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Wisconsin Alternative Teacher Certification

Prospective teachers who have not completed a traditional teacher preparation program may pursue alternative teacher certification in Wisconsin. There are several pathways to alternative certification in the state that are primarily designed to attract educators in critical shortage content fields, such as STEM subjects. Continue reading to find out more about the pathways available for non-traditional teachers.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

The minimum requirement to pursue alternative teacher certification in Wisconsin is a bachelor’s degree. In most cases candidates must complete, or have a plan to complete, an alternative teacher preparation program. You can see alternative teacher preparation programs that hold state approval through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Wisconsin

Alternative Route in Shortage Area Pathway

The Alternative Route Pathway requires candidates to have a bachelor’s degree with a major in the subject to be taught. This pathway is only for shortage areas such as mathematics, science, and special education. See the Department of Public Instruction for a full list of current shortage areas.

Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in an approved area must apply to an Alternative Route Program Provider. Upon admission, candidates will complete teacher preparation through that provider, typically while teaching at the same time. The Department of Public Instruction provides a list of program providers. After completing the program, which leads to a post-graduate certificate, and passing the required state exams candidates will be eligible for an Initial Educator License.

Post-Baccalaureate Pathway

Under the Post-Baccalaureate Pathway, candidates return to school to earn a master’s degree or postgraduate certificate that includes an approved teacher preparation program. Note that this pathway only qualifies candidates for licensure if a Wisconsin-approved school is attended. You can see a list of approved schools through the Department of Public Instruction. Candidates in this pathway must also pass the state exams for educators to become eligible for an Initial Educator License.

License Based on Equivalency

The Equivalency Pathway is most often used by those who have a bachelor’s degree and three years of teaching experience in a private school setting. Equivalency may also apply to out-of-state teachers. Under this pathway, candidates complete a performance-based assessment to become eligible for an Initial Educator License.

Experience-based Technology Education Pathway

This pathway is a close equivalent to career and technical education certification. Subject areas such as information technology, engineering, and transportation are covered under this pathway. Candidates must have significant training and experience in a technical field to earn an endorsement in a career and technical subject area. Refer to the Department of Public Instruction for an explanation of qualifications by field type. Once hired under an initial three-year license, candidates following this pathway must complete a professional development curriculum to earn full licensure.

Trade Specialist Pathway

This pathway is open to candidates who completed an apprenticeship program and three years of experience in a given occupational area. Candidates may also qualify with four years of institutional training in an occupational area. Areas recognized include machining, welding, and auto body repair. View the guidelines for the Trade Specialist Pathway for further details.

Testing Requirements for Wisconsin Alternative Certification

In most cases, those following alternative pathways will need to pass the same exams as all other educators in the state. These include the Praxis CORE Academic Skills for Educators to measure basic skills and the appropriate Praxis Subject Assessment(s) for the subject(s) to be taught. Those who wish to teach early childhood, elementary education, special education, and reading must also take and pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

For experienced teachers with out-of-state certifications and at least one year of teaching experience, reciprocity in Wisconsin may be possible provided that applicants fulfill the remaining criteria. Candidates must have an employment offer from a Wisconsin school district to apply for a reciprocal license. In some cases, out-of-state applicants may be able to waive the examination requirements. For more details on reciprocity, review our teaching license reciprocity resource or contact the state’s Department of Public Instruction.

Additional Resources

Wisconsin Pathways to Licensure
Wisconsin DPI Blog
Wisconsin Approved Educator Preparation Programs List
Milwaukee Teacher Education Center

Schools with Alternative Certification Programs in Wisconsin

Because the alternative certification process is complex, we have researched and provided specific school programs below for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree outside of education and want to become a teacher. We recommend you request information from one or more of these specific programs:

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References:
1. Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction: http://dpi.wi.gov