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How to Become a Middle Grades Teacher

How to Become a Middle Grades Teacher in Illinois

To become a middle grades teacher in Illinois, you must hold at least a bachelor's degree and complete the required standardized tests and accredited certification program. Illinois offers three levels of certification:1

  1. Initial – four years
  2. Standard – five years, renewable
  3. Master – 10 years, renewable

The required tests for aspiring teachers in Illinois include the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS) Basic Skills Test and the ICTS Content-Area Test in the desired subject area.2 You can find preparation materials for each test on the Illinois Licensure Testing System website.

Advance Your Career With an M.A.T. Degree

In addition to standardized tests, prospective teachers in Illinois must complete an accredited teacher certification program, such as the one offered by National Louis University. These programs focus on educational theory, classroom skills and student teaching.

While Illinois does not require a master's degree in education, many prospective teachers pursue an advanced degree, such as a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) to advance their career. Earning an advanced teaching degree can help aspiring teachers to command a higher salary and establish themselves as highly-qualified professionals.3

Pursuing a master's degree in education is also a great way to gain deeper insight into the field of teaching itself. An M.A.T. program, such as National Louis University's new Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Middle Grades Education degree, focuses on advanced coursework in a specific subject area, giving motivated teachers the opportunity to hone their expertise and create engaging learning experiences for middle school students.

Designed for those who plan to teach at the middle grades level (grades 5–8) and who want to study at a leading teacher preparation institution, NLU's M.A.T. program prepares teachers to:

  • Build effective learning communities in middle grades
  • Tailor teaching strategies to adolescents' unique developmental needs
  • Integrate critical and creative thinking into middle grades education
  • Develop responsive strategies for a diverse range of adolescent learners

Career Outlook for Middle Grades Teachers

Employment of middle grades teachers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014–2024, mainly due to increases in enrollment. The number of middle school students is expected to increase over the next ten years, requiring additional classes and larger class sizes to accommodate the influx of students. As a result, more middle grades teachers will be needed to teach these classes. In addition, a large number of older teachers are expected to reach retirement age between 2014–2024, creating more need for new teachers.4

In May 2014, the median annual wage for middle grades teachers was $54,940. The highest 10% of middle grades teachers earned more than $84,610.5

Source References [+]
  1. "Become a Teacher in Illinois." 6 January 2015.

  2. "Become a Teacher in Illinois." 6 January 2015.

  3. "Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master in Education."

  4. "Middle School Teachers: Job Outlook." 17 December 2015.

  5. "Middle School Teachers: Pay." 17 December 2015.

    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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