The Missouri Teaching and Certification Resource
Becoming a certified Missouri educator requires that candidates complete a bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program and meet the state’s educator testing requirements. The Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education oversees the teacher certification process, which is outlined in detail below for those who wish to learn how to become a teacher in Missouri.
How to Become a Teacher in Missouri
Anyone considering becoming a certified teacher in Missouri must have a bachelor’s degree in the field of education or in a core subject area that includes an approved teacher preparation program. Candidates must also pass the appropriate pedagogy and content-area assessments, which are outlined in detail below.
Completing the initial requirements leads to an Initial Professional Certificate (IPC), which is valid for four years. Missouri uses a tiered licensing system to move teachers to highly qualified status. While the IPC is valid, candidates must complete four years of teaching experience including one year of beginning teacher assistance, two years of mentoring, yearly evaluations, a professional development plan, and 30 contact hours of professional development. Once these requirements are met, teachers move to the Career Continuous Professional Certificate (CCPC), which is a lifetime teaching credential in Missouri.
There are alternative routes to Missouri teacher certification for applicants who have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher preparation program. You can read more about these routes on our guide to alternative teacher certification in Missouri.
- I want to be a teacher in Missouri, 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 Missouri’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 Missouri
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in MO through 20262
The most important step to becoming a teacher in Missouri is finding a quality teacher preparation program. For applicants evaluating programs, it’s imperative to confirm that the program is offered by a regionally accredited institution and, if in Missouri, approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). You can see a list of approved professional education programs on the DESE website. To compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs, use the sortable table on our Missouri schools page.
The Missouri Department of Education recognizes out-of-state and distance learning degree programs that hold accreditation from one of the six regional accreditation organizations, which are overseen by the US Department of Education. Aspiring teachers should look for this accreditation when evaluating educator preparation programs.
Additionally, there is a national accreditation body that is highly regarded and recognized by the US Department of Education: the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Although this accreditation is not mandatory, many schools apply for it because it is seen as a high marker of quality curriculum within the teacher education sector.
Missouri Teacher Education Requirements
Candidates for Missouri teacher certification must complete a bachelor’s degree program at a regionally accredited institution. Teacher preparation programs can be completed as part of or following a bachelor’s degree program, but in either case, must be approved by the Missouri Board of Education, which provides a list of approved programs.
Missouri Teacher Testing Requirements
The Missouri State Board of Education requires passing scores on the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments (MEGA) and Missouri General Education Assessment (MoGEA) to qualify for a teaching license. The MEGA exams measure content area knowledge based on the subject and grade level to be taught. The MoGEA exam measures skills and knowledge in language arts, writing, mathematics, and the sciences. Candidates must achieve a passing score on all exams required for the endorsement area(s) sought before applying for a teaching certificate.
Additional Missouri Teacher Certification Requirements
As in most states, those pursuing teacher certification in Missouri must submit to a federal and state background check. All applicants must register through the State Highway Patrol’s Missouri Automated Criminal History Site (MACHS) and complete the fingerprinting process before submitting their teacher application documents.
Missouri Teachers Licensing Application Process
Once all requirements for Missouri teacher licensing are fulfilled, applicants must apply for a certificate. The required documents to support an application to become a teacher in Missouri are as follows:
- Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree.
- Proof of teacher preparation program completion at an approved school.
- Passing scores on the required examinations.
- Submission of fingerprints for criminal history background check.
- Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee.
- Completed application for teaching certification in Missouri.
Missouri Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
There were 2,424 public schools in Missouri during the 2016-2017 school year, with an estimated student population of 915,040.3 There were an estimated 67,926 public school teachers during this school year, giving Missouri a student-to-teacher ratio of 13:1.3
From 2016 to 2026, projections call for 2,100 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 980 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 1,930 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in Missouri.2 The average annual salary for Missouri elementary school teachers is $49,860, for middle school teachers $55,070, and for secondary school teachers $54,280.4 For more information on teaching and education career news in Missouri visit the Missouri state chapter of the National Education Association.
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||350||$37,510|
|Elementary School Teachers||25,670||$49,860|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||1,680||$54,190|
|Middle School Teachers||12,840||$55,070|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||1,490||$51,340|
|Secondary School Teachers||27,930||$54,280|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||2,890||$48,840|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||530||$49,590|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Missouri Teacher Interview
- Second Grade Teacher, Sarah Moellering
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How can I become a substitute teacher in Missouri?
Answer: To become a substitute teacher in Missouri, you must obtain a substitute teaching certificate through the state. To get the certificate, you need to have taken at least 60 college credits and have passed a criminal background check. To substitute in career and technical education areas, candidates must have at least an associate’s degree in the content area to be taught and 5,000 hours of work experience.
Question: How much do teachers make in Missouri?
Answer: On average, elementary, middle, and high school teachers (excluding special and career/technical education) in Missouri earn annual salaries of $53,070.4 Teachers with higher education, more experience, and in certain school districts may command higher salaries.
Question: In what areas are teachers needed in Missouri?
Answer: There are many teacher shortage areas reported in Missouri for the 2020-21 school year.5 They include subjects such as special education, science, math, music, gifted education, and career/technical areas.5 Teachers in these areas may find jobs more easily.
Teaching and Education Programs
1. Missouri State Department of Education: https://dese.mo.gov/educator-quality/certification
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.com/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, Missouri: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/