Iowa Alternative Teacher Certification

There are several alternative pathways for earning teacher certification in Iowa. Iowa’s alternative pathways are designed to attract experienced professionals to the classroom, particularly in shortage areas. Note that Iowa alternative licensing is only available for prospective teachers of secondary-level subjects. You can read more about the options for alternative teacher licensing in Iowa below.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

For most pathways, the minimum requirement for pursuing alternative teacher certification in Iowa is a bachelor’s degree with a major in an endorsable subject. Candidates typically must also pass the same content and teaching skills exams as traditional-path educators. In addition, candidates must complete an alternative teacher preparation program. Alternative preparation programs can be completed in as little as one year as a post-graduate certificate. Candidates may also elect to pursue a master’s degree in education, or in a core subject that includes an approved certification program.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Iowa

Prospective teachers who have a bachelor’s degree who want to switch careers to teaching have a variety of options. The typical alternative pathways to Iowa teacher licensing are outlined below, and you can find more detailed information through the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

Teacher Intern Program

The Teacher Intern Program, also known as the Regents Alternative Pathway to Iowa Licensure (RAPIL), allows candidates to teach under an intern license while pursuing teacher preparation. Candidates for this pathway first take 12 semester hours of teaching skills coursework including 50 hours of field experience. Candidates may then apply for an intern certificate to teach for one year in a secondary school while participating in mentorship and induction as well as an intern seminar. Successful completion of this program leads to an initial teaching license. Currently three schools are approved to offer the Teacher Intern curriculum.

Provisional Career and Technical License

Those interested in a teaching career and technical education subjects may be eligible for an Iowa Provisional Career and Technical License. This type of license is issued to those who have at least 6,000 hours of hands-on work experience in the endorsement area sought, or 4,000 hours plus a bachelor’s degree. Candidates must also hold an occupational license, if available in the endorsement area, and complete 30 clock hours of new teacher development during the first year of licensure. For more information, contact the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

Testing Requirements for Iowa Alternative Certification

All Iowa educators must take and pass the Praxis pedagogy and content tests appropriate to the grade level(s) and subject(s) to be taught. For a breakdown of required exams by endorsement area, consult the Iowa Department of Education website.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

For experienced teachers who have an out-of-state certificate, it is possible to obtain Iowa teacher certification via reciprocity provided that applicants fulfill the Iowa licensing requirements. Teachers licensed in states other than Iowa may apply for a provisional Iowa teaching license, known as a regional exchange license, which is valid for one year while fulfilling any deficiencies for standard licensure. For more information, review our teacher certification reciprocity resource or contact the Board of Educational Examiners.

Schools with Alternative Certification Programs in Iowa

The school-based alternative certification programs below have been approved by the Iowa Department of Education (Educate Iowa) for the preparation of teachers. Be sure to verify that the program you choose is approved by state; unapproved programs typically will not qualify applicants for licensure.

  • Buena Vista University
  • Clarke University
  • Dordt College
  • Drake University
  • Graceland University
  • Grand View University
  • Iowa State University
  • Loras College
  • Morningside College
  • Mount Mercy University
  • Northwestern College
  • Saint Ambrose University
  • Simpson College
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Upper Iowa University
  • Viterbo University

Additional Resources

1. Iowa Board of Educational Examiners: https://boee.iowa.gov/
2. Iowa Board of Education: https://www.educateiowa.gov/