Become a Teacher in Illinois

Illinois Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary:$59,680
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary:$69,300
Vacation Weeks per Year:15
Pupil/Teacher Ratio:16.5
Expenditure per Pupil:$13,702

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777
(866) 262-6663

Illinois Shortage Areas

The United States Department of Education defines a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) as a subject matter or grade level within a state in which there is an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary teachers.  The shortage may be caused by teaching positions that are unfilled or are filled by teachers who have temporary certification or teach in in academic subject other than their area of preparation.  According to a report by the USDE Office of Postsecondary Education, Illinois has the following Teacher Shortage Area:

  • Bilingual Education

Return to the top

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Illinois

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. 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: 11/3/2016

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of Illinois, teaching candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
  • Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.
  • Step Three: Pass required exams.
  • Step Four: Submit a Illinois teaching credential application.

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your Illinois Teaching Credential

To earn your Illinois teaching credential you will have to complete the appropriate amount of undergraduate coursework and standardized tests, as well as an accredited certification program. Illinois has three levels of certification: Initial (4 years), Standard (5 years, renewable) and Master (10 years, renewable). Learn more about getting your teaching credential by visiting the Illinois Board of Education Educator Licensure page.

Learn more about getting your teaching credential.

Step One: Prerequisite Coursework in Illinois

All states require that prospective teachers have at least a Bachelor’s Degree and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program to receive certification.  Some states also have specific course and credit-hour requirements.

Teacher education programs generally consist of two elements—curricula and fieldwork. Curricula generally includes instruction on teaching fundamental skills, pedagogy (the science of teaching) and preparing students to research, design and implement learning experiences in their field of study. Fieldwork often includes field observations, internships, student teaching or a combination of all three. Check with your teacher preparation program or the Illinois Department of Education for more information about specific requirements.

Step Two: Illinois Teacher Certification Programs

Teacher Certification Programs can be taken online or on-site. They typically include an educational theory and classroom skills seminar and a fieldwork component of student teaching in the area. A list of accredited teacher preparation programs in Illinois can be found on the  Illinois Department of Education website.

Step Three: Required Tests for Illinois

Illinois uses its own specialized testing system and requires the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) Test of Academic Proficiency, as well as the ILTS Content-Area Test in your desired subject.

Read more about teacher certification tests.

Return to the top

Featured Online Programs

Explore your career options in education:

Boost your credentials: in this 8-week online course, you'll engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective and engaging teaching methods in the higher education context. Refine your own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy and set yourself apart as effective educator.

BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons is the highly respected Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program delivered online from Simmons College. The program prepares students for leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.

Counseling@NYU offers an online master of arts in Counseling and Guidance program, with concentrations in school and bilingual school counseling to prepare students to become collaborative leaders elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. Part-time and full-time options are available to fit student schedules.

Vanderbilt University's Peabody College offers an online Master of Education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling for students interested in becoming school counselors and making a meaningful difference in K–12 settings.

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT) is for aspiring teachers who want to gain the skills and knowledge they need to become great educators.

The online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.

Sponsored Programs

Alternative Teacher Certification in Illinois

Illinois has a variety of Alternate Teaching Certification programs.  The Alternative Teacher Certification programs consist of a one-year intensive course, followed by a year of full-time teaching and mentoring ending with a comprehensive assessment.

There is also the Resident Teacher Certification, which allows a teacher to work in a public school while completing a Master’s in Education or a Master of the Arts in Teaching program. Candidates for Resident Teacher Certification must pass the ILTS Test of Academic Proficiency and complete a six-week intensive teacher preparation course. Learn more about alternative certification options by visiting the Illinois Board of Education website.

Illinois Troops to Teachers Program

The Troops to Teachers program helps members of the military transition to a teaching career. In order to participate, you must have or earn a four-year college degree.  Participants can receive a stipend to cover certification expenses if they teach in a high-needs school or in a district where a high percentage of students of students live below the poverty level.

Return to the top

Certification Reciprocity in Illinois

Interstate reciprocity is a program that allows teachers certified in one state to teach in another state. To find out which other state teaching licenses can be used in Illinois, or for more specific questions about your situation, contact the Illinois State Board of Education.

Return to the top

Illinois Teaching Jobs

The Illinois Department of Education maintains a website that provides teachers with resources they need during and after their job search. The Illinois Educational Job Bank is the main resource of job openings for educators in Illinois. The site has a variety of filters and categories that make it easy to find the exact kind of job you’re looking for. Illinois has found a strong correlation between highly educated teachers and successful students and aims to hire as many highly educated teachers as possible.

Learn more about finding a teaching job.

Return to the top

Illinois Teacher Salary and Incentives

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average teacher in Illinois makes $66,000 per year, which is 132% of the state average income, making it one of the highest paying states for teachers. Teachers in Illinois can earn $20,343-55,474 as a beginning Bachelor’s holding salary, and up to $139,241 for the highest level of degree and experience. Look at the 2014-2015 Illinois Teacher Salary Study to find out more.

Illinois also offers loan forgiveness as an incentive to teach in high demand school district, like Chicago’s public schools.

Learn more about teacher salaries on

Return to the top

Illinois Teacher Benefits and Retirement

The Teacher’s Retirement System (TRS) for Illinois aims to provide its members with assistance in managing their retirement funds, as well as additional benefits that depend on county and school districts. Teachers who began participating in the TRS before 2011 can retire at age 55 with a minimum of 35 years of service, and at 62 with a minimum of five years of service. Those who began on or after January 1, 2011, must have reached 67 years of age and completed at least 10 years of service to retire with full benefits.

Learn more about benefits for teachers.

Return to the top

Financial Aid in Illinois

Illinois residents are eligible for the Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship, as well as the TEACH Grant, which gives financial aid to students in return for an agreement to teach in a high-need school.

Learn more about how to finance your Master's degree on

Return to the top

Professional Development for Teachers in Illinois

Illinois requires teachers to complete either 12 semester hours of graduate coursework or 60 Professional Development Units to move from an Initial to a Standard certificate, and 8 semester hours or a certain number of Professional Development Units in various areas for renewal of a Standard or Master certificate. Learn more about professional development for teachers by visiting the Illinois Board of Education Educator Licensure page.

Return to the top

Benefits of a Master's Degree in Illinois

It is no longer enough to just have years of experience for teaching. After No Child Left Behind and other academic quantification measures, the careers of teachers increasingly depend on their results in the classroom. A master's degree in the field of education can give you more educational theory and classroom skills, as well as more hands-on student teaching experience with a mentor. After a Master’s program, you will be able to achieve better results in the classroom and have more job security and higher pay. 

According to a 2015 report from the Illinois Board of Education from the Illinois Board of Education, a teacher with a Master’s degree starts out earning $64,309 in Illinois, which is about $11,000 more than the maximum possible beginning salary with a Bachelor’s degree. In the Chicago Public Schools, teachers holding a Master’s degree can earn about $3,500 more per year than those with a Bachelor’s degree, given equivalent levels of experience.

Learn more about the benefits of a Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education on

Return to the top

Sponsored Program