Teaching in Illinois is an excellent opportunity if you are looking to work as an educator. You’ll enjoy a competitive salary and valuable medical, vision, dental, and life insurance benefits.
A teaching career will give you an excellent chance to pass knowledge, educate, and support the younger generation as they prepare for their future.
States have different teacher education levels, experience, and licensing requirements.
The Illinois report card shows 134,888 teachers in 2022. But, Illinois experienced a teacher shortage with more than 5,300 classroom positions remaining unfilled in 2022, including administrative and support personnel.
The increasing demand for teachers in this state makes it an excellent one to seek teaching licensure.
Is Teaching the Right Career for You?
Teaching is a greatly rewarding career choice. But, it demands flexibility as anything might happen that can throw you off your schedule.
Though demanding, teaching gives you a chance to make a genuine difference in your learners’ lives.
It requires that you effectively manage your responsibilities, collaborate efficiently with colleagues, possess excellent communication skills, and have adequate knowledge of your subject areas.
Most teachers take their careers for a vocation, the motivation being the opportunity to positively inspire the next generations.
As a teacher, you are also actively involved with your learners, their parents, and the surrounding communities. This demands that you possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
The monetary compensation for teachers in Illinois has been increasing over the last five years. However, teachers enjoy other motivation factors besides money. For instance, you will enjoy job stability and extended vacations.
Teacher remuneration varies from state to state; for instance, the average annual salary in Illinois is $72,301 while in Michigan it’s $65,198.
State Requirements for Teaching In Illinois
Requirements for teaching in a particular state vary from one state to another. The staffing situation often influences the hiring requirements in a state. For instance, states with a severe teacher shortage will enlist fewer certification requirements than other states.
The teacher licensure requirements also vary depending on the educational level you hope to teach: elementary, secondary, or high school.
The State’s Department of Education determines the requirements for licensure in Illinois. All prospective candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree.
1. Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree in education will prepare you for a rewarding career in helping children acquire the required knowledge and skills.
The Illinois state expects its aspiring teachers to seek certification to hold a bachelor’s degree. They must also have completed a teacher preparation program approved by the Illinois Department of Education.
A bachelor’s degree will equip you with the following critical learnings and skills to help you effectively carry out your duties:
- How to interpret and implement the curriculum.
- How to create and maintain a conducive learning environment.
- How to enhance seamless collaboration with colleagues.
- How to understand teaching roles and responsibilities.
Here is a list of bachelor’s degree programs that lead to initial teacher licensure in Illinois.
- Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
- Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood
- Bachelor of Elementary Education- Bilingual /Bicultural Teacher Education
- Bachelor of Arts in English Education
- Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education
- Bachelor of Science in Chemistry Education
2. Complete an Accredited Teacher Preparation Program
Candidates pursuing the traditional teacher certification program must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program that satisfies the Illinois standards for teacher education.
Alternative licensure programs are also available for holders of bachelor’s degrees who still need to complete the teacher preparation program. You can find a list of the approved teacher preparation programs on Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
Some of the approved teacher preparation programs in Illinois for grade 12 include:
- English Language Arts
- Science- Environmental
- Social Science- Economics
- Social Science-Geography
A teacher certification will ensure you have the essential skills and competencies to manage and guide learners effectively while improving the quality of learning acquired.
Additionally, certification increases your credibility and worth as an educator.
3. Gain Student Teaching Experience
Like many states, Illinois expects its teachers seeking licensure to have acquired student teaching experience. You must complete 32-semester hours which include a student teaching program in the final year of your teacher preparation program.
An experienced teacher will be assigned to direct and actively supervise your classroom teaching experiences. The supervision focuses on the grade range and your areas of professional educator license endorsement.
Classroom teaching experiences will equip you with skills in lesson planning, classroom management, tests and measurement, and feedback provision on testing.
4. Pass a Background Check
Background checks involve checking on critical issues such as your criminal record, professional history, education credentials, and social media interactions.
According to the Illinois School Code, all public school districts in Illinois must conduct the state and the FBI background checks on all certified and non-certified applicants. The checks also include fingerprint-based checks for criminal history.
A background check in Illinois will involve a State of Illinois conviction check and an FBI background check for any possible arrests and convictions. Convictions such as child abuse or neglect bar candidates from acquiring certifications to teach.
5. Get Certified
Different states have different certification processes outlined by the state’s Department of Education.
To be eligible for teacher certification in Illinois, you must pass several tests before enrolling in the teacher preparation program.
These include The Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP), or post-acceptable scores on The ACT or SAT exams.
Upon completing the teacher preparation program, you must pass tests in the applicable content areas through the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) and the edTPA.
These assess your understanding of child development, teaching skills, mastery of content areas, and other relevant competencies.
Illinois may also accept evidence of one year of teaching experience as an indication of your teaching competence in place of the subject areas tests.
6. Consider Getting a Master’s Degree
States continually require that their teachers possess a master’s degree or acquire one within the first five years of teaching.
A master’s degree gives you an upper hand over your colleagues when seeking similar positions.
Alternative Pathway to Teaching in Illinois
If you hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and wish to transition into teaching, alternative certification may be the right fit for you.
The bachelor’s degree you possess must be in a content area that aligns with your aspiring area of certification. As a transitioning teacher, you will practice under the mentorship and guidance of an experienced teacher.
In Illinois, most alternative teacher preparation programs lead to the award of a master’s degree. Alternative certification programs take one to two years, compared to the traditional route that takes four years.
Licensure-only programs do not award a degree and follow a shorter curriculum.
Getting Hired as a Teacher
Education, in-class experience, and certification are the essential requirements to get hired in Illinois.
Here are some of the significant steps to getting hired as a teacher in Illinois:
Polish Your CV
Your CV should be designed to suit each individual job advertisement. This way, it will market you as the most qualified candidate for each opportunity.
To help design your CV, check what most hiring schools in Illinois require from their teachers.
Upgrade Your Skill Set
A fulfilling teaching career will demand that you acquire some essential skills:
- Patience– You will require this skill when answering learner questions, marking learner books, and explaining concepts.
- Kindness– Growing kindness will help you create an inclusive and considerate learning environment for all. Students that feel cared for and appreciated display more engagement.
- Communication skills– The teaching career involves engaging with students, administration, and colleagues. It further involves discussing learner progress with parents. In all these interactions, excellent communication skills are essential.
- Resourcefulness– Teaching requires you to adjust lessons to specific learner needs using available resources and materials. Developing your creative and innovative skills will help you navigate successfully.
- Flexibility– You will often have to adjust your schedule to situations out of your control since these are common in teaching. Embracing flexibility helps minimize stress, enhance passion for your work, and improve relationships with learners and colleagues.
Begin Your Job Search
To find teaching jobs in Illinois, check through teaching sites such as:
You can contact the school districts directly through email or phone to determine if they are hiring.
Also, sending your credentials and resume to schools you wish to work in increases your chances of getting hired even when they are not hiring.
Join a Professional Organization and Network
Joining some professional organizations and networks in Illinois may be valuable in growing your teaching career. Some of these include:
- Illinois Education Association
- Illinois Association of Teacher Educators
- Illinois Education Association
- The Center: Resources for Teaching and Learning
- Environmental Education Association of Illinois
- Illinois PTA
- Teacher Education Organizations
- Association of American Educators
Networking with other educators in Illinois helps you to compare notes on classroom management, teaching techniques, and learning styles. Also, you can share lesson plans and visual teaching aids.
Ace Your Job Interview
Lastly, to get hired in Illinois, you must pass an interview to measure your readiness for the job. Here are some tips to help you ace your job interview:
- Make it about the students- The administrators are interested in knowing how talented you are in managing the learners. For instance, display your ability to show patience with slow learners and capture their interest. Explain to the board how you will manage overly intelligent and impulsive students. You can also draw examples from your student teaching experiences and personal or professional life.
- Understand your audience- Just like you are planning to command and hold the attention of a classroom full of 10-year-olds, your interview panel is similar. Your ability to command and hold their attention is essential to the interview process. Display confidence by speaking boldly and making eye contact with everyone.
- Research the significant issues in education– Your interviewers are interested in seeing if you are a worthy long-term investment in the position. Take every opportunity to talk about the significant issues in education, such as managing the educational and technological disparities between the poor and the wealthy communities, adjusting educational instruction to evolve technology, and producing graduates that can compete in the globally competitive job market.
Career Outlook & Salary in Illinois
With more than 132,000 teachers working in Illinois, the state still experiences a teacher shortage. Illinois’ average teacher’s salary rose to above $70,000 in 2021.
Illinois State also offers scholarship support to students considering teaching careers. The Golden Apple Scholarship program assists aspiring educators to kick start their teaching careers. The program provides up to $23,000 in monetary assistance, classroom teaching experience, and job placement assistance.
You can find unfilled positions by subject area in the Illinois State Board of Education. Some specialization areas, such as bilingual education, special needs education, science, math, and elementary education, are considered high-need areas in the state.
Become a Teacher in Illinois
A survey by the Council for Community and Economic Research shows that the cost of living in Illinois is 8 percent lower than the national average. Housing costs are 20 percent lower than the national average, while utilities are 7 percent lower. This makes it an excellent state to work in as a teacher.
Illinois was also ranked fourth among the states with the highest annual salaries for teachers adjusted for cost of living and second for offering competitive salaries and job security.
Embarking on the journey to become a teacher in Illinois not only unfolds a path of imparting knowledge but also sculpting the future through nurturing young minds. As you navigate through the varied requirements and steps, remember that your influence as an educator will ripple through generations, crafting a legacy that transcends beyond the walls of the classroom and into the realms of endless possibilities.