How to Become a Teacher in Chicago
If you are interested in working in an urban school environment, Chicago may be a great place to look for teaching opportunities. The Chicago Public School Board is the third-largest in the country and includes over 500 public elementary and secondary schools and over 100 charter schools.1 You will need at least a bachelor’s degree and an educator license to apply for public school teaching jobs in Chicago. In 2015, there were approximately 76,620 teachers in the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington area; however, there is little to no growth projected for public school teaching jobs in Chicago through 2024.2,3 Preparing a professional application and profile will be an important step towards securing a teaching job in the Chicago area. You might also consider working in private and charter schools in Chicago, which have different requirements. Read on for more information.
Chicago School District Steps for Becoming a Teacher
All Chicago teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate. You can earn an Illinois teaching license either through an educator preparation program or an alternative teacher certification program that allows you to teach while you complete the required coursework. Out-of-state teachers may have to meet different requirements based on the requirements of their home state. Licenses are issued through the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS). Check out the Certification section for more information.
Step 1: Apply to the Teacher Quality Pool.
Before you can apply for Chicago teaching jobs, you need to be accepted by the school board into the Teacher Quality Pool (TQP) on the Chicago Public Schools Careers website. This is a pre-screening measure and does not guarantee that you will receive a job offer. The TQP application includes a 10- to 15-minute interview offered in person, via telephone, or via webcam depending on individual circumstances. Applicants must provide two letters of reference.
Step 2: Complete you teacher profile.
Once you are accepted into the Teacher Quality Pool, you can complete your online profile and search for open jobs. Schools hire teachers directly in Chicago, therefore you will need to apply to each job individually.
Step 3: Attend an interview with a school leader or panel.
A school may contact you for an interview if your application is a good match for the open position for which you applied. Interviews for teaching positions typically focus on your teaching experience, subject area knowledge, and preferred teaching methods to see if you are a good fit for the institution. Many schools will require delivery of a sample lesson and lesson plan as part of the interview process so that they can get a sense of your teaching style.
Step 4: Complete the hiring process.
If you are offered a position, it will likely be contingent on passing a background check. Then, you will connect with the human resources department to complete tax paperwork, set up an official school email address and payroll deposit, and complete any other necessary administrative requirements before your first day.
How to Become a Substitute Teacher with the Chicago School District
To work as a substitute teacher in Chicago, you will need an Illinois State Board of Education Substitute Teacher License. To be eligible for this license, you must have a bachelor’s degree. You can apply online through the Educator Licensure Information System by completing the application form online, mailing your official transcript, and paying the $100 fee. The license is valid for five years, at which point you will be allowed to renew the license if you have completed the TAP-400 test or an approved alternative basic skills test.
Chicago Teacher Certification Requirements
To become a teacher through the traditional route, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree, complete a teacher preparation program, and pass several tests demonstrating your literacy skills, subject area knowledge, and teaching proficiency. The educator preparation program will include hands-on experience through a student teaching placement. You must complete all the program requirements with a ‘C’ grade or higher to apply for licensure. More information can be found on our Illinois certification page.
It is also possible to earn your license through an approved alternative program. This option is available if you have a bachelor’s degree in a content area and have passed the TAP-400 or equivalent test. There are many different alternative programs that typically require you to complete coursework and pass content assessments before beginning a student teaching placement. You will also need to pass additional assessments, such as the edTPA and the Assessment of Professional Teaching, to receive your teaching certificate. Refer to our Illinois alternative certification page for more information.
42 W Madison St
Chicago, IL 60602
Private and Charter School Teacher Requirements in Chicago
Private and charter schools in Chicago set their own hiring requirements and qualifications; however, many schools prefer to hire teachers with state licensure to ensure they are knowledgeable and well-prepared for classroom leadership. A bachelor’s degree in a content-specific area is likely the minimum requirement for these jobs. Contact private and charter schools directly to learn about job opportunities and hiring procedures. Private schools and charter schools often require families to apply for spaces and may have additional admission requirements based on the school specialty or reputation. Here are some well-known schools in the Chicago area.
Private Schools in Chicago
- British International Schools of Chicago
- Francis W. Parker School
- Morgan Park Academy
- Sacred Heart Schools
- St. Ignatius College Preparatory School
- The Latin School of Chicago
Charter Schools in Chicago
- Chicago Bulls College Prep
- Chicago Math and Science Academy
- Chicago International Charter School
- Intrinsic Schools
- LEARN Charter School Network
- Polaris Charter Academy
Chicago Teacher Salary and Jobs Outlook
The Illinois Department of Employment Security projects that the number of teaching positions in the state will remain stable through 2024.3 According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2015, secondary school teachers in the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington area earned the highest average teacher salary at $74,960, followed by middle school teachers who earned an average of $70,780, elementary school teachers who earned an average of $64,000, and kindergarten teachers who earned an average of $57,270.2 These salaries are slightly above the national and statewide average salaries for teachers.4,5
Chicago Teaching Jobs Boards
You can browse teaching jobs in both public and private schools in Chicago on various online job banks before you obtain teaching certification. Take a look at these links to learn more.
- Chicago Public Schools Careers
- National Association of Independent Schools
- Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools Jobs
- Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools
Use our Jobs Board tool to search for teaching jobs in Chicago.
Additional Resources for Teaching in Chicago
- Chicago Center for Teaching
- The Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts
- Chicago Teachers Union
- Teachers for Social Justice Chicago
- Teach for America Chicago
1. Chicago Public Schools: Stats and Facts: http://cps.edu/About_CPS/At-a-glance/Pages/Stats_and_facts.aspx
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2015 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_16974.htm#25-0000
3. State of Illinois Occupational Employment Projections (Long-term): http://www.ides.illinois.gov/LMI/Employment%20Projections%20EDR/IL1424LTOcc.pdf
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, United States: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#25-0000
5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Illinois: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_il.htm#25-0000