The Michigan Teaching and Certification Resource

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) oversees the teacher certification process in Michigan. The traditional route to certification in the state, which uses a three-tier certification system, is outlined in detail below for those seeking to learn how to become a teacher in Michigan. For more information on alternative pathways for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree, visit our guide to alternative teacher certification in Michigan.

How to Become a Teacher in Michigan

Teacher candidates pursuing a traditional route to Michigan teacher certification should hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a state-approved teacher preparation program, and earn passing scores on the state-required tests. The traditional route to certification leads to the issuance of a Standard Teaching Certificate, Michigan’s initial teaching certificate for new teachers.

After successfully completing three years of teaching experience and continuing education, those holding a Standard Teaching Certificate may upgrade to a Professional Teaching Certificate. Highly effective and qualified teachers may then move up to the Advanced Professional Teaching Certificate. Provisional and interim certificates to teach are for those who are pursuing alternative pathways to licensure.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Michigan

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in MI through 20262

Michigan requires that all teachers complete a state-approved teacher preparation program at an accredited school. You can view a list of approved educator preparation programs in Michigan through the Office of Educator Excellence. You can also compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Michigan schools page.

For those who will be attending programs located outside of Michigan, it’s important to note that Michigan will only issue teaching certificates or permits to teachers who have attended an accredited program that is approved for the preparation of teachers by that state’s Board of Education. Therefore, when evaluating potential schools, it’s imperative to confirm the school is in good standing with its corresponding regional accrediting agency and the state Board of Education.

Additionally, teacher preparation programs may hold accreditation from the national Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Although CAEP accreditation is not mandatory, it is a sign of excellence in curriculum and many schools apply for the accreditation because of its highly-regarded reputation.

Michigan Teacher Education Requirements

Michigan State SealCandidates for Michigan teacher certification who are applying for licensure through the traditional route must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program from an accredited institution and hold a bachelor’s degree in a teachable subject. Candidates for a teaching credential must meet specific coursework requirements within the teacher preparation program, including three to six semester hours in reading courses and a course in first aid and CPR. Teachers who successfully complete the requirements for this route will receive a Standard Teaching Certificate which is good for up to five years. Continuing education is required in order to renew a Standard Teaching Certificate.

Michigan Teacher Testing Requirements

Becoming a certified teacher in Michigan requires a passing score on the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC). Generally, this assessment measures the candidate’s basic skills as well as the candidate’s expertise in the content area for which he or she is seeking certification. The candidate’s teacher preparation program may also require the candidates to pass the Professional Readiness Examination (PRE), which measures skills in reading, writing, and math. This test is typically taken prior to the student teaching experience that is required for licensure.

Additional Michigan Teacher Certification Requirements

All teachers in Michigan must submit to a state and federal background check. Applicants must complete a fingerprint card via LiveScan before sending in a teacher certification application. In most cases, candidates will be asked by the hosting school district to complete a LiveScan fingerprint background check prior to the student teaching experience.

Michigan Teachers Licensing Application Process

Upon completion of all the steps above, applicants should send in all pertinent information to the Michigan Department of Education. The summer months can be a very busy time for processing applications so it’s recommended to send in applications three to four months before the desired date of employment. The required supporting documents include:

  • College transcripts from all schools attended.
  • Verification of completion of a Michigan educator certification program at an approved and accredited school.
  • Submission of passing scores on the required Michigan Test for Teacher Certification examinations.
  • Proof of background check clearance.
  • Submission of application with required documentation.
  • Payment of non-refundable processing fees.

The Michigan Department of Education requires candidates to use the online Michigan Online Educator Certification System (MOECS) to apply for and renew certification credentials. Visit the MDE website for further details on teaching certification in Michigan.

Michigan Teacher Salary and Jobs

During the 2016-2017 school year, there were about 3,460 K-12 public schools in Michigan.3 The total public school population was estimated at 1,528,666 students and 83,597 teachers, giving Michigan a student-to-teacher ratio of 18:1.3

Projections show 2,840 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 1,110 annual average job openings for middle school teachers, and 1,470 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in the state through 2026.2 Elementary school teachers in the state make an average annual salary of $66,180, while middle school teachers make an average of $64,540 and secondary teachers make an average of $62,950.4 Visit the Michigan Education Association, a local branch of the NEA, for political and economic updates relevant to local teachers.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers9,270$35,010
Preschool Teachers, Special Education410$64,300
Kindergarten Teachers1,450$59,140
Elementary School Teachers38,330$66,180
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School2,460$66,820
Middle School Teachers12,750$64,540
Middle School Teachers, Special Education660$61,540
Secondary School Teachers24,130$62,950
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education1,880$63,700
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education1,250$65,730

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4

Teacher Shortages in Michigan

According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, Michigan broadly has the following shortages5:

  • Art and Music Education (General), Pre-K-12
  • Career and Technical Education (Computer Science, Family and Consumer Science, General, Industrial Technology), Pre-K-12
  • Core Subjects (Elementary Education), Pre-K-12
  • English as a Second Language (Bilingual Education, General), Pre-K-12
  • Health and Physical Fitness (Health Science, Physical Education), Pre-K-12
  • Language Arts (Communications, Reading and Literacy), Pre-K-12
  • Mathematics (General), Pre-K-12
  • Psychology (General), Pre-K-12
  • Science (General), Pre-K-12
  • Social Studies (General, Sociology), Pre-K-12
  • Special Education (Administrator, General), Pre-K-12
  • Support Staff (Guidance and Counseling, Instructional Library Media, Social Worker), Pre-K-12
  • World Languages (Any World Language), Pre-K-12

Michigan Teacher Interviews

Michigan School District Requirements

If you are interested in becoming a teacher in Michigan, please read more on our Detroit city page where you will find the steps for becoming a teacher in Detroit, information about private and charter schools, and the requirements for becoming a substitute teacher there.

Teacher Quote “Our job as teachers is to take our students from wherever they are socially and academically, and help them move forward. Just like with my own children, I want my students to be the best individuals they can be.” -Colby Sharp, Michigan Language Arts Teacher

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How do I become a substitute teacher in Michigan?

Answer: In Michigan, you can become a substitute teacher if you have completed 60 college credit hours with a minimum GPA and passed a criminal background check. Michigan offers four permits for schools employing substitute teachers: a Daily Substitute Permit, a Full-Year Basic Substitute Permit, a Full-Year Shortage Substitute Permit, and an Expert Substitute Permit. All of these permits have specific requirements, from the sub being observed by a mentor teacher to having five years of experience and a bachelor’s degree. However, school districts may individually set more stringent requirements and may prefer certified teachers. To work in one position for an extended period of time, you must get a substitute teaching permit through the state education department. Apply to individual districts to find a job as a substitute.

Question: What are the requirements to become a high school teacher in Michigan?

Answer: To become a high school teacher in Michigan, you must be granted a Standard Teaching Certificate from the state with the appropriate subject/content endorsement at the secondary level. The requirements for the certificate include a bachelor’s degree in a teachable subject as well as completion of a teacher preparation program, student teaching experience, and passing scores on the Michigan certification and subject area tests.

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

Answer: To become an elementary teacher in Michigan, you need to be certified through the state in elementary education. This requires that you have a bachelor’s degree in education or a degree with appropriate early childhood education coursework. You also must participate in student teaching and pass the state tests for certification.

1. Michigan State Department of Education: https://www.michigan.gov/mde/
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, Michigan: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mi.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports