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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,
  • teaching,
  • scholastic and development patterns

A teacher also understands:

  • individual differences that guide learning and
  • creates a supportive and safe learning environment.

A teacher:

  • prepares and delivers lessons,
  • provides feedback,
  • manages classroom materials,
  • navigates coursework,
  • collaborates with other professionals and
  • talks with parents.

Teacher Requirements

  • Bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited institution.
  • Complete all:
    • teacher preparation program requirements:
      • coursework and
      • clinical experiences.
  • Follows one of two pathways to become a teacher:
    • traditional or 
    • alternative licensure.

Traditional Pathway

Iowa has 29 colleges and universities with traditional educator preparation programs. Most programs have options for face-to-face and online courses.

On this path you will:

  • attend classes,
    • content knowledge and
    • teaching methods,
  • be [art pf a supervised clinical experience in PK-12 schools, and
  • student teach for 14 weeks.

Alternative License Pathway

There are two alternative license programs. These are for high school teachers only.

Alternative programs are for adults with a degree in a teaching field. You take 12-18 credits of coursework in how to teach. Then you work in a high school with an intern license. This allows you to:

  • be a classroom teacher of record,
  • be paid as a full-time teacher, and
  • have significant support from the program faculty and high school.

After the full-year internship, you take a few more credits then become a 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
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

Alternate License Programs

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. principals
  2. superintendents

Principals shape and school's success.


  • support learning,
  • build leaders,
  • improves teaching,
  • manage people and
  • track data and processes.

Superintendents are the top mangers of the school district.

They decide about:

  • facilities
  • messaging
  • programs
  • spending
  • staffing and
  • follow the direction of the school board.

Administrator Requirements

  • Master's degree for principal
  • Specialist for superintendent
  • Three years' experience as a classroom teacher

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

Educational Aide Preparation

An educational aide works under the supervision of a teacher. They have the responsibility to design and provide education and related programs. Other titles for an educational aide include:

  • paraprofessional
  • paraeducator
  • associate aide or
  • instructional aide.

Educational Aide Requirements

  • A high school diploma or GED.
  • A 90-hour preparation program, including clinical experiences.
  • A certification in specific concentration areas.
  • 45 hours of preparation in each concentration area.

Educational Aide 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:

  • counselors,
  • speech language pathologists,
  • social workers,
  • 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. Both are provided by the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE)

  1. A Statement of Professional Recognition from the BOEE. This is based on licensure through the Iowa Department of Public Health.
  2. A Professional Service License from the BOEE. This follows completion of a program through an Iowa Institution of Higher Education.

Other Professional Program Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree.
  • Master's degree for some programs.
  • Complete all program requirements.
  • 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 Educational Aide Registered Apprenticeship Pilot

This is a pilot program for public school districts partnering with:

  • a community college
  • a four-year
  • a university

This partnership provides:

  • High School and Adult-to-Educational Aide Registered Apprenticeship
    • This program helps high school students and working adults.
    • You can begin working as an educational aide while earning credit toward an associate degree.
  • Educational Aide-to-Teacher Registered Apprenticeship
    • You can 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: Include one of these subject lines of the email: Funding, Program Registration, Technical Assistance or Reporting.