Become a Teacher in South Dakota

South Dakota Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary $42,510
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary $43,530
Vacation Weeks per Year 17
Pupil/Teacher Ratio 13.76
Expenditure per Pupil $8,881

Teacher salaries are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

800 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501
(605) 773-3134

South Dakota Teacher Shortage Areas

A teacher shortage area is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as “an area of specific grade, subject matter or discipline classification, or a geographic area in which … there is an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary school teachers.” The Department allows states to identify their own teacher shortage areas, but encourages them to follow a prescribed methodology based on unfilled teaching positions, teaching positions filled by instructors with irregular certifications, and positions filled by teachers certified in other subject areas.

  • Career and Technical Education
  • English Language Learners
  • Fine Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Education/Health
  • Science
  • Self-Contained
  • Social Science
  • Special Education (Non-Core)
  • World Languages

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in South Dakota

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 10/24/2016

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of South Dakota, teaching candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
  • Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.
  • Step Three: Pass required exams.
  • Step Four: Submit a South Dakota teaching credential application.

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your South Dakota Teaching Credential

South Dakota teaching certificates are normally renewable every five years. A teacher who has earned an advanced degree may be eligible for a one-time 10-year license. If you already have a valid teaching credential from another state, you may be eligible to earn your South Dakota credential through the interstate reciprocity.

Learn more about earning your South Dakota teaching credential on the state Department of Education’s website. ReadLearn Get more information about obtaining your teaching credential in general on and

Step One: Prerequisite Coursework in South Dakota

Teacher education programs generally consist of two elements: curricula and fieldwork. Curricula includes pedagogy (the science of teaching), instruction on fundamental skills and knowledge, and preparation in designing, researching and implementing learning experiences in particular fields of study. Fieldwork typically includes student teaching, internships and field observations.

To teach in the U.S., teachers must, generally, hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Some states have additional requirements of undergraduate credit hours for certification in specialty areas. South Dakota requires all teacher preparation programs to include three semester hours in human relations and three semester hours in South Dakota Indian Studies. South Dakota does not list any other specific course or credit hour requirements, but every college or university teacher preparation program will have requirements of its own. Contact your teacher preparation program or the South Dakota Department of Education for more information.

Step Two: South Dakota Teacher Certification Programs

To teach in South Dakota, individuals must successfully complete a teacher education program from an accredited college or university. A list of approved teacher preparation programs in South Dakota can be found here.

Step Three: Required Tests for South Dakota

In many states, to become a certified teacher, you must successfully complete a basic skills test, in addition to subject area competence assessments specific to your area of instruction. Teachers in South Dakota are not required to take a basic skills test, but they must complete the relevant Praxis test as part of their subject area competence assessment. The South Dakota Department of Education maintains a list of the relevant Praxis examinations for each subject area on its website.

You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting the Praxis information page provided by Teachers Test Prep, where you can also access free online Praxis Practice Tests and Praxis Study Guides, plus a variety of paid Praxis Test Prep options for those who need additional help, including live prep classes, one-on-one tutoring, and on-demand online prep.

Read more about teacher certification tests on

Return to the top

Featured Online Programs

Explore your career options in education:

Boost your credentials: in this 8-week online course, you'll engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective and engaging teaching methods in the higher education context. Refine your own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy and set yourself apart as effective educator.

BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons is the highly respected Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program delivered online from Simmons College. The program prepares students for leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.

Counseling@NYU offers an online master of arts in Counseling and Guidance program, with concentrations in school and bilingual school counseling to prepare students to become collaborative leaders elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. Part-time and full-time options are available to fit student schedules.

Vanderbilt University's Peabody College offers an online Master of Education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling for students interested in becoming school counselors and making a meaningful difference in K–12 settings.

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT) is for aspiring teachers who want to gain the skills and knowledge they need to become great educators.

The online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.

Sponsored Programs

Alternative Certification in South Dakota

Those who have earned bachelor’s degrees from accredited colleges or universities in an area other than education and who have not earned a teaching certificate can still teach in South Dakota by obtaining a five-year alternative teaching certificate by fulfilling specific requirements, including on-the-job classroom training; district mentorship and orientation; six credits of coursework in educational pedagogy, human relations, and South Dakota Indian Studies courses; as well as state Praxis II examinations.

The Lewis and Clark Region Troops to Teachers program also offers an alternative certification pathway for qualified military personnel who wish to make the transition from the armed services to service in public school classrooms.

Return to the top

Benefits of a Master's Degree in South Dakota

Although public school teachers are generally not required to have a master's degree in the field of education, educators are increasingly realizing the value of an advanced degree. Since the No Child Left Behind Act and the Every Child Succeeds Act, greater emphasis has been placed on teacher performance, teacher qualifications, and student results in the classroom.

A master’s degree thus carries a lot of weight in the job market, and those who have their master’s are regarded as experts in their field. Teachers with a master’s degree are more likely to be hired, promoted, and better compensated for their work.

According to the Sioux Falls Teacher/Certified Staff Salary Schedule, for example, teachers holding a master’s degree can earn up to $15,185 more a year than their peers who only hold a bachelor’s degree.

Learn more about the benefits of a Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education on  

Return to the top

Certification Reciprocity in South Dakota

When applying for their Initial Certificate in South Dakota, teachers with prior contracted teaching experience on a valid out-of-state teaching certificate may submit a Verification of Experience form in lieu of passing a Principles of Learning and Teaching Praxis exam. Besides this, they must meet all other requirements for their Initial Certificate, such as paying the nonrefundable fee, providing official transcripts from all attended postsecondary institutions, and obtaining university sign-off for their teacher preparation program. To inquire about your specific situation, contact the South Dakota Department of Education.

For more information, see the reciprocity page .

Return to the top

Financial Aid in South Dakota

South Dakota residents are eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and the TEACH Grant, which offer financial aid to students in return for agreements to teach in high-need schools.

Learn more about how to finance your master's degree on

Return to the top

South Dakota Teacher Salary and Incentives

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, South Dakota ranked 50th among states for teacher salaries in 2013, with the average in-state being $39,580. Although South Dakota has ranked last or second to last for average teacher salary for years, a recent statute aims to raise statewide average teacher salary to $48,500. According to the state Department of Education, South Dakota teachers who teach in shortage areas may also receive other incentives, such as loan cancellations.

Learn more about teacher salaries on

Return to the top

South Dakota Teacher Benefits and Retirement

South Dakota teacher retirement benefits are provided by the South Dakota Retirement System (SDRS). According to SDRS, teachers in South Dakota with at least three years of service can retire at 65 with full benefits or at 55 for reduced benefits,and teachers whose age and years of service total at least 85 can retire for full benefits at any time. For more information regarding benefits and valuable retirement planning resources, visit the SDRS website.

Learn more about benefits for teachers on

Return to the top

Professional Development for South Dakota Teachers

The Teacher to Teacher Support Network is an online mentoring program for new South Dakota teachers offered through the South Dakota Department of Education. The Department also provides professional development resources on its website, including tools, guides, and webinars.

Return to the top

South Dakota Teaching Jobs

Individuals searching for South Dakota teaching jobs can create a free account and browse available teaching positions through the Associated School Boards of South Dakota’s (ASBSD) Teacher Placement Center. Its database, which is updated daily, enables users to submit resumes to more than 190 local school district recruiters. Many high-needs schools in South Dakota also recruit through Teach for America and Troops-to-Teachers.

Learn more about finding a teaching job on

Return to the top

Sponsored Program