The Montana Teaching and Certification Resource
In order to work in the Montana public school system, educators must be properly licensed. The state’s Office of Public Instruction oversees the process, which is outlined below for those who want to learn how to become a teacher in Montana.
How to Become a Teacher in Montana
Each state has its own requirements for certification, and Montana teacher certification is no different. Prospective educators must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program. Candidates must also take and pass the Praxis Subject Assessments for the subject(s) they would like to teach.
Like many other states, Montana uses a tiered licensing structure with different levels of licenses. The initial certificate is the Class 2 Standard Educator License. This license is issued once a candidate receives a bachelor’s degree and completes an approved professional educator preparation program that includes supervised teaching experience. Those who have a bachelor’s degree or higher but have not completed a teacher preparation program may be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Montana.
A teacher may upgrade a Class 2 license to a Class 1 Professional Teaching License by earning a master’s degree in education in an endorsable content area or by earning National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification and successfully teaching for three years. Those who completed an educator preparation program that is appropriately accredited and included supervised teaching experience may be eligible for the Class 1 educator license as their initial license.
- I want to be a teacher in Montana, 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 Montana’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 Montana
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in MT through 20262
Those pursuing teacher certification in Montana must attend a teacher preparation program that has been approved by the Montana Board of Public Instruction; has been approved by the board of education in another state for the preparation of teachers; has been approved by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE); and/or holds accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). You can compare key metrics for Montana state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Montana schools page.
The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) was formed from the merger between the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). CAEP accreditation is well-regarded as a marker of high standards in teacher preparation.
When evaluating bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation programs, future teachers should also confirm that the school is accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies recognized by the US Department of Education.
Montana Teacher Education Requirements
Those interested in becoming Montana teachers must complete at least a bachelor’s degree and an acceptable teacher preparation program, as described above. You can see a list of approved teacher preparation programs through the Accreditation and Educator Preparation Division of the Montana Office of Public Instruction. License candidates must also complete the free online course “An Introduction to Indian Education for All in Montana,” which is available through The Learning Hub.
Montana Teacher Testing Requirements
Candidates for a Montana teaching license must take and pass the Praxis Subject Assessments for the content area(s) and grade level they wish to teach. Only Praxis Subject Assessment scores from within 10 years of the date of application will be accepted. You can find more detailed assessment information through the Montana Office of Public Instruction.
Additional Montana Teacher Certification Requirements
Like most US states, Montana teacher certification requires a federal and state background check. Teacher applicants must visit a local law enforcement agency and request that their fingerprints be taken for a background check to be sent to the Montana Office of Public Instruction.
Montana Teachers Licensing Application Process
Upon completion of the required steps to become a teacher in Montana, candidates must submit an application for certification. The following documents are required:
- Completed fingerprint card for background check.
- Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree.
- Proof of teacher program completion at an approved school.
- Verification of teaching experience.
- Institutional recommendation for a teaching license.
- Completed application for teaching certification in Montana.
- Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee.
Applications may be completed online through the Montana State Educator Information System or printed and mailed to:
Montana Office of Public Instruction
Attn: Educator Licensure
PO Box 202501
Helena, MT 59620
Visit the Montana Office of Public Instruction for further details on teaching certification in Montana.
Montana Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
There were 820 K-12 public schools in Montana during the 2016-2017 school year, with an estimated 146,375 public school students.3 There were about 10,555 public school teachers during this time period, giving Montana a student-to-teacher ratio of about 14:1.3
Estimates call for 290 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 160 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 220 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in Montana through 2026.2 The average annual salary for elementary school teachers in the state is $52,360, for middle school teachers $55,880, and for secondary school teachers $50,670.4
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||Not available||Not available|
|Elementary School Teachers||4,790||$52,360|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||300||$53,840|
|Middle School Teachers||2,040||$55,880|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||280||$46,300|
|Secondary School Teachers||3,880||$50,670|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||400||$50,200|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||140||$53,000|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Teacher Shortages in Montana
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, Montana broadly has the following shortages5:
- Art and Music Education (Art, Music), Pre-K-12
- Career and Technical Education (General), 9-12
- Language Arts (English), 7-12
- Mathematics (General), 7-12
- Science (General), 7-12
- Social Studies (General), 7-12
- Special Education (All Exceptionalities), Pre-K-12
- Support Staff (Counseling, Library/Media Specialist), Pre-K-12
- World Languages (General), 7-12
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What are the requirements to become a high school teacher in Montana?
Answer: To become a high school teacher in Montana, you must be certified by the state. Certification requires a bachelor’s degree and completion of a teacher preparation program from an approved institution. You must also complete a supervised teaching experience in a secondary classroom and pass the Praxis Subject Assessments for the subject(s) you wish to teach.
Question: Does Montana need teachers?
Answer: Yes, the state of Montana reports teacher shortages in many areas for the 2021-22 school year, including art, music, special education, career/technical education, math, science, world languages, social studies, and support staff in library/media and counseling.5 Montana teachers specializing in these areas may find work more easily.
Question: How do I become a substitute teacher in Montana?
Answer: Montana does not offer a license for substitute teachers, but it does require that people working as subs in the state have at least a high school diploma or GED and three hours of training before they begin working.
1. Montana Office of Public Instruction: http://opi.mt.gov/
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, Montana: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mt.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/