How to Become a Teacher in Minnesota

Becoming a Teacher in Minnesota

In order to be a teacher in Minnesota, one must hold a bachelor's degree and have graduated from a teacher preparation program at an approved state institution. New educators must also pass the National Evaluation Series (NES): the Essential Academic Skills Test, a pedagogy exam, and a content area exam.

As of 2018 the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) oversees teacher certification. The overhaul in 2018 introduced a tiered licensing system and new alternative routes to certification.

Minnesota Teacher Certification Programs

Minnesota is rich with colleges and universities that offer all levels of teacher preparation programs. Typically these programs result in a bachelor's or master's degree, but can also be completed at the post-baccalaureate level.

While each program will have different requirements, every state approved program will include at least twelve weeks of student teaching and a Human Relations course.

Some institutions that offer teacher certification programs are as follows:

  • Augsburg University
  • Crown College
  • Minnesota State University Mankato
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Walden University

Out-Of-State Teacher Preparation Programs

If you have graduated from a teacher preparation program in a state with reciprocal licensing (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, South Dakota, or Iowa) you may be eligible for a Tier II certification.

If you have graduated from an accredited teacher preparation program in a state other than those listed, you will need to complete an approved Humans Relations course. You may also need to have your degree evaluated by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

Required Tests for Minnesota

Minnesota has its own state testing system, so you will not need to take a Praxis exam unless you are from out-of-state.

To become a teacher in Minnesota you will need to pass three exams: The Minnesota NES Essential Academic Skills exam, a pedagogy test according to your intended grade level, and a content-area test in your teaching specialty. These tests are administered by the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE) and can be taken online or in person.

Minnesota Teacher Education Requirements

The state of Minnesota does not have specific course or credit hour requirements. All state approved programs however are required to provide a human relations course that educates new teachers on how to teach children from diverse backgrounds.

Minnesota also requires teachers to complete a student teaching portion during the course of their teacher preparation program. Students will spend at least twelve weeks in a classroom with either a Tier III or Tier IV teacher.

Professionals may be exempt from this if they are following an alternative route to certification.

Minnesota Teacher Licensing Process

If you are ready to apply for your teaching license in Minnesota, ensure you have completed the following:

  • Bachelor's degree
  • State approved teacher preparation program (may be completed in conjunction with one's bachelor's degree)
  • Minnesota NES Essential Skills Exam
  • MTLE Pedagogy exam
  • MTLE content area exam

You will need to upload your transcripts to the Minnesota PELSB website and receive passing exam scores at the time of your application.

Additional Requirements for Minnesota Teacher Certification

Minnesota also requires new educators to submit the following:

  • Fingerprint card (may be acquired at a police station)
  • Results of a national criminal background check run by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Processing fee

If all of these documents have been uploaded to the Minnesota PELSB online application, you are ready to submit! The online application portal can be found here:

Alternative Paths to Licensure for Minnesota Teachers

When the Minnesota PELSB took over licensure from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDOE) in 2018, they wanted to create more accessible alternative routes to certification in an effort to ease their teacher shortage. Candidates for these routes must hold a bachelor's degree and pass all state exams.

There are two well traveled alternative routes to licensure:

Post-Graduate Teacher Preparation: This route is for those who did not complete a teacher preparation program while in undergrad. The Minnesota PELSB and MDOE have approved a variety of post-graduate programs for certification at the master's and post-baccalaureate level.

Licensure via Portfolio: This route is designed for professionals wishing to make a career switch. In order to qualify for this route one must complete the following:

  • Submit an eligibility checklist to the MDOE

If your checklist is approved you will be asked to complete the following:

  • Submit a notice of intent to submit prior to the completion of your portfolio
  • Submit a portfolio detailing one's professional or life experience and how it is geared towards a teaching content area

If your portfolio is accepted, you may apply for licensure here:

Teacher Reciprocity in Minnesota

Minnesota is a member of the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement, meaning they have a number of other states to which they will offer reciprocity to. These states are as follows:

South Carolina, Florida, Nebraska, South Dakota, Georgia, Nevada, Tennessee, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Texas, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, Illinois, New York, Virginia, Kansas, North Carolina, Washington, Alabama, Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, Arizona, Maine, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Maryland, Oregon, Wyoming, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Missouri, Rhode Island, Delaware, Montana

You will also need to meet some of Minnesota's state requirements prior to being granted a license. You may need to enroll in an approved Human Relations course. You will need to pass Minnesota's content and pedagogy exams.

Minnesota Teacher Employment Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8% growth for educators through 2028 in Minnesota. Combined with high average salaries ($62,000 for elementary school teachers and $64,310 for secondary school teachers) Minnesota is a promising state to seek certification in.

Minnesota's Tiered Teacher Licenses:

In 2018 Minnesota implemented a tiered licensing structure:

  • Tier I (Good for one year): Requires a bachelor's degree
    • Tier I is typically only used in emergency circumstances. In order to hire a Tier I educator, the district must show that they could not find another more qualified candidate. Tier I licenses are only granted following a job offer.
  • Tier II (Good for two years): Requires a bachelor's degree and graduation from a teacher preparation program
    • If one has not graduated from a teacher preparation program a master's degree in the educators content area or passing scores on state tests and two or more years of experience in the subject area may qualify a teacher for Tier II.
  • Tier III (Good for three years): Requires a bachelor's degree, passing scores on the MTLE, and one of the following:
    • Completion of a teacher preparation program
    • Completion of an out-of-state preparation program that has the equivalent hours of student teaching requirements
    • Portfolio in licensure field
    • Three years of teaching experience at the Tier II level
    • Professional teaching license from another state (must be in good standing and held for at least two years)
  • Tier IV (Good for five years): Requires a bachelor's degree, completion of a teacher preparation program, passing scores on the MTLE, passing scores on PELSB approved skills exams, three years of teaching in Minnesota and have the last three years of teaching not result in an improvement plan.

While each Tier is required to renew their license at some point, Tier III and Tier IV can renew their license indefinitely.

Substitute Teacher License

Substitute teachers in Minnesota have their own tiered system with the PELSB. All substitutes, regardless of tier, must hold a bachelor's degree, pass a criminal background check and submit a fingerprint card.

Two Tier Short Call Substitute Teacher License: you must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and submit all official transcripts. You do not need teaching experience.

  • Two Tier substitutes may only teach up to fifteen consecutive days in one classroom.

Five Tier Short Call Substitute Teacher License: you must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and have completed a teacher preparation program. All official transcripts must be submitted.

  • Five Tier substitutes can teach for more than sixteen consecutive days.

Expert Contributor

Bryan McMahon

Bryan McMahon, M.A. is a high school biology and special education teacher in New Jersey with over 14 years of experience. He has hundreds of hours of experience tutoring aspiring teachers to take the CSET/CBEST exam suite. He has successfully passed the science and special education Praxis exams. Bryan completed a B.S. in Education from Seton Hall University and an M.A. in Teaching from Mangrove College.

All Teacher Certification Exams