How to Become a Teacher in South Dakota

Teaching is one of the most powerful ways to affect change in the lives of those you teach. In South Dakota, teachers have the power to mold the lives of future leaders. The following steps will help guide your journey toward becoming a teacher in the state of South Dakota.

Choose What You Want to Teach

First, you need to decide on what grade or subject you want to teach. Do you see yourself thriving in an elementary school environment? Perhaps you feel called to teach high school or special education. Whatever you decide, it is a good idea to answer this question before moving on to the next steps. Some requirements will change according to the area you want to become certificated in. The South Dakota Department of Education spotlights information on districts, schools, teachers, and students in the state.

Complete Your Education Requirements for Teaching in South Dakota

In South Dakota, the basic education requirement one will need to meet is the possession of a Bachelor's Degree. In addition to a Bachelor's Degree, teachers need to complete a State Board-approved teacher preparation program. The program focuses on whatever area an individual wants to become certified to teach. Often, teacher preparation programs are blended with a Bachelor's Degree program. Blended programs are for individuals who know from early on that they want to become a teacher.

If you already have a Bachelor's Degree, you will be able to complete a post-baccalaureate or alternative teacher preparation program. A school counselor or advisor can help make you aware of what options are available at your institution.

Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Educator preparation programs are usually structured on a combination of college coursework and fieldwork. College courses in the program usually cover subject-based teaching methods, differentiated instruction strategies, assessment measures, classroom management, and integration of technology. Fieldwork is generally a combination of classroom observations and student teaching. Student teachers work in real classrooms for a set amount of time under the supervision and guidance of a certificated teacher. During your time as a student teacher, you will work with a mentor teacher to prepare and implement lessons based on the needs of your diverse student population, grade assignments, and communicate with parents.

If you have already earned a Bachelor's Degree in an unrelated field, you can complete a post-baccalaureate or alternative teacher preparation program. Several institutions of higher education even offer joint Master's Degree and teacher preparation programs. Inquire with a program advisor or counselor.

Teacher preparation programs can be done online or at a school campus. In order to qualify for certification, the teacher preparation program must be approved and accredited.

Alternative Teacher Certification in South Dakota

There are other routes to teacher certification in South Dakota if you have a Bachelor's Degree in an unrelated field, or if the above route does not work for you.

Alternative Certification

The alternative certification process in South Dakota is administered by the Department of Education. This program is only applicable to content areas issued at the approved education program level. At this time in South Dakota, elementary education programs are not available in the alternative certification process. The alternative certification program include on-the-job classroom training,mentorship, orientation, and credits hours in educational pedagogy, human relations, Indian Studies of South Dakota, and state Praxis II examinations.

Distance Delivery Alternative Certification Program

Online certification programs for secondary educators have been established through a partnership with public universities. Through this program, courses will be taken online while field experience requirements will be fulfilled in your local community. Admission will be completed through the university of your choice.

Pass the Required Tests for South Dakota

The next step to becoming a certified teacher in South Dakota is to pass the required test(s).

Beginning teachers and teachers without prior teaching experience must pass one of the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) tests along with the appropriate content area test. Individuals requesting certification are required to take the Praxis II tests as part of the certification process required by South Dakota.

Some colleges or universities may ask that required tests are passed before entering or exiting a teacher preparation program. Check with a program advisor to see what is required of you.

Apply for your South Dakota Teacher Certification

Application Requirements

In order to apply for initial certification in South Dakota, you will need to provide the following:

  • Completed online initial application
  • Documentation to support the application, including official college transcripts that verify the completion of an approved education program
  • Proof that you have completed six credits within the past five years
  • University sign-off verifying completion of the teacher education program
  • Copy of Praxis II test scores

The following may also be required:

  • Copy of teaching certificates from other states, if applicable
  • Verification of teaching experience in another state
  • Documents supporting legal alien status for non-citizenship
  • Copy of legal documents required for any criminal offense declared through the online initial application
  • International academic credentials must be evaluated to ensure they are recognized in the United States

Contact Information

South Dakota Department of Education
800 Governors Dr #3
Pierre, SD 57501
Phone: (605) 773-3134

Find a Teaching Job in South Dakota

Finally, you will be prepared to begin your career are a certified teacher in South Dakota. You will be ready to become an educator who has the capacity to impact future generations.

Teaching in a Public School in South Dakota

Given that South Dakota's schools are currently experiencing high need for qualified teachers, South Dakota is a great place for new teachers to get a job and valuable experience. As incentive to candidates, South Dakota teachers who meet state criteria can apply to have school loan deferment or forgiveness under applicable guidelines. Current shortages extend to subjects like art, technical education, English, health, music, physical education, sciences, and special education. These shortages exist from kindergarten to grade 12.

To apply for specific available teaching positions in the state, candidates are encouraged to visit the Teacher Placement Service run by the Associated School Boards.

Teacher Benefits

The state offers a comprehensive benefits package for working teachers and their families. Upon retirement, teachers are able to begin drawing from their mandatory pension contributions made and managed through the South Dakota Retirement System (SDRS). Please note that the amount of monthly pension varies according to individual factors. Teachers will find that their labor union, the South Dakota Education Association (SDEA), will support teachers through their career and into retirement.

Teaching in a Private School in South Dakota

Teachers who prefer the private school environment can apply to any of the state's 86 private schools. Private schools often host smaller class sizes and more rigorous curricula. Although private schools are not mandated to hire only licensed teachers, many schools prefer to do so. Often times, salary, benefits, and working conditions may vary from what the public school system offers.

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

The following list of teacher shortage areas in South Dakota 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 (Grades 7 - 12)
  • English as a New Language (Kindergarten - Grade 12)
  • Language Arts (Grades 7 - 12)
  • Mathematics (Grades 7 - 12)
  • Science (Grades 7 - 12)
  • Special Education (Kindergarten

Number of Public School Teachers By Grade

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

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Pre-kindergarten & Preschool Teachers181
Kindergarten Teachers549
Elementary Teachers5,236
Middle & High School Teachers2,505
Ungraded Class Teachers862

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

Number of Private School Teachers By Grade

There are more than 70 private schools with an estimated 900 private school teachers in South Dakota. The table below details the number of teachers by grade level during the 2011-2012 school year.

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Elementary School Teachers425
Middle & High School Teachers110
Combined K-12 School Teachers324

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

Continue Your Education and Professional Development

Ongoing professional development goals for teachers may seem excessive to those outside the profession, but really, high-quality courses and seminars to help teachers improve their practice has implications far beyond the classroom. There is mounting evidence that shows the more professional development that a teacher engages in, the better student achievement is in their classroom. High-achieving students continue in school longer than their peers and impact their communities in positive ways.

Professional Development in South Dakota

The state of South Dakota's Department of Education makes an effort to support their teachers' professional development needs. One can look a national Department of Education's Calendar of Events and Registration site to see a diverse array of high quality offerings given. These offerings may be online or through a variety of school and Department of Education sites in major centers throughout the state. Additionally, the state Department of Education endorses national opportunists like the annual Beyond School Hours Conference. For more information about professional development opportunities in South Dakota, teachers are asked contact their school district staff.

Employment and Teacher Salary in South Dakota

Beginning teachers in the state of South Dakota earn an annual salary of $29,851 as compared to $33,948 for other careers in the state. However, teacher salaries quickly surpass state averages due to steady raises that compensate teachers for years of experience and professional certifications. South Dakota is actively recruiting teachers who have subject certifications in STEM, English and ESL, and special education, both at the elementary and secondary levels. Teachers who are ready to make a committeemen to their profession are advised to first apply in larger districts like Sioux Falls School District, Rapid City Area School District and Aberdeen School District.

Total Employed

3,940

Salary Range

$33,980 - $54,640

Elementary school teachers have a salary range between $33,980 to $54,640 a year in South Dakota. There are around three thousand employed elementary school teachers. Read about what it takes to become an elementary school teacher.

Elementary School Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls910$41,770
Rapid City570$42,900

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

Total Employed

170

Salary Range

$45,490 - $86,190

English teachers have a salary range between $45,490 to $86,190 a year in South Dakota, with over 170 employed in the state. See details on how to become an english teacher.

English Language and Literature Teachers (College Professor)
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls30$54,250

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for English Language and Literature Teachers (College Professor) (SOC Code: 25-1123)

Total Employed

3,380

Salary Range

$34,270 - $54,420

As a high school teacher in South Dakota you can expect to make between $34,270 - $54,420. 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
Sioux Falls680$41,520
Rapid City650$42,650

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

Total Employed

50

Salary Range

$49,040 - $95,980

In South Dakota, a history teacher's salary may range from $49,040 to $95,980. There are around fifty employed history teachers. Get more information about becoming a history teacher.

Total Employed

570

Salary Range

$33,700 - $51,300

Kindergarten teachers in South Dakota, can earn between $33,700 to $51,300 a year. There are around 570 employed kindergarten teachers. Read about what it takes to become a kindergarten teacher.

Kindergarten Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls170$41,270
Rapid City50$41,500

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

Total Employed

9,980

Salary Range

$33,700 - $94,760

As a math teacher in South Dakota you can expect to make between $33,700 - $94,760. South Dakota is home to about nine thousand math teachers. See our guide on how to become a math teacher.

Total Employed

710

Salary Range

$26,950 - $46,230

P.e. teachers have a salary range between $26,950 to $46,230 a year in South Dakota. South Dakota is home to about 710 p.e. teachers. See our guide on how to become a p.e. teacher.

Coaches and Scouts
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls220$31,540
Rapid City80$35,870

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

Total Employed

1,070

Salary Range

$25,350 - $37,690

In South Dakota, a preschool teacher's salary may range from $25,350 to $37,690, with over 1,070 employed in the state. See details on how to become a preschool teacher.

Preschool Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls430$29,470
Rapid City180$28,440

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

Total Employed

640

Salary Range

$41,320 - $97,500

As a school administrator in South Dakota you can expect to make between $41,320 - $97,500. South Dakota is home to about 640 school administrators. Take the next step and learn to how to become a school administrator.

Education Administrators, Elementary, Middle, and High School
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls120$88,340
Rapid City80$75,370

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

670

Salary Range

$33,050 - $55,450

School counselors in South Dakota, can earn between $33,050 to $55,450 a year, with over 670 employed in the state. See our guide on how to become a school counselor.

Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls170$40,980
Rapid City110$40,250

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

520

Salary Range

$29,530 - $57,440

School librarians have a salary range between $29,530 to $57,440 a year in South Dakota. South Dakota is home to about 520 school librarians. Read about what it takes to become a school librarian.

Librarians
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls100$47,570
Rapid City60$40,530

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

Total Employed

1,370

Salary Range

$34,040 - $55,080

In South Dakota, a special education teacher's salary may range from $34,040 to $55,080. South Dakota 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
Sioux Falls180$41,730
Rapid City110$41,280

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 (Middle School)
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls90$42,200
Rapid City40$39,630

Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (Middle School) (SOC Code: 25-2053)

Special Education Teachers (High School)
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls100$43,540
Rapid City80$39,450

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

Total Employed

790

Salary Range

$25,140 - $34,380

In South Dakota, a substitute teacher's salary may range from $25,140 to $34,380. South Dakota is home to about 790 substitute teachers. Read about what it takes to become a substitute teacher.

Substitute Teachers
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls80$27,910
Rapid City60$27,530

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

Total Employed

3,450

Salary Range

$19,660 - $28,300

In South Dakota, a teaching assistant's salary may range from $19,660 to $28,300. There are around three thousand employed teaching assistants. Interested in becoming a teaching assistant?

Teacher Assistants
AreaTotal EmploymentSalary
Sioux Falls770$22,710
Rapid City350$23,020

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 South Dakota

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 South Dakota that excel in supporting teachers inside and outside of the classroom. 15 school districts in South Dakota 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: 91.52
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 59.95
% Proficiency Score: 92.97

Harrisburg School District 41-2 is a public PK - 12 school district that serves Lincoln County, South Dakota. With 8 schools throughout the district, total enrolment sits at 3,200 students; the district employs more than 200 classroom teachers to educate students at the elementary, middle and secondary school levels. With a student-teacher ratio of about 14:1, Harrisburg schools are committed to excellence in education. Learn more by visiting the Harrisburg School District 41-2 website at harrisburgdistrict41-2.org.

District Details
  • > 200 FTE Teachers
  • 3,000-4,000 Students
  • > 100 Total Support Staff
  • 79.0 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 75.36
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 73.4
% Proficiency Score: 91.18

Located on the Missouri River, the Pierre School District 32-2 is an important part of Hughes County, South Dakota. With 6 elementary, middle and high schools throughout the district, Pierre schools have a total enrolment of more than 2,600 students, and employ more than 150 classroom teachers to meet student needs. The district reports a classroom ratio of about 16:1, which ensures that Pierre students enter to learn and go forth to serve. Learn more by visiting the Pierre School District 32-2 website at pierre.k12.sd.us.

District Details
  • > 100 FTE Teachers
  • 2,000-3,000 Students
  • > 100 Total Support Staff
  • 77.5 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 83.04
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 55.73
% Proficiency Score: 98.82

Located east of Sioux Falls, Mitchell School District 17-2 operates 9 public elementary, middle and secondary schools that service the students of Davidson County. The district reports a total enrollment figure of about 2,700, and employs more than 150 classroom teachers to meet this need. With a classroom ratio of about 15:1, Mitchell schools are focused on ensuring students meet with academic success every day. Learn more by visiting the Mitchell School District 17-2 website at mitchell.k12.sd.us.

District Details
  • > 100 FTE Teachers
  • 2,000-3,000 Students
  • > 75 Total Support Staff
  • 84.0 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 77.28
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 63.81
% Proficiency Score: 95.31

Watertown School District 14-4 is an integral part of Codington County, South Dakota. Spanning preschool to grade 12, the district operates 8 elementary, middle and high schools, enrolling a total of about 3,800 students. With teacher employment over 200 classroom teachers, the district reports a ratio of about 16 students per teacher, ensuring that Watertown schools enable all students to succeed in an ever-changing world. Learn more by visiting the Watertown School District 14-4 website at watertown.k12.sd.us.

District Details
  • > 200 FTE Teachers
  • 3,000-4,000 Students
  • > 100 Total Support Staff
  • 81.0 Avg % Proficiency
Student/Teacher Ratio Score: 78.48
Teacher/Support Ratio Score: 61.49
% Proficiency Score: 92.95

Located in the northeast portion of South Dakota, Aberdeen School District is academic home to about 4,000 students from kindergarten to grade 12. The district employs more than 250 classroom teachers throughout its 10 elementary, middle and high schools, and reports a classroom ratio of about 16 students per teacher. Learn more by visiting the Aberdeen School District 06-1 website at aberdeen.k12.sd.us.

District Details
  • > 200 FTE Teachers
  • 3,000-4,000 Students
  • > 150 Total Support Staff
  • 79.0 Avg % Proficiency

Continued List of School Districts in South Dakota

RankingSchool DistrictSchoolsTeachersOverall Score
#6 Todd County School District 66-11216777.48
#7 Yankton School District 63-3616177.26
#8 Spearfish School District 40-2614776.76
#9 Brandon Valley School District 49-2621076.24
#10 Huron School District 02-2715874.95
#11 Brookings School District 05-1520474.64
#12 Meade School District 46-11018273.82
#13 Douglas School District 51-1618172.79
#14 Sioux Falls School District501,47272.24
#15 Rapid City Area Schools2689272

Data obtained from the Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey