Learn About Teaching in Illinois
It's a unique and exciting time to become a teacher in Illinois, given the numerous government initiatives and fellowships that focus on education improvements. The state's successful school system, which include over 4,000 public schools and a small but growing number of charter schools, boasts the third highest college placement exam score in the nation.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the third largest public school system in the nation—which generates a sizable need for qualified teachers.
Elementary School Teacher Salaries
|City||Median Annual Salary*|
Sources: Salary.com, February 2014; Illinois Teacher Elementary School Salaries.
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Finding Your Niche in the Public School System
Unlike some other states, Illinois boasts a plentiful teacher supply for its public school system. Because of this, new Illinois teachers may benefit from applying at lower-demand schools, such as those in outlying or rural areas.
If you become a teacher in Illinois, consider teaching a subject area that is experiencing a shortage and your chances of landing a job as a new teacher rise considerably.
The U.S. Department of Education reports math, reading, science and bilingual and special education teachers are in demand throughout Illinois. And Chicago teachers certified to teach elementary classes were a surprising addition to that list.
Illinois has a three-tiered professional certification system which includes initial, standard and master teaching certificates:
- Initial certification is for teachers with less than four years of teaching experience.
- Standard certification is for teachers who have completed their first four years of teaching and want to renew for an additional five years.
- Master certification is for teachers who have met the rigorous standards of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). This certification is valid for 10 years.
In order to obtain a first professional certificate, prospective Illinois teachers must complete an approved education program, which usually means a bachelor's degree in education from an accredited university that is approved by the State Superintendent of Education and the State Board of Education.
A basic skills test, subject matter tests for endorsements, and an Assessment of Professional Teaching exam (that focuses on grade-level appropriate teaching skills) are also required.
For more information about Illinois teacher certification requirements, contact the Illinois State Board of Education.
Chicago Teaching Opportunities
Chicago Teaching Fellows
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) recently marked the largest one-year jump in scores on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test since 1995.
The city is looking to continue this trend through promising programs such as the Chicago Teaching Fellows, a competitive alternate Illinois teacher certification program that provides a pathway for new teachers to bring their knowledge, experience and leadership to CPS classrooms and to obtain their teaching credentials while earning a teaching salary.
If you specialize in math, science or special education, this fellowship could be your ticket to a competitive Chicago teacher's position.
Illinois New Teacher Collaborative (INTC)
If you become a teacher in Illinois, joining a professional development organization like the Illinois New Teacher Collaborative (INTC) can be very helpful to your career. Members of INTC can find mentors, contribute resources and join online communities which best fit their interests.