The Minnesota Teaching and Certification Resource

Those who wish to teach in K-12 public schools in Minnesota must first earn teacher certification. The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) oversees the Minnesota teacher certification process. The requirements are outlined below to help you learn how to become a teacher in Minnesota.

How to Become a Teacher in Minnesota

Prospective Minnesota teachers must complete a bachelor’s degree and an educator preparation program from a college or university approved by the state. Prospective teachers must also complete the National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic Skills Test and the state’s series of content and pedagogy assessments for educators, the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE).

Professionals who have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete traditional teacher preparation may be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Minnesota.

Minnesota uses a tiered system for educator licensure. For traditionally prepared teachers, the licensing structure typically starts at Tier 2, which requires a bachelor’s degree and completion of an approved teacher preparation program. To move to Tier 3, teachers must meet Tier 2 requirements and complete passing scores on the state’s content and pedagogy tests plus meet experience requirements. The highest tier, Tier 4, requires the same accomplishments as Tier 3 plus three years of teaching experience with a positive result on the most recent year’s teaching evaluation.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Minnesota

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in MN through 20262

Perhaps the most important step towards earning teacher certification in Minnesota is completing a quality teacher preparation program at an approved school. A list of approved programs that qualify graduates for licensure in Minnesota is available through the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB). You can compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Minnesota schools page.

When evaluating bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program options, prospective teachers should confirm that the programs considered also hold accreditation from one of the six regional accreditation agencies recognized by the US Department of Education.

Additionally, schools may also hold accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Although accreditation from CAEP is not mandatory for state approval, this accreditation is seen as a marker of high standards for teacher preparation.

Minnesota Teacher Education Requirements

To earn full Minnesota teacher certification, prospective teachers must complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as well as an approved teacher preparation program. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Education requires teacher candidates to take an approved course in human relations from a Minnesota college or university. Most candidates will complete this coursework as part of the teacher preparation program curriculum.

Minnesota Teacher Testing Requirements

Minnesota State SealThe Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board has adopted the National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic Skills Test to measure candidates’ basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics and also administers the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE) to assess candidates’ teaching skills and content-area knowledge. All prospective educators seeking initial certification must take the Essential Academic Skills Test and the MTLE general pedagogy test, which measures skills in the principles of teaching and learning. In addition, candidates must take the MTLE content area test aligned to the subject area(s) and grade level(s) they wish to teach.

Additional Minnesota Teacher Certification Requirements

Like most US states, Minnesota requires all candidates applying for Minnesota teacher licensing to complete a federal and state background check based on fingerprinting. Instructions on completing the fingerprinting requirement are provided through the state’s online licensing system.

Minnesota Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once all of the requirements for Minnesota teacher certification are met, candidates must submit an application for a teaching license. The required documents are as follows:

  • Completed fingerprint cards for background check.
  • Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree.
  • Proof of program completion at an approved teacher preparation school.
  • Completed application for teaching certification in Minnesota.
  • Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee.
  • Passing scores on the required examinations.

Applications should be submitted online through the Minnesota Department of Education online licensing system. Contact the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) for further information on teaching certification in Minnesota.

Minnesota Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

During the 2016-2017 school year, there were 2,513 K-12 public schools operating in Minnesota with an estimated student enrollment of 875,021.3 There were 56,714 public school teachers during this time frame, giving a student-to-teacher ratio of 15:1.3

Projections suggest that there will be 2,260 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 840 average annual openings for middle school teachers, and 1,590 average annual openings for secondary school teachers in Minnesota from 2016 through 2026.2 Elementary school teachers in the state make an average annual salary of $64,950, middle school teachers make an average annual salary of $61,410, and secondary school teachers make an average annual salary of $64,610.4 For updates on budget allocation and education policy, visit Education Minnesota.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers8,180$37,500
Preschool Teachers, Special Education1,490$62,810
Kindergarten Teachers3,440$60,580
Elementary School Teachers22,940$64,950
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School4,600$63,030
Middle School Teachers11,510$61,410
Middle School Teachers, Special Education1,690$66,240
Secondary School Teachers20,940$64,610
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education4,910$62,670
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education990$65,450

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4

Teacher Shortages in Minnesota

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

  • Art and Music Education (Choral Music, Dance, Theatre, Visual and Performing Arts), Pre-K-12
  • Career and Technical Education (Agricultural Business and Production Technology; Business Education; Child Care and Guidance; Communication Technologies; Computers/Keyboarding; Construction Technology; Family and Consumer Science; Hospitality Services; Manufacturing Sciences; Medical Careers; Teacher Coordinator: Work-Based Learning; Technology Preparation; Transportation Careers), Pre-K-12
  • English as a Second Language (Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language), Pre-K-12
  • Health and Physical Fitness (Physical Education), Pre-K-12
  • Language Arts (English & Communications; Reading), Pre-K-12
  • Mathematics (Basic and Advanced Mathematics), Pre-K-12
  • Science (Chemistry; Earth and Space Science; General Science; Life Sciences; Physics), Pre-K-12
  • Special Education (Adaptive Physical Education, Autism Spectrum Disorder; Deaf/Hearing Impairment; Developmental Disabilities, Early Childhood, Emotional Disabilities, Generic Special Education, Physical Disabilities, Visual Impairment), Pre-K-12
  • Support Staff (Library/Media Specialist,, Psychologist), Pre-K-12
  • World Languages (American Indian Language/Culture, American Sign Language, Arabic, Asian Languages, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin, Spanish), Pre-K-12

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What courses do I need to take to become a teacher in Minnesota?

Answer: In addition to completing a state-approved teacher preparation program, teaching candidates in Minnesota must pass an approved human relations course. Candidates must also earn the specified number of content hours in the subject(s) they wish to teach to qualify for a license in that subject area. For a detailed breakdown of required hours by license type, consult the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) website.

Question: Does Minnesota need teachers?

Answer: The state of Minnesota has reported teacher shortages for the 2021-2022 school year in areas such as career and technical education; special education; science; art and music education; math; special education; world languages; English as a second language (ESL); and health and physical fitness.5 Teachers of these subjects may have an advantage when looking for employment opportunities.

Question: How do I become a preschool teacher in Minnesota?

Answer: The requirements for preschool teachers vary by school, but typically they need at least an associate’s degree. As of March 2020, there is legislation being passed for Minnesota preschool teachers to have to meet the same requirements as K-12 teachers. If this passes, preschool teachers will need to complete a bachelor’s degree and an approved teacher certification program, pass state exams, and receive teacher certification.6

1. Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB): https://mn.gov/pelsb/
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, Minnesota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mn.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/
6. Minnesota Legislature, Minnesota House of Representatives, 2019-2020 Regular Session, Information for HF1512: https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/bills/Info/HF1512/91/2019/0