The Wisconsin Teaching and Certification Resource
Wisconsin teacher certification is required to be eligible to work in the state’s public K-12 school system. The Department of Public Instruction oversees the certification process, which is outlined below to help you learn how to become a teacher in Wisconsin.
How to Become a Teacher in Wisconsin
Similar to most US states, those pursuing Wisconsin teacher certification must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a Wisconsin-approved teacher certification program, and pass the required subject and content examinations. Once all of the requirements are met, prospective teachers are eligible to apply for initial Wisconsin educator certification.
Candidates who have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher preparation program may be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin uses a tiered licensing structure for teachers: Initial, Professional, and Master. Teachers must complete professional development to renew their licenses and advance through the licensure tiers. The requirements are as follows:
- Initial Educator License: Requires completion of a bachelor’s degree, a teacher preparation program, and passing scores on the required educator exams.
- Professional Educator License: Requires completion of at least three years of teaching at the Initial license level and successful completion of a professional development plan.
- Master Educator License: Requires certification through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) or completion of the Wisconsin Master Educator Assessment Process (WMEAP).
- I want to be a teacher in Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin’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.
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Wisconsin
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in WI through 20242
Candidates for Wisconsin educator certification are required to complete a state-approved teacher preparation program at an accredited school. In order to find an approved program, prospective teachers should refer to the Approved Educator Preparation Programs list.
Applicants evaluating schools, especially those out-of-state or online, should also confirm that the school is in good standing with its regional accreditation agency. Wisconsin only considers accreditation from one of the six regional accreditation agencies recognized by the US Department of Education. Graduates from schools that lack this accreditation will not be eligible for a teaching certificate.
Additionally, many schools apply for accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP accreditation is highly regarded for its rigorous standards for teacher preparation.
See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development projects 4 average annual new job openings due to growth and 103 average annual openings due to replacements for elementary school teachers, 2 average annual job openings due to growth and 40 average annual job openings due to replacements for middle school teachers, and 3 average annual new job openings due to growth and 82 average annual openings due to replacements for secondary school teachers in Wisconsin from 2014 to 2024.3 The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 60,820 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in Wisconsin, excluding teachers working in special education.4 Elementary school teachers in the state earn an average annual salary of $54,790, while middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $55,920 and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $55,360.4 The Wisconsin Education Association Council, an affiliate of the National Education Association, is another resource for education policy and local employment in the state.
Wisconsin Teacher Education Requirements
As with most states, the most direct route to Wisconsin teaching certification is graduation from a bachelor’s degree program that includes a state-approved teacher preparation program. Those who have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete teacher preparation may be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Wisconsin.
Additionally, all candidates must complete coursework in the study of Wisconsin Indian tribes and environmental education. An Initial Educator License may be issued without this coursework provided that the applicant completes the requirements within the initial five year period. You can read more about these and other stipulations through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Finally, individuals pursuing certification in early childhood and elementary education must complete specific coursework in phonics.
Wisconsin Teacher Testing Requirements
To obtain teacher certification in Wisconsin, applicants must take the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators to measure skills in reading, writing, and math. Next, applicants must show their competence in the subject area(s) to be taught by taking the appropriate Praxis Subject Assessments. Teachers seeking endorsements in early childhood, elementary education, special education, and reading must also take and pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test. Those who wish to teach world languages must additionally take the ACTFL World Language Tests.
Additional Wisconsin Teacher Certification Requirements
All prospective teachers in Wisconsin must complete a state and federal background check based on a fingerprinting record check. There are several options for having fingerprints taken and processed, which you can review through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Wisconsin Teachers Licensing Application Process
Once the steps towards Wisconsin teacher certification are fulfilled, candidates must submit an application to the state’s Department of Public Instruction. The application should include the following:
- Official transcripts showing proof of bachelor’s degree and coursework appropriate to endorsement sought.
- Proof of completion of a teacher preparation program.
- Payment of non-refundable certification processing fee.
- Proof of passing scores on the required examinations.
- Completed application for teaching certification in Wisconsin.
Applications must be submitted through the online Educator Licensing Online (ELO) system. The department recommends that all documents be scanned as a single file for easy uploading to the system. Visit the Department of Public Instruction for further details on teaching certification in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Teacher Salary and Jobs
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||180||$42,260|
|Elementary School Teachers||28,450||$54,790|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||2,010||$51,750|
|Middle School Teachers||11,170||$55,920|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||710||$56,820|
|Secondary School Teachers||21,200||$55,360|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||1,570||$53,410|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||730||$54,430|
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.4
Wisconsin Teacher Interview
- Fourth Grade Teacher, Heather Mathews
Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Wisconsin
Question: How can I become a substitute teacher in Wisconsin?
Answer: To work as a substitute teacher in Wisconsin, you must earn a permit from the state Department of Public Instruction. A substitute permit requires candidates to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a school district sponsor. The school district must provide a training plan for the substitute.
Question: How do I become a high school teacher in Wisconsin?
Answer: To become a high school teacher in Wisconsin, you must be licensed through the state. To get a license, you need to complete a bachelor’s degree program and an approved teacher preparation program. You must also pass a background check and pass the state-mandated exams.
Teaching and Education Programs
1. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: https://dpi.wi.gov/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development: http://worknet.wisconsin.gov/worknet/downloads.aspx?menuselection=da&pgm=occprj
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Wisconsin: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wi.htm