The Iowa Teaching and Certification Resource

Teacher certification in Iowa is overseen by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. The traditional pathway is outlined below for those who want to learn how to become a teacher in Iowa.

How to Become a Teacher in Iowa

Like all US States, Iowa requires teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher education program at an accredited institution. Additionally, applicants are required to take the Praxis Subject Assessments to evaluate knowledge in the subject(s) to be taught.

There are three types of Iowa teacher certification: Initial, Standard, and Master Educator. The Initial certificate is valid for two years and is issued to new teachers who meet the state’s basic requirements. Once two years of successful teaching are accomplished, based upon local evaluations, teachers may apply for a Standard License which is valid for five years. Both Initial and Standard certificates may be renewed. Teachers may also earn a Master Educator License, which is valid for five years, by successfully completing five years of teaching and earning a master’s degree in the appropriate endorsement area.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Iowa

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in IA through 20242

Candidates for teacher licensure in Iowa must complete a bachelor’s degree as well as a state-approved Iowa teacher preparation program at an accredited school. You can see approved programs on the Iowa Department of Education website.

Schools located out-of-state or offering online teacher preparation must be accredited by one of the six regional bodies overseen by the US Department of Education.

Additionally, schools may be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) This organization was formed by the consolidation of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). CAEP accreditation is a highly respected marker of excellence in teacher education.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Iowa.

Iowa Teacher Outlook
The Iowa Workforce Information Network projects 650 average annual openings for elementary school teachers, 335 average annual openings for middle school teachers, and 440 average annual openings for secondary school teachers in Iowa through 2024.3 The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the number of elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in Iowa at 34,640.4 Excluding special education, the average annual salary for elementary school teachers in Iowa is $51,180, the average annual salary for middle school teachers is $55,130, and the average annual salary for secondary school teachers is $51,310.4 For information on education legislation and policy visit the Iowa State Education Association, the largest active teachers union in Iowa.

Iowa Teacher Education Requirements

Iowa State SealIowa has specific educational requirements for individuals who wish obtain Iowa teacher certification. In order to obtain an Initial Teaching License, a bachelor’s degree must be earned from a regionally accredited institution and an approved teacher preparation program with a human relations component must be completed. There is also a recency requirement that candidates have taken at least 6 semester hours of college credit in the last five years prior to applying for a teaching certificate.

Iowa Teacher Testing Requirements

Iowa’s testing requirements for Iowa educator certification candidates are designed to ensure that applicants are highly qualified. According to Iowa statute, all Iowa teacher candidates must earn passing scores on both a pedagogy and a content-area test before they can be eligible for licensure. Iowa uses the Praxis Core exam to test basic skills and the Praxis Subject Assessments to measure content-area knowledge for this requirement. For more information on the appropriate exam(s) to take by subject and grade level, refer to the Iowa Department of Education.

Additional Iowa Teacher Certification Requirements

Like in most states, those applying for teaching certification in Iowa must complete a state and federal background check. Initial License applicants must either be fingerprinted by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners or request a fingerprint card to be completed at a local law enforcement agency. To review information on the process or to order the fingerprinting card, visit the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners website.

Iowa Teachers Licensing Application Process

After completing the required steps listed above, candidates may submit an Iowa teacher certification application. Required supporting documentation includes:

  • Transcripts from bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation coursework from an approved institution.
  • Evidence of passing scores on the required content and pedagogy exams.
  • Completed application along with non-refundable processing fee.

Applications may be sent to:

Board of Educational Examiners
Grimes State Office Building
400 East 14th St
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0147

Visit the Iowa Department of Education for further details on Iowa teacher licensing.

Iowa Teacher Salary and Jobs

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers3,900$27,070
Preschool Teachers, Special Education280$57,730
Kindergarten Teachers990$48,520
Elementary School Teachers15,830$51,180
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School1,500$51,940
Middle School Teachers6,540$55,130
Middle School Teachers, Special Education860$57,170
Secondary School Teachers12,270$51,310
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education1,180$55,190
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education620$54,460

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.4

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Iowa

Question: How do I become an elementary teacher in Iowa?

Answer: You must earn an initial teaching certificate to become an elementary teacher in Iowa. The requirements for the certificate include earning a bachelor’s degree and completing a teacher preparation program. You must also pass the state tests for teacher certification and gain experience through student teaching in an elementary classroom.

Teaching and Education Programs

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1. Iowa Board of Educational Examiners: http://www.iowa.gov/boee/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. Iowa Workforce Information Network: http://iwin.iwd.state.ia.us/iowa/ArticleReader?itemid=00003928
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Iowa: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ia.htm