Guide to Becoming a Teacher in Illinois

To help aspiring teachers in Illinois, has compiled all the information and insights required to make informed decisions about the future.  To begin, there are three critical steps:

1. Choosing a Program: First, you will need to find an education program that supports your budget and career goals.

  • was developed by teachers for teachers, so we appreciate just how difficult it can be to find a program that fits your needs and budget. The first step is to ask the right questions. Are you concerned about the tuition cost? Do you want to complete your degree debt-free? If not, how far into debt are you willing to go? Is location a consideration? Are you going to be living with your parents or on your own during the course of your studies? Asking the right questions upfront will help you choose an appropriate program down the line.

2. Planning for Licensure in Illinois: To become a teacher in Illinois, you’ll need to complete at least a bachelor’s degree and a teacher preparation program. You will also need to write and pass the state’s licensing exams for teachers.

3. Entering the Workforce: Once you’ve completed an education program and passed the applicable exams, you will be ready to launch your career.

  • Once again, this is a moment when asking the right questions matters. Are you interested in working in an urban or rural school district? What are your salary and lifestyle expectations? What are your long-term career goals? Do you see yourself eventually moving up the ladder to pursue a principal position? Throughout the process, it is also important to continue developing your profile as an educator.  To ensure you have the best possible chance of obtaining a teaching job in Illinois, keep volunteering in schools and acquiring additional qualifications for teachers even following graduation. Your persistence and enthusiasm will go a long way in the state’s competitive job market.

Choosing an Education Program in Illinois understands that choosing the right program can be challenging. To streamline the process, we have developed a complex algorithmic to find out which education programs rank among the very best in Illinois. Using 2015 data, our team has analyzed total expense, student-to-faculty ratios, graduation rates, potential earnings, return on investment and much more.

Every school lists below has committed themselves to the pursuit of excellence and shown exemplary dedication to education of the highest caliber. Find out which ones stand above the rest and best match your own priorities by reviewing the information posted below.

Ranking Factors Explained

Our ranking data is based upon, IPEDS, and the Carnegie Foundation data sets.

How to Become a Teacher in Illinois

There are two common pathways to becoming a licensed teacher in Illinois:

  • Pathway 1: The first option is to complete a bachelor’s degree and a teacher preparation program in Illinois and to write and pass all the state’s applicable exams, which include the Test of Academic Proficiency and the edTPA. This pathway leads to a Professional Educator License in the State of Illinois.
  • Pathway 2: Another common pathway is to become a licensed teacher in another state and to apply for a Illinois license under the state’s reciprocal agreement program.

Notably, Illinois has a complex teacher licensing system and also issues specific licenses to substitute teachers. In addition, teachers working in some areas of specialization, such as bilingual education, are subject to additional licensing requirements.

What is the job outlook for teaching careers in the State of Illinois?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, there were an estimated 61,130 elementary teachers, 39,020 middle school teachers, and 49,610 secondary teachers in Illinois. Across levels, Illinois teachers made above the national average, with Illinois high school teachers reporting the highest mean annual salaries at $70,120. While there were widespread reports about the glut of qualified Illinois area teachers in 2011 to 2013, during this period, some Illinois schools, such as Northwestern University, reported a 95 percent placement rate for graduates. Although all signs point to the fact that Illinois’ demand for teachers is lower than it is in several Southern and Western U.S. states, highly trained teachers, especially those willing to work in struggling inner-city schools and in remote communities, remain in demand.

What resources do teachers have to help them during their careers in Illinois?

What online programs are available to potential teachers in the State of Illinois?

At the University of Illinois Springfield, students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in education, obtain a teacher license or earn a subsequent subject endorsement online. Western Illinois University offers an online master’s degree in education leading to teacher licensure at the elementary level. Through the University of Illinois, educators interested in questions of diversity can also complete a master’s degree in diversity and equity in education (the degree does not lead to licensure). Programs in education designed for licensed teachers seeking additional credentials are also available through the College of Education at Northern Illinois University.


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