tests are scored and passed independently, so if you fail a portion of the test, that is the only portion you have to retake. You are allowed five attempts to pass the TAP test.

The Assessment of Professional Teaching tests your professional knowledge as an educator. It has 120 multiple choice questions and two constructed-response writing questions. You will take the test that applies to the grade or age level you will be teaching. Options include birth through grade 3, grades K through 9, grades 6 through 12 and grades K through 12.

Finally, if you are going to specialize in any particular field of education, you will need to take a content-area test. For example, special education professionals or foreign language teachers will need to test their knowledge in those areas.

Illinois has three types of teaching licenses:

  1. Professional Educator License (PEL): For all educators; requires endorsements for the appropriate content areas and grade levels
  2. Educator License with Stipulations (ELS): For educators still completing their education preparation program
  3. Substitute License: For substitute (non-permanent) teachers; only requires a degree

Illinois jobs for licensed teachers

With an Illinois teaching certification, you have many job options available to you. The main job is, of course, being a classroom teacher. An initial or standard educator can work as a classroom aid or an individual classroom teacher.

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 Illinois for the 2015-2016 school year:

  • Bilingual Education (state-wide)
  • Learning Behavior Specialist I (state-wide)
  • Standard Elementary Instructor (Chicago only)

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 Illinois

Illinois 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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