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:
- Provisional Educator License: Requires completion of a bachelor’s degree, a teacher preparation program, and passing scores on the required educator exams.
- Lifetime Educator License: Requires completion of at least six semesters of teaching at the provisional license level.
- 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.
- I am already certified and want to teach in another state: Learn about Teacher Certification Reciprocity.
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Wisconsin
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in WI through 20262
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 state’s approved educator preparation programs list. You can compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Wisconsin schools page.
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 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.
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. A Provisional 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 Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
During the 2016-2017 academic year, there were an estimated 864,432 students attending Wisconsin’s 2,256 K-12 public schools.3 Given an estimated 59,010 teachers during this time period, the state had a student-to-teacher ratio of about 15:1.3
According to estimates, there will be 2,360 average annual new job openings for elementary school teachers, 930 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 1,710 average annual new job openings for secondary school teachers in Wisconsin from 2016 to 2026.2 Elementary school teachers in the state earn an average annual salary of $56,770, while middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $59,880 and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $58,360.4 The Wisconsin Education Association Council, an affiliate of the National Education Association, is another resource for education policy and local employment in the state.
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||110||$45,780|
|Elementary School Teachers||27,280||$56,770|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||1,640||$56,210|
|Middle School Teachers||13,240||$59,880|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||1,050||$55,350|
|Secondary School Teachers||20,070||$58,360|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||1,350||$53,310|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||780||$58,670|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Teacher Shortages in Wisconsin
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, Wisconsin broadly has the following shortages5:
- Art and Music Education (General), Pre-K-12
- Career and Technical Education (General), Pre-K-12
- Early Childhood (General Curriculum/Early Childhood), Pre-K-3
- English as a Second Language (Bilingual/Bicultural, General), Pre-K-12
- Health and Physical Fitness (General), Pre-K-12
- Language Arts (Reading), Pre-K-12
- Mathematics (General), 4-12
- Science (General), 4-12
- Special Education (Multi-Categorical), Pre-K-12
- Support Staff (Library/Media Specialist), Pre-K-12
- World Languages (General), Pre-K-12
Wisconsin Teacher Interview
- Fourth Grade Teacher, Heather Mathews
Frequently Asked Questions
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 three-year short-term substitute permit requires candidates to have an associate’s degree from an accredited institution and to have completed an approved substitute teacher training program. A five-year substitute permit requires a bachelor’s degree and the completion of an approved teacher preparation program. Once certified, subs can teach in any Wisconsin school district.
Question: Is there a teacher shortage in Wisconsin?
Answer: For the 2021-22 school year, Wisconsin reported teacher shortages in many areas including subjects like English as a second language (ESL), early childhood education, science, languages, and others.5
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 (in some cases, an associate’s degree may be acceptable for short-term assignments) and an approved teacher preparation program. You must also pass a background check and pass the state-mandated exams.
1. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: https://dpi.wi.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, Wisconsin: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wi.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/