Teaching in Nebraska is an inspiring vocation, helping lead the country’s next generation. The state is working hard to become a more attractive place to teach. For instance, some of their schools are experimenting with a four-day week, and they’ve introduced incentives such as assistance with student loans.
In 2022, Nebraska had approximately 26,969 full-time teachers educating around 363,691 students, which isn’t enough. Like the rest of the country, the state is experiencing a teaching shortage. In January 2023, the local press reported that the number of unfilled positions had risen by over 60%.
Nebraska’s shortage makes it an ideal place to begin a rewarding career in education. However, each state has its own rules and regulations for becoming a teacher. In this guide, we’ve gathered all the steps and essential information on teaching in Nebraska.
Is Teaching the Right Career for You?
Teaching is a calling, a way of life. Educators have a passion for empowering the nation’s youth to achieve their goals and positively impact our society. It is a demanding and evolving role that requires excellent communication, knowledge, flexibility, and commitment.
Teaching is a vocation that extends beyond the school and into the community. Educators are leaders who collaborate with parents, guardians, coworkers, youth workers, and their neighbors.
The drive to spread knowledge and make a difference is not motivated by money. Nonetheless, teaching does come with perks, such as working in a field of high demand, healthcare benefits, and Nebraska offers around 15 weeks of vacation per year.
Teacher salary ranges and benefit packages differ between states. For example, the average annual salary in Nebraska is $57,420, whereas in South Dakota it is $49,761.
State Requirements for Teaching in Nebraska
Teaching requirements are not standardized in the United States, with each state having its own education and testing demands. In addition, the prerequisites vary depending on the age of students being taught: primary, secondary, or high school. However, most states have alternative and emergency certification and licensing available to help alleviate shortages.
According to the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school is required. The NDE insists on a minimum GPA of 2.74 out of 4 and a minimum of 120 credit hours.
Ideally, the bachelor’s degree should include coursework to meet the endorsement for the grade level and subject you wish to teach.
For instance, those wishing to teach students between kindergarten and grade 6 (K-6) should consider degrees such as Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences. Within the degree, they should obtain an endorsement for elementary education and add an endorsement for special education if they wish to teach students with disabilities.
A Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences would also allow a person to teach secondary education (7-12) with a secondary education endorsement in their chosen field, such as chemistry.
Other bachelor degrees to consider include Elementary Education (BA), Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (BSED), Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education (BSED), Bachelor of Arts in Education (with endorsements), and Bachelor of Science in Education (with endorsements).
A bachelor’s degree in education equips candidates with knowledge and skills to become successful and quality educators, such as:
- Child development
- Learning theory
- Various teaching methods
- Instructional technology
- Classroom management
- Curriculum adaptation
- Field experience
Bachelor’s degrees and endorsements can lead to a variety of educational careers in Nebraska, including:
- Biology (7-12)
- English Language Arts (7-12)
- Health and Physical Education (PK-12)
- Elementary (K-6)
- Special Education (K-6)
- Middle-Level Education Math and Science (5-9)
- Art Education (PK-12)
Complete an Accredited Teacher Preparation Program
The NDE requires that all teachers complete a teacher preparation program from their approved list. Those who have attended an approved and accredited Nebraska university or college for their bachelor’s degree will often include this in the coursework.
In addition, Nebraska requires a minimum of six semester hours of teacher preparation courses within 5 years of applying for a teaching certification. Thus, anyone who has taken a break from teaching for more than five years must update their teacher preparation coursework.
An NDE teacher preparation program includes:
- Student teaching, observation, and internship
- Special education training
- Human relations training
- Guidance on acquiring the necessary endorsements to reach your career goals
The special education training required by the NDE is not the same as obtaining an endorsement in special education. This course helps educators understand the major characteristics of disabilities defined under the Special Education Act. It also provides methods of teaching students with various disabilities within the regular classroom.
The human relations training focuses on six skills:
- Understanding of a pluralistic society’s values, lifestyles, and contributions.
- Identifying and dealing with discrimination and biases, such as sexism and racism.
- Putting human relations into practice in the classroom.
- Identifying and recognizing dehumanizing biases in instructional materials.
- Promoting respect for human dignity and rights.
- Providing a classroom environment that is welcoming and empathetic to a pluralistic society.
As mentioned in the bachelor’s degree section, per Nebraska’s Rule 24, endorsements are necessary for the grade and/or subject(s) you wish to teach. The endorsement guidelines explain the requirements for each endorsement.
Examples of endorsements include:
- Adapted Physical Education (PK-12)
- Chemistry (7-12)
- Early Childhood Education (PK-3)
- Earth and Space Science (7-12)
- Elementary Education (K-6)
- English as a Second Language (PK-12, PK-6, 7-12)
- Health Sciences Education (6-12)
- Middle Level Education (5-9)
- Social Science (7-12)
- Special Education Visual Impairment (B-12)
- Vocal Music (PK-12)
Gain Student Teaching Experience
Student teaching is split into clocked hours and clinical practice. A minimum of a 100 clocked hours with student contact are required, earned through observation, instruction, or research.
Only after clocked hours are completed can candidates begin clinical practice. A minimum of 14 full-day weeks for a single endorsement is required, 18 full-day weeks for two, and an additional nine full-day weeks for each subsequent endorsement.
Pass Content Tests
As of May 16, 2023, the NDE has dropped its Praxis Core (basic skills) testing requirement for certification. However, the content tests are still required for certain endorsements.
Pass a Background Check
All teacher candidates in Nebraska must submit to a state and federal background check before applying for their certification. The background check is for student safety, ensuring candidates are not on the sex registration list or have any prior criminal convictions.
Fingerprinting is required, per NDE guidelines. Fingerprints can be taken via Livescan or ink rolled; the latter requires requesting cards from the NDE.
Teachers must get certified according to the certification process or licensure exam mandated by the state where they intend to work.
Nebraska’s new teachers (in-state) certification requirements are as follows:
- Completing a bachelor’s degree and submitting the transcripts directly from the institution
- Completing an approved teacher preparation program and submitting institutional verification
- Providing proof of completion of special education and human relations training
- Submitting fingerprinting cards
- Content test scores
- Submitting the application
- Submitting payment
Certification is valid for five years and expires on August 31, the final year.
- The out-of-state teaching license
- Verification of employment experience
While teachers from out-of-state do not have to redo their entire teacher preparation program, they do need to take the coursework for the special education and human relations training and provide proof of competition to the NDE.
Consider Getting A Master’s Degree
Some states require a master’s degree after five years of initial teaching. While Nebraska does mandate continued professional development education for its teachers, a master’s degree is not required.
A master’s degree in education does come with benefits in Nebraska. It expands a teacher’s education and skills and makes them eligible for higher pay. The higher degree also opens doors for potential roles in education administration, consultancy, and curriculum development.
Alternative Pathway To Teaching in Nebraska
Alternative pathways to teaching in Nebraska are available for those with a bachelor’s degree who are in the process of obtaining the missing teacher certification requirements.
These pathways save candidates time as they do not have to obtain a second bachelor’s degree. The time a pathway takes to complete depends on the program and the candidate’s own schedule. However, most are completed within two years.
Candidates in the process of completing their missing requirements may work as teachers using alternative pathway permits such as:
- Teaching Provisional Permit (valid for 2 years, non-renewable): This option is for those who have completed a teacher preparation program and human relations training but have yet to complete the special education training or are missing certain education-related coursework
- Conditional Teaching Permit (valid for one year): This option is for those who are waiting for their certificate to clear, such as waiting on the results of a criminal background check.
- Military Teaching Permit (valid for 3 years): This option is for those who have a teaching certificate from another state and are in the armed forces, a spouse of someone in the armed forces, or retired less than five years ago from the armed forces.
- Teaching Program Alternative Permit (valid for 2 years, non-renewable): for candidates on one of the following pathways:
- Pathway 1: Completed a minimum of half the pre-student teaching requirements and fulfilled three-fourths for at least one grade or subject endorsement.
- Pathway 2: Completed an alternative teaching program, has an educator certificate from another state, and has evidence of past teaching employment within the last five years.
- Pathway 3: Has a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited organization and has passed a subject examination.
- Pathway 4: Completed a teacher education program and has a teaching certification from another state.
Getting Hired as a Teacher
Getting hired as a teacher in Nebraska first requires obtaining the necessary education, passing the required exams, and becoming certified or obtaining the necessary permit. Once the NDE approves your certification or permit, you can look for a teaching position.
Before applying for a job in education, review the following to ensure you are setting yourself up for the best chances of success.
Polish Your CV
Update your CV and ensure you have included information Nebraska schools need from prospective candidates. Also, try to find examples of layout and structure from others in your field.
Have a second pair of eyes look over your CV to hunt down any typos and provide feedback on layout and phrasing.
Edit your CV and give it a final read-through before saving it as your Nebraska teaching CV template. Be sure to tailor the template for each specific role you apply.
Upgrade Your Skill Set
There are always opportunities to upgrade your skill set regardless of whether you’ve worked in education in another state or are fresh out of teacher training. Consider volunteering in your community, including youth groups, clubs, and other extracurricular programs.
Teaching skills to develop and improve upon include:
- Critical thinking: Teachers must put their students first while considering the interests of the parents, guardians, school, and state curriculum. Teachers must practice self-awareness, examining how they evaluate opinions and information before reaching a decision by looking for biases and weaknesses in their thought process.
- Conflict resolution: Disagreements arise in all aspects of teaching, including in the classroom, working with parents and guardians, and amongst colleagues. Learning to handle others in highly emotional situations will help cool tempers, reach workable solutions faster, and help strengthen connections.
- Flexibility: There is no perfect educational style in teaching. There are always students who require material presented in different forms or respond better to other examples or pathways. Being creative and adaptable will help you connect with all your students and allow you to stay on top of the ever-evolving work environment.
- Enthusiasm: Learners respond to their teacher’s energy and passion. Lessons introduced with lackluster attitudes or lack of confidence will not be well received. A productive and engaging classroom begins with enthusiastic leadership from the educator.
- Organization: Classrooms and schools have a lot happening, and the only way to stay on top of it all is by having excellent organizational skills. From lesson plans to evaluating student’s developmental and educational progress, everything will run smoother if it is part of an easy-to-use and logical system.
Begin Your Job Search
Nebraska is desperate to fill many teaching positions, so it’s an excellent time to be on the hunt. According to the state’s 2022 survey, the biggest shortages include the following areas:
- Elementary Education
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Special Education
The NDE makes it easy to find public school positions by listing them on NDE Teach in Nebraska. Other places to job search include these excellent sites:
Also, try contacting districts you are interested in working in through email or phone. Find out if they are actively seeking qualified educators or ask them to keep your CV on file should a suitable position become open.
Join a Professional Organization and Network
Professional organizations and networks are excellent places to make connections, get advice, receive support, and learn about opportunities. Some places to consider are:
- Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA)
- The National Education Association (NEA)
- Omaha Education Association (OEA)
- Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA)
- Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA)
Ace Your Job Interview
Acing your job interview is crucial to obtaining a teaching job in Nebraska. Here are some of our best pieces of advice on preparing to answer interview questions and other tips for the big day.
- Know your audience. Every school district, academy, and institution is different. Learn as much as you can about the educational environment, school culture, and their history. The more you learn about them, the better equipped you’ll be in framing your answers to meet their expectations and needs.
- Humanize your answers and stories. It is often recommended that you practice your answers to potential interview questions. However, ensure your replies don’t sound like you studied for a test. You should sound professional but natural, giving your answers and tales a personal, human touch.
- Provide interests and skills that go beyond the basic role of teaching. Share other aspects of your life that might be useful for the school. For instance, schools love to know if you’ve been involved in fun fundraisers for charities or community projects. Hobbies such as chess or past experience in sports are also important to mention.
Career Outlook & Salary in Nebraska
Teachers are in high demand in Nebraska, along with the rest of the country. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for teachers is projected to grow by 5% from 2001-2031.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of an elementary teacher in Nebraska is $57,670, and for secondary teachers, it’s $60,250. While these salaries are slightly below the national average, they are higher than the state’s medium income, and the state’s cost of living is 9% lower than the national average, with housing 18% lower and utilities 13% lower.
Teaching posts in Nebraska are easy to find on NDE Teach in Nebraska. According to the 2022-2023 US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report, Nebraska has particular needs in art and music, special education, language arts, science, mathematics, and elementary.
Become a Teacher in Nebraska
Nebraska is desperate for teachers. In September 2023, Nebraska lawmakers gathered to discuss staffing shortages, especially regarding the lack of special education teachers. The state’s cost of living is below average, and they are ranked #4 in the nation’s overall scorecard of states to live.
Teaching is a fulfilling vocation, and Nebraska is an excellent state to live and work. They have a strong sense of community and an abundance of outdoor activities.
If you are inspired to become a teacher in Nebraska, Teachers of Tomorrow, the largest national alternative certification provider, looks forward to helping make that dream a reality.