The South Dakota Teaching and Certification Resource

As in most states, those looking to work as educators in South Dakota’s public education system must earn South Dakota teacher certification. The South Dakota Department of Education oversees the teacher certification process, which is outlined below to help you learn more about how to become a teacher in South Dakota.

How to Become a Teacher in South Dakota

In order to teach in South Dakota, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved South Dakota teacher preparation program. Candidates must also pass the Praxis Principles of Teaching and Learning (PLT) exam appropriate to the grade level to be taught, as well as the Praxis Subject Assessments for the endorsement(s) sought.

Candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree but did not complete teacher preparation may be eligible for alternative teacher certification in South Dakota.

Those who meet the basic guidelines for South Dakota teachers will be eligible for an initial Professional teaching certificate. Those who earn an advanced degree or National Board certification and have five or more years of teaching experience under a Professional teaching certificate can apply for the Advanced certificate.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in South Dakota

Projected Job Growth


Growth in Teaching Jobs in SD through 20262

One of the most important steps to South Dakota educator certification is completing a state-approved teacher preparation program at an accredited school. You can view a list of approved programs through the South Dakota Department of Education. Note that schools that are not approved by the Department of Education to offer teacher preparation programs may not qualify graduates for licensure in South Dakota. You can compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our South Dakota schools page.

Candidates must also complete a bachelor’s degree program at a school accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies which are overseen by the US Department of Education. Candidates completing a bachelor’s degree program out-of-state or online should confirm that the school is accredited by the corresponding regional accreditation agency.

Additionally, many schools will look for accreditation from the nationally-recognized Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP accreditation is a marker of high quality and rigorous standards in terms of curriculum and process in the teacher preparation sector.

South Dakota Teacher Education Requirements

Under the traditional route to teacher licensure in South Dakota, candidates must complete a bachelor’s degree as well as an approved teacher education program from an accredited university. South Dakota teacher candidates must also complete an acceptable human relations course and a course on South Dakota Indian studies as well as suicide awareness and prevention training. To see approved courses for these requirements, refer to the South Dakota Department of Education. Note that South Dakota has a recency requirement that stipulates candidates must have completed six credits of teacher preparation in the last five years prior to applying for a certificate. Candidates who have completed education requirements but not within the past five years may qualify for a one-year certificate while they remedy the deficiency.

South Dakota Teacher Testing Requirements

South Dakota State SealTo ensure that all new educators credentialed in South Dakota are highly qualified, prospective teachers in the state must show that they are skilled in their subject area by taking the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) and Praxis content-area tests appropriate to their desired certification area and grade level(s). Note that South Dakota establishes minimum qualifying scores for each test that candidates must meet in order to qualify for a credential.

Additional South Dakota Teacher Certification Requirements

While any criminal convictions must be disclosed on the application for a teaching certificate, a background check is not usually required to receive a teaching certificate in South Dakota. Instead, the background check process is the responsibility of the hiring school district.

South Dakota Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once all of the steps towards South Dakota teacher certification have been completed, candidates must submit an application with the required documentation, including:

  • Official transcripts showing award of a bachelor’s degree.
  • University recommendation for a teaching certificate, verifying completion of an approved teacher education program.
  • Official Praxis test scores.
  • Completed application form for South Dakota teacher certification.
  • Payment of non-refundable application fee.

Applications may be submitted through the online certification portal. Visit the Department of Education website for further details on South Dakota teacher certification.

South Dakota Teacher Salary and Jobs

During the 2016-2017 academic year, there were an estimated 136,302 K-12 students attending South Dakota’s 697 public schools.3 With an estimated 9,777 teachers, this gave South Dakota a student-to-teacher ratio of about 14:1.3

Estimates call for 320 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 170 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 270 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in South Dakota through 2026.3 In the state, elementary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $43,140, middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $43,860, and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $42,960.4 For more information on state education policy and public employment opportunities visit the South Dakota Education Association, a local branch of the NEA.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers1,460$30,860
Preschool Teachers, Special Education50$39,910
Kindergarten Teachers640$41,900
Elementary School Teachers4,050$43,140
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School690$43,760
Middle School Teachers1,940$43,860
Middle School Teachers, Special Education290$44,500
Secondary School Teachers3,520$42,960
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education470$43,040
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education340$44,310

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4

Teacher Shortages in South Dakota

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

  • Art and Music Education (General), K-12
  • Career and Technical Education (General), K-12
  • Core Subjects (Elementary Education), K-6
  • English as a Second Language (General), K-12
  • Health and Physical Fitness (General), K-12
  • Language Arts (General), K-12
  • Mathematics (General), K-12
  • Science (General), K-12
  • Social Studies (General), K-12
  • Special Education (General), K-12
  • World Languages (General), K-12

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: What is the average teacher salary in South Dakota?

Answer: On average, South Dakota teachers from the elementary level to high school earn $43,320 per year.4 Teacher salaries depend on many factors including years of experience, school location, and grade level taught.

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

Answer: South Dakota does not have any 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.

1. South Dakota State 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, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, South Dakota https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sd.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/