The Wisconsin Teaching and Certification Resource

For aspiring teachers in the state, Wisconsin is a great place for educators. All teachers are required to hold a Wisconsin teacher certification in order to be eligible to work in the public school system. The Department of Public Instruction within the state’s Department of Education oversees the Wisconsin teacher certification process, which is outlined in detail below.

How to Become a Teacher in Wisconsin

Similar to most US states, anyone pursuing a Wisconsin teacher certification must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a Wisconsin teachers certification program and pass the required subject and content examinations. If all of the requirements are met, applicants will be eligible to apply for the initial Wisconsin educator certification.

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The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) offers two levels of Wisconsin teacher certification: an initial educator license and a professional educator license. The Department of Public Instruction issues an initial educator license to those who have completed a teacher preparation program; it is valid for up to five years. To obtain a professional educator license a teacher is required to show at least three years of full year employment in the license category and successfully complete their professional development plan.

For experienced teachers with out-of-state certifications, reciprocity in Wisconsin may be possible provided that applicants fulfill the remaining criteria. In some cases, out of state applicants may be able to waive the examination requirements as well. For more details on reciprocity or the Wisconsin teacher certification renewal process, contact the state’s Department of Public Instruction.

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Wisconsin

Anyone pursuing a Wisconsin educator certificate is required to complete a state-approved teacher preparation program at an accredited school. In order to find an approved program, teaching applicants should look for the appropriate regional accreditation before committing to the program.

The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) is responsible for accrediting Wisconsin schools. Applicants evaluating potential schools should first confirm that the school is in good standing with the NCA. For anyone considering an online teaching certification should also confirm that the school is accredited by one of the six regional agencies where the school is headquartered.

Additionally, schools may look for an accreditation from the distinguished Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness (CAEP). CAEP is the new organization formed from the merger of two highly respected accreditation agencies recognized by the US Department of Education, TEAC and NCATE. Through CAEP the long standing reputation of both agencies will continue to serve the teacher education sector through rigorous standards in terms of curriculum, organization and process.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin Teacher Education Requirements

As with most states, the most direct route to Wisconsin teaching certification is the traditional one: graduation from a state-approved teacher education program in Wisconsin. However, when the DPI issues a license, they can do so “with stipulations”, which most often includes continuing education requirements. To be eligible for a license without stipulations, the applicant simply has to complete the required coursework within the 5-year time that the license is valid, and then he or she can be issued a new license.

One educational requirement for moving from an initial license to a professional educator license is the professional development plan (PDP). This process ensures that teachers continue to grow and develop as professionals, and the renewal (and upgrade) of their teaching certificate is based on the completion of the PDP, and an evaluation of it by the state.

In addition to the education requirements above, anyone pursuing a Wisconsin teacher certification in early childhood and elementary education, must complete specific coursework in phonics. Additionally, all Wisconsin teacher certificate applicants must complete coursework in the study of Wisconsin Indian tribes and environmental education. Although, if applicants do not complete this coursework beforehand, an Initial Educator License may be issued provided that the applicant completes the requirements within the initial five year period.

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Wisconsin Teacher Outlook as of 2014
The Occupational Supply & Demand System projects 370 average annual job openings for middle school teachers and 560 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in Wisconsin from 2012 to 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 53,900 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in Wisconsin, excluding teachers working in special education (2013). Middle school teachers in the state earn an average annual salary of $54,270, and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $54,980 (BLS 2013). The Wisconsin Education Association Council, an affiliate of the National Education Association, has current information on education policy, budget allocation and local employment and working conditions.

Wisconsin Teacher Testing Requirements

wisconsin-state-sealTo obtain teacher certification in Wisconsin, applicants have to show their basic skills in reading, writing, and math through the Praxis I exam. After that, applicants must show their competence in teaching by taking the Praxis II exam. Applicants should take the Praxis II Subject Assessment, an exam in the content area in which they seeking certification. This exam primarily assesses an applicant’s knowledge of content in their proposed certification area, as well as some teaching pedagogy.

Additional Wisconsin Teacher Certification Requirements

Like all states, anyone working towards Wisconsin educator certification must submit to a state and federal background check through fingerprinting clearance. To begin the process, applicants should request a fingerprinting card from the state’s Department of safety and obtain official prints through the local police department.

Wisconsin Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once the steps towards Wisconsin teacher certification are fulfilled, applicants must submit an application packet to the state’s Department of Public Instruction. The packet should include the following:

  1. Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree
  2. Proof of teacher program completion at an accredited teacher preparation school
  3. Verification of phonics coursework
  4. Verification of local Indian tribes and environmental education
  5. Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee
  6. Passing score on the required examinations
  7. Completed application for teaching certification in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Department of Instruction
P.O. Box 7841
Madison, WI 53707-7841

Visit the state’s Department of Education for further details on teaching certification in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Teacher Salary and Jobs

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers 5,280 $27,070
Kindergarten Teachers 2,460 $53,990
Elementary School Teachers 26,200 $58,320
Middle School Teachers 11,400 $54,400
Secondary School Teachers 16,930 $54,470

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

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Wisconsin Teacher Interview

Interview with Heather Mathews, Wisconsin Fourth Grade Teacher

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Wisconsin

Question: How can I become a substitute teacher in Wisconsin?

Answer: To work as a substitute teacher in Wisconsin, you need to get a permit from the state Department of Public Instruction. To get the permit, you must have a college degree from an accredited institution, have a school district sponsor you, and take an appropriate substitute training class.

Question: How do I become a high school teacher in Wisconsin?

Answer: To be a high school teacher in Wisconsin, you must be licensed through the state. To get a license, you need to have completed a bachelor degree program and an approved teacher preparation program. You must also pass a background check.

Teaching and Education Programs

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1. Wisconsin State Department of Education: http://dpi.wi.gov
2. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000

Page edited by Charles Sipe.