Becoming a teacher in Illinois can lead to a rewarding, satisfying career. For those who are interested in this occupation, you have two basic paths to gain state certification to enter a public classroom and educate young minds. Within each path, there are common requirements and unique-to-path standards.

The two facets each certification pathway share are the requirement for a four-year degree and passing the state’s teaching certification exam. Once you earn certification to teach within Illinois, you must meet the prerequisite continuing education credit hours to maintain your teaching status.

Each pathway, whether you choose an offline, campus-based program or an online degree option, the school you choose must be accredited and approved by the Illinois State Department of Education, and you must pass competency and knowledge tests that are tailored for the subject matter and age range you wish to teach.

Traditional Method
Many prospective teachers follow the same path as those before. They obtain a bachelor’s degree in education then enroll in a state-approved certification preparatory program. Passing the certification tests leads to only one final step in gaining full certification: Applicants must demonstrate they have some in-class teaching training, often included in the latter stages of their college program.

Alternate Methods
Some teaching applicants have a bachelor’s degree but not in education. For alternative-study students, Illinois allows additional options to becoming a teacher within the state.

If your baccalaureate degree was obtained by an accredited school and if you passed your state exams, you can enroll and complete a summer preparation program, often associated with master’s degree programs.

Additionally, alternate-path applicants must prove they possess at least five years’ experience working within the field and applied their particular content knowledge skills like advanced mathematics or early childhood development and teaching.

Alternate-method applicants still must pass the knowledge skills tests and competency tests.

License Transfer
If you have a teacher’s certificate that attests your certification status in another state or another country, Illinois does allow “grandfathering” of your qualifications. You must adequately show documentation of your degree, the school accreditation status and passing scores on the same tests in-state applicants take.

If you undergo an online curriculum, ensure you know in advance in what state Illinois considers the course to have been taken and given. If you believe that the quality online education provided by a well-known entity such as the University of Phoenix might cause an out-of-state application status, a career counselor can help assuage concerns.