Montana Teaching License Guide


How to Become a Teacher in Montana

Do you want to know how to become a teacher in Montana? Like all states, Montana has specific requirements to obtain a Montana teaching license. Before you begin teaching in Montana, you need to complete the following steps:

1. You must complete a bachelor's degree. The traditional route is to do this in tandem with your teacher preparation program. However, if you already have a bachelor's degree when you decide to become an educator in Montana, you can teach while completing a preparation program through a Class 5 Provisional license. This license and reciprocity for out-of-state teachers through the National Association of Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) is detailed below in the section entitled "Out-of-state Teachers and Montana Teacher Certification Reciprocity."

2. Your grade point average (GPA) is evaluated before you are recommended for licensure. The Montana Assessment of Content Knowledge (MACK) is a 3-part rubric for evaluating your qualifications before you can be granted a license. Your GPA is considered as part of the MACK. This rubric is detailed below.

3. You need to complete a teacher preparation program. Ten colleges and universities in Montana are Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs). All preparation programs include coursework for your subject area endorsement, clinical experience, and student teaching.

4. You must pass the appropriate Praxis subject assessment in your endorsement area.

5. You are required to score a minimum of 7 out of 10 on the MACK (detailed below).

6. All candidates must take the class An Introduction to Indian Education for All in Montana. The Constitution of Montana requires that one of the educational goals in Montana is to recognize and preserve the cultural heritage of American Indians, so the course requirement has been incorporated into teacher preparation.

Educator Preparation Programs in Montana

To get a Montana teaching certification, you must complete an educator preparation program. A preparation program can be done as part of your bachelor's degree. If you already have a bachelor's or master's degree and then decide you want to teach, the teacher preparation program can be done separately. Ten colleges and universities in Montana offer Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs). They are:

  • Carroll College
  • Montana State University
  • Montana State University Billings
  • Montana State University Northern
  • Rocky Mountain College
  • Salish Kootenai College
  • Stone Child College
  • University of Montana
  • University of Montana Western
  • University of Providence

The programs at these institutions provide a clear path on how to become a teacher in Montana. They have been accredited by the Professional Educator Preparation Program Standards (PEPPS) and approved by the Montana State Board of Public Education. If you are doing the EPP as part of your bachelor's degree, you will take general courses as well as coursework related to the subject area endorsement you are seeking. EPPs in the state differ depending on what your area is and the grade level you wish to take, but in general, they all offer courses which will give you a good foundation of knowledge in education.

Courses include pedagogy, content knowledge, literacy, numeracy, classroom management, academic interventions, how to integrate technology in the classroom, child development, methods, assessment, educational psychology, curriculum and instruction, and others.

EPPs will also provide robust clinical experience as well as student teaching.

Montana Teacher Certification

There are two traditional types of Montana teaching licenses: Class 2: Standard and Class 1: Professional. Montana teacher salaries are tied to years of experience and level of education.

In order to get a Montana teaching license, the basic requirements are as follows:

1. You must complete a bachelor's degree. There is an exception to this requirement for a Class 4 license, which is detailed below.

2. You must complete an educator preparation program (EPP) at one of the 10 approved and accredited colleges and universities in Montana. Some of your coursework will be tailored to the subject endorsement you wish to earn. Clinical experiences, including student teaching are provided in the preparation program. Shorter term clinical experiences might include micro-teaching and practicums. For example, you might spend one day teaching using cooperative learning for your Methods class, or you could spend a few hours a week in a supervised teaching situation for 6-8 weeks during your sophomore year. These experiences differ slightly depending on the institution you are attending. Student teaching takes place during your senior year. You will teach full-time under the supervision of a cooperating teacher for 14 weeks. You can complete the EPP in tandem with your bachelor's degree or after you have earned a degree.

3. You must pass the Praxis exam for your subject area endorsement.

4. You must complete the course An Introduction to Indian Education for All in Montana.

Praxis Assessments and Exams

One of the requirements of how to become a teacher in Montana is detailed below. Besides successfully completing the steps detailed above, you must also receive 7 points out of 10 on the Montana Assessment of Content Knowledge (MACK) before you will be granted your teaching license. This teacher evaluation and assessment consists of three parts: grade point average (GPA), a Praxis assessment, and a successful student teaching experience. If you receive at least 7 points you will be recommended for licensure by your Montana EPP. If you score less than 7 points or receive a zero score on any of the three components, you will not be recommended for licensure in Montana.


Your GPA determines how many points you get for this component:

Grade Point Average Points
3.5 - 4.0 GPA 4 points
3.0 - 3.49 GPA 3 points
2.65 - 2.99 GPA 2 points
2.0 - 2.64 GPA 1 point
Below 2.0 GPA 0 points

Praxis Assessment

Your score on the Montana Praxis exam dictates how many points you get for this component:

Range Points
Exceed 90% of the score 3 points
90% of the score 2 points
80% of the score 1 point
Below 80% of the score 0 points

Student Teaching

You will be evaluated by the cooperating teacher during your student teaching experience. You could also be assessed by your EPP supervisor or a faculty member. The evaluation scores are as follows:

Knowledge Points
Advanced 3 points
Proficient 2 points
Basic 1 point
Insufficient 0 points

Required Background Checks for Teachers in Montana

If you plan on teaching in Montana under a Montana teaching license, you must undergo a background check. To begin the process, go to your local law enforcement agency. They will take your fingerprints and give you the fingerprint card. Then you will mail your fingerprint card to the Montana Department of Justice. They will do a background check using your fingerprints and when it is complete, they will send the results to the Office of Public Instruction. You will not be granted a Montana teacher certification without a background check.

Montana Teaching License

Normally, an application for a Class 2 Montana teaching license can be submitted by mail or online. Because of a transition to a new online system, online submissions are not available until June 1, 2022. Before that, you can only apply by mail. This is what you need to do to successfully apply for Montana teacher certification:

1. Fill out a Class 2 license application from OPI carefully and completely.

2. Have your college or university send your official transcripts directly to

3. Include verification of your Praxis exam scores with the application.

4. Include verification that you completed the class An Introduction to Indian Education for All in Montana.

5. If applicable, include a copy of your current out-of-state teaching license.

6. Pay any fees required.

7. Print your application and mail it to:

Montana Office of Public Instruction

Attn: Educator Licensure

PO Box 202501

Helena, MT 59620

Montana Substitute Teaching License

If you are interested in how to become a substitute teacher in Montana, you need to inquire at the school district you want to work in. There are no licensing requirements set by the state. Each school district sets their own requirements. They may require their substitutes to be licensed or certified, or they may not. If you want to become a licensed teacher in Montana, follow the steps outlined above.

Reciprocity Agreement for Teaching in Montana

Montana is a member of the National Association of Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) and has reciprocity with other members. If you are coming from another state, you will need to go through the application process. As with all prospective teachers in Montana, when you apply for certification with OPI, you need to provide your transcripts, submit to a background check, and provide any proof pertaining to out-of-state teacher certification, teacher preparation programs, or evidence that you qualify for the endorsements you are seeking. If you have an out-of-state certification and at least five years of teaching experience under that certification, you can apply for a Class 2 Standard Teaching license in Montana. If you have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university outside of Montana, and are interested in teaching in Montana, you can apply for a Class 5 Provisional license. To be granted a provisional license, you need to be accepted by a regionally accredited institution in Montana and submit a plan of study for completing a teacher preparation program from that institution to OPI. If you complete the teacher preparation program in three years, you will be awarded a Class 2 Standard Teaching license.

Alternative Teaching Licenses in Montana

If you want to know how to become a teacher in Montana, a couple of possible paths to licensure are listed below with the criteria needed for Montana teaching licenses Class 1, 4, 6, and 7.

Class 1 - Professional Teaching License

For this license, you need a Master's degree in Education or in a teaching endorsement area or a certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. You also need a passing Praxis score on the appropriate Praxis exam, and a minimum of three years of successful teaching experience after the completion of a teacher preparation program; if the preparation program was non-traditional, you need a minimum of five years. Lastly, you need to verify that you completed the course An Introduction to Indian Education for All in Montana.

Class 4 - Career and Technical Education

The class 4 license requirements are shown in the table below.

License/Class Degree/Credential Career Experience
4A Candidate has a Class 1 or 2 license 10,000 documented hours (5 years)
of career experience in the
endorsement area desired
4B Candidate has a bachelor's or
master's degree
10,000 documented hours (5 years)
of career experience in the
endorsement area desired
4C Candidate has a high school
diploma or a GED
10,000 documented hours (5 years)
of career experience in the
endorsement area desired

Class 6

Specialist - School Counselor

For this license, you must successfully complete a Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Program including a 600-hour internship in a school, or complete a Master's degree in School Counseling including a 600-hour internship in a school.

Specialist - School Psychologist

To be a school psychologist in Montana, there are three options for getting a class 6 license:

Option 1: You must be nationally certified as a school psychologist by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Option 2: You must complete a school psychologist program accredited by NASP with 1200 hours in an internship, 600 of which must be at a school.

Option 3: You must earn a master's degree or higher in psychology from an accredited college or university and a recommendation from NASP that your qualifications are equivalent to theirs, including the 1200-hour internship.

Class 7 - Native American Language and Culture Specialist

To obtain a Class 7 license, you need verification by a tribal government that you have met their competency and fluency standards of language.

License Renewal and Professional Development for Teachers in Montana

The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) requires you to renew your Montana teaching license every five years. To renew most licenses (Class 1, 2, 3, 4 &6) you need to have 60 OPI renewal units. These OPI units can be earned through professional development or by taking semester or quarter units from an accredited institution. One semester credit equals 15 OPI units, while one quarter credit equals 10 OPI units. Class 4 licenses also require renewal units in specific content areas aligned with career and technical education. Class 5 licenses are not renewable. They either result in full licensure or they expire. Teaching licenses in Montana expire on June 30th. You have until August 31st to renew. Try to renew as early as possible to avoid any lapses in certification.

Opportunities for Montana professional development for teachers can be found on the OPI website under the Learning Opportunity Portal and the Teacher Learning Hub.

On the Learning Opportunity Portal, you can find a wide range of workshops and trainings for teachers, such as (but not limited to):

  • Student Created Digital Portfolios
  • Preparing Young Writers for College, Career, & Community
  • Fraction Sense
  • Algebraic Thinking

On the Teacher Learning Hub, you can find a variety of streamed, facilitated courses online, or you can take self-paced courses. Some of the courses offered are as follows:

  • Arts Integration
  • Writing Across the Disciplines in Middle School
  • Montana Science Standards
  • Making Sense of Modeling

Average Salaries and Job Growth for Teachers in Montana

The following table shows the average Montana teacher salary by percentile in 2021. For example, if you are making $41,581 as a teacher in Montana, the table shows that you are earning more than 10% of teachers in Montana. If you are earning $71,147, you are earning more than 90% of teachers in Montana.

10th percentile 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile 90th percentile
$41,581 $47,936 $54,916 $63,412 $71,147

The job growth forecast in education shows a jobs gain of 350 in 2022. A jobs gain of 430 is expected by 2030.

There is a severe teacher shortage in Montana that has been accelerated by Covid 19. To help alleviate the problem, the state offers student-loan forgiveness if you meet certain qualifications. Through the Quality Educator Loan Assistance program, the state will pay $3,000 per year in loan assistance for up to four years if you teach in a critical shortage area or are teaching in an impacted school. Impacted schools include public schools on an Indian reservation, schools for the deaf and blind, correctional facilities for youth, and special education cooperatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are teachers in demand in Montana?

    Yes. There is a severe shortage of teachers in Montana. The state is recruiting teachers through incentives like student loan forgiveness and raising salaries.

  • How much money do teachers make in Montana?

    The starting salary for 1st year teachers is around $41,000. The mean salary is around $55,000. The highest paid teachers, based on education and years of experience can make over $71,000.

  • Does Montana have reciprocity for teachers?

    Montana belongs to the National Association of Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) and has reciprocity with other member states of this organization.

  • What is a Class 5 teaching license in Montana?

    If you have a bachelor's degree, a Class 5 Provisional teaching license allows you to begin teaching while you are completing a teacher preparation program at an accredited institution.

  • How many teacher credits do I need to renew in Montana?

    You need 60 OPI renewal units to renew. These renewal units can be a combination of professional development and credit. One semester unit equals 15 OPI renewal units and one quarter credit equals 10 renewal units.