South Dakota Teacher Certification and Career Guide

The South Dakota (SD) Department of Education oversees the teacher certification process in the state. The main steps for the traditional path to teacher certification in South Dakota 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 to an advanced certificate, if desired.

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

Table of Contents

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

How to Become a Teacher in South Dakota

This section outlines the steps for becoming a first-time certified teacher in South Dakota via the traditional route. If you have a bachelor’s degree but haven’t completed a teacher preparation program, check out our guide to alternative teacher certification in South Dakota.

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

The first step to becoming certified as a teacher in South Dakota is to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. The bachelor’s degree major will depend on the grade level and subject to be taught. Candidates must also attend a teacher preparation program from an educator preparation provider (EPP) approved by the SD Department of Education.

You can compare key metrics for state-approved teacher preparation programs on our South Dakota 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.

All South Dakota teachers must complete a student teaching placement, which must be verified via official transcripts submitted at the time of application. Approved EPPs will include a student teaching placement/field experience/practicum as part of the teacher preparation program. This practicum will place students in a classroom aligned with their desired certification level and/or subject under a Student Teacher Permit from the SD Department of Education.

Student teachers must complete a minimum of 10 weeks of supervised experience. K-12 teachers must complete experiences at two levels, while birth through grade three teachers must complete experiences at both the preschool and elementary levels.

3. Pass the required South Dakota teacher exams.

South Dakota State SealProspective teachers will need to pass the South Dakota state-designated tests before becoming certified. South Dakota requires the Praxis Pedagogy and Content exams for prospective teachers. The exams are given by ETS and the requirements vary by the content area and grade level to be taught. In addition, you will need to complete a three-hour course in South Dakota Indian Studies (SDIS) and a 60-minute course in suicide awareness and prevention training.

4. Apply for South Dakota teacher certification.

Once all steps have been completed, you can apply for your Professional Educator Certificate through the SD Educator Portal (my SD). You will need to create a mySD account to access the online application. The following documents will need to be submitted with the application:

  • Official transcripts from all schools attended
  • Written recommendation from your EPP
  • Proof of completing required coursework
  • Passing scores on the required certification exams

Visit the DOE website for additional information on receiving an educator license in South Dakota.

5. Upgrade to an Advanced Teaching Certificate, if desired.

South Dakota educators with at least five years of teaching experience may be interested in upgrading to an Advanced Teaching Certificate. To be eligible, they must either have an advanced degree in an education-related field or be certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

Guide to Other Teaching Pathways

South Dakota Teacher Certification Renewal

The Professional Teaching Certificate must be renewed every five years, and it expires on July 1 of the year of expiration. At least six education-related credits are required to renew a teaching certificate, three of which must be transcripted or specialized learning experience hours and three of which must include continuing education contact hours or transcripted credits. You can also participate as a mentee or mentor in a state-approved mentor program for two years instead of accumulating education credits.

For more details on each of the paths to renewal, visit the SD Department of Education’s Teacher Renewal Requirements page.

Adding Subjects or Grades to a Certificate

Most endorsements in South Dakota can be added to a certificate through a state-designated test, completion of coursework, or a major in content. For example, to add 5th to 8th Grade English Language Arts endorsement, you can either take one of the associated ETS Praxis tests or with an English Language Arts major with at least 27 specific related credits. You can look up the requirements for adding any endorsement on the SD Department of Education’s Educator 411 website.

South Dakota Teaching License Reciprocity

If you have completed an education preparation program at an accredited out-of-state school that led to certification as a K-12 teacher, you can apply to become a South Dakota educator through reciprocity. Applicants can apply using the Out-of-State Initial Application if, in addition to completing an educator preparation program, they meet one of the following scenarios:

  • They hold a valid educator certificate or license from the issuing state and no past or pending disciplinary actions
  • They have completed an approved SDIS course
  • They are applying for an Education Specialist Certificate

More details about the reciprocity process are available on the SD Department of Education out-of-state reciprocity page. You can learn more about transferring a teaching certificate or license between states on our guide to certification reciprocity.

In addition to standard educator certification, the SD Department of Education offers certification in support and administrative areas, such as Education Specialist Certificates. It also offers Educator Permits that restrict the holder to the endorsement listed and are available only for specified areas. Some of these administrative credentials include:

  • Curriculum Director Education Specialist Endorsement: This endorsement requires a master’s degree in education that includes a curriculum director preparation program and three years of verified experience on a valid certificate from an accredited K-12 school. One year must be in direct teaching experience. The endorsement allows holders to be curriculum directors from early childhood through grade twelve.
  • Library Science Permit: This Educator Permit allows non-educators who have a master’s degree in library science to be employed as school librarians.
  • School Counselor Education Specialist Endorsement: School counselors in South Dakota must complete a PK-12 school counselor preparation program or have a master’s degree or higher in counseling, have passed the Praxis school counselor test, and have a year of supervision by a mentor school counselor.

More details on related education licenses can be found on the SD Department of Education website.

South Dakota Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in SD through 20302*

There were an estimated 137,823 students enrolled in South Dakota’s 697 K-12 public schools during the 2017-2018 school year.3 Based on an estimated 9,833 teachers during the same time period, South Dakota had a student-to-teacher ratio of nearly 14:1.3

Overall, job growth prospects for educators in South Dakota are lower than the national rates. Job growth for South Dakota preschool teachers is projected at 15% compared to 18.4% nationally; for elementary school teachers, 6.5% compared to 7.4% nationally; and for secondary school teachers, 6.3% compared to 13.7% nationally.2 One category, middle school career and technical education teachers, is projected at 33.3% compared to 13.2% nationally.2

The table below provides a detailed comparison of job growth prospects and salary levels for South Dakota teachers.

TypeNumber Employed in SD4Average Annual Openings in SD2SD Proj. Job Growth 2020-20302Average Annual Salary in SD425th Percentile Wages in SD575th Percentile Wages in SD5
Preschool Teachers1,28018015%$32,810$27,390$37,220
Preschool Teachers, Special Education
Kindergarten Teachers660706.1%$47,280$44,720$49,900
Elementary School Teachers4,1003306.5%$48,390$46,450$50,590
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Special Education820605.6%$49,540$46,800$50,900
Middle School Teachers1,9601606.6%$49,230$46,580$50,430
Middle School Teachers, Special Education300207.4%$49,650$46,200$55,690
Middle School Teachers, Career/Technical Education40033.3%$47,860$42,030$50,900
Secondary School Teachers3,3902406.3%$49,190$46,500$52,100
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education470406.7%$49,820$46,600$54,830
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education320206.7%$51,120$47,760$56,020

*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 South Dakota

South Dakota has teaching shortages in several key areas. According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2023-2024, South Dakota has designated the following deficits:

According to recent research, there were approximately 176 unfilled teaching positions in South Dakota during the 2021-2022 school year.7 A further 298 teachers in the state were considered underqualified for their position, which includes teachers assigned to classrooms outside their certification field on a temporary or emergency basis.7

Additional Resources

Related Articles

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What are the requirements to become a high school teacher in South Dakota?

Answer: To become a high school teacher in South Dakota you must be certified through the state. A five-year certificate requires the completion of a bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program. Candidates must also pass the Praxis exams required by the state.

Question: How do I become a substitute teacher in South Dakota?

Answer: South Dakota does not have statewide requirements for substitute teachers, nor does it license them. If you are interested in becoming a sub in South Dakota, you should check with your local school districts for requirements and information on the hiring process.

Question: How many private school teachers are in South Dakota?

Answer: According to recent data, there were 1,007 private school teachers in the state during the 2019-20 school year.8 These teachers were responsible for educating South Dakota’s 11,563 students at its 80 private schools.8

1. South Dakota Department of Education: https://doe.sd.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, 2017-2018: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, South Dakota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nd.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022 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