Education Requirements for Becoming an English Teacher in South Dakota

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Recent projections mentioned in an article written by USA Today’s Greg Toppo and Paul Overberg note that the country’s immigration demographics are rapidly changing the way that America looks. In what has been called the Second Wave of Immigration, we are seeing an unprecedented number of people coming into the country – and into public schools – that don’t speak English as their first language. As a prospective English teacher in South Dakota, this will present unique challenges for you in your new career.

Given these facts, as you make your selection of teacher training programs, keeping in mind your future student population will help you prepare for this new paradigm. When you are ready to begin the process of training, here are the next steps that you can follow that will guide you through the basics:

Complete Your Degree
Take the Required Exams
Apply for Licensure
Continue Education (CE) and Renew Your License



Step 1. Complete Your Degree

To become a language arts teacher in South Dakota you will start by looking at the programs that will train you to become a teacher; only certain programs will qualify. They will need to be accredited by The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) that lists the qualified programs to consider.

You will have certain options to choose from such as what grades you prefer to teach, taking courses online or on campus, and how much of an education you want to pursue. This may be the best time in your life to acquire as much of a foundational education as you can. Once you are working full-time, going back to school is often more challenging.

You can seek a bachelor’s degree that will train you as a teacher. These programs often take the least amount of time and meet the minimum standards for licensing. You may also consider an M.A. in English or education as well. Of course, if you decide that at some point in your career you might want to teach on the university level, now would be a great time to complete a doctorate program in education.

Your initial education will offer classes in your core subject, electives, and general education. During your teacher training you will learn how teachers create lessons for their students in ways that help them learn effectively. This part of your education will help you understand your student’s needs; not only educational, but emotional and developmental ones as well.

You will learn to recognize students that may be underperforming and know how to intervene. This part of your training shows you how to create general lessons and those which may be individualized for at-risk students. Some of the course topics during the teacher training semesters include:

  • Reading, Writing in the subject
  • Technology Skills
  • English as Second Language
  • Grade level Competency
  • Understanding Classroom Dynamics
  • Internship

There are also two courses that are required in South Dakota schools:

When you finish your education, you can move on to step two.

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Step 2. Take the Required Exams

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) has created a series of tests that you will need to pass in order to move on to step three (licensing). These tests are crafted in a way that help the state know that you are competent to teach at your grade level.

To register for your tests you can follow these basic steps:

  • Know which exams are required for your subject and grade level.
  • Decide how you prefer to apply. If you apply online, you can now create an account.
  • Apply for each test that you need (there will be several).
  • Pay the testing fees.
  • Study for your tests.

When you receive your passing grades on your tests, you can then move on to step three.



Step 3. Apply for Licensure

Now that you are ready to apply for your license, you can set up an account. The process may be completed when you apply online. There are three different levels for the state license:

One-Year Certification

This initial certificate is given when you haven’t completed the required six credits (post bachelor’s degree), or you completed your bachelor’s degree and you passed the Praxis II test.

The One-Year certificate can be renewed only once to give you time to earn the six post-bachelor units.

To apply for this initial certificate, fill out the application and follow all the directions for documents and procedures.

Five-Year Certification

When you have fulfilled all the necessary steps and have been issued your initial certificate, you can send in the application for the Five-Year Certificate. As with the initial One-Year certificate, the Five-Year will have a list of requirements and documentation to send in.

Ten-Year Certification

The Ten-Year certificate is available to those teachers who completed the requirements for the National Board Teacher Certification (NBTC) or have earned a doctorate degree. The countdown for the ten-year period is determined starting from the date of issuance of your PhD or NBTC.

As an English teacher, you may be required to have a special endorsement in English as well. This is in conjunction with your certification.

All your documentation that may be required as proof of qualifications for any level should be mailed to:

Department of Education, Certification Office,
800 Governors Dr., Pierre, SD 57501
Questions can be directed to: [email protected]



Step 4. Continue Education (CE) and Renew Your License

When you have completed the initial licensing, you have to follow up with the six units (previously mentioned) in continuing education credits. When you have fulfilled this requisite, you can renew your license. This renewal process takes place every five years.

If you hold a bachelor’s degree, you need to have at least three of the credits completed at a university or college. The other credits can be fulfilled through programs supplied by the Department of Education or through other approved CE programs. If you hold an advanced degree or NBTC, you may renew your license through any approved program. The Department of Education will offer you detailed information when the time comes for renewal. Check their site for updates and periodical changes.



South Dakota English Teacher Salaries

The national average for teacher starting salaries was just under $36,000. South Dakota has struggled to catch up with an average starting salary of $29,306—some of the lowest in the nation. While they are under the national average, not all of their schools are on par with each other.

There are less than 150,000 students in all the public schools in South Dakota spread over 171 school districts. Typically larger cities will offer higher salaries, often because the cost of living is greater in those areas. It’s a challenge for the beginning teacher with a BA, however, as base salaries can be on the lower end of the scale.

For example, an English teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Sioux Falls has a base salary of just $26,208. In Rapid City the schedule indicates a better salary. The English teacher with a BA will start with $31,676 base salary. These figures change as a teacher adds additional college units to their education. For example, the teacher in Rapid City could increase their salary to $41,032 by seeking a doctorate degree. For a teacher coming to South Dakota, a higher degree would be a great way to bring their starting salary up to the maximum level.

Other ways that a teacher could maximize their earnings are through housing. For instance, in Rapid City the lowest one bedroom apartment available was listed at $490 a month. In Sioux Falls it was $430. Housing costs can vary and will become one of the largest deductions from your monthly budget. When you consider which school district you will teach in, consider where you want to live as well.

For other schools district salaries around South Dakota see the chart below:

Area Name
Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls SD
Eastern South Dakota nonmetropolitan area

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