How to Earn a Teaching License in South Dakota
If you want to be a teacher in South Dakota, your first step is to earn teacher certification. While there are several ways you can do this, it will depend on your current level of education and experience.
This guide can help you determine the pathway that’s right for you at any point in your career, not just if you’re already teaching. Perhaps you’re just beginning your journey and need to know about how the South Dakota state certification process works. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to advanced certification and specialize, or you’re a teacher looking to move to South Dakota from out of state. You’ll find all that information and more right here. The short video below gives an overview of what to expect as a certified teacher in South Dakota.
Requirements for Teachers
The general requirements for teacher certification in South Dakota include having a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution; completing a teacher education program from a regionally accredited institution; completing a South Dakota Indian Studies course approved by the Department of Education with a grade of C or higher; and providing a written recommendation from a regionally accredited institution that is completed by the designated recommending official verifying satisfactory completion of the approved program and specifies each area of preparation, degree program, major and endorsement area completed by the candidate.
Your level of experience and education will determine which teaching certificate you are eligible to apply for. There are two options for certification:
Professional Teaching Certificate: The professional teaching certificate is issued to an applicant who is new to the teaching profession or does not meet the requirements for an advanced teaching certificate.
Advanced Teaching Certificate: The advanced teaching certificate is issued to those candidates who meet all the requirements for the professional teaching license, meets all teacher certification renewal requirements, has five or more years of teaching experience, which may include experience as an alternative certification teacher, and has received an advanced degree in an education-related field or National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification.
Minimum Education Requirements for South Dakota Teachers
The minimum education requirements for teacher certification will vary depending on the subject area of interest, grade level and endorsement you seek. However, the South Dakota Department of Education requires at least a bachelor’s degree, and, in some instances, a degree specific to education.
There are two ways you can complete your student teaching requirement. You can either take part in the student teacher program offered at the university or institution where the teaching degree is being obtained, or you may complete a teacher preparation program approved by the South Dakota Department of Education. Regardless of which route you take, you will have to complete some form of a student teacher program in order to receive certification in the state.
Pass South Dakota Certification Exams
South Dakota requires that all beginning teachers without prior teaching experience must pass one of the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exams along with the appropriate content-specific test. You can either take and pass the PPAT Assessment administered by ETS, testing basic pedagogical content knowledge, or one of the following Principles of Learning and Teaching exams:
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 5-9
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12
In addition to meeting the minimum education requirements, you must meet requirements for each certification type you seek. All applicants must complete the appropriate application form provided by the South Dakota Department of Education, complete a minimum of one clock-hour of suicide awareness and prevention training, provide official transcripts and documentation stating your passing score for any pedagogy assessments, and, finally, pay the appropriate fees.
How Much Do Teachers in South Dakota Make?
Benefits for South Dakota teachers range from health plan options, dental plans, vision plans, health savings accounts, and life insurance plans among many others. Below, the table gives a breakdown of the different teacher specialties and their median annual salaries.
|Early Childhood Educator||$32,490|
|Elementary School Teacher||$44,790|
|Secondary School Teacher||$45,810|
|Special Education Teacher||$46,810|
Job Growth for Teachers through 2030
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
South Dakota requires that all potential teaching candidates looking for certification in an endorsement area complete the required basic skills and content assessments to be eligible to teach a specific grade level or subject area. Please keep in mind that you will still have to complete the minimum education and certification exams prior to seeking a specific endorsement license. Below are some of the popular endorsement areas and their respective test and certification requirements.
Early Childhood Education
For certification in early childhood education, you will have to pass the Principles of Learning and Teaching Early Childhood exam and receive a score of 160 or higher. You will also have to pass the Education of Young Children exam with and receive a qualifying score of 160 or higher.
Elementary School Teacher
Those seeking certification in elementary education must take the Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 exam and receive a passing score of 160 or higher. Depending on the grade level and subject area of interest, you will have to take a specific test to be eligible to teach the area of interest where the applicant is seeking certification.
For example, those seeking to teach language arts at the fourth-grade level will have to take the Elementary Education: Content Knowledge exam and take the Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects Reading and Language Arts Subtest or the Elementary Education: Content Knowledge for Teaching Reading and Language Arts CKT Subtest.
Secondary School Teacher
The required certification exams for secondary school teachers will vary greatly depending on the subject area of interest and the grade level you wish to teach. For example, if you decide to teach secondary language arts, you will have to take the English Language Arts: Content Knowledge exam to be certified to teach general language arts and advanced literature. Learn more about the different secondary level certifications by visiting the ETS website.
Substitute Teacher Certification
Unfortunately, the South Dakota Department of Education does not issue permits for substitute teachers. Hiring for substitute teachers varies on each school district where some may or may not have a certification process in place. You will want to contact the specific school district you wish to teach in to learn more about their specific substitute teacher requirements.
Physical Education (PE) Certification
To receive certification in physical education, the state of South Dakota requires educators at the elementary, middle and high school levels to receive licensure in physical education. Elementary classroom teachers (generalists) may not teach required elementary school PE classes. Please keep in mind that a score of 140 or higher on the Praxis and Praxis II exams are required for certification. Once you have received certification, you will be eligible to renew this license every five years.
Special Education Certification
For certification in special education, you will take one of two exams depending on the grade level you wish to teach. For certification in early childhood special education, which includes from birth through grade three, you will take the Special Education: Preschool/Early Childhood exam. If you wish to teach special education from grades K through 12, you will take the Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications exam.
English as a Second Language Certification
To be certified to teach English as a Second Language at the elementary and secondary level, you must take the Praxis English to Speakers of Other Languages exam and receive a qualifying score of 155 or higher to be eligible for certification.
Certifications for School Administrators
Certification for school administrators will have different requirements depending on the level of licensure you seek. Generally, all applicants will have to have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution, complete a school superintendent or principal program from an accredited institution or higher, complete a South Dakota Indian studies course approved by the Department of Education with a grade of C or higher, and provide a written recommendation from an accredited institution completed by the designated recommending official which verifies satisfactory completion of the approved program. There are two levels of licensure for an administrator certificate:
Professional Administrator Certificate: The professional administrator certificate is issued to an applicant who is new to the administrative profession or does not meet the requirements of an advanced administrator certificate.
Advanced Administrator Certificate: The advanced administrator certificate is issued to an individual who meets all the requirements for a professional administrator certificate, meets all administrator certification renewal requirements and obtains an education specialist degree or higher in an education related program.
Teacher Reciprocity Agreements in South Dakota
Although South Dakota offers very few reciprocity options for out-of-state teachers, it is still worth considering. You may have a smoother transition into teaching in South Dakota depending on your previous level of education, certification and experience.
|NASDTEC Interstate Agreement||No, the state of South Dakota is not an active participant in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.|
|State Grants Full Reciprocity||No.|
|Coursework Requirements||Yes, all potential candidates must complete a one clock-hour of suicide awareness and prevention training, as well as a three-credit South Dakota Indian Studies course. Out-of-state applicants may receive a one-year provisional certification that may only be renewed once.|
|Test-out or Exemption||No.|
|Assessment Requirements||Yes, however not for all candidates. Out-of-state applicants with a subject focus in special education must pass the state required content test for a K-12 special education endorsement. Potential candidates with a K-8 special education endorsement must have completed a minimum of one year of teaching experience as a secondary school teacher or pass the state required pedagogy test for secondary education to add the K-12 special education endorsement. Beyond that scope, no additional assessments are required for candidates who meet the other requirements for reciprocity.|
|Different Requirements Based on Experience||Yes, however not for all candidates. Out-of-state candidates who have completed an alternative certification program must provide verification of at least three years of experience within the last five years to be eligible for reciprocity. Candidate who do not meet the experience requirements must meet all the South Dakota teacher certification requirements. Additionally, candidates who have a K-8 special education endorsement must have a minimum of one year of teaching experience as a secondary teacher to be eligible for reciprocity. Out-of-state candidates who do not have this experience must pass the state required pedagogy test for the secondary level to add the K-12 special education endorsement.|
|Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials||No, South Dakota only has three levels of licensure. You will either pursue a one-year, five-year or 10-year license. Out-of-state candidates must meet the state required coursework and assessment requirements for eligibility of a five-year license.|
Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.
Alternate Teaching Certification
If you are unable to receive teacher certification through the traditional route, you may want to consider completing an alternative teacher certification program. Generally, alternative teacher certification programs are reserved for those individuals who are seeking to transition into teaching as a second career. Please keep in mind that alternative routes to certification may require additional or extra requirements depending on the program and ultimately the goal is to receive your Professional or Advanced teaching license. Below are a few of the more popular routes to alternative certification in South Dakota.
Teach for America
Teach for America established a partnership with South Dakota in 2004. Despite a legacy of attacks on Native Americans’ land, language, traditions and culture, there remains a vibrant and powerful force in the state of South Dakota. While tribal leadership and non-Native American organizations have a history or limited collaboration, growing community voices have expressed how much they value their relationships with Teach for America teachers. If you are looking to join a vibrant and welcoming community of educators, Teach for America-South Dakota may be the program right for you.
In order to apply for the program, you must have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution or university and you must have maintained at minimum a college GPA of 2.5 or higher. Keep in mind that Teach for America also only admits candidates who are U.S. citizens, nationals, legal permanent residents and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. Unfortunately, you are NOT eligible to apply if you are in the United States with a student visa, work visa, tourist visa or refugee status. Please note that although you may not meet all the above requirements, you still may be eligible to join one of the partner programs through Teach for All.
Transition into Teaching for Career Changers
South Dakota has typical application requirements for an alternative teaching certificate. Candidates for a general education alternative teaching certificate will have to submit documentation that they hold a valid alternative preliminary certificate, receive a qualifying offer of employment from a public or department accredited school and have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution.
Additionally, you will have to provide official transcripts from the institution where you received your degree including descriptive course titles, course numbers, credits and grades for each course listed. You may have to submit additional documentation upon request from the South Dakota Department of Education. Please keep in mind that a general education alternative teaching certificate holder may not teach grades or content areas beyond that endorsement listed on the certificate. This certificate is only valid for one year from the date of issuance through June 30 of the following year. Additionally, the school district where you will be employed must provide mentorship and orientation to the candidate and recommend the candidate for certification.