Earn Your Illinois Teaching License

To teach in Illinois, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. On this page, we’ll go over the steps required to teach in Illinois, plus answer some commonly asked questions about licensure.  That said, some programs may have minor differences in how they do things. It’s a good idea to confirm the requirements with teacher preparation programs before you apply and enroll.


Decide What You Want to Teach

In Illinois, teachers earn a license to teach a specific set of grades and subjects. Whether you want to focus on a specific subject, like math, or a particular student population, like special education, you’ll find a license that fits.

Pro Tip: You can narrow down which grade levels and subject areas to teach by considering shortage areas, or where the need for teachers is greatest, by visiting the Illinois State Board of Education’s Unfilled Position webpage.

What Can I Get Licensed to Teach?

  • Art Education
  • Early Childhood
  • Elementary Education
  • English Language Arts
  • Foreign Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Music Education
  • Physical Education
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Special Education


Choose A Pathway to Teaching

Once you know what you want to teach, you’re ready to start your journey to become a licensed teacher!

To teach in Illinois, your next steps will look different depending on your background. We’ll help you figure out what you’ll need to move forward.

Pro Tip: If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree or have vocational work experience, you may be eligible for alternative pathways to licensure that put you in the classroom faster. Continue reading to learn more.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

If you don’t already have a degree, you may be able to earn your degree and your teaching license at the same time. Many colleges and universities offer a teacher preparation program that goes along with a degree in education or a teaching subject, like math, history, or art. So, you might major in English or biology, minor in education and earn your teaching license all at the same time.

Graduate Programs with Licensure

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, you have several options to choose from to earn your license.

  • Master’s degree programs allow you to take additional coursework in your teaching area and work towards an advanced degree while earning your license.
  • Licensure-only or Residency Licensure programs can get you licensed to teach without earning an additional degree. These programs may take less time and cost less than master’s degree licensure programs.
  • To get started: Head over to Directory of Approved Programs to search for a teacher preparation program that interests you.

Pro Tip: Undergraduate and graduate students preparing for careers in education are eligible to join IEA Aspiring Educators, a preprofessional organization that supports teacher candidates as they prepare for their new careers in public education. We also provide additional support for our early career educators to ensure their success.


Pass Illinois’ Performance and Content Area Tests

Teacher candidates are required to pass specific tests that evaluate your knowledge of teaching and the subject area you wish to teach. Your teacher preparation program will determine when you take these assessments.

Already Licensed to Teach in Another State?

If you’re already licensed to teach in another state, your next step is to learn more about your eligibility for licensure in Illinois by submitting a copy of your valid, comparable out-of-state license, and a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher education to the Illinois State Board of Education.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), is the resource for information on financial aid and college planning in Illinois. From their Paying for College page, you can access information on types of financial aid, tips on applying for financial aid, and more. ISAC also has resources that can help you estimate your financial aid eligibility and monthly student loan payments.

In addition, the state offers a number of scholarships specifically for individuals who are interested in becoming teachers which can be found on the ISAC Scholarships webpage.

The federal government also offers financial aid. You can learn more about federal student aid opportunities on the Federal Student Aid webpage.


Find a Teaching Job in an IEA Affiliated Local

Find a job in one of 700+ IEA Affiliated School Districts in Illinois. Sort and filter by District, County or IEA Service Area.


Join the Illinois Education Association

Join the Illinois Education Association (IEA) to access all our member benefits.