South Dakota needs teachers, making now a terrific time to earn your teaching credentials in the state. According to the National Education Association, the Mount Rushmore State enrolled nearly 131,000 students in its 150 public school districts during the 2016-2017 academic year. During that same period, South Dakota employed 9,436 teachers, placing it as the state with the fifth least amount of teachers. Significant teaching shortages affect the entire United States, but especially in South Dakota, whose population includes a significant Native American community and many residents living in small or rural areas.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that South Dakota teaching jobs will grow upwards of 22.5% through 2026.
To tackle these challenges, the South Dakota state government enacted changes to the teacher accreditation process to increase accessibility and provide educators with more options, as well as administrative and financial support. This means that aspiring teachers enjoy ample employment opportunities and increasingly better pay. The Argus Leader, Sioux Falls’ official newspaper, reports that the state government funneled more than $60 million into the public school system to raise teacher salaries for the 2017-2018 academic year in a concerted, long-term effort to recruit and maintain skilled educators. As a result, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that South Dakota teaching jobs will grow upwards of 22.5% through 2026.
Though prospective teachers in the U.S. undergo a similar accreditation process, South Dakota teaching requirements contain details specific to the state. This page features information about earning your college degree or professional certificate through in-person or online programs in the state, while also outlining opportunities for students who attend a college or university outside of South Dakota.
How Do I Become a Teacher in South Dakota?
Prospective teachers interested in a teaching license in South Dakota must complete all state requirements. Similarly, the credentials one earns reflects state-specific privileges and responsibilities, and may not automatically transfer across borders. However, experienced educators can usually expect a degree of reciprocity when attempting to work in another state. A certified South Dakota teacher who wants to transfer their license elsewhere should consult the relevant department of education for the required steps and potential shortcuts.
Similar to many other U.S. states, South Dakota's teaching requirements include obtaining a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree, completing the approved traditional or alternative educator training program, and passing the necessary exams for standard pedagogical skills and endorsement areas. However, unlike other states, aspiring teachers in South Dakota must complete mandatory suicide prevention training and at least three hours of coursework in Native American studies. The state operates a two-tiered certification structure, so once you earn the initial license, teachers must fulfill additional requirements to complete the process.
To fulfill South Dakota's teaching requirements, you must earn at least a bachelor’s degree. However, many students, particularly working professionals and other nontraditional learners, may prefer to enroll in an online associate program. These programs generally provide an affordable and accessible introduction to college academics and career development. By pursuing classes part-time -- or by taking flexible night and weekend classes -- you can efficiently earn your degree while working and tending to other responsibilities. Two-year programs also may provide direct transfer opportunities to partnering universities, so you won’t have to worry about taking classes that don’t fulfill baccalaureate requirements.
South Dakota does not participate in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate agreement.
Future educators can obtain their South Dakota teaching certificate in one of two ways. The traditional route entails attending a college or university approved by the South Dakota Department of Education (SDDOE) that facilitates a joint bachelor’s degree in education and teacher training program. This process takes approximately four years. Though it’s highly preferable to obtain a bachelor’s in education, students who wish to pursue a major in an unrelated field may still do so, then complete an alternative teacher training program -- such as Teach For America -- after completing their college education. This option offers more freedom to pursue personal interests, but also takes longer. Unlike other states that only require 12 weeks of student teaching, aspiring teachers in South Dakota usually complete one full year, though this time frame may vary based on the particular training program.
South Dakota does not participate in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate agreement, so certified South Dakota teachers who wish to move to another state must pursue recertification with that state’s department of education. Out-of-state teachers who wish to transfer the license into South Dakota can apply for review on a case-by-case basis.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in South Dakota
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Growth and Development of Children||The course provides an introduction to human development from prenatal stages to elementary age, focusing on biological and psychological perspectives. Students also learn how personality development and temperament affect classroom learning.|
|Digital Literacy||Students explore the impact of digital information on our modern society. The course also develops the research and analytical skills needed to effectively use information in academic, professional, and personal settings.|
|Educational Principles||The course covers the major sociological, legal, philosophical, and historical principles of education, with an emphasis on contemporary terminology and pertinent issues in the field. Students develop their own approach to education and their roles as teachers.|
Bachelor's Degree in Teaching
|Classroom Management||This course covers major classroom management styles and related strategies, including instructional approaches and materials. Aspiring teachers develop their own management philosophy with respects to integrated skills and diverse student needs.|
|Learning Behaviors and Problems||Students explore the characteristics of children and adolescents with learning and behavioral disabilities. The course helps teachers understand the complex spectrum of disability and the foundational issues of supporting affected students.|
|Early Childhood Wellness||The course provides an overview of wellness issues in an early childhood setting, including healthy practices, safety, and proper nutrition planning. Aspiring teachers also learn to collaborate with school administrators and family members to support young students.|
Master's Degree in Teaching
|Language Acquisition and Instruction||Students learn major theories in the acquisition of oral and written language, including how to facilitate learning in different school settings and cultural diversities. The course also covers methods for evaluating student performance.|
|Educational Research and Assessment||This course covers theories on learning, human development, and pedagogical knowledge and skills relating to data collection and assessment in a school setting. Students also study ethical challenges to equitable research.|
|Laws and Ethics in Special Education||The course provides an overview of civil and legal events that contributed to how individuals with qualifying disabilities are treated under federal law. Students also analyze their own inherent biases and how they negatively affect professional standards and conduct.|
How to Get a Teaching Certificate in South Dakota
The South Dakota Department of Education bestows the Professional Teaching Certificate to those who successfully complete designated academic and professional requirements. You must first earn a bachelor’s degree from a SDDOE-approved school or another regionally accredited U.S. institution. Students attending a college or university accredited by the SDDOE complete teacher training as part of their bachelor’s in education degree plan, and finish in about four years. Prospective educators attending a school not under the SDDOE umbrella -- including out-of-state institutions -- as well as those who majored in a non-education field must pursue alternative teacher training. The SDDOE recognizes five routes to alternative certification: Teach For America, Troops to Teachers, Northern Plains Transition to Teaching Program, State Alternative Route to Certification Program, or a teaching certificate program from an approved South Dakota college or university.
The next step to earning your South Dakota teaching credentials is to complete requisite testing. Candidates must take Praxis exams -- either the PLT or PPAT for general pedagogical skills -- and additional tests in their specialization/endorsement areas. Exam prices range from $60 to $199 per test. Aspiring teachers must also complete suicide prevention training and at least three credits of Native American studies coursework before officially applying for their certificate, a process that includes criminal background check. After earning their Professional Teaching Certificate, educators must renew it after five years. Renewal requirements include the completion of a mentorship program. Teachers who fulfilled additional professional development requirements may apply for the Advanced Teaching Certificate, the highest level of general education licensure the state offers. Application fees for initial certification and renewal both cost $60.
Teachers certified in South Dakota who want to work in another state must complete that state’s distinct recertification process. Out-of-state educators looking to obtain teaching positions in South Dakota apply for reciprocity with the SDDOE. Unlike other states, South Dakota offers nearly full transfer opportunities for successful candidates; they earn an equivalent state teaching certificate if they meet standards and complete additional exams and coursework.
Choosing a Degree Program in South Dakota
As you search for traditional and online teaching degrees in South Dakota that align with your academic and career goals, tuition and other costs should also be a significant factor in your decision. Community colleges and public institutions offer low tuition and distinct financial support for state residents. Attending a school that’s close to where you live offers other benefits, including convenient access to campus resources like libraries and career services, networking events, and hands-on skill development opportunities through internships and engagement with student groups.
...numerous distance education opportunities are available that also lead to a South Dakota teaching license.
A standard bachelor’s program spans four years. Colleges and universities backed by the SDDOE synthesize degree work and teacher training into a concise curricula for education majors, who may pick from diverse specializations. These include subject areas like language arts and mathematics, teaching levels such as early childhood and secondary education, and options for specialized instruction that include career and technical education. Aspiring educators in South Dakota who want to attend a school not supported by the SDDOE -- and those who want to major in a field unrelated to education -- can pursue this track, then apply for an alternative training program after earning their degree. Finally, if you decide that campus-based learning doesn’t suit you, numerous distance education opportunities are available that also lead to a South Dakota teaching license.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in South Dakota?
To meet the state’s standards for teacher certification, you must earn a regionally accredited undergraduate or graduate degree. Regional accreditation is granted by one of six organizations that oversee the process throughout the country; South Dakota receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
South Dakota schools represented by the SDDOE all have regional accreditation. Many of these institutions also offer distance education opportunities for aspiring teachers. The benefits of online degree programs include affordable tuition (distance learners usually enjoy in-state rates or further discounted prices) as well as asynchronous and accelerated course options, allowing students to earn a bachelor’s degree in fewer than the conventional four years. However, degrees in education and teacher training necessitate practicum experiences, like class observations and student teaching. In South Dakota, trainees must spend at least one year in the classroom before they can apply for certification. This means that online teaching degrees usually facilitate a hybrid learning experience that combines remote classes with campus activities and summer residencies.
Directory of Teaching Schools in South Dakota
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in South Dakota
Earning your college degree and South Dakota teaching certificate requires a considerable investment of time and money. Luckily, as an aspiring educator, your skills are highly regarded and sought after. This means you have several financial aid opportunities available to you, which may include school-specific scholarships for academic achievement as well as need-based state and federal grants. You can also find educator recruitment programs that offer generous awards in return for your commitment to teaching in South Dakota's low-income schools, particularly those located in rural communities.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines your qualification for multiple forms of government funding, which could include loans and work-study positions, in addition to scholarships and grants. As an administrative arm of the U.S. Department of Education, the FAFSA office supports students through the entire application process and even provides information on loan repayment options, including state and federal forgiveness programs. Take some time to learn about the FAFSA, as it is a necessary first step in the admission process to every accredited college and university in the U.S. You should also seek out financial assistance beyond FAFSA, such as awards offered by community and professional organizations for students who fit certain criteria, including ethnicity, gender, and academic major.
Loan Forgiveness for South Dakota Teachers
As you search for ways to pay for an online teaching degree in South Dakota, loans are often one of the most convenient means to fund your education. However, you should use them sparingly, preferably when all other options are exhausted, because the burden of student loan debt creates major obstacles to the professional growth and personal happiness of college graduates. The Center for Financial Inclusion cites an astronomical 74% increase in student debt between 2004 and 2014 -- and it continues to grow. If you decide to use loans, choose government funds over those provided by banks and other private lenders. The former generally come with lower interest rates and flexible repayment options, including reduction through government loan forgiveness programs.
Though the South Dakota state government provides generous financial support for prospective educators, it doesn’t operate its own loan forgiveness initiatives. Rather, the state relies on three major federal programs. The Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program reduces up to $17,500 of your Direct and Federal Stafford Loans. In exchange, you must work for five years or more with a high-need public school or educational service agency. Through the Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation Program, you can negate a percentage of eligible loans, up to its entirety, for every year of employment in an approved educational setting. Finally, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program allows you to erase remaining Direct Loan amounts, after making 120 qualifying monthly payments, if you work for an approved non-profit or government agency.
Scholarships for South Dakota Teaching Students
Scholarships and grants should be the primary methods used to fund your college degree and South Dakota teaching license, since they don’t need to be paid back. Teachers are well-respected and in high-demand across the U.S., which means you can find ample award opportunities for educators at the local, state, and federal levels. The list below details four such funding opportunities.
Annis I. Fowler/Kaden Scholarship $1,000
Gordon Horgen Memorial Scholarship $1,500
Dakota Corps Scholarship Full Tuition
Ramia Boersma Scholarship $2,250
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in South Dakota
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
By aggregating data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the tables in this section display the average salaries of South Dakota teachers, emphasizing general pay and deviations based on teaching level. Keeping with nationwide trends, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers enjoy higher wages than their preschool and kindergarten level colleagues. Further investigation of BLS data reveals that, among the former teacher groups, those who work in special or technical/career education receive the highest salaries, at upwards of $45,000 annually.
In general, public school teachers in South Dakota earn less than the national average. This pay gap stands as one of the major contributors to teacher shortages in the state, particularly in designated areas like world languages, fine arts, and STEM subjects. Geographical location also affects a public school teacher’s salary. Teacher shortages in South Dakota spike in rural communities and Native American reservations, where economies are weaker than those in metropolitan areas. To recruit and maintain educators, the South Dakota government increased funding specifically to raise teacher salaries prior to the 2017-2018 school year. This fiscal allocation marks just one part of a comprehensive state plan to improve public education. Moving forward, certified professionals applying for teaching positions in South Dakota should expect better pay and more opportunities for career advancement.
|Elementary School Teachers||$43,180|
|Middle School Teachers||$43,960|
|Secondary School Teachers||$44,210|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in South Dakota
How do I get a teaching license in South Dakota?
How much does a teacher make a year in South Dakota?
How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in South Dakota?
Resources for Teachers in South Dakota
- South Dakota Department of Education As the primary administrative body for public education in the state, the SDDOE supports students and their families as well as teachers and related professionals. Prospective educators find in-depth information on training, certification, and continuing education opportunities, which includes a statewide mentoring program. The SDDOE also facilitates educational research and funding opportunities for aspiring and active teachers.
- South Dakota Education Association The SDEA strengthens public education in the state by advocating for better allocation of resources for students and teachers. As a member, you receive legislative and legal guidance, professional development support, and a variety of discount benefits on items like cruise trips and life insurance. The association also facilitates scholarship opportunities and conferences.
- South Dakota Association for the Education of Young Children The SDAEYC ensures all young children receive the support they need to lead healthy lives by influencing public policy and supporting teachers, educational specialists, and family care professionals. The association also accredits early childhood education programs throughout the state. Membership entitles you to benefits like scholarship and award opportunities, professional learning courses, and discounts on SDAEYC events and life insurance plans.
- National Education Association Founded in 1857, the NEA currently boasts over 3 million members, making it the largest professional organization for educators in the U.S. The association provides financial support, including academic scholarships for students and grants for active teachers. Additionally, members enjoy instructional resources, like lesson plans and classroom management strategies, as well as networking opportunities through annual conferences and monthly representative assemblies.
- Association of American Educators A non-union, bipartisan teachers organization, the AAE supports student-centered policy advocacy at all levels of government, data-based research initiatives, and community support programs across the U.S. Members gain access to grants that support their classroom endeavours as well as personal and professional development outside it. The association also facilitates conferences, chapter meetings, and online and traditional continuing education programs.