Michigan Teacher Certification and Career Guide

Public K-12 teachers in Michigan must be certified according to the standards established by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The main steps for the traditional path to teacher certification in Michigan are:

  1. Complete a state-approved bachelor’s degree with a teacher preparation component.
  2. Complete a student teaching placement.
  3. Pass the required teacher certification exams.
  4. Apply for a teaching certificate or license.
  5. Upgrade your license, if desired.

Continue reading to learn more about the traditional certification pathway in Michigan.

Table of Contents

Steps to Become a Teacher in Michigan
Teacher Certification Renewal
Adding Subjects or Grades to a Certificate
Teaching License Reciprocity
Related Licenses
Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
Michigan School District Requirements
Additional Resources
Frequently Asked Questions

How to Become a Teacher in Michigan

This section outlines the steps to become a certified teacher in Michigan via the traditional pathway. Michigan utilizes a tiered certification system for its teachers:

  • Standard Teaching Certificate (5-year): Initial teaching certificate for Michigan teachers who have completed their teacher preparation program and have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Professional Teaching Certificate (5-year): An optional second tier of certification for teachers with at least three years of professional experience who meet additional coursework requirements.

If you are a bachelor’s degree holder who has yet to complete a teacher preparation program, check out our guide to alternative teacher certification in Michigan.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree that includes an approved teacher preparation program.

Michigan requires that all teachers hold at least a bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited college or university as part of their certification. The bachelor’s degree major will depend on the grade level and subject students wish to teach. As part of the bachelor’s degree, prospective teachers must complete an approved educator preparation program (EPP). The MDE has created a searchable database of approved teacher preparation programs in Michigan to help candidates find a provider that aligns with their desired subject and grade level.

You can compare key metrics for state-approved teacher preparation programs on our Michigan schools page. You can also read about two important accreditations to consider, institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation, on our teaching schools guide.

2. Complete a student teaching placement.

As part of their teacher preparation program, all prospective Michigan teachers must complete a clinical experience, also known as student teaching. Michigan teachers must complete 600 clinical experience hours throughout their preparation program, including a student teaching assignment. The student teaching assignment must last for at least 12 weeks, or six semester credit hours. Student teaching should be in the grade level and subject area of the certification area sought. In total, student teachers should log at least 30 clock hours of classroom teaching under the supervision of a mentor teacher during their assignment.

3. Pass the required Michigan teacher exams.

Michigan State SealMichigan requires that all prospective teachers to pass the appropriate Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) content exam. MTTC content exams can be taken once a teaching candidate has completed at least 90% of the education preparation program coursework. The MTTC website provides details on required exams by subject and grade level, preparation materials, and a registration portal.

4. Apply for Michigan teacher certification.

Once the above steps are completed, candidates can apply for their Standard Teacher Certification. All certification applications must be completed online through the Michigan Online Educator Certification System (MOECS). In addition to the online application, the following documents must be submitted to apply for certification:

  • Official transcripts
  • Passing MTTC scores
  • Non-refundable application fee
  • Proof of background check clearance

For more information on the traditional pathway to certification in Michigan, visit the MDE Educator Services page.

5. Upgrade to a Professional Teacher Certificate, if desired.

Teachers with at least three years of professional experience can upgrade to a Professional Teacher Certificate by earning an education-related master’s degree or higher or completing at least 150 hours of education-related professional learning. The MDE page on Progressing to the Professional Teaching Certificate has additional details on upgrading a certificate.

Guide to Other Teaching Pathways

Michigan Teacher Certification Renewal

Both Standard and Professional Teacher Certificates are valid for five years and can be renewed. All certificates expire on June 30 of the expiration year, and renewal requests can be made online through the MOECS portal starting January 1 of the expiration year. To renew a certificate, teachers must complete 150 hours of education-related professional development. Teachers who have completed a master’s degree or higher can use their official transcripts to meet their renewal requirements. This option can be used only once in a teacher’s professional career in Michigan. Approved options for professional development are available on the MDE Education Related Professional Learning page.

Adding Subjects or Grades to a Certificate

Once certified, teachers are only authorized to work in the grade and subject area listed on their certificate, though occasional, temporary exceptions are made. To add an endorsement or subject area to a current Michigan certificate, teachers can complete an approved endorsement program consisting of at least 20 hours of coursework. In addition to the endorsement program, teachers must also pass the corresponding MTTC content assessment. Additional details on adding an endorsement in Michigan are available on the MDE website.

Michigan Teaching License Reciprocity

Michigan has signed an Interstate Compact Agreement (ICA) with all other US states, agreeing to accept out-of-state teaching certificates. Teachers with a current, valid out-of-state certificate can apply for either a Standard Teacher Certificate or a Professional Teacher Certificate, depending on their years of experience. Out-of-state teachers will likely need to take the corresponding MTTC content exam to transfer a certificate. Teachers with a valid out-of-state license who have not taken the MTTC exams can apply for a one-year, non-renewable Temporary Teaching Certificate (TTC), which allows them to work in the state while they take the required exams. To apply for teacher certification in Michigan through the reciprocity program, teachers must submit the following documents through the MOECS online portal:

  • Current out-of-state certificate
  • Official transcripts
  • Passing MTTC scores
  • Non-refundable application fee
  • Proof of background check clearance
  • Proof of completion of Reading Methods requirement (Professional Teaching Certificate only)

Additional information on reciprocity in Michigan is available on the MDE’s Out-of-State Applicants page. You can learn more about transferring a teaching certificate or license between states on our guide to certification reciprocity.

Michigan offers a variety of certifications for support and administrative staff in Michigan schools. These certificates include:

  • Annual Career Authorizations (ACA): ACAs are single-year certificates for Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers who hold a high school diploma and have demonstrated professional experience in the subject area. ACAs are used as an alternative certification option for CTE teachers who do not meet the minimum requirements for a Standard Teacher Certificate.
  • School Administrator Certificate: Required for superintendents, principals, and assistant principals in Michigan. Generally, candidates qualify for a School Administrator Certificate by completing a master’s degree with a related preparation program. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree will also be considered if they have at least three years of experience as an administrator.
  • School Counselor License (SCL): The SCL requires the holder to earn a related master’s degree with a preparation program and at least 30 approved coursework hours in school counseling. Candidates must also pass the MTTC School Counselor exam. School counselors are authorized to work in a preK-12 setting. SCLs are valid for five years.

Michigan also offers certificates for school psychologists and various endorsements for special education and media specialists (school librarians). Advanced certificates, such as those for administrators, usually require a master’s degree with a specialized preparation program. The Certification Guidance page on the MDE website has more information on related education certificates.

Michigan Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in MI through 20302*

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) about the 2017-2018 school year found 3,732 operating schools in Michigan.3 Within those schools, there were approximately 84,472 teachers and 1,516,398 students, with an overall student-teacher ratio of nearly 18:1.3

Overall, job projections in Michigan through 2030 are significantly lower than national averages. Job growth for Michigan elementary teachers is expected to be just 1.9%, compared to 7.4% nationally; for Michigan middle school teachers, 1.9% compared to 13.1% nationally; and for high school teachers, 2.3% compared to 13.7% nationally.2 The table below provides a detailed comparison of job growth prospects and salary levels for Michigan teachers.

TypeNumber Employed in MI4Average Annual Openings in MI2MI Proj. Job Growth 2020-20302Average Annual Salary in MI425th Percentile Wages in MI575th Percentile Wages in MI5
Preschool Teachers8,1501,12019.3%$36,660$29,030$39,030
Preschool Teachers, Special Education80$65,710$59,030$75,720
Kindergarten Teachers1,0401202.5%$61,980$47,300$74,430
Elementary School Teachers37,6702,4901.9%$66,130$49,030$78,010
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Special Education2,9002301.6%$64,910$49,320$80,290
Middle School Teachers12,6609901.9%$64,880$48,190$77,780
Middle School Teachers, Special Education730801.9%$65,610$50,820$77,220
Middle School Teachers, Career/Technical Education60$65,950$58,940$66,590
Secondary School Teachers21,8301,4802.3%$66,840$49,030$79,250
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education1,7801401.6%$68,210$52,300$79,410
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education790601.1%$66,830$50,840$78,160

*The estimated job growth average is based on projections for mainstream kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers. Projections for other categories, such as special education and career and technical education, may be higher or lower than the average.

Teacher Shortages in Michigan

Michigan, like many states, is facing several teaching shortages. According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2023-2024, Michigan has designated the following deficits:

In addition to these shortages, Michigan had 476 unfilled positions during the 2021-2022 school year.7 Furthermore, over 750 teachers in Michigan were considered underqualified for their assignment, which includes teachers assigned to classrooms outside their certification field on a temporary or emergency basis.7

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.

Additional Resources

Michigan Teacher Interviews

Related Articles

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: What are the requirements for substitute teachers 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 a Full-Year 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, some school districts may set more stringent requirements and prefer certified teachers. Substitute teachers should apply to individual districts to find a job.

Question: How many private schools and private school teachers does Michigan have?

Answer: Michigan has just under 800 private schools, according to NCES data from the 2017-2018 school year.8 Within those schools there were 11,093 full-time teachers and 125,206 students.8 There are no statewide certification standards for private school teachers in Michigan, but individual schools may prefer teachers with a valid teaching certificate.

1. Michigan Board 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, 2017-2018: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Michigan: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mi.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
6. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports
7. Teacher Shortages in the United States, Tuan D. Nguyen et al.: https://teachershortages.com/
8. National Center for Education Statistics, Private School Universe Survey, 2019-20: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/tables/TABLE15fl1920.asp