To teach in Wisconsin, K-12 teachers must complete the state's licensure requirements, including earning a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and completing an educator preparation program. Graduates from in-state and out-of-state teaching programs, including online programs, can earn a teaching certificate in Wisconsin.
Prospective Wisconsin teachers benefit from the flexibility and accessibility of online teaching degrees.
Prospective Wisconsin teachers benefit from the flexibility and accessibility of online teaching degrees. They may complete the same teacher licensure process as on-campus teaching students while scheduling their education around work or family obligations. Online programs in Wisconsin also incorporate student teaching experience, which students can arrange locally. Finally, Wisconsin provides licenses for professionals considering a career change, for bachelor's degree holders in non-teaching fields, and for teachers licensed in other states.
By researching the state's teaching requirements and approved teacher preparation programs, you can be on your way to becoming a teacher in Wisconsin.
How to Become a Teacher in Wisconsin
To teach at the elementary or secondary level, Wisconsin teachers must apply for a teaching license through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Only teachers who meet the educational requirements, pass basic and content area tests, and complete a background check qualify for a teaching certificate in Wisconsin. The state offers a variety of pathways to licensure and allows teaching majors to meet the testing requirements through a portfolio or GPA review.
Each state sets its own requirements, and licenses do not automatically transfer between states. However, Wisconsin does offer reciprocity for educators with a valid teaching license from another state who have at least one year of teaching experience under that license. Qualifying teachers receive a five-year license and may need to complete additional requirements during that time. Licensed Wisconsin teachers planning to move to another state should research that state's reciprocity process.
To receive teaching certification in Wisconsin, candidates must meet state requirements; that is, elementary and secondary teachers must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and complete a teacher preparation program. To identify in-state approved teaching programs, use the Wisconsin Educator Preparation Program Lookup.
A bachelor's degree in teaching incorporates coursework in curriculum design, classroom management, and assessment strategies, as well as general education requirements and content area knowledge. Most bachelor's programs expect a minimum of 120 credits, typically requiring four years of full-time study. Students with transfer credits will complete degree requirements more quickly. Current teachers can increase earning potential and advance their careers by earning a master's degree, which usually requires an additional two years of coursework.
Applicants with an out-of-state degree can also receive a teaching certificate in Wisconsin. To meet the state's education requirements, candidates must complete a preparation program through an accredited four-year college or university approved by the state education department where the program is headquartered. Candidates applying from out-of-state programs require additional review, which may take as long as 16 weeks.
Most bachelor's programs expect a minimum of 120 credits, typically requiring four years of full-time study.
Wisconsin offers an alternative route to licensure for candidates with a bachelor's degree in a shortage area, including mathematics, science, world languages, and special education. Successful applicants must complete a teacher preparation program in Wisconsin. Similarly, prospective teachers with a bachelor's in engineer, math, science, computer science, art, music, or world languages and at least five years of professional experience can receive a professional teaching permit.
Graduates with an associate degree in teaching cannot receive a teaching certificate in Wisconsin; however, they may work as preschool teachers, daycare or childcare workers, or paraprofessionals (i.e., teacher's aides). Associate programs prepare educators to transfer into a bachelor's program, and depending on the institution, they may fulfill general education requirements. An online associate degree in teaching helps prospective educators learn about the profession while building important educational experience.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Wisconsin
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Introduction to Education||Considers teaching as a profession, current issues and challenges in education, and topics such as curriculum development, instruction methods, and assessment strategies.|
|Early Childhood Education||Focuses on quality education programs for learners from birth to age eight; covers educational models, professionalization, and the responsibilities of educators.|
|Learning and Development||Examines developmentally appropriate learning strategies for children at different ages, child development theories, research-based models, and environments for young learners.|
Bachelor's Degree in Teaching
|Curriculum Theory and Practice||Helps teachers organize and plan instructional strategies; emphasizes writing educational objectives, curriculum methodologies, and conducting curriculum evaluations.|
|Classroom Management||Considers theories and techniques for motivating students from kindergarten through grade 12, covering behavior management, preventative discipline, classroom environment, and effective communication.|
|Global Perspectives for Educators||Looks at global perspectives on education, including topics and issues related to globalization; presents strategies for introducing global approaches in the classroom.|
Master's Degree in Teaching
|Instructional Design||Features in-depth comparisons of current instructional design theories and models, techniques for crafting engaging classes, and methods for transferring skills.|
|Multiculturalism||Examines multiculturalism in the U.S., with a particular focus on its role in education and schooling; discusses barriers to equal educational and economic opportunities.|
|Educational Psychology||Investigates psychological aspects of learning, teaching, and assessment in an educational context, emphasizing principles of learning and cognition, as well as individual and group differences.|
How to Get a Teaching Certificate in Wisconsin
Wisconsin offers several pathways to the classroom for qualified educators. While requirements vary depending on the license, most require a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, completion of a teacher preparation program, passing scores on all required tests, and a background check. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) issues teaching licenses and provides guidelines on receiving or renewing a license.
Most teaching candidates apply for an initial educator license. In-state and out-of-state graduates must submit proof of a bachelor's degree and completion of a teacher educator preparation program. Wisconsin offers several ways to meet the testing requirements, which students complete through their in-state teaching program. All candidates must pass a teaching practices test offered through edTPA. Content-area endorsements require either a Praxis II content area test, a minimum 3.0 GPA in the content area, or an approved content portfolio. Elementary teachers must also pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test.
Again, the DPI offers reciprocity to out-of-state licensed teachers who meet Wisconsin's requirements. In order to receive a teaching license, the candidate must hold a valid license in good standing from another state, as well as show one year of teaching experience with that license. Candidates may need to meet additional testing requirements. Experienced educators can apply for a master educator license by completing a National Board Certification or the Wisconsin Master Educator Assessment Process.
The initial teaching license remains valid for three years, while professional and master educator licenses no longer expire. The renewal process requires six semester credits of professional development, arranged through the teacher's district by completing a Professional Development Plan. The initial or professional educator license costs $125 if the teacher graduated from a Wisconsin teacher preparation program; out-of-state educators must pay $175 for their initial license. Renewing a license costs $125.
Choosing a Degree Program in Wisconsin
Prospective teachers must make an important decision years before earning a teaching license and entering a K-12 classroom: they must choose the right teaching program. While the process can feel overwhelming, especially when considering the variety of online teaching programs, prospective students can narrow their choices by considering a few critical factors: cost, location, time to degree, and specializations.
First, the cost of a teaching degree varies from one school to another. In addition to checking the per-credit or the per-semester fees, prospective students can also research any discounts for in-state residents or online classes. Scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid may significantly lower the cost of certain programs, while transfer credits can shorten the time to degree.
Scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid may significantly lower the cost of certain programs, while transfer credits can shorten the time to degree.
Second, location plays a role in access to support resources and placement for student teaching; in Wisconsin, in-state approved teaching programs provide the smoothest path to an initial teaching license.
Third, each teaching program sets different graduation requirements, some of which may add time to the degree.
Finally, specializations or extra coursework in a future teacher's content area may also lengthen the program. Students may prefer the flexibility of an online teaching program, which allows students to fit school around other obligations.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Wisconsin?
Every state creates its own educational requirements to earn a teaching license. In Wisconsin, teachers at the elementary and secondary level must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and complete a teacher preparation program. Graduates from an online teaching program meet Wisconsin's guidelines as long as the program holds accreditation. Educators with an online teaching degree can earn a teaching certification in Wisconsin.
Teaching candidates with an online degree complete the same licensure process as those with an in-person degree. Online teaching programs include core classes in teaching methods, curriculum development, and classroom management, as well as content area knowledge. Online teaching students also complete student teaching and field observation requirements in the student's local area. Many students prefer the greater flexibility and accessibility of an online program, particularly current teachers earning an advanced degree while working.
However, Wisconsin's teaching license guidelines only permit bachelor's degrees from accredited institutions. Accreditation serves as a marker of academic excellence, and many states use accreditation to evaluate teaching degrees. Before enrolling in an online teaching program, prospective Wisconsin teachers must ensure the institution holds accreditation.
Directory of Teaching Schools in Wisconsin
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in Wisconsin
Before enrolling in a teaching program to earn an associate, a bachelor's, or a master's degree, prospective students must formulate a plan to pay for their degree. Fortunately, teaching students can benefit from several specialized scholarship and grant programs, as well as other forms of financial aid. By researching how to pay for a teaching degree, future teachers can enter their program without worrying about the cost.
Wisconsin teaching students qualify for thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants, including those through the state's Teacher Education Loan program. These programs may carry teaching obligations after graduation. In addition to scholarships and grants, students can also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for federal loans. Although graduates must repay student loans, teachers can use loan forgiveness programs to discharge part or all of their student loans.
Many colleges and universities also offer financial aid packages to students, including some opportunities restricted to education majors. Current teachers or other working professionals may receive tuition reimbursement programs through their school district or employer, which can help cover the cost of a teaching degree.
Loan Forgiveness for Wisconsin Teachers
A loan forgiveness program partially or fully repays student loans based on the graduate's professional contributions. Teachers qualify for several loan forgiveness programs, particularly if they work in a low-income school or in a high-need field. In some cases, teachers can discharge up to 100% of their student loans through a loan forgiveness program after meeting the service obligation by teaching for a minimum number of years.
At the federal level, the Financial Aid Office operates two loan forgiveness programs for teachers. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program awards up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness on direct loans and Stafford loans for qualifying teachers. The program carries a teaching obligation of five consecutive years working at a designated low-income school. The Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation program discharges up to 100% of Perkins loans for teachers working in low-income schools or in high-need fields, including special education. Teachers may also receive loan deferment while completing the teaching requirement.
Teachers can use the Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory to identify qualifying schools for federal loan forgiveness programs. Wisconsin's Teacher Education Loans also function like loan forgiveness programs; for each year teaching in the state, 25% of the loan is forgiven.
Scholarships for Teaching Students in Wisconsin
Wisconsin students may qualify for several scholarships designed for future teachers. For students who agree to teach in particular schools after graduation, the state offers the Teacher Education Loan, the Minority Teacher Loan, and the federal TEACH Grant. Recipients may need to pay back the award if they fail to meet the service obligations.
Teacher Education Loan $10,000
TEACH Grant $4,000
Minority Teacher Loan $10,000
T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Wisconsin Scholarship Varies
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in Wisconsin
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
With nearly 165,000 teachers in Wisconsin, educators make up a significant part of the state's workforce. Wisconsin teachers earn an average salary of over $50,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), slightly lower than the national average teacher salary of $54,520. Teacher salaries cover a wide range based on the job title, the teacher's education and experience, and the location.
Wisconsin's preschool teachers earn the lowest average salary, at $26,360 a year. However, preschool teachers do not need a state teaching license, nor are they required to hold a bachelor's degree. Elementary and secondary teachers earn higher salaries, ranging from kindergarten teachers at $54,040 a year to middle school teachers, who average over $58,000.
In addition to variations based on job title, the teacher's education level and experience in the classroom influence teacher salaries. Teachers with a master's degree, for example, earn more than those with a bachelor's degree, and teachers who have multiple years of experience often make more.
Finally, location plays a role in teacher salaries, with teachers in metropolitan areas like Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay earning more than rural teachers. Many school districts publish salary schedules, allowing prospective teachers to research potential salaries.
|Elementary School Teachers||$55,120|
|Middle School Teachers||$58,330|
|Secondary School Teachers||$56,780|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Wisconsin
How do I get a teaching license in Wisconsin?
How much does a teacher make a year in Wisconsin?
How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in Wisconsin?
Resources for Teachers in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction The Wisconsin DPI offers guidelines for receiving and renewing Wisconsin teaching licenses. In addition, the department provides professional development resources, curriculum and instruction materials, and information about Wisconsin assessment guidelines, education funding, and state budget.
- Wisconsin Education Association Council WEAC represents public teachers and school employees, advocating for public policies that support its members. The association provides several member benefits, including professional and skill development resources, legal assistance, and a discount program. WEAC is the state affiliate for the National Education Association.
- Wisconsin Early Childhood Association WECA advances quality early care through advocating for professional childcare workers. Teachers receive professional development resources, access to workshops and conferences, and research on the childcare workforce. The organization is the state affiliate for the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
- Wisconsin Parent Teacher Association The Wisconsin PTA connects teachers with parents, organizations, and community members who support public education. The organization advocates for school funding, offers awards and scholarships, and organizes programs and events across the state.
- National Education Association Dating back to its founding in 1857, NEA advances public education through advocacy and research. Today, NEA represents over three million members, from preschool teachers to graduate school professors. Members receive NEA publications and research, professional development resources, and access to the NEA network.