How to Become a Teacher in Michigan

If you have decided to become an educator, you're in for a career that will involve a unique level of selflessness and patience. It's also a career that brings the kind of job satisfaction that people outside the field can't fully understand. Congratulations - you've signed up to make a real difference in the world, one classroom and one school year at a time.

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

Choose What You Want to Teach

Do you prefer teaching the alphabet or trigonometry? Would you rather tie shoes or fill out reference letters? Do young teenagers bring out the best in you? You must decide which areas and what grade levels are the best fit for you. This is a personal decision that should be made based on your preferences and talents. The Michigan Department of Education's website could help you make a decision as they have information on educators and schools in the state.

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

Michigan requires a minimum of a bachelor's in education to become a teacher. In addition, prospective educators must complete a teacher preparation program. The college or university in which you complete your education must be accredited.

The majority of accredited programs are blended or joint programs. This means that, upon completion of required exams, you receive a teaching certificate in conjunction with the Bachelor's Degree. This is the type of program that the majority of teachers, who know from early on that they want to teach, will complete. If you already have a Bachelor's Degree, see the Alternative Teacher Certification in Michigan section below.

Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Teachers in Michigan are required to hold a teaching certificate or provisional certificate when teaching in the classroom. As mentioned, this certificate is often gained through CAEP certified colleges and universities. However, out of state teachers must apply for certification through the Michigan Board of Education and be evaluated by the OPPS (Office of Professional Preparation Services).

Teacher education programs typically consist of a set curriculum as well as some type of fieldwork. Curricula consists of classes on the science of teaching, methodology of teaching, and educational technology classes. Classes will also cover typical developmental stages for students of varying ages. The fieldwork aspect will vary from college to college, but observations in classrooms will be necessary. In addition to observations, student teaching will be required of all teaching candidates. A successful student teacher who is capable of demonstrating the creation and implementation of age appropriate lesson plans, writing reflections on those plans, and creating a work based portfolio will likely receive both a degree and certification.

Alternative Teacher Certification in Michigan

An alternate route to teacher certification in Michigan is available for you if teaching was not your first choice.

Michigan Alternate Route to Interim Teaching Certification (MARITC)

This will allow you to complete an expedited program for teaching after transitioning from a previous career. This still requires a bachelor's degree and the completion of a transitional program but is much shorter than returning to gain a Bachelor's in Education in the traditional manner. Upon the completion of the program, the passing of all required tests, and a recommendation for endorsements, this can result in the right to teach. However, the expedited program must be taught by a school that is certified to do so.

Please note that special education and early childhood-general cannot be obtained through this method.

Teaching Certificate in Another State

If you hold a teaching certificate from another state, you may be able to quickly begin work in Michigan if you can meet the following:

  • At least 3 years of successful teaching in an position valid to your teaching certificate.
  • After certification, you have earned at least 18 semester credit hours in a state board-approved college or university, or you have earned, at any time, a state board-approved graduate degrees (Master's Degree or Doctorate).
  • Met the reading credit requirement established under state board rules applicable to the level you will teach (elementary or secondary).

If you meet all other requirements for a Michigan teaching certificate, but do not meet all of the above listed requirements, you will be able to receive a one-year nonrenewable temporary teaching certificate. The temporary teaching certificate can be granted even without passing the Professional Readiness Examination and subject-area tests.

Pass Tests Required for Teacher Certification in Michigan

Prior to actually receiving your teacher certification, you must pass certain basic skills and subject competency exams. These tests are used to test your knowledge of the field in which you are about to enter. These tests are required for all areas and for alternate route students.

Tests include the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) and the Professional Readiness Examination (PRE). These tests are a requirement regardless of certification area.

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Apply for your Michigan Teacher Certification

Application Requirements

The Michigan State Board of Education requires all potential educators to complete the following when applying for teacher certification:

  • Create an account with Michigan Online Educator Certification System
  • Log onto MOECS and select ‘educator'
  • Follow the self-register instructions
  • An email will be sent with further information
  • You will need copies of a bachelors, fingerprint clearance, and proof of test scores
  • A fee may be required to receive licensure

Certain areas of certification such as occupational therapist, school counselor, and school administrator may require further information.

Please note that Michigan applications must be submitted by school districts, or other agents, not an individual.

Contact Information

Michigan Department of Education
608 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30008
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: (517)373-3324

Find a Teaching Job in Michigan

You have jumped through all the hoops, met all the requirements, and now it is time to begin your career as an educator in Michigan!

The state Department of Education in Michigan uses a number of third-party websites in order to make sure that job postings are widely viewable. Teachers are encouraged to browse the Michigan Education Association (MEA) and the Michigan Regional Education Applicant Placement (MIREAP) to find opportunities that match their criteria.

Currently, there is an ongoing need for applicants qualified to teach special education at the elementary and secondary levels, English, science, technology, and mathematics.

Teacher Labor Unions in Michigan

Once hired, teachers can join the Michigan Education Association (MEA) as well as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT Michigan). Both are labor unions that support teachers individually and as a demographic throughout legal and labor issues. Labor unions also help in facilitating networking and professional development opportunities.

Teaching in Private Schools

Should an applicant wish to seek alternative employment to the public school system, they may apply to any of Michigan's 980 private schools which service just over 150,000 students. Teachers are advised that 77% of the schools have a religious affiliation, and almost 20 of those schools are gender-segregated. Teachers may find pay, opportunities, contracts, and retirement to be different from their public school counterparts.

Retirement for Public School Teachers

Teachers who retire from the public school system can draw a monthly fixed pension through the Office of Retirement Services (ORS) Public School Employees.

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

The following list of teacher shortage areas in Michigan 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:

  • Elementary Education
  • World Languages, any world language PreK-12
  • Science PreK-12
  • Physical Education PreK-12
  • Mathematics PreK-12
  • Language Arts, Reading and Literacy PreK-12
  • ESOL PreK-12
  • Social Studies PreK-12
  • Special Education PreK-12
  • Sociology PreK-12
  • Health Science PreK-12
  • Language Arts, Communication PreK-12
  • ESOL, Bilingual Education PreK-12
  • Computer Science PreK-12
  • Family and Consumer Science PreK-12
  • Career and Technical Education 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 Michigan in both private and public schools, by grade level, as of May 2021:

Grade Level Number of Teachers
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 8,030
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 34,070
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 14,060
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 20,730
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School 3,190
Special Education Teachers, Middle School 870
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School 1,760

Continue Your Education and Professional Development

Professional development helps teachers and their colleagues engage in capacity building, advocacy, and support systems for their profession and students. The state is clear that professional development is meant to occur over time and has a self-reflective component.

Professional Development in Michigan

The state Department of Education in Michigan strongly supports rigorous professional development for educators throughout the state. Michigan's guidelines ensure that professional development opportunities are effective and are designed to improve the learning outcomes for all students. Michigan is committed to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment throughout the various educational stakeholders. Effective professional development allows each teacher to become a leader and increases learning and leadership effectiveness.

Teachers in Michigan are encouraged to use the state Department of Education as a resource in order to find professional development opportunities that are relevant for their career goals and classroom profile. Teachers are also welcome to search through resources like Michigan Online Resources for Educators (MORE) in order to round out their professional development opportunities.

Earn a Master's in Education or Teaching to Renew Your Standard Teaching Certificate and Advance to a Professional Teaching Certificate

While a master's degree in education or teaching is not required to teach in Michigan, it certainly comes with plenty of benefits. Earn a master's and you'll meet the requirements for renewal of a Standard Teaching Certificate. Then, after three years of teaching, a master's degree will allow you to meet the requirements to advance from a Standard Teaching Certificate to a Professional Teaching Certificate.

The Standard Teaching Certificate is a five-year teaching credential with unlimited renewals. To renew this certificate, you must meet ONE of the following requirements:

  • At least 150 hours of education-related professional learning (1 semester credit in a master's program = 25 professional learning hours); or
  • An education-related master's degree or higher

To advance from a Standard Teaching Certificate to the optional Professional Teaching Certificate, you must meet the following requirements:

  • At least three years of teaching within the content areas and grade level of your certificate; and
  • At least six semester credit hours of reading methods coursework for elementary teachers and three semester credit hours for secondary certified teachers; and
  • At least three semester credit hours of reading diagnostics and remediation; and
  • Education-related professional learning totaling 150 hours; OR
  • A master's degree or higher

A Master's Can Make a Big Difference in What You Earn Too

A master's in education or teaching alongside your Michigan teaching certificate may also equate to better pay. For example, as of the 2019-2020 school year, teachers in the Detroit Public Schools Community District earn a minimum annual salary of $38,500, while those with a master's degree earn a minimum salary of $40,335 - an increase of nearly $2,000 annually.

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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.