How to Become a Teacher in Massachusetts

As a teacher, you will have the power to enlighten young minds and prepare students to meet their fullest potential. Everyone knows that teaching is a calling, but it's also a job that requires a lot of careful preparation and some big decisions.

Follow these steps to learn exactly how to become a teacher in Massachusetts.

Choose What You Want to Teach

When deciding what you want to teach, think about the subject you most love and the age group in which you are most comfortable. If you are unsure about the age group, consider visiting classrooms of people you know, just to understand what that age is like on the daily basis. If there is a specific subject you want to teach, you may want to consider teaching middle school or high school. Just be honest with yourself about what you enjoy in order to make the best decision that works for you. You can also visit the Massachusetts Department of Education to help you decide. On the website you will find information on educators and schools in the state.

Earn a Bachelor's in Education to Meet the Requirements for a Teaching Certificate in Massachusetts

As is typical with every state, Massachusetts requires the completion of a teacher preparation program as well as a bachelor's degree in education from an accredited university or college. Choosing your major is much like deciding what you want to teach. This allows you to take age or subject specific classes from the start of your program. If you are unsure about what would best fit your personality, visit a guidance counselor or school advisor for advice.

Most accredited higher educational institutions will offer blended or joint programs. This simply means that while completing the required coursework for a bachelor's degree, you are also working toward a teaching license. You will have to complete the required coursework, fieldwork hours, and necessary tests with passing scores.

Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Public school teachers are required to hold a teaching license in the state in which they wish to work. The degree does not necessarily have to come from that state, but a license transfer and extra testing may be required if it does not. When choosing a program, make sure the college or university is accredited by CAEP, formerly NCATE and TEAC.

Teacher education programs are most often completed by meeting curricula requirements along with fieldwork requirements. The basic curriculum will include classes on pedagogy, teaching methods, differentiated instruction, and more. The fieldwork aspect is often completed as part of the required units and will include observations, student teaching, reflective writing, lesson planning, and sometimes even interning.

Alternative Teacher Certification in Massachusetts

Preliminary License

In order to gain alternative certification in Massachusetts, you may apply for a preliminary license that is valid for five years while completing an educator preparation program. This licensure can be extended once during the five year time frame with an additional five years. This requires a bachelor's degree, passing test scores, and in some cases, additional coursework for a specialty area. You may also apply for a temporary license if you are moving from out of state with a valid license and qualifications.

Teaching Certificate From Another State

If you are certified to teach in another state, you may be eligible for a teaching certificate in Massachusetts. Massachusetts offers teachers from out-of-state an opportunity to get started teaching right away with a Temporary Teacher's License. The teacher must have taught for at least 3 years of professionally in order to qualify for a valid teaching credential in Massachusetts. The applicant must also have met the terms of the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.

Pass the Tests Required for Teacher Certification in Massachusetts

The next step for becoming a teacher in Massachusetts is to pass the required tests. As with most states, Massachusetts requires a basic skills test. The basic skills test is known as the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) test. In addition, you must complete and receive passing scores on the MTEL Subject Matter Test. Subject specific tests are available in the following areas:

  • Adult Basic Education
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Chemistry
  • Dance
  • Early Childhood
  • Earth Science
  • Elementary
  • English
  • English as a Second Language
  • Transitional Bilingual Learning endorsement
  • Foreign Language
  • General Science
  • Health/Family Consumer Science
  • History
  • Instructional Technology
  • Latin & Classical Humanities
  • Library
  • Mathematics
  • Middle School Humanities
  • Middle School Mathematics/Science
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Speech
  • Teachers of Students with Moderate Disabilities
  • Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities
  • Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Teacher of Visually Impaired
  • Technology/Engineering
  • Theater
  • Visual Art
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Apply for your Massachusetts Teaching License

Application Requirements

There are a number of choices for licensure in Massachusetts. The preliminary license requires a bachelor's degree, passing MTEL scores, and is valid for five years. The temporary license is valid for a single year and is used for those who previous taught out of state.

The Massachusetts Department of Education does not require background checks and/or fingerprint clearance for educator licensure. However, do keep in mind that individual hiring schools may require candidates to complete and pass a background clearance.

Contact Information

Massachusetts Department of Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 021148
Phone: (781) 338-3100

Find a Teaching Job in Massachusetts

You have made it to the finish line in your education program, now it is time to begin your career as a teacher in Massachusetts!

Teacher Shortage in Massachusetts by Subjects or Discipline (2021-2022)

The following list of teacher shortage areas in Massachusetts has been obtained from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) list for the 2021-2022 school year:

  • ESOL PreK-12
  • Career and Technical Information PreK-12
  • Social Studies PreK-12
  • Special Education PreK-12
  • Mathematics PreK-12
  • World Languages PreK-12
  • Science PreK-12
  • Language Arts PreK-12

Number of Public and Private School Teachers By Grade

The following Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) table highlights the number of teachers in Massachusetts in both private and public schools, by grade level, as of May 2021:

Grade Level Number of Teachers
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 12,580
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 30,640
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 13,730
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 24,900
Special Education Teachers, Preschool 700
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School 5,410
Special Education Teachers, Middle School 2,290
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School 3,580

Continue Your Education and Professional Development

Professional License

Once you have been teaching in your own classroom for three years, you will need to clear your preliminary credential. You may apply for a professional license, which is valid for 5 calendar years and requires 3 years of employment under the initial license. This process requires the completion of a teacher induction program and one of the options required for professional licensure.

Professional Development

Educators are professionally mandated to deepen their professional knowledge and skill set while sharing best practices with colleagues. To do this, teachers use a combination of collaborative learning and leadership opportunities. These opportunities are created through a number of venues and events, including online offerings, conferences, and in-services. Teachers engage in ongoing professional development for a variety of reasons: to improve student achievement and to further their career goals.

Professional Development in Massachusetts

The Department of Education in Massachusetts helps teachers improve their practice through the High Quality Professional Development (HQPD) initiative. Teachers are encouraged to review the HQPD and contact the state department of education through appropriate channels in order to ensure that their professional development goals are aligned with those of the state.

Earn a Master's in Education or Teaching and Meet the Requirements for Professional License Renewal

In addition to serving as a path to more and varied professional opportunities and a larger paycheck, a master's in education or teaching is a smart way to satisfy the professional development requirements for your Professional License.

Your Initial Educator License is valid for the first five years of employment and can only be extended once for an additional five years.

To advance from the Initial License to the Professional License, you must show proof of completing at least three years of experience, a one-year induction program with a mentor, at least 50 hours of a mentored experience beyond the induction year, and ONE of the following:

  • An approved licensure program related to your professional license
  • National Board Certification
  • Complete a master's degree or higher with at least 12 credits of graduate-level courses related to your subject area, or pedagogy

Then, to maintain your Professional License, you'll have to complete at least 150 professional development points (PDPs) every five years, which must include:

  • A minimum of 15 PDPs in content (subject matter knowledge)
  • A minimum of 15 PDPs in pedagogy (professional skills and knowledge)
  • A minimum of 15 PDPs related to SEI or ESL
  • A minimum of 15 PDPs related to training strategies for effective schooling for students with disabilities and the instruction of students with diverse learning styles

Work toward your master's degree and you'll be able to satisfy the PDP requirements needed to renew your Professional License for one licensure cycle. While one college credit equals 15 PDPs, one semester of a graduate-level course equals 22.5 PDPs, so you'll be able to meet PDP requirements after completing just seven courses toward a master's degree.

Earning a Higher Degree Often Means Earning a Higher Salary

A master's in education and teaching alongside your teaching license in Massachusetts may also mean a larger salary for you. For example, as of the 2020-2021 school year, teachers in the Boston Public Schools earned a minimum salary of $63,806; however, teachers with a master's degree earned more, at $67,845 - a difference of about $4,000.

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2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Teachers (Preschool, Elementary, Middle School, High School) and Special Education Teachers, (Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary, Middle, High School) reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2023. .