Become a Teacher in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary $54,790
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary $55,360
Vacation Weeks per Year 17
Pupil/Teacher Ratio 15.08
Expenditure per Pupil $11,186

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

125 S. Webster Street
Madison, WI 53707-7841
(800) 266-3390

Wisconsin Teacher Shortage Areas

A teacher shortage area is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as “an area of specific grade, subject matter or discipline classification, or a geographic area in which … there is an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary school teachers.” The Department allows states to identify their own teacher shortage areas, but encourages them to follow a prescribed methodology based on unfilled teaching positions, teaching positions filled by instructors with irregular certifications, and positions filled by teachers certified in other subject areas.

  • Career and Technology Education
    • Business Education
    • Family and Consumer Education (FACE)
    • Technology Education
  • Special Education
    • Cognitive Disabilities
    • Cross Categorical
    • Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    • Early Childhood-Special Education
    • Emotional/Behavioral Disorders
    • Learning Disabilities
    • School Speech and Language Disabilities
    • Visual Disabilities
  • Standard Disciplines
    • ESL/Bilingual Education
    • Foreign Languages
    • Library Media
    • Mathematics
    • Music
    • Reading
    • Sciences

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Wisconsin

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: 10/31/2016

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

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your Teaching Credential in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction issues new teachers their Initial Teaching Licenses, which are valid for five years and are non-renewable, except under extenuating circumstances as a one-year extension. After at least three years of teaching, teachers may advance to their Professional Educator Licenses, which are also valid for five years and are renewable. The department also offers the Master Educator License, which is valid for 10 years and renewable, to teachers who hold a Professional Educator License and have successfully completed either their national board certification or their Wisconsin master educator assessment process.

Learn more about earning your Wisconsin teaching credential on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website. Read more about getting your teaching credential in general on the Teach and CertificationMap websites.

Step One: Prerequisite coursework in Wisconsin

Generally, states require that certified teachers hold, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Many states also have undergraduate credit hour requirements for certification in specialty areas. Wisconsin does not list specific course or credit hour requirements, although every college or university teacher preparation program will have requirements of its own. Contact your teacher preparation program or the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for more information.

Step Two: Wisconsin Teacher Certification Programs

Teacher education programs usually consist of a combination of curricula and fieldwork. Coursework often includes instruction on foundational knowledge,  skills, and pedagogy (the art and science of teaching) as well as preparation in researching, designing and implementing learning experiences in various fields of study. The fieldwork component often includes class observation, student teaching or internships.

Step Three: Required Tests in Wisconsin

In order to become a certified teacher in Wisconsin, you must satisfactorily complete: a basic skills test, such as the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators series; the relevant content tests, such as the Praxis II series; and, if instructing elementary education, special education or reading, the Foundations of Reading Test for Wisconsin.

You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting the Praxis information page 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 who need additional help, including live prep classes, one-on-one tutoring, and on-demand online prep.

Read more about teacher certification tests on

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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 Certification in Wisconsin

Wisconsin allows for the development and approval of alternative programs for Initial Teaching Licenses. These programs must be pre-approved by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and many are dedicated to licensure in shortage areas. A list of approved alternative programs in Wisconsin can be found on the state Department of Public Instruction’s website.

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Benefits of Earning a Master’s Degree in Wisconsin

Earning a Master’s in Teaching will increase your salary in some school Wisconsin districts. In the Madison School District, for example, teachers holding a master’s annually earn at least $1,092 more than their peers who hold only a bachelor’s. In the Racine Unified School District, master’s holders earn at least $2,193 more than their bachelor’s-only peers.

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

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Certification Reciprocity in Wisconsin

Wisconsin allows interstate reciprocity for teaching credentials other states with similar licensing requirements. Contact the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for information on specific out-of-state licensure circumstances, or visit the reciprocity page to learn more.

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Financial Aid in Wisconsin

There are several forms of aid available to teachers pursuing their Master’s in Teaching. The TEACH Grant, for example, offers financial aid in return for teaching full time in a high-need field at a low-income school for at least four academic years. Similarly, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program allows teachers to teach full-time at a low-income school for five years in exchange for forgiveness of up to $17,500 of student loans. The college or university where you plan to attain your master’s degree may also offer its own aid.

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

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Wisconsin Teacher Salary & Incentives

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Wisconsin ranked 20th among states for average teacher salary in 2013, coming in at $55,171.  Wisconsin school districts increase their teachers’ salaries according to their years of experience and the advanced degrees they’ve earned.

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Wisconsin Teacher Benefits & Retirement

Retirement benefits for teachers in Wisconsin are handled by the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). The ETF website provides detailed information on retirement benefits for education jobs.

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Professional Development for Teachers in Wisconsin

Wisconsin teachers are required to obtain six professional development credits according to a previously developed Professional Development Plan in order to renew their teaching licenses for five years. Courses for professional development credits are offered both online and at local colleges and universities in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website provides detailed information on the state professional development process.

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Wisconsin Teaching Jobs

While the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction does maintain its own list of teaching positions open to the public, it also directs educators searching for work to a number of other online resources. These include the Job Center of Wisconsin, which hosts a search engine for positions throughout the state; the Wisconsin Education Career Access Network, which features an online application system for certified staff; the Academic Employment Network, a nationwide database of teaching positions; and School-Jobs, another nationwide database.

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