How to Become a Teacher in Montana

Becoming a teacher is a great choice for a profession. However, it takes a special person with patience and love for children. There are specific routes one must take for becoming a teacher in each state. The following steps will help you plan your path to becoming a teacher in Montana.

Choose What You Want to Teach

The most important step of all is to decide what level and subject you are passionate about teaching. Do you think you would excel as a teacher in an elementary school environment? Elementary school instructors teach multiple subjects at a fundamental level. Do you prefer a middle school or high school environment? Secondary school teachers usually have a specialty or passion for a single subject, like Math or English. Are you interested in special education? There are different requirements for each of these credentials. The Montana Office of Public Instruction has more information on teachers and students in the state, which could help you in making an informed decision.

Complete Your Education Requirements for Teaching in Montana

In order to become a licensed teacher in Montana, you should at least hold a Bachelor's Degree and complete an accredited professional educator preparation program in an area approved for endorsement in Montana.

In most accredited colleges or universities in Montana, you can earn your teaching license and Bachelor's Degree simultaneously. Inquire with your institution of choice to find out if you have the option to complete a blended program. This blended program will put together all of the coursework you will need to complete a professional educator preparation program and a Bachelor's Degree. This type of program is ideal for candidates who know from early on that they want to teach.

Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

As mentioned above, to become a licensed teacher in Montana, you will need to complete an accredited professional educator preparation program.

Teacher education programs generally consist of two elements: curricula and fieldwork. Curricula refers to the college level classes you will need to take at your Montana institution. These classes tend to focus on pedagogy, teaching methods,classroom management, lesson plan design, differentiated instruction, and more. Fieldwork usually incorporates classroom observations, internships, and/or student teaching. During student teaching, you will work with a mentor teacher to teach lessons to students for a set period of time. The exact curriculum depends on your college or university.

If you already have a Bachelor's Degree in non-education field, you can complete an alternate or post-baccalaureate educator preparation program. Keep in mind that many institutions of higher education even offer a joint Master's Degree and teacher education program.

Alternative Teacher Certification in Montana

There are alternate routes to becoming a licensed teacher in Montana.

Teacher Certification Reciprocity

If you have certification to teach in another state, you may still be able to teach in Montana. Montana has reciprocity agreements with many other states. However, the entire licensure process for Montana must also be completed. Note that you might not be able to qualify for full licensure in Montana if you received your license through an alternate route or testing in your home state. This is due to the state's definition of a "highly qualified teacher." If this is the case, the Licensure Division will inform the educator of the requirements necessary for full certification.

Class 4 License

If you have not completed an educational degree, but do have work experience in a technical or career area, you may be able to apply for a Class 4 license. In order to receive a Class 4 license, you will need to prove 10,000 hours of work experience. You may be able to combine your work experience with your degree or license to earn this classification. You can apply for Montana's Class 4 license here.

Class 5 License

If you have not completed all of Montana's requirements to become a teacher, you can apply for a Class 5 License. This license is for people who have not yet completed all of Montana's requirements, particularly an educator training program. The Class 5 license is valid for three years. Before the end of three years, the individual must complete any remaining requirements in order to become fully certified. You can apply for Montana's Class 5 license here.

Pass the Required Tests for Montana

At this time, teaching candidates are not required to pass tests as part of Montana's teacher licensure process. However, teachers do need to pass certain exams in order to become a "Highly Qualified" teacher in Montana.

Montana asks that new teachers pass the Praxis II examinations in order to meet Highly Qualified Status and to become licensed to teach in the following areas:

  • Elementary K-8
  • Art (All Grades)
  • Reading (All Grades)
  • Secondary Education (5-12):
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Science
    • Economics
    • English
    • Geography
    • Government/Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physical Science
    • Physics
    • World and U.S. History
  • World Languages (All Grades)
    • French
    • German
    • Spanish

For current requirements, you can call the state's Office of Public Instruction at (406) 444-3150.

Apply for your Montana Teacher Certification/Teaching License

Application Requirements

The Department of Education in Montana will require you to submit the following when you apply to become a teacher:

  • Completed application form
  • Documentation to support the form, including your college transcript(s) from every college or university you have attended
  • Application fees
  • Copies of any teaching certificates you have, if applicable
  • Official statement of status eligibility
  • Records of employment
  • Fingerprints and background check

Contact Information

Montana Office of Public Instruction
Attn: Educator Licensure
P.O. Box 202501
Helena, Montana 59620-2501
Phone: (406) 444-3150

Find a Teaching Job in Montana

Once your application processes, you will be ready to become a licensed educator in Montana! As a licensed educator, you will be ready to begin your career as a teacher.

Finding a Teaching Job in a Montana Public School

The state of Montana is always sourcing new teachers to work in schools throughout the state. Currently the state is facing a shortage of teachers, administrators, and educational support staff. The state Department of Education, through the Office of Public Instruction, has created a database site (jobsforteachers.mt.gov) to facilitate job postings both for potential employees and employers.

Teacher Unions

Once hired, public school teachers join a union such as the Montana Education Association and Montana Federation of Teachers (MEA-MFT). Labor unions assist teachers in a variety of ways throughout their career. Teachers find membership to be largely beneficial.

Retirement Benefits

At retirement, teachers are able to draw from the state's Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) which handles retirement, disability, and survivor benefits for retirees and their families.

Finding a Teaching Job in a Montana Private School

Montana has more than 120 private schools. Many teachers prefer to work in a private school due to the smaller class sized with a pleasant ratio of 10 students to 1 student. Private schools may have different requirements than those of public schools. If you wish to work in a private school, it would be best to contact them directly.

Teacher Shortage in Montana by Subjects or Discipline (2014-2015)

The following list of teacher shortage areas in Montana has been obtained from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) list for the 2014-2015 school year

  • Career and Technical Education
  • English
  • Library
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Special Education Teachers
  • Speech-Language Pathologist
  • World Languages

Number of Public School Teachers By Grade

The table below lists the number of public school teachers in Montana by grade level during the 2012-2013 school year.

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Pre-kindergarten & Preschool Teachers221
Kindergarten Teachers732
Elementary Teachers6,126
Middle & High School Teachers3,121

Data obtained from the State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data 2013

Number of Private School Teachers By Grade

There are more than 100 private schools with an estimated 900 private school teachers in Montana. The table below details the number of teachers by grade level during the 2011-2012 school year.

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Elementary School Teachers436
Middle & High School Teachers130
Combined K-12 School Teachers289

Data obtained from the Private School Universe Survey (PSS) 2012

Continue Your Education and Professional Development

Researchers have determined that teachers who engage in relevant, high-quality professional development make a measurable positive impact on student achievement. For this reason, it has become standard practice and part of the culture of the educational system to ensure that teachers strive for ongoing professional development opportunities through a variety of platforms and venues.

When evaluating various professional development options, teachers will benefit from making sure that the offering leads to identification, reflection, and implementation of best-practices for student achievement. In addition, good professional developments will have staff members work collaboratively, focusing on continuous improvement.

Professional Development in Montana

The Department of Education in Montana has established the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) to support new and experienced educators in their professional development needs. The OPI is divided into Montana Regional Education Service Areas whose goals are to help teachers increase their subject-matter knowledge, enhance research-based instructional strategies, and increase teachers' competency with technology in the classroom. Visiting the Montana OPI website is a great starting place for teachers with further inquiries.

Employment and Teacher Salary in Montana

The state of Montana is actively recruiting teachers to add to its workforce of over 10,153 public school teachers in preschool, elementary, and secondary schools. New teachers can expect to make a salary of $27,274 while seasoned teachers make an average of $40,500. Teachers with credentials in subjects like the arts, languages, STEM subjects, and special education may be given hiring preference based on the needs of the district. Teachers are encouraged to apply first to more populous areas like Billings, Great Falls, and Helena school districts.

Total Employed

4,630

Salary Range

$36,470 - $70,560

Elementary school teachers have a salary range between $36,470 to $70,560 a year in Montana. There are around four thousand employed elementary school teachers. Read about what it takes to become an elementary school teacher.

Elementary School Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings670$49,510
Missoula340$51,660
Great Falls280$46,010

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Elementary School Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2021)

Total Employed

190

Salary Range

$34,370 - $92,600

English teachers have a salary range between $34,370 to $92,600 a year in Montana, with over 190 employed in the state. See details on how to become an english teacher.

Total Employed

3,490

Salary Range

$37,580 - $72,050

As a high school teacher in Montana you can expect to make between $37,580 - $72,050. There are around three thousand employed high school teachers. Take the next step and learn to how to become a high school teacher.

High School Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings730$54,210
Great Falls300$54,190
Missoula180$50,730

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for High School Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2031)

Total Employed

60

Salary Range

$53,250 - $96,090

In Montana, a history teacher's salary may range from $53,250 to $96,090. There are around sixty employed history teachers. Get more information about becoming a history teacher.

Total Employed

540

Salary Range

$33,570 - $62,480

Kindergarten teachers in Montana, can earn between $33,570 to $62,480 a year. There are around 540 employed kindergarten teachers. Read about what it takes to become a kindergarten teacher.

Kindergarten Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings100$46,850
Missoula60$43,820

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Kindergarten Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2012)

Total Employed

10,830

Salary Range

$33,570 - $98,950

As a math teacher in Montana you can expect to make between $33,570 - $98,950. Montana is home to about ten thousand math teachers. See our guide on how to become a math teacher.

Total Employed

1,820

Salary Range

$18,010 - $46,280

P.e. teachers have a salary range between $18,010 to $46,280 a year in Montana. Montana is home to about a thousand p.e. teachers. See our guide on how to become a p.e. teacher.

Coaches and Scouts
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings310$21,840
Missoula240$27,120
Great Falls220$25,900

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Coaches and Scouts (SOC Code: 27-2022)

Total Employed

1,060

Salary Range

$19,100 - $33,720

In Montana, a preschool teacher's salary may range from $19,100 to $33,720, with over 1,060 employed in the state. See details on how to become a preschool teacher.

Preschool Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings210$24,330
Great Falls100$24,650
Missoula50$28,950

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Preschool Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2011)

Total Employed

920

Salary Range

$33,780 - $98,180

As a school administrator in Montana you can expect to make between $33,780 - $98,180. Montana is home to about 920 school administrators. Take the next step and learn to how to become a school administrator.

Education Administrators, Elementary, Middle, and High School
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings110$79,250
Missoula60$81,200
Great Falls40$72,760

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Education Administrators, Elementary, Middle, and High School (SOC Code: 11-9032)

Total Employed

740

Salary Range

$35,980 - $73,150

School counselors in Montana, can earn between $35,980 to $73,150 a year, with over 740 employed in the state. See our guide on how to become a school counselor.

Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings180$45,930
Missoula80$45,150
Great Falls40$50,790

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors (SOC Code: 21-1012)

Total Employed

620

Salary Range

$36,310 - $71,040

School librarians have a salary range between $36,310 to $71,040 a year in Montana. Montana is home to about 620 school librarians. Read about what it takes to become a school librarian.

Librarians
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings80$51,290
Missoula60$49,110
Great Falls30$50,800

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Librarians (SOC Code: 25-4021)

Total Employed

1,180

Salary Range

$37,290 - $71,980

In Montana, a special education teacher's salary may range from $37,290 to $71,980. Montana is home to about a thousand special education teachers. Interested in becoming a special education teacher?

Special Education Teachers (Kindergarten and Elementary School)
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Missoula40$47,840
Billings-$53,920

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (Kindergarten and Elementary School) (SOC Code: 25-2052)

Special Education Teachers (High School)
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings180$53,440
Great Falls60$42,110

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (High School) (SOC Code: 25-2054)

Total Employed

3,120

Salary Range

$18,480 - $29,540

In Montana, a substitute teacher's salary may range from $18,480 to $29,540. Montana is home to about three thousand substitute teachers. Read about what it takes to become a substitute teacher.

Substitute Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Missoula370$22,210
Great Falls270$21,620
Billings90$21,450

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Substitute Teachers (SOC Code: 25-3098)

Total Employed

4,420

Salary Range

$19,810 - $33,520

In Montana, a teaching assistant's salary may range from $19,810 to $33,520. There are around four thousand employed teaching assistants. Interested in becoming a teaching assistant?

Teacher Assistants
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Billings610$27,990
Missoula520$25,260
Great Falls330$19,430

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Teacher Assistants (SOC Code: 25-9041)

Top School Districts Supporting Teachers in Montana

homepage_badge_topTeachers work hard every day and the more support they have the better they can succeed at inspiring our future. This is why Teacher.org has ranked school districts in Montana that excel in supporting teachers inside and outside of the classroom. 16 school districts in Montana were analyzed with the top 5 school districts being featured below. The school districts were scored on several factors which represent how well a school district supports their teachers.

For more information on school district rankings, see our methodology page: http://www.teacher.org/school-district-ranking-methodology.

Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 86.21
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 81.47
% Proficiency Score: 89.32

Located in rural Ravalli County in the south of Missouri, Hamilton K-12 School District is a publicly funded district operating a total of five schools. This district has a student enrollment of more than 1,500 and a teaching staff of about 100 to meet educational demand. Hamilton K-12 School District is dedicated to developing productive and well-rounded American citizens. Learn more by visiting the Hamilton K-12 Schools District website at hsd3.org.

District Details
  • > 100 FTE Teachers
  • 1,000-2,000 Students
  • > 75 Total Support Staff
  • 77.0 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 80.52
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 57.7
% Proficiency Score: 99.46

Bozeman Elementary School District is located in Gallatin County in the heart of Missouri. This publicly funded school district operates ten schools from pre-kindergarten through grade eight. A teaching staff of approximately 260 instructs about 4,200 students. With a student to teacher ratio of 16:1, Bozeman Elementary School District ensures all students achieve at high levels. Learn more by visiting the Bozeman Elementary School District website at bsd7.org.

District Details
  • > 200 FTE Teachers
  • 3,000-4,000 Students
  • > 150 Total Support Staff
  • 85.5 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 75.14
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 71.65
% Proficiency Score: 88.7

Located in Lewis and Clark County in central Missouri, Helena Elementary School District operates thirteen public schools. This PK-8 district employs almost 300 classroom teachers to meet the educational needs of approximately 5,200 students and maintain a 17:1 teacher to student ratio. Helena Elementary School District fosters dynamic educational experiences that prepare all students for life. Learn more by visiting the Helena Elementary School District website at helenaschools.org.

District Details
  • > 200 FTE Teachers
  • 5000-10,000 Students
  • > 200 Total Support Staff
  • 76.5 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 78.8
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 59.03
% Proficiency Score: 97.5

Located in northwestern Missouri in Flathead County, Kalispell Elementary School District is a publicly funded district operating six elementary and middle schools. With an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, this district employs about 190 classroom teachers to meet the educational needs of its students. Kalispell Elementary School District supports ongoing student achievement and success. Learn more by visiting the Kalispell Elementary School District website at sd5.k12.mt.us.

District Details
  • > 100 FTE Teachers
  • 3,000-4,000 Students
  • > 100 Total Support Staff
  • 84.0 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 92.33
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 100
% Proficiency Score: 42.34

Located in the northernmost part of Missouri in Glacier County, Browning Elementary School District operates a total of eight elementary and middle schools. This district has a teaching staff of approximately 100 to meet the needs of almost 1,500 students. With a student to teacher ratio of 14:1, Browning Elementary School District provides the very best education for all children. Learn more by visiting the Browning Elementary School District website at bps.k12.mt.us.

District Details
  • > 100 FTE Teachers
  • 1,000-2,000 Students
  • > 100 Total Support Staff
  • 37.0 Avg % Proficiency

Continued List of School Districts in Montana

RankingSchool DistrictSchoolsTeachersOverall Score
#6 Missoula County Public Schools1232178.03
#7 Hardin Elementary School District511277.96
#8 Belgrade Elementary School District513377.16
#9 Great Falls Public Schools1747474.8
#10 Missoula High School District423972.31
#11 Billings Elementary School District2667870.3
#12 Flathead High School District217668.96
#13 Helena High School District218768.39
#14 Butte Elementary School District718167.92
#15 Great Falls High School District220466.06
#16 Billings High School District328465.76

Data obtained from the Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey