How to Become a Teacher in North Dakota

It takes a unique and talented person to pursue a career in education. And with a thriving community of teachers, administrators, students and parents, anybody working in North Dakota's public schools will tell you it's a great place to become a teacher.

The following steps will help you stay on task while on your journey toward becoming a certified teacher in North Dakota.

Choose What You Want to Teach

First you should decide what level or subject (s) you desire to teach before moving to other steps. You can become licensed to teach elementary school, middle school, high school, or special education. Do you have a passion for a certain content area like English or Math? If so, you should consider getting licensed to teach high school or middle school. Do you prefer to teach multiple fundamental skills to younger children? If that is the case, you can consider becoming licensed to teach elementary school.

Each area has different requirements that you must know and fulfill. You can visit the state's Department of Public Instruction for additional details on school districts, teachers, and students in North Dakota.

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

As with all states, it is a basic requirement that public school teachers in North Dakota possess at a minimum a bachelor's in education. You must also hold a license to teach, which is often earned after the completion of a teacher preparation program.

If you do not have a bachelor's degree yet, it is likely that you can complete the educational requirements for a teaching license and a bachelor's degree simultaneously through a blended program. A blended program joins the coursework for a bachelor's degree and a teacher preparation program so that you can become a teacher more quickly. This is great for individuals who know that they want to become a teacher from early on.

Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Before becoming certified to teach in North Dakota, you must earn your teaching credentials or license. This is often done by completing a teacher preparation program. The coursework for the program will revolve around the level or subject you wish to teach. Keep in mind that the program must be accredited.

Teacher education programs are often intensive and require the teaching candidate to meet the demands of the school's curriculum and fieldwork. Classes usually consist of a combination of both aspects. Actual instruction is often based on pedagogy, teaching methods, differentiated instruction, and integration of technology. The fieldwork component of the program usually involves classroom observations, student teaching under the guidance of a licensed teacher, or internships. Student teaching involves the teaching candidate to take over a real classroom under the supervision of a master teacher. As a student teacher, you will prepare lessons, implement the lessons, and grade assignments just as a licensed teacher would be expected to do. Each of the mentioned areas must be mastered in order to successfully complete a teacher preparation program.

As mentioned earlier, if you do not have a degree yet, it is very likely that you could complete a teacher preparation program and earn a bachelor's degree simultaneously through a joint program.

However, if you do already have a bachelor's degree, you can complete a post-baccalaureate or alternate teacher preparation program. This route will still lead you to a teaching credential for the state of North Dakota. Many institutions offer joint master's degree programs, as well.

Alternative Teacher Certification in North Dakota

There are some alternative ways to meet the education requirements for becoming a teacher in North Dakota.

Transition to Teaching / Clinical Practice

The state honors the "Transition to Teaching" or "Clinical Practice" program. This is a one-year alternative teacher preparation program designed for new non-traditional teachers. In other words, it is for individuals who hold non-teaching baccalaureate degrees in teaching-shortage areas. The program is also for individuals who are entering teaching from another industry or the military with specific technical skills.

Individuals participating in the Transition to Teaching/Clinical Practice program will be mentored by a master teacher for one year. These individuals will also participate in online and face-to-face seminar and courses. After one successful year, participants will earn credit for student teaching and the course Introduction to Teaching. Over the course of the next year after completing the requirements, individuals will take additional classes specified by their university in order to meet the remaining requirements for a license.

Teacher Certification Reciprocity

Do you have a license to teach in another state? North Dakota has limited reciprocity with other states. In order to receive interim reciprocal licensure, you must first hold a valid and current teaching credential or license from another state or must have graduated from a state approved teacher education program.

Applicants must submit an acceptable plan for completing the remaining North Dakota requirements. If accepted, you will be issued a 2-year interim reciprocal license.

Pass the Exams Required for Teacher Certification in North Dakota

Another step you must complete before becoming a certificated teacher in North Dakota is to pass the required tests.

Basic Skills

You will need to pass a basic skills test and a subject area competency test. The basic skills test is often referred to as the "Pre-Professional Skills Test" (PPST) or Praxis I. This basic skills test will assess your skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.

Subject Test

The subject-area competency test requirement will be based on the area you want to teach and is often fulfilled by taking the Praxis II exam. This assessment includes three sections on subject assessment, principles of learning and teaching, and teaching foundations test.

Some colleges or universities require that candidates pass these test before entering or exiting a teacher preparation program. For a school's specific requirements, ask a school representative or advisor.

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Apply for your North Dakota Teaching License

Application Requirements

The Department of Education in the state of North Dakota asks applicants to submit the following when applying to become a certificated educator in the state:

  • Completed application form
  • Non-refundable application fee
  • Documentation to verify the application, including official college transcript(s) showing proof of a bachelor's degree and completion of a teacher preparation program
  • Passing score of required exams

Contact Information

North Dakota Education and Standards Board
2718 Gateway Ave., Suite 303
Bismarck, ND 58503-0585
Phone: (701) 328-9641

Find a Teaching Job in North Dakota

North Dakota assures highly qualified professional educators for its students. With that said, once the above steps have been fulfilled, you will be ready for your own classroom in this fine state.

Public Schools

The North Dakota Office of Public Instruction maintains an online database of all available teaching jobs within the state. The state also lists some teaching jobs using

Labor Unions for Public School Teachers

Upon hiring, teachers can join a state labor union. In North Dakota, the options are ND United, and the NEA. Additionally, teachers can join a subject-specific professional association like the North Dakota Science Teachers Association (NDSTA).

Retirement Plans for Public School Teachers

Contribution to a retirement plan through the North Dakota Teachers' Fund for Retirement (TFFR) is mandatory. After retirement, teachers and surviving spouses draw a monthly amount from the fund depending on contributions made while working.

Private Schools

North Dakota is home to about 42 private schools, of which about 85% have a religious affiliation. Private schools are not required by law to hire solely certificated teachers. With that said, certified teachers and non-certified teachers have an opportunity to teach in a private school. However, certified teachers are often highly preferred.

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

The following list of teacher shortage areas in North Dakota 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 9-12 (Agricultural Science and Technology, Business Technology Education, Family and Consumer Science, Communication Technologies, Marketing, Engineering Technology, Vocational Technology)
  • Early Childhood PreK-K
  • Elementary Education 1-8
  • Biological Sciences 9-12
  • Earth and Space Science 9-12
  • Chemistry 9-12
  • Physics 9-12
  • General Science 9-12
  • Government 9-12
  • History 9-12
  • World Languages 9-12 (French, German, Spanish, Native American languages)
  • Computer Science 9-12
  • English 9-12
  • Art 9-12
  • Health and Physical Fitness 9-12
  • Mathematics 9-12
  • Special Education PreK-12 (Early Childhood, Hearing Impairment, Speech and Language Impairment, Visual Impairment, General Curriculum, Interrelated Special Education)

Number of Public and Private School Teachers By Grade

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

Grade Level Number of Teachers
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 650
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 4,460
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 1,260
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 3,110
Special Education Teachers, Preschool 70
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School 490
Special Education Teachers, Middle School 240
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School 390

Continue Your Professional Development and Education

The American educational system was established with teacher professional development as an integral component. Over the last few decades, more research than ever shows how teachers who engage in high quality and ongoing professional development achieve higher rates of student achievement, career goals, and earn a higher salary.

Professional Development in North Dakota

In the state of North Dakota, professional development initiatives are guided from the national and state levels to district and schools. This way, teachers can exercise their due diligence by making sure that the professional development offerings they engage in are ones that not only meet their own needs as educators, but also align with district, national, and student needs. Additionally, teachers need to ensure that the professional development they engage in empowers them to demonstrate leadership, underscores a respect for diversity in the student population, supports classroom content and common core standards, and helps them reflect and assess their practice. Teachers with further inquiries are encouraged to contact their district, the state Department of Education, and the Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) for information.

Earn a Master's in Education or Teaching and Advance Your Career While Satisfying Continuing Education Requirements

Licensure renewal in North Dakota is dependent upon the completion of college coursework. While graduate-level coursework is not a requirement, it comes with a lot of benefits. Not only will you meet continuing education requirements in the course of earning your master's in teaching or education, but you'll also propel your career forward faster and bring a greater level of expertise to the classroom in the process.

Your Initial Two-Year License is valid for a period of two years. Complete more than 18 months of full-time teaching experience during this time and you'll be eligible to advance to a Five-Year Renewal License. Or you may renew this license again if you fail to meet the 18-month experience requirement.

Once you hold a Five-Year Renewal License, you'll need to complete at least six semester hours of college coursework as a condition of renewal. The ND Department of Public Instruction recommends that teachers take courses related to education and/or the area in which they are licensed to teach.

A Master's in Teaching or Education Can Earn You a Higher Salary

While you can take either undergraduate or graduate courses to satisfy the renewal requirements, pursue your master's in education or teaching and you'll not only earn the credits needed to renew your license after taking just two courses, you'll position yourself for more and varied professional opportunities and a higher paycheck in the process.

For example, teachers in the Bismarck Public Schools earned a minimum salary of $48,600 as of the 2022-2023 school year, while those with a master's degree earned a minimum of $54,426 - a difference of nearly $5,800.

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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.