How to Become a Teacher in Illinois

how to become a teacher in Illinois

Now is the time to become an Illinois teacher. In five easy steps, you can transition into a new career. Teaching is a unique profession because it gives you the opportunity to change the lives of others. Even if you did not earn a bachelor’s degree in Education, it does not mean your opportunity to become a teacher in Illinois is over. Follow this guide to make your dream of becoming an Illinois teacher a reality.

This is not a journey to take alone. Organize your steps and find partners along the way. We have started the work for you and outlined the steps below for how to become an Illinois teacher. Use the links in this guide and reach out to the suggested resources and organizations. There are many opportunities in teaching, and we want to help you. So, let’s get started!

Becoming a Teacher in Illinois

1. Obtain a Teaching Degree

To become a teacher in Illinois, you must hold a bachelor’s degree and complete a state-approved teacher education program. If you major in education, your university will guide you through the steps to becoming a certified teacher in Illinois. If you have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher preparation program or completed one out-of-state, there are other pathways to earn an Illinois teaching license.

2. Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Candidates must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. The Illinois State Board of Education offers a teacher preparation program search engine that includes traditional and alternative licensure programs. You can search for approved teacher training programs through the ISBE website.

3. Take the Required Testing

Test registration takes place on the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) website. All candidates seeking an Illinois Professional Educator Licensure (PEL) must take at least two initial exams:

  • edTPA
  • ILTS Content Area Exam(s)

4. Apply for Certification

Once you’ve passed your initial required certification tests and completed your teacher preparation program requirements, your university or alternative certification program will help you apply for teacher certification in Illinois. Only apply for certification once you have met all of the requirements. Once you have completed all requirements for an Illinois professional teaching license, you will need to create an account on the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS). You can view instructions here on how to navigate your ELIS account.

5. Apply to a Teaching Position

Once you have received your teaching license, you can begin to apply for a teaching position. You can research specific districts by using their website to view job listings. You can also view the annual report of unfilled job listings each year on the ISBE website. In order to have a successful job search, you will want to write a resume and cover letter tailored to the position you are seeking. Also, think of at least two professors, colleagues, or supervisors who can serve as references for you during your job search.

How to Become a Teacher at Various Grade Levels

After you pass your edTPA, you will need to choose a subject & grade level specific exam. Here are the lists of content area exam choices by grade level.

  • Early Childhood/Elementary School: 
    • 206 Early Childhood Education
    • 152 Early Childhood Special Education (ends January 14, 2024)
    • 230 Early Childhood Special Education (begins January 16, 2023)
    • 305 Elementary Education (Grades 1-6)
  • Middle School:
    • 298 General Middle Grades (5-8)
    • 201 Middles Grades Language Arts (5-8) 
    • 202 Middles Grades Mathematics (5-8) 
    • 203 Middles Grades Science (5-8) 
    • 204 Middles Grades Social Science (5-8) 
  • All Grades:
    • 215 Agricultural Education
    • 216 Business, Marketing, and Computer Education
    • 205 Computer Science
    • 209 Dance
    • 210 Drama/Theatre Arts
    • 250 English as a New Language
    • 217 Family and Consumer Sciences
    • 312 Gifted Education (NES®)
    • 173 Health Careers
    • 211 Health Education
    • 155 Learning Behavior Specialist I (ends June 24, 2023)
    • 290 Learning Behavior Specialist I
    • 220 Library Information Specialist
    • 299 Marriage and Family Therapy
    • 208 Mathematics
    • 212 Music
    • 213 Physical Education
    • 221 Reading Specialist
    • 222 Reading Teacher
    • 235 School Counselor
    • 236 School Nurse
    • 237 School Psychologist
    • 238 School Social Worker
    • 239 Science: Biology
    • 240 Science: Chemistry
    • 241 Science: Earth and Space Science
    • 242 Science: Environmental Science
    • 243 Science: Physics
    • 244 Social Science: Economics
    • 245 Social Science: Geography
    • 246 Social Science: History
    • 247 Social Science: Political Science
    • 248 Social Science: Psychology
    • 249 Social Science: Sociology and Anthropology 
    • 163 Special Education General Curriculum Test (ends June 4, 2023)
    • 232 Speech-Language Pathologist: Nonteaching
    • 150 Teachers of Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired (ends June 4, 2023)
    • 228 Teacher of Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
    • 151 Teachers of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (ends January 14, 2024)
    • 229 Teacher of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
    • 219 Technology Education
    • 223 Technology Specialist
    • 214 Visual Arts
  • Administrator
    • 224 Chief School Business
    • 234 Director of Special Education
    • 195/196 Principal as Instructional Leader
    • 225 Superintendent
  • Foreign/World Language
    • 262 World Language: Arabic
    • 136 Foreign Language: Chinese (Cantonese)
    • 261 World Language Chinese (Cantonese) (begin date TBD)
    • 251 World Language: Chinese (Mandarin)
    • 252 World Language: French
    • 253 World Language: German
    • 254 World Language: Hebrew
    • 255 World Language: Italian
    • 256 World Language: Japanese
    • 257 World Language: Korean
    • 258 World Language: Latin
    • 259 World Language: Russian
    • 260 World Language: Spanish
  • Language Proficiency Test for an Educator License with Stipulations Endorsed as Transitional Bilingual
    • 055 English Language Proficiency
    • 057 Target Language Proficiency– Arabic
    • 071 Target Language Proficiency– Assyrian
    • 072 Target Language Proficiency– Bosnian
    • 070 Target Language Proficiency– Bulgarian
    • 085 Target Language Proficiency– Burmese
    • 058 Target Language Proficiency– Cantonese
    • 310 Target Language Proficiency– Chin (Haka)
    • 311 Target Language Proficiency– Ewe
    • 074 Target Language Proficiency– Filipino
    • 091 Target Language Proficiency– French
    • 059 Target Language Proficiency– Greek
    • 060 Target Language Proficiency– Gujarati
    • 061 Target Language Proficiency– Hindi
    • 062 Target Language Proficiency– Japanese
    • 094 Target Language Proficiency– Kanjobal
    • 095 Target Language Proficiency– Karen (S’gaw)
    • 309 Target Language Proficiency– Kirundi (Rundi)
    • 063 Target Language Proficiency– Korean
    • 064 Target Language Proficiency– Lao
    • 086 Target Language Proficiency– Lithuanian
    • 312 Target Language Proficiency– Malay
    • 084 Target Language Proficiency– Malayalam
    • 065 Target Language Proficiency– Mandarin
    • 307 Target Language Proficiency– Mongolian
    • 087 Target Language Proficiency– Nepali
    • 066 Target Language Proficiency– Polish
    • 090 Target Language Proficiency– Portuguese
    • 313 Target Language Proficiency– Rohingya (Ruwainggya)
    • 067 Target Language Proficiency– Russian
    • 073 Target Language Proficiency– Serbian
    • 308 Target Language Proficiency– Somali
    • 056 Target Language Proficiency– Spanish
    • 093 Target Language Proficiency– Swahili 
    • 092 Target Language Proficiency– Tamil
    • 089 Target Language Proficiency– Telugu
    • 088 Target Language Proficiency– Ukrainian
    • 068 Target Language Proficiency– Urdu
    • 069 Target Language Proficiency– Vietnamese
    • 306 Target Language Proficiency– Yoruba
  • Learning Behavior Specialist II 
    • 156 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Behavior Intervention Specialist (ends October 8, 2023)
    • 291 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Behavior Intervention Specialist
    • 157 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Bilingual Special Education Specialist
    • 158 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Curriculum Adaptation Specialist (ends October 8, 2023)
    • 293 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Curriculum Adaptation Specialist
    • 159 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Deaf-Blind Specialist
    • 160 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Multiple Disabilities Specialist (ends October 8, 2023)
    • 295 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Multiple Disabilities Specialist
    • 161 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Technology Specialist
    • 296 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Technology Specialist (begin date TBD)
    • 162 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Transition Specialist (ends October 8, 2023)
    • 297 Learning Behavior Specialist II: Transition Specialist

Renewing Your Teaching Certification

Once you obtain your Illinois Teaching License, you will need to follow the renewal requirements dependent on which Illinois license you hold. You will receive an email from ISBE reminding you to renew your license before it expires. To renew, you will log into your ELIS account starting April 1st of the expiring year of your license. You can find a list of renewal requirements, including how many professional development hours are needed, on the ISBE website.

Teaching Job Outlook and Salary in Illinois

The state of Illinois had more than 1.8 million students enrolled in their school districts in 2022. According to the Illinois Report Card, the average state teacher salary increased from $70,653 in 2021 to $72,315 in 2022. Each district’s pay scales vary, so be sure to research district pay scales before filling out your job applications. These pay scales will be on each district’s website.

Illinois Districts With the Highest Starting Salaries

According to the ISBE Teacher Salary Study, the following five school districts offered the top starting pay for Illinois teachers with a bachelor’s degree in the 2022-2023 school year. The starting pay for teachers in these school districts ranged from about $61,000 to $64,00 annually.

City of Chicago SD 299($64,087)

Glenbrook HSD 225 ($64,057)

Maine Township HSD 207 ($64,020)

Oak Park- River Forest SD 200 ($62,061)

Evanston Twp HSD 202 ($61,935)

Can You Be a Teacher Without a Degree in Illinois?

The short answer is no. A bachelor’s degree and completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program are required to be a fully-certified classroom teacher in Illinois. However, you can become a Paraprofessional by holding a high school diploma or its equivalency. Another option is becoming an ELS Paraprofessional, which requires a few more qualifications.

Frequently Asked Questions about Teaching in Illinois

Which teaching positions are in-demand?

The US Department of Education publishes a list of Illinois teacher shortage areas each year. High-demand teacher needs can be accessed on the US Department of Education website. Career and Technical, Language Arts, Special Education, English as a Second Language, Health and Fitness, General Education, Mathematics, Early Childhood, Science, and Art and Music teachers were on the state-wide list of the greatest need for the 2022-2023 school year.

What is the average salary for teachers in Illinois?

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the average annual salary of a teacher in 2022 was $72,315. Each district sets its own salary, so be sure to check each school’s district website to view the most current salary scale.

How long does it take to become a teacher in Illinois?

Once you complete your bachelor’s degree, which takes approximately four years, you will then need to complete a state-approved educator preparation program. When you finish your teacher preparation program, you will then take your initial Illinois licensure examinations and apply for your Illinois teacher license. Then, you will be ready to teach in Illinois!

How much does it cost to become a teacher in Illinois?

Becoming a teacher in Illinois requires a financial commitment. The main initial cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree will vary widely from person to person. If you are majoring in education, or know you are going directly into the field upon graduation, look into grant and loan programs.

In addition to the bachelor’s degree, other costs associated with becoming an Illinois teacher include the required teacher preparation program, state certification tests ($95-$122 per exam), and license and registration fees. Plan ahead for the financial costs, and your teaching career will be off to a great start.

What other certifications can teachers in Illinois obtain?

The short answer is…many! After you receive your initial certification, you can take additional certification tests and become certified in other teaching areas. Endorsements may be added by taking the required content area exam(s). You can find a list of Illinois Subsequent Teaching Endorsements on the ISBE website.


Are you ready to become an Illinois-certified teacher? 240 can help! 240Tutoring.com offers FREE Illinois exam resources to help you master your certification tests. When you subscribe to 240 Tutoring, you will gain access to every 240 ILTS Study Guide for one monthly price. With the 240 Tutoring Pass Guarantee, it is no wonder so many are choosing 240 to pass their ILTS exams. We wish you the best on your journey to becoming an Illinois-certified teacher!



Interested in becoming a teacher in a different state? Check out these additional articles:

How to Become a Teacher in Texas
How To Become a Teacher in North Carolina
How To Become a Teacher in Florida
How to Become a Teacher in Ohio
How to Become a Teacher in Tennessee
How to Become a Teacher in Virginia
How to Become a Teacher in Wisconsin
How to Become a Teacher in Colorado
How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas