Teachers across the state of Montana, from Missoula to Billings, work with children of all ages and backgrounds. They provide foundational instruction in reading, math, and science, can concentrate in fields like special education and English as a second language, and teach advanced courses in subjects including chemistry, technology, and civics. With so many career paths and a variety of endorsement areas, teaching is an engaging, rewarding profession for thousands of Montanans.
Completing a teacher preparation program at the bachelor's level is the first step to working in the classroom
Each state has its own unique teacher licensure process. In Montana, teachers must meet certain educational and training requirements to earn the Montana teaching certificate. Montana's Office of Public Instruction (OPI) enforces the state's licensure requirements to ensure that qualified teachers work in Montana's classrooms. By researching the state's licensing requirements, prospective teachers can learn how to become a teacher in Montana.
Prospective teachers considering a career in education may benefit from an online teaching program. Graduates with an online teaching degree complete the same requirements as traditional programs — including student teaching experiences — and many students prefer the flexibility and accessibility of an online program. Working teachers considering a master's degree to accelerate their careers and increase their earning power can continue working while earning an online master's in teaching.
Graduates from in-state and out-of-state teaching programs complete the same process to earn a Montana teaching certificate. Online teaching degrees from regionally accredited institutions meet all of Montana's requirements.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Montana?
Each state sets its own requirements to earn a teaching license, and licenses do not automatically transfer to other states. The Montana OPI issues teaching licenses to qualified educators who wish to work in Montana's K-12 schools. Montana's requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited teacher education program with supervised student teaching experience, Praxis or state content area exams, and a background check. The state also provides licenses for candidates who do not hold a bachelor's in teaching and those with professional industry experience.
Montana does not offer automatic teacher license reciprocity with any other states. However, licensed out-of-state teachers can apply for a Montana teaching certificate by submitting proof that the candidate meets the state's educational and other licensing requirements, including verification of teaching experience and endorsement areas. Teachers planning to transfer their Montana teaching license to another state should research that state's reciprocity requirements.
In general, Montana's K-12 educators must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. However, Montana provides several options for teachers to complete the educational requirements. Traditional teacher education programs accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), or the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) -- or programs at a regionally accredited college or university -- meet Montana's standard licensing guidelines. In addition, educators can earn a license by completing a National Board Certification program or completing a nontraditional teaching program with five years of teaching experience and a valid out-of-state teaching license.
Montana's K-12 educators must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
A bachelor's in teaching program typically covers 120 credits of general education and teaching coursework, including research-based teaching practices, classroom management, and a supervised student teaching experience. Most bachelor's programs require four years of full-time study. Current teachers can also earn a master's degree, which requires two additional years, to accelerate their careers and increase their earning potential. Teachers with a master's degree also qualify for Montana's professional educator license.
Prospective Montana teachers who hold a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field from a regionally accredited institution can also become licensed teachers. To do so, they must apply for a provisional license and provide a plan to meet the requirements for full licensure within the three-year validity period of the provisional license. Candidates must also meet the admission requirements for an educator preparation program.
Graduates with an associate degree in teaching do not meet the teacher licensure requirements, but they can work in education as preschool teachers, daycare or childcare workers, or K-12 paraprofessionals, also known as teacher's aides. Associate teaching programs also prepare graduates to enter a bachelor's in teaching program, and many fulfill up to two years of the required bachelor's coursework. Online associate in teaching programs provide flexibility and accessibility for students considering a career in education.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Montana
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Introduction to Education||Introductory courses give teaching majors an overview of the profession, with an emphasis on the development of public education, major issues facing education, and the best practices for teachers.|
|Instructional Technology||Students cover the use of technology in educational settings, the best methods and reasons for using technology, and integrating computer tools into class instruction and assessment.|
|Literature for Children||This course covers the history of children's literature, as well as how to incorporate literature into instructional strategies for young children.|
Bachelor's Degree in Teaching
|Teaching and Learning||Teaching and learning classes teach incoming education majors about the profession of teaching, including the development of public education, education policy, and teacher training.|
|Multicultural Education||Students examine the school-society relationship in the U.S., including issues like equal opportunity, human diversity, and social change. The course prepares teachers to work with diverse student populations.|
|Integrating Technology Into Education||Teachers prepare to integrate technology into their teaching by developing technology-rich curricula and assessment techniques.|
Master's Degree in Teaching
|Teaching Methods||Graduate students in this course learn about advanced teaching methods in specific content areas, including best practices for teaching, research-based instructional strategies, and curriculum design and planning.|
|Exceptional Learners||Students learn about categories of exceptionality and teaching practices for exceptional learners. Class materials cover Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements as well as multi-tiered systems of support.|
|Assessment Strategies||Classes on assessment strategies investigate theoretical approaches to assessment as well as research-based assessment practices and how to align curriculum standards with the assessment process.|
How to Get a Teaching Certificate in Montana
Elementary and secondary teachers in Montana must hold a valid Montana teaching license issued by the OPI. Montana provides several routes to becoming a teacher with flexible requirements. All teachers must meet the state's education standard by earning a bachelor's in teaching from an accredited teacher education program or a regionally accredited college or university, completing a National Board Certification program, or finishing a nontraditional teaching program with five years of teaching experience. All Montana teachers must also complete a supervised teaching experience and take a free, online course introducing them to Indian education in Montana.
Beyond the educational requirements, Montana teachers must demonstrate their content area training by passing the Praxis exams or state exams. Graduates from Montana's nine accredited teacher education programs complete the Montana Assessment for Content Knowledge as part of their degree requirements. This content knowledge test fulfills the endorsement standards, and may be taken in lieu of Praxis subject assessments. Out-of-state graduates must take the appropriate Praxis test for their endorsement area.
In addition to meeting the standard license requirements, professional licensure candidates must hold a master's degree in education or a graduate degree in their endorsement area.
Experienced educators can apply for Montana's professional teaching license. In addition to meeting the standard license requirements, professional licensure candidates must hold a master's degree in education or a graduate degree in their endorsement area. They must also have three years of successful teaching experience as a licensed educator for graduates from a traditional educator preparation program or five years of teaching experience for candidates who complete a nontraditional educator preparation program.
Montana's OPI issues provisional licenses for candidates with a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field. Candidates who have not completed a teacher preparation degree who have professional and teaching experience can apply for a career and technical license. However, career and technical license holders must demonstrate five years of work experience in their endorsement area industry.
Montana does not offer reciprocity with other states for teacher licensure. Out-of-state licensed educators must apply for a Montana license by submitting transcripts, a copy of a current out-of-state license, and a university recommendation form stating that the educator has completed a teacher preparation program with student teaching. A Montana teaching license is valid for five years and costs $36. Teachers must complete professional development credits and pay a $30 fee to renew their license.
Choosing a Degree Program in Montana
Teaching is a rewarding, exciting profession, and the first step to working in a classroom is enrolling in a teaching program. With so many options, including online teaching programs, prospective students sometimes find it difficult to choose the right program. Using several key factors such as cost, location, degree completion time, and specializations, prospective students can choose the best program to fit their interests and career goals.
Cost and location are often related factors: in-state schools may provide discounts for residents, for example. In addition to checking a program's tuition rates, per credit costs, and discounts for residents or online students, it's important to research scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities that may significantly lower the total cost of your degree. Program location can also affect placements for student teaching. Online teaching students typically arrange to complete their student teaching experience locally, which fulfills Montana's licensure requirement.
Each teaching program sets its own requirements, which affects the length of time it takes to complete the program. Some specializations add time to a degree, while students with transfer credits or an associate degree can earn a bachelor's in teaching in less time. Online programs offer additional flexibility and accessibility, and many students prefer the ability to earn a degree on their own schedule.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Montana?
In Montana, licensed teachers must complete an educator preparation program that holds NCATE, CAEP, or MACTE accreditation, or earn their degree at a regionally accredited college or university. Online teaching programs that meet these requirements qualify for the state's licensure process, meaning that teachers with online degrees go through the same steps as teachers with a traditional degree. The OPI also approves in-state educator preparation programs that meet the licensure requirements, including online programs.
Online teaching degrees offer greater flexibility than traditional programs, which benefits current teachers earning an advanced degree as well as students balancing work or family obligations. Graduates from online programs complete the same licensing requirements as other prospective teachers. Montana's licensing process does require that teaching candidates demonstrate student teaching experience before receiving a license. Online programs allow students to complete their student teaching requirements locally.
Accreditation is an important marker of academic legitimacy, and many states require that teachers earn their degrees from accredited institutions. Montana's licensing process accepts both regionally accredited institutions as well as nationally accredited teaching programs. Prospective online students must avoid unaccredited institutions, which do not meet state requirements.
Directory of Teaching Schools in Montana
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in Montana
Prospective teachers considering a bachelor's program in teaching may find the cost intimidating. However, students have several options to help them afford a teaching degree, including scholarships, grants, loans, and loan forgiveness programs. By researching these options, students can enroll in school with a clear plan to pay for their degree.
Several scholarships and grant programs at the state and federal levels provide awards for teaching majors. In addition to researching programs such as the TEACH Grant, many colleges and universities offer scholarships for their students. Some scholarships and grants stipulate that recipients must meet certain teaching requirements after graduation.
Many students rely on loans to pay for college. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) qualifies students for federal loans, grants, and work-study opportunities. Although loans must be repaid, teachers may qualify for loan forgiveness programs, which can discharge the full loan amount for teachers who meet all requirements.
In addition to scholarships, loans, and grants, some students qualify for tuition reimbursement programs offered through their current employer. Teachers working on a master's degree may receive support from their school district. Finally, students may qualify for financial aid packages through their college or university.
Loan Forgiveness for Montana Teachers
Loan forgiveness programs eliminate part or all of a graduate's student loans based on their professional contributions. Teachers, particularly those working in low-income schools or in fields with an educator shortage, may qualify for loan forgiveness programs at either the state or federal levels. Most loan forgiveness programs stipulate that recipients meet certain work requirements in order to discharge the loan.
The federal government offers two loan forgiveness programs designed for teachers: the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation program. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program provides up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness for teachers with subsidized and unsubsidized direct loans and Stafford loans. Recipients must work for five consecutive years at a low-income school or a qualifying educational agency.
The Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation program discharges up to 100% of a Perkins loan for teachers at low-income schools or in high-need fields, such as special education. While completing the teaching requirements, Perkins loan recipients may qualify for loan deferment.
In recent years, Montana's state legislature funded the Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program, which provided loan assistance for teachers. However, the state did not fund the program for 2018.
Scholarships for Montana Teaching Students
Montana teaching students benefit from several scholarship options at the federal and state levels. These scholarship programs support teaching majors, and some may require recipients to meet teaching obligations, such as completing student teaching experience at a rural school. By applying for scholarships, teaching students can secure funding for part or all of their degree.
Montana Rural Education Association (MREA) Rural Educator Fellows Scholarship Program $1,500
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants $4,000 a year
Alice Lee Lund Rural Education Award $3,000
Janet Fowler Dargitz Scholarship $1,000
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in Montana
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
At the national level, teachers earn an average salary of $54,520, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Montana's teachers earn an average salary of approximately $42,000 a year. With more than 27,000 teachers working in the state, teacher salaries vary considerably, depending on the school district as well as the teacher's job title and educational level.
Montana's preschool teachers make the lowest average salary, at $27,500 a year. However, preschool teachers do not need a teaching license in Montana, nor are they required to hold a bachelor's degree. Montana's K-12 teachers earn higher average salaries, with kindergarten teachers making $46,690 and elementary teachers earning just under $50,000. The state's middle school teachers bring in the highest average wages, at over $58,000 a year.
In addition to job title, teacher salaries vary based on the teacher's educational level. Teachers with a master's degree earn more than those with a bachelor's, and many districts also provide wage increases for teachers who complete graduate credits or earn an endorsement. Wages also depend on the district, with teachers in Montana's metropolitan areas like Billings, Missoula, and Bozeman earning more than rural teachers.
|Elementary School Teachers||$49,010|
|Middle School Teachers||$58,350|
|Secondary School Teachers||$49,760|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Montana
How do I get certified to teach in Montana?
What is the average salary for a teacher in Montana?
How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in Montana?
Resources for Teachers in Montana
- Montana Office of Public Instruction Montana's OPI manages the teacher licensure process for K-12 teachers throughout the state, including the renewal process. It also provides resources for teachers, school wellness information, state content standards, and professional development resources.
- Montana Education Association and the Montana Federation of Teachers (MEA-MFT) Created by the merger of the Montana Education Association and the Montana Federation of Teachers, MEA-MFT is Montana's largest labor union. Its membership includes teachers at all levels, paraprofessionals, and higher education faculty.
- Montana Science Teachers Association (MSTA) Made up of science educators, the Montana Science Teachers Association provides resources on teaching science at all grade levels. The organization also offers several membership awards, including early career scholarships to attend science teacher conferences, and provides networking opportunities for science educators.
- Montana Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) The Montana PTA connects teachers with parents and engaged community members to provide resources for public education and for teachers. The Montana PTA also offers arts enrichment programs and teacher tools.
- National Education Association (NEA) Since 1857, NEA has advanced the cause of public education through advocacy. With over three million members, NEA is the nation's largest professional employee organization, with members working at the P-12 level as well as in higher education.