Minnesota Teacher Licensing Guide


How to Become a Teacher in Minnesota

Becoming a teacher in Minnesota has become more accessible and flexible after program revisions that were implemented on July 1st, 2018. Now, there is a clear, four-tiered teaching license structure, instituted by the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB). Educators seeking to apply will have an efficient path that addresses various stages of application to accommodate each candidate's situation.

Tier 1

To begin the certification process, one should obtain a bachelor's degree in most courses of study. The course of study exceptions include Career & Technical Ed or Career Pathways degrees. Teachers who already have a CTE or CP Bachelor's degree will be able to supplement with alternative choices, which are described in Minnesota's Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) website. Tier 1 licenses last up to one year and should be renewed once expired.

Tier 2

After Tier 1, a candidate may then seek out a Minnesota-Approved Teacher Preparation Program Enrollment to enter Tier 2. Approved programs can be found on PELSB's website where each program is filtered to an individual's needs. Alternatively, candidates can pursue a master's degree in their subject or choose two alternative credentials offered, from portfolios to work experience. One may find the full list on the PELSB website. Tier 2 licenses last two years until expiration.

Tier 3

Upon completion of the Teacher Preparation Program, one will need passing scores on the Minnesota NES-EAS and MTLE Content exams as well as one of a wide selection of different qualifications like work experience, portfolios, and alternative licenses. The full list can be found on the PELSB website. The Tier 3 license is renewable indefinitely.

Tier 4

Upon successful completion of the three tiers, Tier 4 requires three years of Minnesota-based teaching experience and an evaluation that does not require an improvement plan for their skills. This license may be renewed indefinitely.

Minnesota Teacher Certification Preparation Programs

Using the Minnesota tiered teaching license structure, preparation programs are the beginning of a teacher candidate's journey to receiving teacher certification. There are many options available.

Bemidji State University offers "Fastrack" programs that are meant to be achieved in two summers, as well as three other accelerated courses to be done in 15 months with combinations of hybrid and online courses.

Manako Minnesota State University was reviewed by the PELSB in 2020 and offers many different academic programs and support resources, with options for special education, K-12, and many more programs to choose from.

St. Cloud State University offers over 34 different licensure areas and offers the Transition to Teaching 15-month program. Moreover, they offer prospects to those looking to become teachers assistants who hold non-teaching degrees.

Southwest Minnesota State University has opportunities for summer, weekend, online, and night classes, and they are willing to analyze individual cases to check for openings of advancement and credit.

St. Olaf is a liberal arts college in Northfield and is part of the top 1% of the country for subject-specific education students seeking a bachelor's degree. St. Olaf offers teaching residency programs and teaching fellowship programs that are available as alternative routes to teacher certification.

Although the above are among the best, almost every college has a teacher preparation program. Teacher candidates should check before applying.

Minnesota Teaching License Educational Requirements

To begin, the basics required are the bachelor's degree (with supplementation if it's a CP/CTE degree); this will allow access into Tier 1. A bachelor's degree and a teacher preparation course will bring one to Tier 2. As a note, teacher preparation courses will vary in course involvement and hours, depending on the college or university a candidate attends. Most approved teacher preparation programs, though, require one course in multicultural education and human relations. In most occurrences, this will be included in a course plan but will be required by transferring educators. With that being said, other requirements may vary for out-of-state transferring educators, so it's imperative one speaks to their school of choice and reviews out-of-state credits before transferring.

Minnesota Teacher Certification Tests

Those entering the education field may have heard of the Praxis tests for teachers, used all across the U.S. and its territories. However, when it comes to Minnesota as of August 30th, 2016, only the three Minnesota NES Essential Academic Skills (EAS) exam scores are accepted for the application. If a candidate had taken the Praxis and passed before that date, then their scores are no longer valid. Moreover, if one is an out-of-state educator, then the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) tests are a valid benchmark for the Minnesota Basic Skills Requirement. These exams are required before certification.

After the initial exams, certification for Tier 3 licensure will require the Pearson Education-distributed exam known as the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE). The MTLE has two tests that are required -- one will correspond to the specific subject of study and the other will test pedagogy and classroom skills.

National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic Skills Test

The NES Essential Academic Skills Test is the prerequisite to certification and replaced the use of Praxis Core test in 2016. The NES EAS mimics the Praxis exam with three sections in reading, writing, and mathematics. Proper ACT (with writing) or SAT scores may act as alternative scores for the NES. The exam is offered both in a testing facility on a computer or through online proctoring.

The Minnesota NES EAS is graded on a scale of 400 to 600, where a passing score is 520. The Reading section contains 45 multiple-choice questions to complete within one hour and 15 minutes. The Writing section contains 36 multiple-choice questions and one written assignment to complete within one hour and 30 minutes. The Mathematics section contains 45 multiple-choice questions to complete within one hour and 15 minutes.

The Minnesota NES EAS has test frameworks offered on their website where they offer example questions that demonstrate the tone of the exams. Each test is divided into domains of the subject, like how Mathematics has elements of algebra, trigonometry, functions, and measurements. Each domain has test competencies along with descriptive statements that describe what the exam aims to analyze with a candidate's answers. By reading the test frameworks, candidates can narrow down what exact subjects they need to study.

Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE) - General Pedagogy

Quality teaching skills are crucial to the way students absorb and interact with the information given, which means the pedagogy tests are separate from subject exams in order to test a teacher's ability to deliver their knowledge effectively to students. MLTE is broken down into three exams and is graded on a scale of 100 to 300. Each exam contains 50 questions per subset (there are two subsets), with an hour of test time per subset and 15 minutes for instructions and agreements. A score of 240 per subtest is a passing score, and both subtests must be passed for the exam to be complete.

  • Pedagogy: Early Childhood (Birth to Grade 3)
  • Pedagogy: Elementary (Grades K-6)
  • Pedagogy: Secondary (Grades 5-12)

MTLE Content Area Tests

A test of content knowledge for the specific licensure field, which consists of two sub-tests (with the exception of elementary content knowledge, which consists of three sub-tests) is required for licensure. MLTE Content Area (or Subject) tests encourage the application of a teacher's particular knowledge of their field of teaching. Subject tests are separate from pedagogy and Essential Academic Skills tests as they specify the subject that one's license is representing. This exam confirms the teacher's span of knowledge and their understanding of details of that particular subject. There are multiple options for subjects, including Special Education, Language and Culture, PrePrimary, and Library Media Specialist, as well as the basics like the arts and STEM subjects. The most common passing score is 240/300, or an 80%. There are usually two subsets per subject exam, which can be taken one at a time or both simultaneously. Finding a testing center has been simplified and may be located at the Pearson VUE website, and appointments are first-come, first-served, so quick decision-making and time management are vital to success.

Other Minnesota Teaching License Requirements

Licenses need additional information to confirm a teacher's valid identity and standing. That includes fingerprint cards that may be requested via email or requested over the phone. When making a call, one's full name and mailing address in a voice message is required. Fingerprint cards from a local police station must include a sky blue border, indicating the slip's validity. Out-of-state teachers looking to teach in Minnesota will need transcripts of credits, training received, and any degrees awarded. A foreign credential evaluation service can be found at the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

Minnesota Teacher Certification Application Procedure

The application process is streamlined to suit our expanding world, so PELSB has an online certification application available on its website, with the requirement of a Google account. It covers both up-and-coming teachers as well as teachers already holding a license. Within 30 days after completing the application, PELSB will be required to issue or deny the applicant a license with the prerequisite of the appropriate application materials and a background check. Application materials for Teaching Certification through Tiered Licensure involve proper test scores, fingerprint cards, as well as out-of-state documentation and foreign credentials if necessary.

Alternative Teaching Certification in Minnesota

Teach for America has opened the doors to education to volunteers who, if seen as appropriate leaders, are vetted and trained in K-12 education to become a part of the corps. Volunteering doesn't mean working for free. Salaries range from $33,000 to $58,000, depending on where one teaches. By working in low-income areas, volunteers are able to help children on a smoother path to college and have access to a network of veteran teachers and fellow volunteers.

The US has been working in a teacher shortage even before the pandemic. To aid in getting every student a teacher, there are loan forgiveness programs available to alleviate the stress of debt on our teachers. Qualified educators will work in specified lacking subjects or economically impacted communities. More information on qualifications for the loan program can be found at Education Minnesota's loan forgiveness options.

Hybrid, weekend, and summer certification pursuits as well as becoming a substitute teacher are options for those seeking to enter the career field. A Minnesota substitute teaching license is called a short-call license and requires a bachelor's degree in any field or, alternatively, work in a teacher prep program.

Minnesota Teaching License for Out-of-State Teachers

Out-of-state teachers are offered an easy transition into Minnesota licensure, but the process still requires proper documentation and exam scores. As a prerequisite for application, teachers may use their Minnesota Praxis Core exam scores as a stand-in for NES Essential Academic Skills exam scores. Proper test scores, fingerprint cards, out-of-state documentation, and foreign credentials may be necessary during the application process to properly ensure identity and history, but a teacher should be sure to get a foreign credential evaluation completed before applying for a license on the PELSB website. A human relations course is required as well, for both in- and out-of-state teachers. Once out-of-state teachers have applied, they're able to work in the tiered licensure structure like any other educator in the state.

Professional Development & Advancement for Minnesota Educators

Most development will be experienced within the classroom and with advancement to new tiers in the license structure. The tiered structure allows for increased education and experience as a teacher advances, with options for in-class experience or portfolio work as methods of improvement. License renewal is quite easy, with online renewal available at the PELSB website. No extra credits are necessary for moving between tiers; as long as a candidate has the necessary requirements, the process is smooth. Renewal abilities vary with each tier, like how Tier One can only be renewed three times (good for one year) before restrictions are placed. Certification for particular subjects is one of the more known ways of expanding one's teaching mastery, where skills may be added onto a degree and teacher preparation programs are available for post-baccalaureates. For example, special education requires expansion into an Academic and Behavioral Strategist (ABS) license, as well as completing the Special Education content MTLE exam. Minnesota Education Academy (MEA) offers seminars and online learning platforms to enhance teachers' aptitudes, like their Summer Seminar, where at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, an event spanning three days is held each August. On the website education.mn.gov, there are resources for conferences and evaluation like the Teacher Development and Evaluation (TDE) and Q Comp Professional Learning Events and the Professional Learning Community Series.

Employment Outlook & Salary for Minnesota Teachers

The vision for educators in the US and Minnesota is looking up. High school educator jobs are projected to grow by 8% in the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are projected to have a 7% job growth comparatively. The average rate of growth for education jobs has been 7-8%. The median wage per year for library occupations, training, and education was $52,380 in May 2020, and Salary.com marks kindergarten teachers in Minneapolis as making $60,687, and high school teachers making $67,300 annually. According to Publicschoolreview.com, there is a general teacher-to-student ratio of one teacher per 16 students. Options continue to grow as online tutoring and online class structures are growing in a post-pandemic world, so flexibility and customization of courses for receiving a Minnesota teaching license have never been easier. When it comes to salary, it can depend on which area of teaching one chooses. See the graph below for a visualization of earnings.

Education and Childcare Administrators Postsecondary Teachers Elementary and Middle School Teachers Librarians, Curators, and Archivists
Average Salary $101,160 $93,330 $65,300 $54,400

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How hard are the MTLE tests?

    Because the MTLE is a variation of tests, each one will have different difficulties depending on the intensity of the subject matter. Pedagogy tests are regarded as most difficult because it is most crucial to get right. The general agreement of a passing score is 240, or 80%. Answers to specific test subjects can be found at http://www.mtle.nesinc.com

  • What is the passing score for MTLE test?

    The most common passing score for an MTLE (Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examination) is 240/300, or 80% passing score. It is important to check which test you are taking to find out the most accurate passing score, so head to http://www.mtle.nesinc.com to learn more.

  • Does Minnesota accept Praxis?

    According to the ETS.gov website, Praxis Core tests are not applicable for Minnesota teacher licensure. As of January 1, 2016, only NES scores are accepted for the Basic Skills Requirement. However, on August 12, 2016, Minnesota began accepting the Praxis® Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) tests for applicants trained outside of the state to fulfill the requirement.