Wisconsin Teaching License Guide


How to Become a Teacher in Wisconsin

There are three primary ways to become a teacher in Wisconsin: Initial Teaching Licensure, Outside of State Licensure, and Outside U.S. Licensure. Each pathway has different requirements for obtaining a Wisconsin teaching license, but all paths require a bachelor's degree and proof of content knowledge. Candidates must have a degree from an accredited university unless the bachelor's degree was obtained outside of the United States. Wisconsin offers teaching licenses to candidates based on a tier system. The progression through these tiers are based on experience, statutory requirements, and national board certification. For candidates with licensure outside of Wisconsin, you can expect the state to take 12-16 weeks to review your application. Candidates who received their teaching license through an out-of-state program, received their license through an online university, or do not have one year of teaching experience will be required to pass the Foundations of Reading Test and the Wisconsin Content Test before applying.

Wisconsin Teacher Certification Programs

There are many ways to obtain a teaching license in Wisconsin, but they all start with a bachelor's degree. Candidates pursuing a bachelor's degree in education can choose from many of Wisconsin's approved educator bachelor degree programs. University of Wisconsin's School of Education is ranked as America's fourth-best school of education. The University of Wisconsin also offers online bachelor's degree programs in various teaching fields that all lead to a teaching certificate in Wisconsin. This pathway consists of achieving a four-year college degree and completing a student teaching experience. Wisconsin's student teaching experience requires candidates to be teaching in a classroom for a semester. The student teachers are always monitored by a mentor teacher during this student teaching experience. If a candidate does have a bachelor's degree in a field other than education, they can attend an alternative teacher preparation program. One of Wisconsin's alternative teacher preparation programs is Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESA) which uses a Wisconsin-approved, proficiency-based licensure (PBL) system. CESA allows candidates a self-paced two year window to complete their education..

Wisconsin Teaching License Educational Requirements

All Wisconsin teachers must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university. However, they do not need a Bachelor's of Education to get a teaching certificate in Wisconsin. If a candidate does not have a Bachelor's of Education that leads to a Wisconsin teaching license, the candidate can attend one of Wisconsin's many alternative teacher preparation programs. These usually take around one year to complete and include a student teaching portion. Wisconsin requires that student teaching last for an entire school semester or around 18 weeks. As of July 1, 2020, Wisconsin discontinued the edTPA requirement for most of its teacher candidates. However, if the candidate is an out-of-state teacher applying for a teaching certificate in Wisconsin, they may be required to complete edTPA. A candidate may also have to complete edTPA because of their preparation program's graduation requirements.

Required Exams for Wisconsin Teachers

Like most states, Wisconsin requires candidates complete testing before they can become a Wisconsin teacher. Wisconsin uses the PRAXIS testing system through ETS as well as its own, state-created exams. Most teacher candidates will take a PRAXIS test. Only a small portion of the teacher candidates will take the Wisconsin-created exams. In 2017, Wisconsin removed the requirement for candidates to complete a Basic Skills Test. It was determined that completion of a bachelor's degree is sufficient proof of a candidate's basic skills. However, Wisconsin does have subject area tests. A candidate will take specific subject area tests depending on which subjects and grade levels they would like to teach.

Praxis Core Academic Skills

The PRAXIS Core Academic Skills for Educators Exam consists of three tests: Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. Not all candidates will need to complete the PRAXIS Core Academic Skills exams. Candidates who have completed a Bachelor of Education that leads to a Wisconsin teaching license should not have to take the PRAXIS Core Academic Skills exams. Some of Wisconsin's alternative teacher preparation programs may require candidates to complete the PRAXIS Core Academic Skill exams as part of their admission. Candidates should contact the alternative teacher preparation program they are interested in to determine that program's admission requirements. PRAXIS Core Academic Skill exams have a minimum score of 100 and a maximum score of 200. The PRAXIS tests in Wisconsin have varying Praxis passing scores. The Mathematics exam has the lowest passing score of 150, with the Reading exam requiring 156 and Writing requiring the highest passing score of 162.

Praxis 2 Wisconsin

The PRAXIS 2 for Wisconsin is required for all candidates. It does not matter which licensure pathway the candidate is following, they will need to successfully pass the PRAXIS Subject exam/s that correspond to the Wisconsin teaching license they are seeking. Specific requirements for PRAXIS tests in Wisconsin can be found at ETS PRAXIS. Candidates need to pass the Praxis Subject Assessments before submitting their teaching license application to Wisconsin's Department of Education. The passing score for each exam varies; the ETS PRAXIS website collaborates with Wisconsin's Department of Education to provide accurate information to teacher candidates. For example, a candidate pursuing a Bachelor's and Wisconsin teaching license in Elementary Education would be required to score a 146 on the Elementary and Middle School K-9 PRAXIS Subject exam before applying for their teaching license.

Other Criteria for Wisconsin Teachers

Fingerprints may be required for a teaching license application. If a candidate has ever lived or is currently living outside of Wisconsin, they will most likely need to submit their fingerprints to Wisconsin's Department of Education. The Wisconsin Department of Education provides a Fingerprint Decision Tree to help candidates. Wisconsin requires all candidates to complete a background check and Conduct and Competency questionnaire along with possible fingerprinting. The Conduct and Competency questionnaire helps Wisconsin determine if the candidate has exhibited any "immoral or incompetent behavior".

Wisconsin Teaching License Application Process

The first step in applying to be a Wisconsin teacher is determining whether the candidate needs to submit their fingerprints. After that has been determined, the candidate needs to gather all the relevant documents. Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction (DPI) provides candidates a document called "ELO Conduct & Competency Questions". This helps the candidate determine if they need to provide the DPI with support for any possible misconduct, immoral, or incompetent behavior. The candidate's educator preparation program (EPP) needs to send the Endorsed Candidates for Licensure (ECL) to the DPI. Once the documentation has been completed, the candidate can create an account on the Educator Licensing Online (ELO) program. After the teaching license has been submitted, the candidate needs to wait 6-8 weeks for Wisconsin to process their application. If the candidate's application has been denied, the DPI will alert the candidate as to what is missing from their application.

Alternative Routes to Licensure for Wisconsin Teachers

Wisconsin has many alternative routes for candidates to obtain a Wisconsin DPI license. The School District Support License Pathway allows professionals that work in a shortage area with five years of content-area experience and a matching bachelor's degree from an accredited university to become teachers after completing a minimum of 100 hours of educational courses. The professionals will also need to pass the subject-specific content exams. However, after these requirements have been completed, the professional can apply for their teaching license. This pathway also allows technical or vocational subject professionals to work with their local schools to become teachers of their trade. Similar to the previous pathway, Wisconsin has an Upper-Level Technology Education Permit available for professionals with three years of working experience along with formal education in their trade. The most unique alternative pathway Wisconsin has is the Montessori School License Pathway. Candidates who have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and have completed an MACTE or AMI accredited Montessori teacher licensure program are eligible to obtain a license. Additionally, Wisconsin has two different types of teaching licenses for substitute teachers.

  • Five-Year Long-Term Substitute Teaching License - For candidates who are eligible for or hold a full Wisconsin teaching license.
  • Three-Year Short-Term Substitute License - For candidates who have attended an accredited college and obtained an associate degree or higher. These candidates also need to complete a substitute training program that is approved by Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Certification for Out-of-State Educators

For out-of-state candidates looking for how to get a teaching license in Wisconsin, there are three different pathways. The first pathway requires the candidate to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university, finish an out-of-state EPP, and hold an out-of-state license. Candidates with no experience will receive a Wisconsin Initial License and may be subject to statutory stipulations. Statutory stipulations are put onto a candidate's teaching license if their EPP does not meet all of Wisconsin's educational standards. The most common statutory stipulation is put into place because the candidate's EPP did not require 18 weeks of student teaching. If the candidate has a year or more of experience, they may be eligible to receive a Tier II three-year renewable Wisconsin teaching license and will most likely not have any statutory stipulations on their license. Out-of-state professionals with a degree in one of Wisconsin's teacher shortage areas (math, world languages, science, etc.), may attend one of Wisconsin's alternative EPP to become a Wisconsin teacher.

Opportunities for Professional Development & Advancement for Wisconsin Teachers

Professional development for teachers in Wisconsin is coordinated through the Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA). Candidates can contact the CESA office assigned to their district in order to learn about upcoming in-person training. Wisconsin also utilizes a state-approved program in order to offer online modules for candidates to complete. Furthermore, Wisconsin offers even more flexibility for some of its online modules by allowing candidates to choose how they learn. Modules can be completed through an individual learning e-course or through facilitated learning. The facilitated learning method includes a comprehensive file that contains all the necessary information from the course, as well as a guide provided by a facilitator. Most modules can be completed in 30-40 minutes using the facilitated learning method. Teachers in Wisconsin are evaluated based on the Educator Effectiveness System which informs teachers' professional development plans. Candidates can find the Teacher Evaluation User Guide online in order to better understand what this process looks like.

Employment Outlook & Salary for Wisconsin Teachers

Since 2015, Wisconsin has tried to address the educator workforce shortage by implementing the Talent Development Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to improve the recruitment and retention of Wisconsin's teachers. This ongoing initiative means new teachers in Wisconsin can expect job security, reduced costs for obtaining/renewing their license, as well as increased opportunities for career growth. According to the 2021-22 pay scale, first-year teachers with a bachelor's degree start at S44,870, receiving a $1,649 raise every year. Candidates with a master's degree begin at $47,962 with an annual raise of $1,804. Part of the Talent Development Initiative included an additional four years of raises for teachers with a master's. Candidates with a bachelor's degree will cap out after 16 years, while those with a master's degree will cap out after 20 years. Teachers who take on mentoring or coaching roles can expect a pay raise corresponding to the increase of responsibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to get a Wisconsin teaching license?

    The length of time for how to become a teacher in Wisconsin can vary depending on where the candidate starts. A candidate that pursues a Bachelor's of Education that leads to licensure can expect the process to take around 4 years. However, a candidate that already has a bachelor's degree in another field can expect around one to two years to complete a state-approved alternative teaching program.

  • What can I teach with my license Wisconsin?

    A candidate can teach the content areas listed on their Wisconsin teaching license. There are avenues that allow candidates to teach a subject based on their university credits; however, some districts will not allow this. To learn more information about this, the candidate can check the Wisconsin Department of Education's website.

  • How do you get a lifetime teaching license in Wisconsin?

    In order to obtain a lifetime Wisconsin teaching license, the candidate needs to have successfully completed six semesters of teaching in their licensure area within five years of applying for the lifetime license. The experience has to be verified by an official Wisconsin educational entity.