Become a Teacher in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Highlights 

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary $71,390
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary $72,280
Vacation Weeks per Year 15
Pupil/Teacher Ratio 1:25
Expenditure per Pupil $15,087

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

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Massachusetts Teacher Shortage Areas

A teacher shortage occurs when there are not enough teachers in key subject areas, which has been partly caused by years of teacher layoffs during the Great Recession, a growing student population and fewer people entering teacher preparation programs, according to the Learning Policy Institute.

The following is a list of teacher shortage areas in Massachusetts for the 2016-17 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. (see page 75).

  • ESL
  • English Language Arts/Reading
  • English/Language Arts
  • Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Foreign Languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Latin and/or Classical Humanities, Portuguese, Spanish)
  • Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, General Science, Physics)
  • Special Education
  • Moderate Disabilities
  • Severe Disabilities
  • Visually Impaired Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Massachusetts

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: 11/1/2016

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of Massachusetts, 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 Massachusetts teaching credential application.

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your Massachusetts Teaching Credential

To earn your Massachusetts teaching credential you will have to complete required the appropriate amount of undergraduate coursework and standardized tests, as well as an accredited certification program. Massachusetts issues an Initial license for new teachers (valid for five years and renewable once), and a Professional license (renewable every five years), issued after at least three years of teaching under an Initial License and completion of a teacher induction program.

Learn more at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education about earning your teaching credential or learn more about getting your teaching credential at

Step One: Prerequisite Coursework in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program to receive certification. Massachusetts does not list specific course or credit hour requirements; however some subject fields may have such requirements. Also, every college or university teacher preparation program will have requirements of its own. Contact your teacher preparation program or the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education for more information.

Step Two: Massachusetts 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 desired content area. Visit the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education for a list of accredited teacher preparation programs.

Step Three: Required Tests for Massachusetts

Most states require tests to show competency in basic skills as well as in the other areas provided by Teachers Test Prep, where you can also access free online Praxis Practice Tests and Praxis Study Guides, plus a variety of paid Praxis Test Prep options for those desired subject area. For basic skills, Massachusetts uses the MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure) Communication and Literacy Skills Test, along with at least one MTEL Subject Matter Test appropriate for the subject and/or grade level you plan to teach.

Beginning October 18, 2016, all candidates registering to take the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) will be required to enter a MEPID (Massachusetts Education Personnel ID) number in order to register for a test. Before registering for the MTEL, you must know your MEPID number.

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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.

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Alternative Teacher Certification in Massachusetts

Aspiring teachers in Massachusetts can apply for a Preliminary license, which is valid for five years during which time an approved teacher preparation program can be completed. For more information on licensure and non-traditional certification routes visit the state’s Executive Office of Education page.

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Benefits of a Master's Degree in Massachusetts

It is no longer enough to only have years of experience teaching. After No Child Left Behind and other academic quantification measures, teachers are almost solely evaluated by their success in the classroom. A master’s degree in the field of education will 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 may be able to achieve better results in the classroom and have more job security and higher pay. In Boston Public Schools, holding a master’s degree can result in a salary bump of more than $3,000 for new teachers, and more than $5,000 for those with many years of experience compared to educators who don’t have an advanced degree, according to a Boston Public Schools 2015 salary schedule.

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

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Certification Reciprocity in Massachusetts

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 Massachusetts, visit the reciprocity page. Or, for more specific questions about your situation contact the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.

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Financial Aid in Massachusetts

Massachusetts residents are eligible for the Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship as well as the TEACH Grant, a 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

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Massachusetts Teacher Salary and Incentives

In Massachusetts, teachers earned an average of $73,129 in 2012-13, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Massachusetts is one of the highest paying states to teach in, and additionally offers increased pay for teachers willing to work in high-needs schools or in shortage subjects. Teacher salary is determined by the school district. For the most recent data on average salaries in each district, visit the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education’s Teacher Salaries Report page or learn more about teacher salaries at

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Massachusetts Teacher Benefits and Retirement

Massachusetts public school teachers are eligible to receive full retirement benefits from the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System at age 55 with at least 10 years of teaching service, or at any age with a minimum of 20 years of teaching service. Benefits are calculated using age at the time of retirement, years of service, and the average of a teacher’s highest three consecutive years’ salaries. For more information, visit the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System.

Learn more about benefits for teachers on

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Professional Development for Teachers in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education established a system of Professional Development Points (PDP’s) for teacher license renewal. PDP’s are earned through the completion school or district-run professional development activities. The Department publishes detailed guidelines and resources for PDP’s.

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Massachusetts Teaching Jobs

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education runs an Educator Career Center, where districts can post job opportunities and aspiring teachers can search through them.

Learn more about finding a teaching job on

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