Education and health services represent some of the largest sectors of Iowa's non-farming economy, and the employment opportunities and salaries of educators in the state have risen steadily each year over the last decade. Today, Iowa teacher salaries rank fifth among Midwestern states.
For students interested in pursuing an Iowa teaching certificate or teaching license online, the state hosts a variety of distance programs leading to teacher certification. Online delivery options allow Iowa's aspiring teachers to care for their families and/or continue working full time while earning their degrees. According to the Iowa Department of Education, the state identified 21 shortage areas within the fields of general and special education in the 2017-2018 academic year; there is high demand for qualified teachers in these areas. As a result, pursuing a career in one of Iowa's shortage areas may lead to additional scholarship possibilities and employment opportunities.
Students with a degree or license from another state who want to earn an Iowa teaching license must complete a state-approved teacher-preparation program at a regionally accredited institution, as well as all of the necessary Iowa assessments. Candidates must also hold a bachelor's degree and submit a recommendation for licensure. Candidates who have at least three years of teaching experience on their out-of-state license or those who have completed a teacher preparation program prior to January 1, 2013 may be able to opt out of the assessment requirement.
How to Become a Teacher in Iowa
Teaching licensure requirements vary from state to state. Aspiring educators must obtain a teaching license and fulfill other requirements specific to that state -- licenses do not typically transfer from one state to another. In addition to meeting degree requirements, teachers in Iowa must complete a teacher preparation program and state assessments to earn licensure. An out-of-state school must apply for approval from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission to offer an online-only teacher preparation program for Iowa teachers.
In addition to meeting degree requirements, teachers in Iowa must complete a teacher preparation program and state assessments to earn licensure.
Most of Iowa's higher learning institution offer teacher preparation programs. These programs may focus on early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, educational leadership, or school service personnel. They may also complement or be part of a school's bachelor's or graduate degree programs. Iowa teachers also need to earn acceptable scores on two Praxis assessment tests, administered by ETS, to be eligible for licensure. Students interested in pursuing a master educator certification in an endorsement area, such as special education, must earn a master's degree and meet additional qualifications in their area of specialization.
Teachers in Iowa must earn at least a bachelor's degree before applying for a teaching license. Some schools in Iowa offer associate degrees in education, preparing graduates for non-licensed, entry-level jobs in the field of education and education administration. These two-year degrees can also serve as a foundation in education for further study in the discipline. Prospective teachers must earn their bachelor's degrees from a regionally accredited institution; these programs of study often include preparation for Praxis assessment exams. A typical bachelor's degree takes four years to earn, although additional teacher preparation and assessments required for licensure may extend the time it takes a student to obtain certification.
Because practical experience is critical for aspiring teachers in any educational setting, bachelor's programs and teacher preparation programs in Iowa should include an internship or practicum, allowing participants to gain student-teaching experience. Students with at least three years of verified teaching experience in the classroom may waive internship or practicum experiences while completing their teacher preparation program.
A typical bachelor's degree takes four years to earn, although additional teacher preparation and assessments required for licensure may extend the time it takes a student to obtain certification.
You may also apply for an Iowa teaching certificate if you hold a non-education-related bachelor's degree or a teaching degree earned in another state. Candidates with a non-teaching degree may pursue Iowa's alternative certification program, while students who earned their teaching degree outside of Iowa may qualify to become an out-of-state educator or apply for special licensure through Iowa's reciprocity agreement with NASDTEC. The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners offers a separate license application for graduates of out-of-state programs.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Iowa
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Principles of Education||This course provides an overview of all facets of the field of education, including the history, philosophy, legal aspects, and sociology of current issues facing teachers. Participants also receive an introduction to terminology used by teachers.|
|Psychology of Childhood||Prospective teachers in this course study the growth and development of children, from birth to pre-adolescence. Coursework covers both theoretical and practical education and training for children, in and out of the traditional classroom.|
|Classroom Management||This course emphasizes a variety of management styles, including the materials, methods, and approaches needed for effective classroom management. Aspiring educators focus on organizing and presenting curriculum in the classroom.|
Bachelor's Degree in Teaching
|Early Childhood Education Fundamentals||This course introduces learners to the subspecialty of early childhood education. Participants learn to assess the learning techniques of young children and develop and implement effective and appropriate curricula for this age group.|
|Developmental Psychology||In this course, aspiring teachers examine the full life span of people, from birth through old age. The curriculum focuses on contemporary perspectives related to humanity, maturity of the individual, and key developmental stages of life.|
|Wellness in the Early Childhood Setting||This course provides an overview of different ways to promote wellness. Topics emphasize the importance of safety, nutrition, and healthy family/interpersonal relationships inside and outside the classroom.|
Master's Degree in Teaching
|Language Acquisition and Instruction||This course explores common methods of acquiring oral and written language skills for students of varying ages. Aspiring teachers learn to assess learning disabilities related to language, evaluate performance, and improve language acquisition in the classroom.|
|Young Adolescents, Schools, and Communities||Typically part of the master's curriculum pursued by aspiring middle school teachers, this course explores the holistic (i.e., intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual) development of adolescent students, both in school and in the context of an individual's family and their community.|
|Content Instructional Procedures||Individuals in this course learn how to tailor teaching methods to fit the needs of different students. Coursework focuses on transforming theoretical knowledge into practice by using suitable cognitive instruction methods.|
Certification & Licensing Needed to Become a Teacher in Iowa
To become a licensed teacher in Iowa, students must meet minimum education and experience requirements and pass state assessment exams. Initial licensure is necessary for entry-level Iowa teachers; this credential is valid for two years and may be renewed up to two times. Once a teacher with initial licensure completes an Iowa-approved mentoring and induction program, and earns two years of teaching experience in an Iowa public school (or three years of experience in an Iowa private or out-of-state K-12 school), they can apply for standard class A licensure. This type of license must be renewed every five years.
Students who earned a teaching degree and completed their teacher preparation programs after January 1, 2013 must also take Praxis II exams in pedagogy and a content area of their choice to qualify for licensure in Iowa, which is awarded by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. A method used by many states to determine the general and subject-based competencies of individuals applying for teaching licensure, the Praxis tests offer dozens of assessment options in several content areas. Exam fees vary depending on a teacher's specialization and whether they opt for a single or combined pedagogy exam. Aspiring teachers must earn passing scores on the Praxis II tests (i.e., above the 25th percentile) to be eligible for an Iowa teaching license.
Standard class A licensure in Iowa must be renewed every five years.
To earn licensure in Iowa, students must also complete a state-approved human resources and exceptional learning course as part of their teacher preparation program. Additionally, students must submit to a state and federal background check, including fingerprinting. While an Iowa teaching certificate is not transferable to other states, out-of-state students may qualify for licensure if they earned a degree outside of Iowa; applicants who earned an out-of-state education and/or credentials can submit a non-Iowa-institution application.
Choosing a Degree Program in Iowa
Choosing the best online teaching program can be challenging. Many aspects should be considered before making a decision, including the cost, location, and length of a program. The particular education specializations offered by a degree track, such as early childhood development, special education, or elementary education, may also impact your decision. Online Iowa teaching certificate programs meet state requirements for licensing. Additionally, online programs generally offer significant savings on tuition and fees compared to traditional program; students can avoid housing and transportation costs to and from campus. Furthermore, many online programs offer accelerated formats, allowing students to complete their program in less time.
Individuals who pursue a teaching certificate in Iowa online can save a lot of money while receiving the same education as their on-campus peers. Additionally, many colleges and universities in Iowa host state-approved teacher preparation programs that offer student-teacher placements near a distance learner's place of residence. Teacher preparation programs also provide access to required HR and exemplary education coursework. Aspiring teachers in Iowa who plan to earn the master educator credential can pursue a variety of online master's degrees in education specializations, finding one that suits their area of interest.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Iowa?
Iowa schools offer many online teaching degrees designed to meet the minimum education requirements needed for teaching licensure in the state. Although earning an online teaching certificate in Iowa ensures you meet state standards for educator training, you also need to fulfill teacher preparation requirements and complete a required student-teaching experience.
To apply for licensure, aspiring teachers in Iowa must earn a bachelor's degree (or higher) from a regionally accredited institution recognized by one of the six accrediting bodies overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. Some degrees and/or teacher training programs offered online also receive additional accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which formed when the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) merged.
Online programs combine distance coursework with state-approved internships and student-teaching placements, which can be completed near a distance learner's residence. Iowa students working toward initial teaching licensure can obtain field placement at local public/private schools or childcare centers to meet supervised student-teaching requirements, while also completing the remainder of their teacher-prep courses in a virtual classroom.
Directory of Teaching Schools in Iowa
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in Iowa
Higher education can be incredibly expensive, but many sources are available to help students pay for college. Most schools require students to first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid and/or select scholarships, loans, and grants. Prospective students should always accept scholarships and grants first, as these sources of aid do not have to be repaid. Additionally, individuals pursuing careers in teaching have access to many institutional and private scholarships established specifically for educators; because Iowa faces widespread teaching shortages, schools have many reasons to offer financial incentives to attract aspiring teachers.
In addition to scholarships and grants targeting educators, Iowa offers its teachers a variety of tuition reimbursement programs and teacher loan forgiveness opportunities. Tuition reimbursement programs offer to pay back all or a portion of tuition and fees to qualifying students in education programs. Most reimbursement programs require students to graduate and successfully obtain licensure as a condition of the agreement. Graduates of educator training programs who secure employment in the field may also be eligible to have their student loans forgiven.
Loan Forgiveness for Iowa Teachers
Iowa teachers can obtain loan forgiveness through the Iowa College Student Aid Commission. Although many schools and programs offer loan forgiveness, this practice is especially common among educators in training because of the high demand for licensed teachers across the U.S. Loan forgiveness allows a state to help alleviate the cost of education, training, and licensing, further incentivizing teaching careers. Iowa offers loan forgiveness to full-time teachers serving in low-income and/or high-need schools across the state.
To qualify for loan forgiveness, students must work full-time for five consecutive academic years in a low-income school in Iowa, as determined by the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits (supplied by the United States Department of Education). Loan forgiveness applies to outstanding balances of direct or federal consolidated loans opened after October 1, 1998 for an educator program; the loan must have been made before the end of the required five years of teaching service. Iowa teachers may receive loan forgiveness for up to $17,500, depending on the amount of their loan and whether they meet other employment qualifications.
Scholarships for Iowa Teaching Students
College students can apply for thousands of scholarships, and many of these awards exist specifically for teachers in Iowa. For example, scholarships like the Teach Iowa Scholar Program and T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Iowa offer additional financial incentives to aspiring educators in the state. Teachers in Iowa seeking to serve in one of the state's shortage areas may be able to find even more financial aid opportunities.
Teach Iowa Scholar Program Up to $4,000
T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Iowa Varies
PEIF Teacher of Tomorrow Scholarship $500
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Up to $4,000
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in Iowa
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
The job outlook and salary of teachers in Iowa mirror those of the national average. With employment exceeding 100,000 and an annual mean wage over $50,000, Iowa comes in just below the U.S. average, offering ample opportunities for both entry-level and experienced teachers in the state. Employment opportunities and salaries vary depending on the location (metropolitan vs. rural), size of the service area, and demand for educators in low-income and/or shortage areas.
The average annual salaries in the state also fluctuate depending on a teacher's particular area of expertise. The salary gap between preschool teachers and other areas of specialty is wide. For example, preschool teachers earn an annual salary of just $26,950, whereas kindergarten teachers earn around $50,000 per year. Among the most common teaching specialties, middle school teachers earn the highest salary, with an annual average annual income of $57,230. All of the educator positions listed in the table below require the same minimum education and experience requirements, including a bachelor's degree and a standard Iowa teaching license.
|Elementary School Teachers||$53,030|
|Middle School Teachers||$57,230|
|Secondary School Teachers||$54,360|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Iowa
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Resources for Teachers in Iowa
- Iowa State Education Association ISEA offers professional development to active and retired classroom teachers and other licensed education workers in Iowa in the form of legal representation, policy reform and advocacy, and quality control. The organization's 34,000+ members enjoy continuing education opportunities, liability insurance options, financial planning services, and member discounts.
- Professional Educators of Iowa A statewide, nonprofit organization tailored to meet the needs of Iowa educators, PEI offers one of the most comprehensive liability insurance packages for state teachers as well as individualized legal assistance. Member benefits also include involvement in non-aligned political advocacy initiatives. PEI centers all policy improvement and reform efforts on positively influencing Iowa students and communities.
- Iowa's Area Education Agencies These agencies administer professional development services through nine education organizations, covering all 99 counties in the state. The organization helps coordinate online courses, provide supplemental instructional materials, and locate consulting services for state educators at Iowa's public and private schools.
- Commission on Educator Leadership and Compensation Organized through the Iowa Department of Education, this commission works to ensure fair wages, improve morale, and foster a positive community of educators in Iowa schools to achieve ideal learning conditions in every classroom within the state. Members include teachers, school superintendents, and school administrators.
- Iowa Alliance for Arts Education Members of this volunteer organization include community organizers and advocates, arts educators, and nonprofit professionals. IAAE offers support services for educators in this specialty, emphasizing community advocacy and engagement. The alliance also features a mentorship program that pairs art educators at the beginning of their careers with experienced veterans in the field.