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Become an Educator

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There are different types of educators in Iowa, each with different work and preparation requirements.

Teacher Preparation

A teacher is a professional educator who uses a thorough understanding of content, pedagogy, developmental patterns and individual differences to guide learning and create a supportive, safe learning environment. A teacher prepares and implements effective lessons, provides ongoing feedback on student work, manages classroom materials, productively navigates the curriculum, collaborates with other professionals and regularly communicates with parents.

Teacher Requirements

  • Bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited institution.
  • Complete all program requirements, including coursework, clinical experiences, and passing the required program completion test(s).
  • There are two pathways to become a teacher: traditional and alternative licensure.

Traditional Pathway

Iowa has 30 colleges and universities with traditional educator preparation programs. You will attend classes, participate in supervised clinical experiences in P–12 schools and student teach. Specific coursework in content knowledge and pedagogy is required as is 14 weeks of student teaching. Almost all Iowa programs have options for face-to-face and online courses.

Alternative License Pathway

Iowa has two alternative programs. These are limited to high school teaching only. These programs are designed for adults with a degree (or equivalent) in a teaching field. In the alternative programs, you take 12–18 credits of coursework in how to teach, then you are placed in a high school with an intern license. This allows you to be the classroom teacher of record, you are paid as a full-time teacher and you have significant support from the intern program faculty and the high school. After the full-year internship, you take a few more credits and become a fully licensed teacher.

Teacher Preparation Programs

Traditional Teacher Programs

Institution Program Levels
Briar Cliff University, Sioux City Elementary, Secondary
Buena Vista University, Storm Lake Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Central College, Pella Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Clarke University, Dubuque Elementary, Secondary
Coe College, Cedar Rapids Elementary, Secondary
Cornell College, Mount Vernon Elementary, Secondary
Dordt University, Sioux City Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Drake University, Des Moines Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque Elementary, Secondary
Faith Baptist Bible College, Ankeny Elementary, Secondary
Graceland University, Lamoni Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Grand View University, Des Moines Elementary, Secondary
Grinnell College, Grinnell Secondary
Iowa State University, Ames Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Iowa Wesleyan University, Mount Pleasant Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Loras College, Dubuque Elementary, Secondary
Luther College, Decorah Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Morningside College, Sioux City Elementary, Secondary
Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Northwestern College, Orange City Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Saint Ambrose University, Davenport Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Simpson College, Indianola Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
University of Dubuque, Dubuque Elementary, Secondary
University of Iowa, Iowa City Elementary, Secondary
University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Upper Iowa University, Fayette Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
Waldorf University, Forest City Elementary, Secondary
Wartburg College, Waverly Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary
William Penn University, Oskaloosa Elementary, Secondary

Teacher Intern Program

Institution Program Grade Levels
Morningside College, Sioux City Secondary
Regents Alternative Pathway to Iowa Licensure (RAPIL), Three Regent Universities Consortium Secondary

Administrator Preparation

There are two types of certified administrators.

  1. A principal shapes the vision for the academic success of all learners and creates a supportive learning climate that cultivates leadership in others, improves classroom instruction and manages people, data and processes.
  2. A superintendent is the top executive of the school district that makes day-to-day decisions regarding facilities, communications, educational programming, spending, staffing, etc. that align to the school board's vision and serves the needs of all students.

Administrator Requirements

  • Master's degree for principal, specialist (or equivalent) for superintendent.
  • Complete all program requirements, including coursework and clinical experiences.
  • Three years of experience as an educator.

Administrator Preparation Programs

Institution Program Levels
Dordt University, Sioux Center Principal
Drake University, Des Moines Principal, Superintendent
Iowa Principal Leadership Academy, Prairie Lakes AEA Principal
Iowa State University, Ames Principal, Superintendent
Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids Principal
Northwestern College, Orange City Principal
Viterbo University, West Des Moines Principal
University of Iowa, Iowa City Principal, Superintendent
University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls Principal, Superintendent

Paraeducator Preparation

A paraeducator works under the supervision of teachers or other licensed personnel who have the ultimate responsibility for the design and implementation of education and related service programs. Other terms used to describe paraeducators include paraprofessional, educational aide, associate or instructional aide.

Paraeducator Requirements

  • Must possess a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Completed a 90-clock-hour preparation program, including clinical experiences.
  • Certification in specific concentration areas is available with additional 45 hours of preparation in each concentration area.

Paraeducator Certification Programs

Institution Program Levels
Buena Vista University Generalist
Central Rivers AEA Generalist, Early Childhood, Special Needs
Des Moines Area Community College Generalist
Dordt University Generalist
Grand View University Generalist
Grant Wood AEA Generalist
Great Prairie AEA Generalist, Early Childhood, Special Needs, English as a Second Language
Green Hills AEA Generalist
Hawkeye Community College Generalist
Heartland AEA Generalist, Early Childhood, Special Needs, Library Media Tech, English as a Second Language
Indian Hills Community College Generalist
Iowa Central Community College Generalist, Early Childhood, Special Needs
Iowa Valley Community College District Generalist
Iowa Western Community College Generalist, Early Childhood
Keystone AEA Generalist, Early Childhood
Kirkwood Community College Generalist, Early Childhood, Special Needs, English as a Second Language, Career and Transition, Vision Impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Advanced Generalist
Mississippi Bend AEA Generalist, Early Childhood, Special Needs, Autism Spectrum Disorders, School Library Media
Mount Mercy University Generalist
Northwest AEA Generalist, Early Childhood, Autism, School Library Media
Northwest Iowa Community College Generalist
Prairie Lakes AEA Generalist, Early Childhood, Special Needs
University of Dubuque Generalist
Upper Iowa University Generalist

Other Education Professionals

Other professional educators include school counselors, speech language pathologists, school social workers, school psychologists and others. These professionals may work in schools or in Area Educational Association settings.

There are two ways to be licensed for these positions. A Statement of Professional Recognition is granted by the Board of Educational Examiners based on licensure through the Iowa Department of Public Health. The Professional Service License is granted by the Board of Educational Examiners following completion of a program of study through an Iowa Institution of Higher Education. Iowa programs are linked below.

Other Professional Program Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree is required, master's degree may be required for some programs.
  • Complete all program requirements, including coursework and clinical experiences.

Other Professional Program Preparation Programs

Institution Program Levels
Buena Vista University, Storm Lake Professional School Counselor
Drake University, Des Moines Professional School Counselor
Loras College, Dubuque Professional School Counselor
Saint Ambrose University, Davenport Speech Language Pathologist, School Social Worker
University of Iowa, Iowa City Librarian, Audiologist, School Psychologist
University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls Librarian, Professional School Counselor, School Psychologist, Speech Language Pathologist

Teacher and Paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship Pilot

To grow Iowa’s teacher and paraeducator talent pipeline and support expansion of Registered Apprenticeship in high schools, 134 school districts have been awarded a total of $45.6 million in competitive grants as part of Gov. Reynolds’ new Teacher Registered Apprenticeship Pilot Program. Federal relief funding through the American Rescue Plan of 2021's State and Local Emergency Relief Funds have been allocated to fund these competitive grants for public school districts partnering with an eligible community college or four-year college or university under the following Registered Apprenticeship models:

  • High School and Adult-to-Paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship: A registered apprenticeship model designed to help high school students and working adults begin a career as a paraeducator (Teacher Aide 1) while earning credit toward an associate degree.
  • Paraeducator-to-Teacher Registered Apprenticeship: A registered apprenticeship model designed to help paraeducators (Teacher Aide 1) continue to work while earning credit toward a bachelor's degree and teaching license.

Program Details

Visit the Earn and Learn Website for more detailed information about the pilot program.


Note: Please include the context of your question in the subject line of the email: Funding, Program Registration, Technical Assistance or Reporting.