How to Become a Preschool Teacher in Minnesota

An ECE Minnesota Degree & Career Guide

Your Early Childhood Teacher Requirements and Career Guide

Minnesota has introduced numerous initiatives during the past 10 years or so in early childhood education (ECE). They have such a commitment to ECE that they have created somewhat of a disconnect, and now they are working to unite all of the committees and programs in a more efficient manner so that all children, regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic standing, will receive a superior start to the previous educational experience.

Recently, the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and the Children’s Cabinet received a $4.7 million federal grant. This money will be dedicated to determining the best ways to coordinate programs, resources, and policies throughout all departments. The intent is to create a better landscape for early learning for all children and families in Minnesota.

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Steps to Becoming an Early Childhood Teacher in Minnesota

Minnesota continually has one of the best public-school systems in the US. As a result, the requirements to become even a preschool teacher may be far more demanding than other states. The state is also encouraging prospective teachers to specialize in areas where the state has a shortage, such as special education, as these jobs will be easier to obtain in the coming years. Minnesota is also working to encourage more minorities to become teachers.

Step 1. Get Your Degree

All prospective teachers must complete a variety of certificates and licensures to become a teacher in Minnesota. To become a lead teacher in a classroom for young children you will need to complete a state-approved bachelor’s degree program focused on early childhood education. You might also consider specialized certificate programs as a way to enter the field; however, you will still require a state license to teach in Minnesota for nearly all career levels. You will also be required to complete an in-depth background check to be able to work with children in any state. To become an ECE teacher or administrator, you must start with a bachelor’s degree in education, though it does not necessarily need to be early childhood education. You will also have to complete a number of programs dedicated to teacher preparation as mandated by the state. If you wish to work as an administrator, you will likely require at least a master’s degree. If you wish to work in a daycare or preschool as an assistant teacher, you will likely require an associate’s degree or some college education. Those who want to make a difference in the Head Start program only need to attain an associate’s degree.

During your ECE higher learning degree program, you will be required to complete hands-on experience in a classroom. The hours required will vary from program to program. Experience in early childhood education is highly valued for long-term employment. Many college and university students will find work experience that allows program participants to work with kids throughout their undergraduate experience to get ahead of the future competition.

In Minnesota, you must possess a specialty license to teach any subset of early childhood education. These licenses will vary, including a nursery school license, a prekindergarten license, an early childhood special education license, an early childhood education license, an elementary school license and more. Applicants can pursue different types of licenses for each sector, such as first-time full professional, limited full-time license, limited intern and two-year, short-call substitute. It is important to note that those who wish to teach kindergarten will require special endorsement licensure.

Step 2. Pass your Exams and Teacher Performance Assessments

Many states use the PRAXIS exams to assess teachers on their preparation for licensure. However, Minnesota replaced the PRAXIS tests with their own, called the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE). [Be aware that if you type this just slightly wrong you may end up looking at information for the Massachusetts tests, abbreviated as the MTEL, so careful not to get confused!]

These exams will test you on basic skills, pedagogy, and content are subjects. Tests are usually taken at a Minnesota college but there are other options so make sure to check before making an unnecessary drive.

The basic skills section has three subtests: math, reading, and writing ($25 each). The pedagogy section has two subtests: Early Childhood, I and Early Childhood, II ($35 each).

Step 3. Apply for Certification

Once you’ve finished an early childhood education program and your exams, you can submit verification to the Department of Education and apply for your teaching certification. You’ll also have to pay a fee and go through fingerprinting and a thorough background check. Once you’ve done this, you are good to go! Your new license to teach will be good for five years.

If you are applying for licensure from out-of-state, and you already have a license from your state, you may be able to receive a one-year license that will allow you to teach while you complete everything you need to bring you up to speed on the Minnesota system. This may include taking the MTLE tests or coursework, or both. If you do not already have some form of licensure, you will likely have to complete these requirements without the benefit of a preliminary, one-year license.

Step 4. License renewal

You will need to be mindful of the requirements for license renewal during the five years your have your license. If you don’t complete these requirements, you may not be able to renew. During these five years, you’ll need to complete 125 hours of professional development. These hours must be completed with activities approved by your school district. You’ll also need to pay a licensing fee for the new license ($64) and list any recent criminal offenses.

Accredited Early Childhood Educator Teacher Preparation Programs

If you wish to become an early childhood educator in Minnesota, you will require a degree from a regionally accredited or Minnesota board approved school. If you choose to pursue an online degree, make sure it is from a regionally accredited higher learning institution or you may not qualify to teach in Minnesota or in other states.

  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

    The education department at the University of Minnesota has received recognition from a variety of sources, such as ‘A Top 10 Education School in the World’, according to a 2018 Shanghai Report. They also boast 40% of their departmental student population to be first-generation college students, and they offer over 20 education research centers to focus on a wide variety of issues, from women in sports to the mental health of children. And the early childhood education class sizes average out to about 30 people.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Curriculum and Instruction; MS. & Dr.
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Autism; Under-grad & Post-grad Certificate
    • Education/Teaching of the Gifted and Talented; Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS., MS., Under-grad, & Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • The University of Minnesota - North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
    • Teacher Education - Baccalaureate and graduate programs for the preparation of teachers and other professional personnel for elementary and secondary schools - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
    • Education, Initial Teacher Preparation and Advanced Preparation Levels - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • Minnesota State University Moorhead

    The School of Teaching and Learning at Minnesota State University - Moorhead provides you with great opportunities, such as 100% career placement of all graduates. The early childhood education programs focus on children ages 16 months to age five. These programs take hands-on to the next level. You will gain 200 hours of experience during your degree program. They start you off in the classroom and working with teachers from the beginning so that you learn the best ways to plan, assess, adapt, and implement ideas and techniques directly into the classroom rather than just theoretical learning. They also have a student teaching abroad program for those who want an international educational experience. And each degree has a number of specializations from which to choose.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS. & Post-grad Certification
    • Curriculum and Instruction; MS.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Autism; Under-grad & Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; Under-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS., MS., & Under-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • Minnesota State University Moorhead - Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools at the degree levels of Master’s, Specialist, and Doctorate
    • Minnesota State University Moorhead’s School of Teaching and Learning - the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education at the degree levels of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level
    • The licensure and endorsement programs at Minnesota State University Moorhead - approved by the Minnesota Board of Teaching
    • Education, Initial Teacher Preparation and Advanced Preparation Levels - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • St. Cloud State University

    The School of Education at St. Cloud State University has been training teachers since 1869. The programs are designed to produce leaders in the field of education by revitalizing existing educational structures and confronting important issues in society and education. Program participants will learn to collaborate, be creative, and act professionally in diverse settings and circumstances. It is possible to pursue an undergraduate degree or a postbaccalaureate degree from St. Cloud State University. You can also pursue numerous certificates and licensures. And 97% of graduates in 2017 received employment in their field.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS. & Post-grad Certification
    • Curriculum and Instruction; MS.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals in Early Childhood Special Education Programs; MS. & Post-grad Certification
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Autism; Post-grad Certificate
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Emotional Disturbances; Post-grad Certificate
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Mental Retardation; Post-grad Certificate
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Orthopedic and other Physical Health Impairments; Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching; Post-grad Certificate
    • Reading Teacher Education; Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS., MS., & Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • St. Cloud State University - Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association
    • Education, Initial Teacher Preparation and Advanced Preparation Levels - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
    • Teaching Licensure Programs - approved by Minnesota Board of Teaching
    • Educational Administration programs - approved by the Minnesota Board of School Administrators
  • University of Northwestern – St Paul

    At the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, you can explore the world through educational and teaching opportunities. You will also have direct access to top classrooms for hands-on experience at either public or private learning institutions. Early childhood education at this school ranges from birth to grade three and the program meets the Minnesota Board of Teaching licensure requirements to become a professional teacher in Minnesota.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS.

    Accreditation By:

    • The University of Northwestern - Higher Learning Commission
    • Teacher Education Programs - approved by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board
    • The University of Northwestern - member of the American Council on Education
    • The University of Northwestern - member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

Specialization Additional Certifications

Continuing education and specializations are highly valued in the Minnesota education system. STEM teachers and special education teachers continue to be some of the most in-demand careers in the education sector throughout the state. It is also important to note that Minnesota fully supports career development. Many programs are funded by state and federal grants to improve the quality of education provided in Minnesota. Though it has been noted that ECE professionals in rural areas have a greater challenge to reach these government-funded training and development programs than those who live in cities. It is also possible to pursue additional specialization and skill-based certifications online or at a nearby college or university.

Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in Minnesota

Each early childhood education position will vary based on a number of elements, such as years of experience, education qualifications, type of employer, and location. If you live and work in a metro area, you are likely to make more money than someone teaching at a rural school. Also, keep in mind that the number of teachers during the past six years, throughout the state of Minnesota, has increased by nearly 6% and is expected to grow by 6% again by 2026.

OccupationEntry-LevelMid-CareerLate-Career
Preschool Teacher$27,300$28,800N/A
Elementary School Teacher$37,000$44,700$63,600
Professor of Education$83,600 $105,100$134,500
Elementary School Principle (national average) $73,500 $79,200 $86,500
School Psychologist (national average) $54,200$61,000 $73,200

Videos To Help You Find The Right Career Choices

  • Part 1 - High-Quality Kindergarten Today - Background

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XriN7Ks6j84

  • Special Education K-2 Teacher

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an3ngVFbJC0

  • Early childhood special education, for future teachers

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJRebt7-3b4

  • Why Special Education?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3YwKIqlCsw

  • Teach Special Education

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XsaK3pWyII

  • Co-Teaching Model for Special Education

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pIe6CZX6PM

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