How To Become a Teacher in Illinois


Interested in how to become a teacher in Illinois? This page outlines the steps necessary to plan your education and attain a teacher certification in Illinois, including areas of certification, education requirements, fingerprint clearance, reciprocity, and jobs and salary information.

Illinois Teacher Certification Roadmap

Areas of Teacher Certification

Illinois offers three levels of teaching certification:

  • Initial Level Teacher Certificate
  • Standard Level Teacher Certificate
  • Master Level Teacher Certificate

Teaching certificate types include:

  • Early Childhood Education (Birth –Grade 3)
  • Elementary Education (K-9)
  • Secondary Education (6-12)
  • Special Education (K-12)
  • Special/Special Education (P-21)

Illinois primary endorsements may be added to Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Certificates. They are:

  • Bilingual Education (Language required)
  • English as a Second Language
  • Foreign Language (Language required)
  • Library Information Specialist
  • Reading Teacher
  • Technology Specialist

Middle school endorsements may be added to Elementary, Secondary, or Special Certificates. They are:

  • Agricultural Education
  • Art
  • Biological Science
  • Business/Mktg/Mgmt
  • Bilingual Education (Language required)
  • Computer Applications
  • Computer Science
  • Dance
  • English as a Second Language
  • Family and Consumer Science
  • Foreign Language (Language required)
  • General Science
  • General Geography
  • Health Education
  • Industrial Technology Education
  • Language Arts
  • Library Information Specialist
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Physical Science
  • Reading Teacher
  • Safety and Driver Education
  • Social Science
  • Speech
  • Speech/Theatre
  • Technology Specialist(Computer-Related)
  • Theatre/Drama

Senior High School endorsements may be added to Secondary, Special, or Elementary (9th grade only) Certificates. They are:

  • Agricultural Education
  • Bilingual Education (Language required)
  • Business, Marketing, and Computer Education
  • Business, Marketing and Computer Education – Business Computer Programming
  • Computer Applications
  • Computer Science
  • Dance
  • Drama/Theatre Arts
  • English/Language Arts
  • English as a New Language
  • English as a New Language – Bilingual Education (language listed)
  • English as a Second Language
  • Family and Consumer Science - Apparel and Textiles
  • Family and Consumer Science – Living Environments
  • Family and Consumer Science – Nutrition, Wellness, and Hospitality
  • Foreign Language (Language required)
  • Health Education
  • Library Information Specialist
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Reading Teacher
  • Safety and Driver Education
  • Science - Biology
  • Science - Chemistry
  • Science – Earth and Space Science
  • Science – Environmental Science
  • Science - Physics
  • Social Science - Economics
  • Social Science - Geography
  • Social Science - History
  • Social Science – Political Science
  • Social Science - Psychology
  • Social Science – Sociology and Anthropology
  • Technology Education (Industrial Arts)
  • Technology Specialist (Computer Related)
  • Visual Arts

Illinois Teaching Certificate Requirements

Requirements for becoming an Illinois teacher are:

  • A bachelor's degree
  • Completion of a teacher preparation program
  • Completion of endorsement area requirements, usually 18-32 credit hours of study in subject area
  • Passing score on the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS)
  • Completed application

In addition, here are the specific endorsement requirements for each endorsement area.

Education Requirements

In order to become a teacher in Illinois, you must possess a minimum of a bachelor's degree. If you do not meet this requirement, here are some of the top online education degree programs to help you meet the requirements of becoming a teacher.

Illinois Certification Testing System

Illinois has specific testing requirements in order to qualify to become a teacher. Anyone seeking a teaching license must participate in the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS), which includes Basic Skills test, Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP), Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) tests, Content-area tests, Learning Behavior Specialist II (LBS II) tests, and Foreign language content-area tests. Everyone must take the basic skills test, TAP and content area test relevant to the endorsement they wish to receive.


Fingerprinting of educators is a controversial issue in Illinois. Currently, Illinois does not require fingerprinting or a background check as part of their teacher certification process.

Certification Reciprocity

Illinois offers reciprocity on a case-by-case basis for teachers who have a valid teacher license from another state. If your license is found to be comparable, but you do not meet all the requirements for an Illinois teaching license, you may be issued a 2-year provisional license, which will give you time to complete any deficiencies.

If you completed your approved teacher, administrator, or school service personnel education program in another state, or if you hold an out-of-state certificate comparable to the certificates you wish to obtain in Illinois, you may be eligible to obtain Illinois certificates if you meet these requirements:

  1. Are found to be of good character
  2. Hold a bachelor's degree
  3. Completed pre-student teaching field experience
  4. Completed student teaching
  5. Completed coursework addressing the exceptional child and the learning disabled child
  6. Have a major related to the area you wish to teach OR 32 semester hours in content appropriate to the certificate sought
  7. Passed the Illinois Basic Skills test, appropriate content-area test(s), and the assessment of professional teaching test required for the grade level of the certificate.
  8. Apply for a provisional certificate
  9. Have a grade of 'C' or higher in content-area course work leading to endorsements and professional education


Illinois Alternative Teacher Certification

Illinois offers two pathways for alternative teacher certification and one for administrators. In addition, the resident teacher certification program leads to a master's degree in education.

The Alternative Teacher Certification program is limited to 260 participants each year. To qualify you must hold a bachelor's degree, be employed at least five years in the area you wish to teach, and pass the Illinois basic skills and subject matter tests. Once accepted, in order to complete the program and qualify to become a teacher, you must teach full-time for one year and take a comprehensive assessment of your teaching performance and receive a recommendation for teaching certification from the institute for higher education you attend.

In addition to the alternative pathways above, the Illinois Teacher for America program offers an alternative pathway to teacher certification by helping qualified professionals with a bachelor's degree qualify for an Illinois teaching license through financial assistance and training.

Another alternative pathway to teaching is the Illinois Troops to Teachers program which offers assistance to qualified military personnel seeking to start a second career as a teacher.

Become a Substitute Teacher in Illinois

If you have a college degree but don't qualify for a teaching certificate, you may consider reading how to become a substitute teacher in Illinois. You may substitute teach while you attain your teaching credentials through an accredited online program.

Teacher Jobs In Illinois

There are several resource to help you find teacher jobs in Illinois. One is the Illinois Education Job Bank, which offers the ability to create a teacher profile and post your resume, as well as search job postings. Chicago Public Schools Career page also offers opportunities for teaching positions in Chicago.

In addition to these two resources, you may consider inquiring directly with the school or school district in which you'd like to teach. The Illinois Association of School Boards has a Illinois School Directory that allows you to search by district, division, county and city, and provides contact information for each school so you may apply directly to that school for a job as a teacher.

Illinois Teacher Salaries

Illinois teacher salaries vary greatly by district, as well as your education level and number of years teaching. The Illinois Loop provides a guide to teacher salaries in Illinois. It includes additional information like teacher pensions, health insurance, life insurance, paid holidays and sick leave to help you understand the total package you'll receive as a teacher.

In addition, you may use this tool to search Illinois teacher salaries by district. The average teacher salary falls around $24,616, but ranges anywhere from the low twenties to $87,407. Much of this depends on the district in which you teach.

Resources for Teacher Certification in Illinois

Illinois State Board of Education
Educator Certification
100 North First Street
Springfield, Illinois 62777-0001
(866) 262-6663 or (217) 782-4321

Interested in how to become a teacher in another state? Return to the How to Become a Teacher main page, or click on one of these neighboring states below.