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.
- I want to be a teacher in Iowa, but don’t have a degree: Earn an Education Degree
- I want to be a teacher and have a degree, but not in education: Learn about Iowa’s Alternative Certification Process and Programs
- I have a teaching degree and am interested in more education: Learn about Master’s Degree Education Programs or Doctorate Education Programs and Information.
- I am already certified and want to teach in another state: Learn about Teacher Certification Reciprocity.
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Iowa
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in IA through 20262
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. You can also compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Iowa schools page.
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.
Iowa Teacher Education Requirements
Iowa has specific educational requirements for individuals who wish obtain Iowa teacher certification. In order to obtain an Initial teaching license, the qualifying 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 six 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. In some cases, the Praxis Principles of Teaching and Learning test may also be required. For more information on the appropriate exam(s) to take by subject and grade level, refer to the ETS Praxis website.
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 and order the fingerprinting card, visit the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners licensing portal.
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 Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
There were approximately 1,328 public schools operating in Iowa during the 2016-2017 school year, with a K-12 student enrollment of 509,831.3 There were 35,808 public school teachers in the state during this timeframe, giving a student-to-teacher ratio of 14:1.3
Projections show 1,710 average annual openings for elementary school teachers, 900 average annual openings for middle school teachers, and 1,090 average annual openings for secondary school teachers in Iowa through 2026.2 Excluding special education, the average annual salary for elementary school teachers in Iowa is $54,500, the average annual salary for middle school teachers is $55,300, and the average annual salary for secondary school teachers is $56,510.4 For information on education legislation and policy visit the Iowa State Education Association, the largest active teachers union in Iowa.
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||90||$49,330|
|Elementary School Teachers||19,040||$54,500|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||1,400||$56,300|
|Middle School Teachers||7,940||$55,300|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||750||$58,890|
|Secondary School Teachers||13,010||$56,510|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||1,080||$57,730|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||420||$56,510|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Teacher Shortages in Iowa
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, Iowa broadly has the following shortages5:
- Academically Advanced (Gifted Education), Pre-K-12
- Art and Music Education (Art), Pre-K-12
- Career and Technical Education (Agricultural Science and Technology; Business Education; Family and Consumer Science; Industrial Technology), 5-12
- Early Childhood (Birth through Kindergarten), Pre-K-K
- Science (Earth and Space Science), 5-12
- Special Education (All Exceptionalities, Hearing Impairment, Visual Impairment), Pre-K-12
- Support Staff (Counseling), Pre-K-12
- World Languages (Any World Language), Pre-K-12
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Question: How do I become a substitute teacher in Iowa?
Answer: To become a substitute teacher in Iowa, you will need a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. For a Preservice Substitute Authorization, you also need to have a Junior or Senior status in Iowa teacher preparation program, be over 21 years old, and be recommended by the program; for a Substitute Authorization, you need to have a bachelor’s degree and have completed a substitute authorization course; and for a Substitute License you need to have held or be eligible for an Iowa teaching license.
Question: In what areas does Iowa need teachers?
Answer: According to the US Department of Education, Iowa reports teacher shortages for the 2021-22 school year in subjects such as science, career and technical education, special education, and world languages.5 Teachers in these areas may have an easier time finding teaching jobs in Iowa.
1. Iowa Board of Educational Examiners: https://boee.iowa.gov/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. National Center for Education Statistics, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Iowa: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ia.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/