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 (DESE) 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.

Quick Guide

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 Elementary & Secondary 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 Elementary & Secondary Education, which provides a list of approved programs.

Missouri Teacher Testing Requirements

Missouri State SealThe Missouri State Board of Elementary & Secondary Education requires candidates to pass several tests, which are collectively known as the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments (MEGA). First, for entry into a teacher preparation program, candidates must achieve passing scores on the Missouri General Education Assessment (MoGEA), which is a basic skills exam that measures knowledge in reading, writing, and mathematics. To qualify for a teaching license, candidates must also pass the appropriate Missouri Content Assessment(s) (MoCA) for their desired certification area. 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.

Applications should be submitted through the DESE Secured Web Application Logon. Visit the Department of Education for further details on Missouri teacher certification.

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.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers5,510$30,440
Preschool Teachers, Special Education350$37,510
Kindergarten Teachers1,710$51,630
Elementary School Teachers25,670$49,860
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School1,680$54,190
Middle School Teachers12,840$55,070
Middle School Teachers, Special Education1,490$51,340
Secondary School Teachers27,930$54,280
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education2,890$48,840
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education530$49,590

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4

Teacher Shortages in Missouri

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

  • Core Subjects (Elementary Education), 1-6
  • Early Childhood (Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Pre-K
  • Health and Physical Fitness (Physical Education), Pre-K-12
  • Language Arts (English), 5-12
  • Language Arts (Reading Resource Specialist), Pre-K-12
  • Mathematics (Basic and Advanced Mathematics), 5-12
  • Science (Biological Sciences; Chemistry; Earth and Space Science; Physics), 9-12
  • Science (General Science), 5-9
  • Social Studies (General), 5-9
  • Special Education (Cross Categorical), Pre-K-12
  • Special Education (Early Childhood), Pre-K
  • World Languages (Spanish), Pre-K-12

Missouri Teacher Interview

Teacher Quote “There are so many reasons for teachers to feel bogged down: standardized testing, assessments, teaching based on the standards and more, but there is no better feeling than seeing the look in a child’s face when that light bulb goes on. It makes everything worth it!” -Sarah Moellering, Missouri Second Grade Teacher

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 Content Substitute certificate, you need to have taken at least 36 college credits or have a high school diploma and have passed the state’s substitute training program. All substitutes must also pass 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 2021-22 school year.5 They include subjects such as special education, science, math, health/physical fitness, and world languages.5 Teachers in these areas may find jobs more easily.

1. Missouri State Department of Education: https://dese.mo.gov/educator-quality/certification
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, Missouri: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/