Education Requirements for Becoming an English Teacher in Massachusetts

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These days there is a great deal of public focus on the subject of education. Many schools are now turning to teacher evaluations and performance reviews (much like the corporate sector) to determine how well teachers are performing. For teachers in Massachusetts there seems to be little concern for this scrutiny. In a recent article evaluating another state’s academic performance, Massachusetts came in with high scores. In fact, the state has earned an A for its achievements in lower income and minority groups and a B in overall achievement.

As a new teacher in Massachusetts, you will have the opportunity to join forces with other educators who see exemplary teaching as a high priority. This should give you access to mentors that can help you learn how you can become an effective teacher as you begin your new career. In order to become an English and Language Arts teacher in Massachusetts start with these basic steps below:

Complete a College Education
Pass Massachusetts Teaching Exams
Apply for a Teaching License
Continue Educational Credits



Step 1. Complete Your Education

If you have just begun your search on how to become an English Language Arts teacher in Massachusetts, you will find that step one is a proper education. This step is vital to your success. Without a proper education, you will enter your new job feeling inadequately prepared. While there are several options to becoming a teacher, not all will be the best for you.

Program Selection

When you choose your teaching program, you will want to find one that not only gives you the minimum bachelor’s degree, but also one that is accredited by the Department of Education. Without an accreditation, your degree will not qualify you for state licensing.

The next thing to look for is a program that will give you the greatest outcome for the time you spend in school. This not only means finding a program that will prepare you, but also one that will maximize your earning potential. For instance, if you invest time earning a master’s degree, you will find that your income may be significantly higher than if you entered teaching with a bachelor’s degree.

Grade Level Selection

Once you decide on the degree program, you will need to look for an education that will prepare you for the grade level you intend to teach. For lower grades, your education will be broad in scope. The degrees are typically in general education. The nature of your teaching day will require you to teach all subjects to one classroom all day. If you plan on teaching higher grades, your program will have more focus. The classes you take will involve more English Language Arts courses.

A typical bachelor’s degree has about 128 semester units total. A master’s degree will usually add another 36 units. Both these degrees should have a teacher-training component. Depending on which school you select, you will have the opportunity to partake in internships in the form of student teaching for up to a year. This part of your program is going to be the most exciting as it will place you in an actual classroom setting and give you a good idea of what it feels like to be a teacher.

Other Alternatives

These days, many people will choose teaching as a second career. If this describes you, you may already have invested time in college. If you currently hold a degree from an accredited university or college, you may be a good candidate for the Alternative/Practice-Based Licensure Programs. These programs are designed to allow you to begin teaching and earning an income while you complete some of the requisites for learning how to teach. The initial license makes allowances for your current knowledge, experience, and courses previously taken.

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Step 2. Pass Massachusetts Teaching Exams

Every teacher who wishes to teach in Massachusetts will need to take tests that show they are ready to teach. The basic Communication and Literacy Skills test is one test you may be required to take.

The other test is a core subject area test. Lower grades will take a broad test on elementary education. Middle school teachers will be required to take a humanities test or a test in English. Grades 8-12 will require the English test.

When you are ready to sign up for your tests, you can create an online account and sign up on the Massachusetts Test for Educators Licensure (MTEL) site.

To determine which tests are appropriate for you, please contact the Licensure Office:

Hour of Operation: 2:00-5:00 (Monday-Friday)
Office: 781-338-6600
Fax number: 781-338-3391



Step 3. Apply for a Teaching License

The Educator Licensing and Recruitment (ELAR) System is available to you online. It allows licensure related transactions and completion of most of the licensing steps on the Internet. Once you have created an ELAR account, you should be able to use the site to apply for your new license, check your licensure status, change personal information, and locate any available state job openings. Once you have held your license for the required number of years, you can also renew your license on the site.

Type of Teaching License in Massachusetts

There are several stages to licensing in Massachusetts:

Preliminary License– good for up to five years. This license is available prior to completing the teacher preparation portion of your education.

Temporary License- this license if for certified teachers coming in from out of state. This license is good for one year.

Initial License- This license will be issued once you have your degree and you have completed all the teacher preparation steps. This is a 5-year license with a one-time 5-year renewal.

Professional License– This license is awarded after you have held your initial license and completed the requirements of an approved educators route that leads to a Professional license.



Step 4. Continuing Educational Credits

When the time comes for you to seek relicensing, you will have to complete at least 150 Professional Development Points (PPD). These points can be earned during each five-year renewal cycle by several methods:

  • Go back to school and add to your degree. Each lower division and undergraduate college semester unit is equal to fifteen PPDs. If you take graduate level courses, they are valued at 22.5 PPDs.
  • Complete a performance assessment that has been approved by the Massachusetts Board of Education. If you pass this assessment you will be awarded 120 PPDs.
  • Take a content specific test and pass. This is worth 90 PPDs.
  • Participate in in-service programs offered by your district. Each PPD is equal to one hour of in-service time.



Massachusetts English Teacher Salaries

Boston, Massachusetts claims to be the home to our nation’s first public elementary school: Mather Elementary built in 1639. Since the days of those first children experiencing one room schoolhouses, Massachusetts has continued to expand its public school system serving nearly one million students statewide. Teachers who earn a living teaching in the public school system can expect to be well compensated at many of the state’s schools. They also may find that there are potential subsides to teacher salaries as well.

As an example, in Andover an English teacher could potentially add an additional $4,132 to their annual contract by teaching yearbook and creating the school newspaper. Both of these extra activities are often taught as classes and would require additional time spent after school. The additional stipend is offered to cover the added work incurred. Other ways a teacher may increase their pay is by adding additional units to their education.

If the teacher mentioned above decided to go back to school and seek a higher degree, she could potentially earn thousands of additional dollars each year. Looking at Andover again, the entry-level salary for the English teacher is $43,904. If she decided to go back and earn an MA she would be able to quickly increase her salary by nearly $10,000 annually to $53,472. This is a significant increase in earnings.

Boston on the other hand isn’t as large of a spread between a master’s and a bachelor’s. The bachelor’s is $46,754. The master’s is $49,792. It is when you reach the doctorate level that you really earn a substantial pay raise at $59,159.

The average salary for other schools across Massachusetts range from the low fifties to the low nineties. Some of the charter schools are in the $40,000 range. Each district will take into account the cost of living in the area and other similar factors when negotiating the teacher salaries. Here are a few examples of teacher salaries in a few other cities in Massachusetts:

  • Cape Cod- $75,368
  • Greater Lowell- 77,445
  • South Shore-$76,858
  • Amherst-$71,225

To see more salary information for teachers across major metro areas throughout Massachusetts see the table below:

Area Name
Annual Median Salary
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA
Northwest Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
North Central Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area

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