How to Become a Teacher in Minnesota

Teachers have the ability to spark curiosity, impart knowledge and foster personal growth. It's an important job, perhaps now more than ever, and also one that comes with a lot of personal and professional satisfaction. There's just nothing quite like preparing students with the skills they need to make their way in the world.

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

Choose What You Want to Teach

You should first think about what type of students you want to teach. Younger ones in elementary school? Teenagers in high school? Are you interested in working with children with special needs? What subject(s) do you prefer? These are important questions to ask yourself before beginning your journey. The Minnesota Department of Education has information on teachers, students, and schools in the state, which could help you make your decision.

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

To be licensed as an educator in Minnesota, prospective teachers must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree in education. In addition, licensed teachers should complete and be recommended by a teacher preparation program.

Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Generally, teachers education programs consist of two main elements: curricula and field work. Curricula refers to the college courses you will take. The courses usually focus on subject-based teaching methods, differentiated instructional strategies, assessment tools and measures, along with an emphasis on technology integration. The fieldwork aspect usually includes field observations, internships, student teaching, or a combination of all three options depending on your institution. Students who successfully complete student teaching will have collaborated with a master teacher to create and implement lesson plans based on the diverse needs of the students in the class.

Note that once teachers become licensed, they may also need to continue their education either formally or through professional development opportunities offered by their state or district in order to maintain or upgrade their current teaching license.

In addition to the above requirements, Minnesota's Department of Education asks candidates to meet the Human Relations requirement. All new teachers in the state must show evidence of the following:

  • Understanding of the contributions and lifestyles of the various racial, cultural, and economic groups society
  • Recognizing and dealing with dehumanizing biases, discrimination, and prejudices
  • Creating learning environments that contribute to the self-esteem of all persons and to positive interpersonal relations
  • Respecting human diversity and personal rights
  • The study of American Indian language, history, government, and culture

There are many joint programs which allow individuals to complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree alongside those of a teacher preparation program. This type of program is designed for students who know from the beginning that they want to become a teacher.

Alternative Teacher Certification in Minnesota

Minnesota offers an alternative route to your initial teaching certificate called Licensure via Portfolio, which allows teachers with a bachelor's degree to qualify through a year-long mentorship program or two years of experience teaching in the licensure area sought.

If you have completed an alternative program outside of the state, you are already eligible to be reviewed and considered for Minnesota licensure. The Minnesota Department of Education will review your program and decide if you should be given a temporary license or full license. The result will be based on the department of education's decision on your programs equivalency. Note, not all will qualify.

If you have been certified to teach in another state through an alternative program, you can apply for a Minnesota license through the online application process.

Pass the Tests Required for Teacher Certification in Minnesota

Candidates seeking Minnesota teaching certification must go through the appropriate basic skills and subject area testing through the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE).

Basic Skills Test

All Minnesota teacher candidates who seek initial certification must pass the Basic Skills and Pedagogy test. These tests assess an individual's knowledge of fundamentals in reading, writing, math, and principles of teaching and learning.

Subject Tests

In addition, candidates for certification must take a Content Area test which is determined by the subject area and grade level the candidate wishes to teach and become licensed in.

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Application Requirements

Once all of the requirements for a Minnesota teacher certification are met, applicants should apply for licensure. The following will be required:

  • Completed application
  • Clear status of background check through the official fingerprinting agency
  • Official transcripts showing proof of Bachelor's Degree and completion of a teacher preparation program
  • Payment of non-refundable processing fee
  • Passing scores on required examinations
  • If applicable, copy of out-of-state teaching license

Contact Information

Minnesota Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, MN 55113
Phone: (651) 582 8200

Find a Teaching Job in Minnesota

Once your application is processed, you will be able to begin your rewarding career as licensed educator in Minnesota! You will be prepared to activate curiosity and knowledge in your students on a daily basis.

Public School Jobs

Teachers seeking jobs in Minnesota are encouraged to use the links on the Minnesota Department of Education site in order to access job listings for teaching, administrative, and support roles. These sites also help teaching candidates manage and track their applications. Listed through the Department of Education site are EdPost, K12 JobSpot, and the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) Jobsite.

Current need within the state focuses on teachers who have qualifications to teach special education, languages, math, and science at both the elementary and secondary levels.

Teacher Networks in Minnesota

Once hired in the public system, teachers are recruited by Education Minnesota union which represents over 70,000 teachers throughout the state. Teachers may also join the state affiliate chapter of the National Education Association (NEA - Minnesota). These networks provide professional support and development to the teachers in the state, as well as allowing teacher opinions to be heard on a national level when concerning political matters of education.

Private School Jobs

Teachers who wish to pursue teaching outside the public system are encouraged to apply to some of Minnesota's 651 private schools. These school service almost 100,000 students. Almost three-quarters of these institutions are religiously affiliated. Although private schools are not required by law to hire licensed teachers, many school boards and principals still wish to do so.

Retirement for Teachers in Minnesota

Upon retiring from the public school system, teachers are eligible for a pension drawn from the Teachers Retirement Association of Minnesota.

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

The following list of teacher shortage areas in Minnesota 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:

  • Career and Technical Education PreK-12 (Family and Consumer Science, Computers, Transportation Careers, Manufacturing Sciences)
  • Adaptive Physical Education PreK-12
  • Physics PreK-12
  • Basic and Advanced Mathematics PreK-12
  • Special Education PreK-12 (Developmental Disabilities, Physical Disabilities)
  • World Languages PreK-12 (German, Asian languages, American Sign Language, Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, American Indian Language/Culture, Arabic, Hebrew,)
  • ESOL, Bilingual Education PreK-12
  • Physical Education PreK-12
  • Life Sciences PreK-12
  • General Science PreK-12
  • Reading PreK-12
  • Chemistry PreK-12
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Special Education PreK-12 (Developmental Disabilities, Deaf/Hearing Impairment, Physical Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Visual Impairment)
  • Theatre PreK-12
  • Earth and Space Science 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 Minnesota in both private and public schools, by grade level, as of May 2020:

Grade Level Number of Teachers
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 8,990
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 23,200
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 8,490
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 18,900
Special Education Teachers, Preschool 900
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School 3,870
Special Education Teachers, Middle School 1,610
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School 5,420

Continue Your Education and Professional Development

Data-driven research has found that the more highly skilled teachers become, the more positive their impact on student achievement will be. For this reason, North America has some of the most rigorous standards regarding ongoing professional development in the world. Ensuring that teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals engage in relevant professional development is one of the best investments that a school district can make. Besides boosting student achievement, teachers who participate in professional development show stronger gains toward their salary and career advancement goals.

Professional Development in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota's most recent initiative, Job Embedded Professional Development (JEPD), articulates that all teachers need to be invested in improving the learning climate for all students. JEPD enables Minnesota schools to stay focused on quality instruction and occurs during the workday and in the workplace. This method enables students to connect the actual work of teachers with their current students as examples. This method is also centered on the needs of the school and the educator team present at the school. Teachers with additional questions should direct their inquiries toward their administrative team.

Earn a Master's in Education or Teaching to Reduce Required Clock Hours for License Renewal and to Earn a Higher Salary

While a master's in education or teaching is not necessary to teach in Minnesota, it is something many Minnesota licensed educators find very valuable. Choose to complete a master's degree and you'll be able to advance your foundation of knowledge in a specific subject or in general education, broaden your professional opportunities, earn a larger paycheck, and bring new insight to your classroom.

As of July 1, 2018, Minnesota replaced its out-of-date licensure system with a more straightforward, four-tiered licensing system. Now, you'll begin at Tier 3 if you've completed a Minnesota teacher preparation program. This license is valid for a period of three years and can be renewed indefinitely upon completion of at last 75 approved clock hours of continuing education.

Once you have three years of teaching experience in Minnesota, you'll be eligible to move to Tier 4, a five-year license that can be renewed indefinitely upon completion of at least 125 approved clock hours of continuing education.

One semester credit in a master's program = 24 of these approved clock hours. This means that if you're earning your master's degree, you'll be able to meet the continuing education requirements of one licensure cycle by completing just two courses (for a Tier 3 license) or three courses (for a Tier 4 license).

A Master's in Education or Teaching Also Means More Money

Many master's-prepared educators in Minnesota are rewarded with a higher salary than their bachelor's-prepared peers.

For example, as of the 2020-2021 school year, teachers in the Duluth Independent School District 709 earned a minimum salary of $39,276, while those with a master's degree earned a minimum salary of $45,574 - more than $6,000 more.

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May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends for elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, secondary school teachers, preschool teachers, teaching assistants, special education preschool teachers, special education elementary school teachers, special education middle school teachers, and special education secondary teachers. Figures represent national data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

Data accessed June 2021.

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