Teaching in The Bay State: Become a Massachusetts Teacher

Teaching in The Bay State: Become a Massachusetts Teacher
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Noodle Staff July 15, 2018

Being a teacher is one of life’s greatest callings. No matter what grade you choose to teach, you will be making an everlasting impression on your students. Additionally, you will become a memorable figure in their lives well past their time in your classroom. If you are looking to make a difference in the lives of students in the state of Massachusetts but don’t know where to begin, look no further! Here is everything you need to know to get your career as a Massachusetts teacher off to the best start.

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A Guide to Teaching in Massachusetts

There are many different routes you can take to become a teacher in Massachusetts; whether you already have a degree in education, a degree in something else, or no degree at all, nothing is stopping you from pursuing your dream career. In short, you will need to get a degree, participate in a teacher preparatory program, gain your license, and find the perfect Massachusetts teaching job! Keep reading for more details.

Is Massachusetts in need of teachers?

According to a 2016 study, the answer may seem discouraging. The American Institute of Research reported that student enrollment in Massachusetts is predicted to drop by over 5% in the next ten years. That means that teachers are going to be in less and less demand as time goes on.

However, that does not mean that Massachusetts will not need great educators. The school and district profiles for the DOE reported that there were over 900,000 students enrolled in public school (K-12) for the 2017-2018 school year. That is a lot of young minds to mold, and it does not even count children in private schools and college students. Additionally, The American Institute of Research also documented in their report that over the next 10 years, there will be an increased demand for teachers who identify as members of minority populations.

Massachusetts teaching certification requirements

Like many states, Massachusetts uses a tiered system for its teacher certification process. That means that those hoping to become teachers can work their way up through stages of licenses, each with its own limitations. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect when becoming a teacher in Massachusetts.

Preliminary License: First and foremost, you will have to acquire your Preliminary License. For this, you will simply need a bachelor’s degree and passing scores on the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). There are three options available through the MTEL: Academic PreK-12 Education, Vocational Technical Education, and Adult Basic Education. Depending on what grade level you are interested in teaching, your experience with the MTEL will be a little different. But, other than your bachelor’s degree, this test is all that is standing between you and your Preliminary Licence in Massachusetts.

Initial License: The next step in your journey to be a teacher in Massachusetts is to acquire an Initial License. This level of licensure requires you to meet the same requirements as the Preliminary License, and to complete an approved teacher preparation program.

Professional License: The final level of licensure you can pursue in the state of Massachusetts is the Professional License. To meet requirements for the Professional License, you need to have acquired your Initial Licence (or at least have met the requirements for one). Additionally, you need to have completed a master’s program or alternative program. Then, you must earn National Board Certification. An alternative to National Board Certification is to complete 3 years of teaching, combined with a one-year induction program.

If you have a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Teaching

If you already have a degree in education, then your road to becoming a teacher in Massachusetts will be straightforward. Your degree has already equipped you with pedagogical knowledge and training, so all you need now is the job and the certification. Once you have completed your student teaching, which will typically be part of your bachelor’s degree program, you can earn your Initial License and start looking for a teaching job. That is all you need to become a teacher on this track!

After three years as a full-time teacher, you can start working towards your Professional License. This will open more doors for your career, and will potentially result in a pay raise.

If you have a bachelor’s degree, but in something other than education

If your degree is in a different subject, such as English or biology, this does not necessarily mean that you will have to go back to school to become a teacher. Teachers who have degrees in a variety of subjects can bring a lot to the table, especially if your degree is in the subject you will eventually teach.

If this is the case for you, you will need to first gain your Preliminary teaching certificate, and then enroll in an approved teacher preparation program. There, you will learn the necessary skills to be a great teacher. These programs are usually offered through local colleges, and do not require another four-year degree. Once you have completed the program, you can apply for your Initial license and get ready to interview for teaching jobs.

If you are not from the U.S. but want to teach in Massachusetts

If you are not a citizen of the United States, many of the same steps will apply to your journey to becoming a teacher. However, there will be a few more steps necessary in order for you to work as a teacher in Massachusetts. First, you will need a valid immigration status. That means you will either need a visa that allows you to work in the US, or you will need to be in the process of becoming a citizen. You will also need a social security number in order to take the necessary exams. You can apply for an SSN through the Social Security Administration.

Beyond this, your steps to becoming a teacher will be similar to those of a US citizen working towards the same goal.

If you are already a teacher but in a state other than Massachusetts

Luckily, almost every state in the US, including Massachusetts, is part of the NASDTEC (National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification.) That means that almost every state has a reciprocity agreement among teachers, which makes it easy for teachers to move without having to retake any tests. If you are moving from a different state into Massachusetts and wish to continue teaching, you will be able to transfer your license over. The only states that have not agreed to NASDTEC are New York, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and New Mexico. However, if you are from one of those states, you should still be allowed to apply for teaching licensure in Massachusetts without too much trouble. You will just need proof of your certifications and a valid state ID.

If you are already a Massachusetts teacher but want to teach another subject

When it comes to teaching, broadening your field is never a bad idea. If you have been teaching one subject in Massachusetts and want to try another area of study, you will need to follow the steps for acquiring your Initial licence, with the addition of the subject certificate you will need. This varies from subject to subject, but a full breakdown of these requirements can be found on the DOE website.

Types of teacher training programs in Massachusetts:

Approved teacher training program

Most teacher preparation programs are designed to be done during undergraduate study, given that students are pursuing degrees in education. Programs typically require students to have at least a 2.5 GPA. In a teaching prep program, you will learn all about teaching in a classroom setting with the addition of student-teaching opportunities. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions of professors, and to gain hands on experience with the age range you are interested in teaching. At this level you can also pursue specializations such as math, biology, art education, and foreign languages.

Examples of excellent Massachusetts teacher training programs

Boston College Lynch School of Education{target=”blank”}__

Boston College Lynch School of Education is a great place to pursue your teacher training in Massachusetts. Offering programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, its approved program is ranked in the top 20 education schools in the country — so when pursuing your teaching degree in Massachusetts, BC should certainly be near the top of your list.

Smith College{target=”blank”}__

Another great option for those pursuing a teaching licensure in Massachusetts is Smith College. Smith College offers a unique experience to students, in that they have the opportunity to pursue their teaching training within the Massachusetts school system, abroad at schools all over the world, or even at Smith’s unique laboratory school on campus. Teachers who have gone through this one-of-a-kind experience will be well-equipped to succeed in the classroom, no matter where their career takes them.

Simmons College{target=”blank”}__

Simmons College is another great option for teacher training. This school prides itself in promoting “equity, excellence, and social justice in a culture of collaboration.” At Simmons college you can expect to gain a top-of-the-line education that is relevant to today’s students.

Alternative routes to teach in Massachusetts

Massachusetts knows the importance of having business and career professionals in the classroom, which is why the state offers non-traditional paths to becoming a teacher. These alternative routes are for those who have years of experience in a field, and want to change careers in order to teach their skills to future generations. Those hoping to make the move into teaching will need a Preliminary Vocational Technical Education License. This requires:

  • A high school diploma (at minimum)
  • Professional experience in the given subject.
  • Certification in that field, if available.
  • A passing score on the Vocational Subject Matter Test
  • A passing score on either the Vocational Literacy Skills Tests or the Communication and Literacy Skills Test.

You can learn more about the Alternative Routes to Teach in Massachusetts on the DOS website.

Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) requirements

Requirements for MTEL licensure vary depending on the grade level that you are hoping to teach: PreK-12, Vocational, or Adult Basic education. However, no matter what ages or subjects you choose to teach, you can expect to take the general exam. You can learn more about the requirements for each level at the MTEL website.

General exam

The general exam is the basis of the MTEL. No matter what grade level you hope you teach, it all starts with the general exam. This exam consists of two subtests: a mathematics test and a multi-subject test. The multi-subject portion is handwritten and scanned in. Each test features 45-55 multiple choice questions, and one open-response assignment. When taking the MTEL general test, you will have 4 hours to complete both subtests, and the fee for both is $139.

Subject area exams

For subject area exams, you can choose from a variety of specialization subjects. Each exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions, and two open-response questions. You will have 4 hours to take the exam, and there is a $139 fee for the test.

No matter what your background or education, there is a route for you to become a teacher if that is what you want to do. Best of luck in your new career!

Works cited

Massachusetts Study Teacher Supply and Demand Trends and Projections, retrieved May 12, 2018.

School and District Profiles, retrieved May 12, 2018

Massachusetts Department of Education, retrieved May 12, 2018.

Massachusetts Department of Education Votech, retrieved May 13, 2018.

Massachusetts Tests for Education Licensure, retrieved May 12, 2018.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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