The Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Iowa
The general requirements to become a teacher in Iowa resemble those in many U.S. states. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited institution, complete both coursework and clinical experiences, and pass either two Praxis II exams, which cover content and pedagogy, or the edTPA.
However, the Iowa teaching license requirements do include some flexibility. In addition to traditional preparation programs, there are two alternative paths for high school level educators to obtain licensure. The traditional path requires candidates to complete coursework, clinical experiences, and student teach. Alternatively, for candidates with a bachelor's degree in education or an equivalent, they can take 12 to 18 hours of specified coursework, and then the state places them in a high school classroom with an intern license. After completing the full-year internship and a few additional credits, candidates can become licensed teachers. The second alternative path allows those interested in teaching career and technical subjects to obtain a provisional license. Candidates must have 6,000 hours of experience or just 4,000 hours if they hold a bachelor's degree. On this path, they begin teaching immediately while completing online pedagogy courses.
After candidates have completed their traditional or alternative programs and passed either the edTPA or two Praxis exams, they can submit their applications for licensure to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.
Iowa's Educator Preparation Programs
Future educators who follow Iowa's traditional path obtain their teaching license by completing an approved educator preparation program. Teacher preparation programs include both coursework and fieldwork in conjunction with working toward a bachelor's degree in education.
Typically, the coursework includes concepts such as pedagogy, teaching methods, and creating assessments. Elements of fieldwork may include classroom observation, internships, student teaching, or a combination of any of these elements. Student teaching remains a specific requirement where students apply their skills to a live classroom under the mentorship of a master teacher.
Candidates can apply for an initial Iowa teaching license after meeting these basic requirements:
- Receiving their bachelor's degree
- Passing the edTPA or the Praxis pedagogy test and content assessment
- Completing a preparation program
- Finishing 14 weeks of student teaching
The initial license remains valid for two years. After teachers have completed two years of teaching with successful local evaluations, they can apply for a standard Iowa teaching license, which remains valid for five years. Both the initial and standard licenses can be renewed.
Instead of renewing a standard license, teachers may opt to apply for a master educator license. This license remains valid for five years and may be renewed. To apply for a master educator license, teachers must complete five years of teaching with successful evaluations as well as earn a master's degree in the applicable endorsement subject.
Education Requirements for Teachers in Iowa
Candidates interested in teaching in Iowa need only obtain a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Master's degrees are only required for teachers seeking master teacher licensure. For those seeking a substitute teaching license in Iowa, the state has adjusted requirements based on shortages in some areas. Aspiring teachers still working in approved teacher preparation program may still get a substitute teacher authorization if they take a course in substitute teaching and are at least 20 years old, hold an associate's degree, or have completed 60 hours of coursework.
Approved educator preparation programs can be found in the following schools:
- Briar Cliff University, Sioux City
- Buena Vista University, Storm Lake
- Central College, Pella
- Clarke University, Dubuque
- Coe College, Cedar Rapids
- Cornell College, Mount Vernon
- Dordt University, Sioux City
- Drake University, Des Moines
- Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque
- Faith Baptist Bible College, Ankeny
- Graceland University, Lamoni
- Grand View University, Des Moines
- Grinnell College, Grinnell
- Iowa State University, Ames
- Iowa Wesleyan University, Mount Pleasant
- Loras College, Dubuque
- Luther College, Decorah
- Morningside College, Sioux City
- Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids
- Northwestern College, Orange City
- Saint Ambrose University, Davenport
- Simpson College, Indianola
- University of Dubuque, Dubuque
- University of Iowa, Iowa City
- University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls
- Upper Iowa University, Fayette
- Waldorf University, Forest City
- Wartburg College, Waverly
- William Penn University, Oskaloosa
These programs provide paths for both primary and secondary educators, with the exception of Grinnell College, which only has a program for secondary educators. Not all of these schools provide a program for those interested in early childhood education. Interested candidates should check each school to ensure it has the program they need.
Required Exams and Testing for Teacher Certification in Iowa
To obtain a teaching license in Iowa, the two Praxis II tests or the edTPA may be used, depending on the teacher preparation program. Iowa law dictates that teaching candidates pass both a pedagogy and content exam to obtain licensure. These assessments test knowledge of subject matter in the area to be endorsed, as well as teaching skills, to ensure that the state only grants licenses to highly-qualified candidates.
Iowa uses the Praxis Core Exam to test basic skills and the Praxis Subject Assessment for testing content. Some programs opt to use the edTPA, which assess the teaching of real students in a classroom. The edTPA requires aspiring teachers to submit a portfolio for review, serving as a pre-service subject-specific assessment. Iowa accepts the edTPA in place of the two Praxis exams.
Additional Iowa Teacher Certification Requirements
Renewal and conversion applicants must submit to a criminal background check to obtain an Iowa teaching license. The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) handles the background check, but the applicants pay the fees. New applicants for an Iowa teaching license must submit to the same background check and must also have their fingerprints taken. Applicants can come to the BOEE office to have fingerprints taken or request a packet to do it themselves when filling out the online application. The application as well as the teacher preparation program can provide more details.
Applying to the Iowa Department of Education for Licensure
To apply for an Iowa teaching license, the state utilizes an online system. Applicants begin by creating an online account and should submit the following:
- Completed application form
- Non-refundable application fee
- Official transcripts reflecting completion of the teacher preparation program
- Official Praxis Core test scores or edTPA scores
- Copy of teaching license from another state (if applicable)
The application does not have to be completed at once and processing of the application can take four to six weeks.
Iowa's Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification
Some applicants who want to become a teacher in Iowa may not have a bachelor's degree or may be seeking an alternative route to licensure. The state has several programs that provide teachers in Iowa alternative paths to a teaching license, including the Intern License program, the Troops to Teachers (TTT) program, and the Career and Technical Authorization.
To obtain an Intern License, applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 2.5, (on a 4-point scale). Limited to secondary education, interns complete general pedagogy coursework the first year and secure an internship at a full salary in lieu of student teaching the second year while the remaining coursework is completed.
The Department of Defense created the Troops to Teachers (TTT) program in order to help military members pursue teaching as a second career. This program also was established to help relieve teacher shortages in critical areas, such as math, science, and special education. Participants in the TTT program seeking an Iowa teaching license still must complete the traditional teacher pathway or the fast-track Intern License pathway to obtain licensure.
The Career and Technical Authorization route requires applicants to hold 6,000 experience hours, or 4,000 hours and a bachelor's degree, to teach in a career or technical field. Candidates for this program can begin teaching immediately while completing short, online pedagogy courses.
Reciprocity for Incoming Teachers in Iowa
For those looking to obtain an Iowa teaching license with either a completed education program or teaching certification from out of state, Iowa has approved a program allowing candidates to easily transfer these certifications to Iowa. The Iowa teaching license reciprocity program aligns with other states through the NASDTEC agreement.
Iowa offers different levels of certification for teachers from other states, depending on their experience and education. Iowa does not require applicants with three or more years of teaching experience to complete any assessments. Applicants with 10 or more years of experience, or 5 or more years of experience plus a master's degree, do not have to complete additional coursework as long as they meet other requirements.
Renewing or Upgrading Teaching Licenses in Iowa
For teachers seeking an Iowa teaching license renewal, the requirements differ for each type. The different licensing types include:
- Initial: earned by graduates of Iowa-approved teacher preparation programs
- Standard: earned after completing mentoring and teaching requirements
- Master Educator: earned after completing teaching requirements and a master's degree
- Teacher Intern: earned with a bachelor's degree and completion of the intern program
- Class A: earned after completing a teacher prep program but needing to fulfill other requirements
- Class B: a conditional license for those needing to complete coursework but hold an initial, standard, or master license
The following table provides an overview of the Iowa teaching license renewal requirements.
|Initial||2 years|| Completed a full teacher preparation program for college credit that was approved by the state of Iowa and
Met at least one endorsement requirement
|Standard||5 years||2 years successful teaching in an Iowa public school or
3 years teaching out-of-state or in an accredited private school
|Master Educator||5 years||Master's degree and
5 years of teaching experience
|Teacher Intern||1 year||Complete the first year of the required intern coursework in an approved Iowa program|
|Class A||1 year||Hold a teaching license and
Need time to meet renewal requirements
|Class B||2 academic years; June 30 expiration|| Hold an initial, standard, master, or regional exchange teaching license and
Have a position offer in a new endorsement area and
Have two-thirds of the content or half in a shortage area of the required coursework complete
Teacher Salaries and Job Growth in Iowa
Teachers interested in an Iowa teaching license can get a glimpse of teaching salaries in Iowa based on grade level in the table below. These averages can change depending on what school district a teacher works in, and teaching experience impacts whether the salary might be lower or higher than average.
|Grade Level||Average Salary|
|Career and Technical Education||$63,000|
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the overall employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers in Iowa will grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, keeping with the growth average of overall occupations. BLS estimates that Iowa can expect multiple openings for kindergarten and elementary school teachers over the decade due to the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force.