How To Become a Teacher in Oregon
Oregon is a wonderful state in which to earn a teaching certificate. Oregon provides quality education by maintaining high standards for its new teachers. There are several requirements to be a teacher in Oregon. Candidates must:
Step 1: Earn an Associate's and/or Bachelor's degree at an accredited institution
Step 2: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. The Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission offers a list of approved colleges with acceptable teaching programs. These programs offer both Bachelor's and Master's degrees at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. The TSPC website also provides links to nationally accredited teaching programs that are accepted by Oregon.
Step 3: Pass the required certification exams. The Oregon Educator Licensure exams (ORELA) are required for all Oregon teachers. The state also partners with the National Evaluation Series to provide exams to elevate prospective candidates to the highest teaching standards. Candidates must check the ORELA website for the specific exams required for their subject area.
Step 4: Submit to fingerprint and background clearances. Fingerprinting is usually only required for first-time Oregon licensees. If a candidate already has a valid Oregon license or already submitted their fingerprints during another license application process, they may skip this requirement.
Step 5: The application process is provided by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission. For certain Oregon licenses, it is required that candidates submit sponsorships and/or verification of their teaching experience. Candidates should carefully read through the application requirements on the TSPC website to ensure that they submit the requested documentation.
Oregon Teaching Preparation Program
In order to receive an Oregon teaching license, a candidate must attend a state-approved preliminary teacher licensure program. These programs usually occur at the Master's degree level; over 80% of teachers in Oregon have a post-graduate degree. The applicant must be in good standing in their program and have experience working with children in a classroom setting. For educators looking to teach at the elementary school level, there are several institutions in Oregon that are accredited by both the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The University of Portland offers a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education (BSSE) that serves as a stepping-stone to obtain the preliminary license for P-12 grades in a single-subject. Western Oregon University's Master of Arts in Teaching--which has both an online and on-campus options--allows students to gain valuable teaching experience and an initial license to teach at the middle and high school levels. Oregon State University offers a unique degree program in which students earn two Bachelor degrees: one in their chosen field and one in Education. Students who major in certain subjects such as Advanced Math, Biology, and Chemistry qualify through OSU for a teaching license; this double degree program is also reciprocal in 45 states.
Oregon's Diverse Teacher Goal
Oregon's TSPC has partnered with the Educator Advancement Council (EAC) to fund candidates from diverse backgrounds who are unable to attend a teacher preparation program or obtain their educator license through their own means. The TSPC offers three options for financial assistance: Administrator Scholarships, Licensure Expense Stipends, and Teacher Scholarships through the EAC. Candidates should check the TSPC website for more information and to see if they qualify as a diverse applicant.
Oregon Teaching Credential Tests
Excluding the Praxis exam, all required teacher testing in Oregon is conducted through the Oregon Educator Licensure Assessments (ORELA). This organization ensures that the skills of Oregon's teachers are of the highest standard. The testing requirements vary depending on content specialty. For example, candidates interested in elementary grade levels will need to take both the Elementary Subtest I and the Elementary Education Subtest II. Candidates interested in subject specific teaching must take the appropriate subject exam. All candidates must take and pass the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment exam with a score of 240 (Please note that this exam has been suspended since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic). A few teaching specialties require a Praxis exam in Oregon. Candidates interested in teaching Agriculture Science, Business Marketing, Career Trades, Latin, Reading Interventionist, and Special Education for the deaf, visually, and speech impaired need to take the Praxis exam in that subject. There is no Praxis exam requirement for elementary and secondary school teachers. All NES and ORELA exam results will be automatically forwarded to the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC); the Praxis exam scores need to be personally sent to the TSPC.
Additional Requirements for Becoming a Teacher in Oregon
Outside of testing and educational requirements, new educators will need to pass a federal and state background check and submit their fingerprints prior to being issued a teaching certificate.
Applying for an Oregon Teaching License
When applying for a teaching certificate in Oregon, candidates must apply through the Oregon TSPC website. The TSPC uses the eLicensing web portal for applicants who want to apply for a new license, renew a license, and upgrade their current license. Candidates will be able to pay all fees, upload the required documents, and correspond with the agency for any updates or changes to their application. The applicant will need to submit all official transcripts (please note that while transcripts can be uploaded to the eLicensing account, transcripts are only considered official if they are mailed to the TSPC in a sealed university envelope), a program completion report (PCR) from their teacher preparation program, all test results, and any additional requirements. If a candidate has earned a Bachelor's degree and completed a teacher preparation program (and other requirements), they are eligible to apply for a Preliminary Teaching License. This license is valid for three years. The preliminary teaching license indicates that, while the teacher has many qualifications, they have not yet met the experience requirements for the Professional Teaching License. Educators seeking a Professional Teaching License will have all of the qualifications necessary for a Preliminary Teaching License as well as four or more years of experience. Candidates may complete an Advanced Professional Development Program to achieve a Professional Teaching License as well if they are employed at a public school. A candidate's application can be declined for the following reasons including but not limited to: if the applicant falsified documents, lied on their application, had incomplete responses on their application, and failed to report any arrests or jail time. Candidates should contact the TSPC if their application is declined to determine the exact cause of their disapproval.
Alternative Paths to Certification in Oregon
Oregon has three alternative routes to teacher certification. These routes are designed for potential educators who have not attended a state-approved teacher preparation program. The alternative routes have similar requirements as the traditional route, such as passing scores on the appropriate ORELA or Praxis exams and submitting to criminal background checks. The three options are as follows:
Limited License: This license is meant for individuals with a special skill or endorsement in a non-traditional content area. An example of a specialty area that will be eligible for a limited license is graphic design. The educator must possess an Associate's degree and pass the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment exam (This exam is currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic). This license is valid for three years and is only issued to individuals who are sponsored by a school district.
Restricted Career and Technical Education (CTE) License: This license is meant for individuals who have over 2,000 hours of technical work experience and at least an Associate's degree. There are approved CTE teacher preparation programs at many Oregon community colleges which will expedite licensure. These licenses typically need to be renewed every six months.
Restricted License: The restricted license is offered to sponsored educators in districts with extenuating circumstances. These teachers will possess at least a Bachelor's degree and have substantial preparation (but have not completed their teacher preparation program). This license can be renewed three times; once in a 6-month block (2 renewals in a year), with the third renewal valid for one year.
Oregon Teacher Reciprocity
Oregon is a participant of the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement. The NASDTEC Interstate Agreement streamlines certificates for out-of-state educators who reside in participating states. Oregon will issues a Reciprocal Teaching License to educators who have completed an accredited out-of-state teacher preparation program. These educators must meet other minimum requirements such as holding a conferred Bachelor's degree and having submitted to background checks. In order to qualify for a Reciprocal Teaching License, educators must have an active out-of-state teaching license in good standing. The Reciprocal Teaching License is viable for one year. Once this license has ended, teachers must meet any additional requirements for the preliminary or professional teaching license. Advanced out-of-state educators may bypass the Reciprocal Teaching License if they can demonstrate that they meet the requirements for either the preliminary or professional license. These educators must have a valid license in good standing in a state that is also a NASDTEC participant.
Professional Development Programs in Oregon
The Oregon Educator Association (OEA) offers educators and teachers the opportunity to develop their teaching and classroom skills through participation in events that cover a broad range of areas such as inclusivity and equity in the classroom, distance learning, leadership skills, National Board certification, Oregon's licensure and evaluation, and quality assessment practices. The OEA offers these opportunities through a membership available on their website. These events can be used for certification and license renewal. Educators that wish to renew their license must complete a certain number of Professional Development Units (PDU's). These units come in a variety of forms such as a seminar, webinar, college class, or even independent research. If an educator's teaching license renews every three years, 75 PDUs are required; if the teaching license is renewed every five years, 125 are required. One semester of college credit amounts to 30 PDUs and one quarter is equal to 20 PDU's. Oregon requires educators to have a Master's degree in order to obtain certain licenses; educators should consider obtaining a Master's degree for greater advancement, career opportunities, and salary increase.
Oregon Teacher State Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a large number of job openings across the elementary, middle, and high school levels across America. As of 2020, there are over 1.4 million job openings for elementary and middle school teachers; the available teacher positions for high school is over 900,000. The salary for elementary and middle school teachers with a Bachelor's degree is over $60,000; educators with the same degree are paid a little over $62,000 at the high school level. The BLS has charted a job increase between 7% and 8% between the years 2020 and 2030.
There is no shortage of teacher jobs in Oregon; the current generation of teachers are reaching retirement age and positions will soon be available for new educators. Oregon is well known for paying and treating their teachers fairly. Their high standards ensure that quality teachers find a position in the state. The Oregon School Board Association conducted an analysis of teacher salaries for the 2019-2020 school year. The table below shows the base minimum and maximum salaries for teachers in the following categories: teachers with a BA degree, teachers with a BA degree and experience, teachers with an MA degree, and teachers with an MA degree and experience.
|BA||BA + exp.||MA||MA + exp.|
Teacher salaries also differ based on the number of students in the district. For example, educators who teach in a district with almost 500 students earn between $36,000 and $48,000. Conversely, educators in a district with over 3,000 students earn between $40,000 and $58,000.
Oregon has a particular need for teachers in the rural areas of the state where qualified teachers are in short supply. Students in these areas lack proper education in reading and other subjects and suffer from chronic absenteeism due to poverty. In addition, educators whose expertise are in high school Math, Science, Language and Speech Specialists are in high demand in Oregon.
School District Requirements
In addition to the state requirements, potential educators must also meet the district qualifications for new teachers and substitutes during the hiring process. All candidates must fill out an application in which they detail their teaching experience, grade preference, licenses and certifications, subject expertise and personal/professional references. Candidates should note that there are two separate applications for new applicants and for current employed teachers; some jobs may be for internal (employee) applicants only. Applications are submitted online; the Portland Public Schools use the PeopleSoft Applicant Tracking System. Candidates should carefully research and contact the specific school district in which they are interested for further information and exact requirements.
The following list is the three top populous school districts in Oregon:
1. Portland Public Schools
2. Salem-Keizer School District
3. Beaverton School District
The following list is the top three rural districts with the most need for teachers:
1. Jefferson County
Nadim Tabsch is an adjunct English professor with over 15 years of experience. He has deep expertise in Literacy and Social Sciences and has been an educator at the elementary, middle school, high school, and collegiate level. Nadim graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education from Barry University and a Master's degree in Literacy from the University of New England.