Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in Montana

Teachers are licensed on the basis of education and examination. Montana sets standards high. A person must meet Montana's specific requirements to achieve standard licensure. In other words, a teacher will not qualify for a standard license automatically even if he or she has a license and considerable experience. A person can work for as long as several years, though, on a provisional credential. Some teachers will qualify for standard licensure after meeting only minor additional requirements – this is often the case with out-of-state educators who received their licenses through traditional pathways.

License Classifications

Montana issues different types of license. A Class 2 or standard license is, as the title implies, the standard issuance, although there are both higher and lower licenses. To receive a Class 2 license at first issuance, a person must complete a preparation program that includes a student teaching experience. (The student teaching component may be waived on the basis of prior teaching experience.) The program will issue an institutional recommendation. The Office of Public Instruction has provided a list of approved Montana Educator Preparation Programs (

Other education preparation programs can be accepted if they are accredited by a recognized programmatic accrediting agency or are state approved and housed in accredited institutions. According to state rule, licensure could be denied on the basis of the latter type of program if the education were determined not to be substantially equivalent. Programmatic accrediting agencies include the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). State rule stipulates that a MCATE-accredited program would qualify a person to teach only the grade levels addressed by the program. It would not be acceptable if the individual did not also hold a bachelor’s degree.

The teacher can eventually upgrade from Class 2 to Class 1 licensure. Class 1 is dependent on three years of teaching experience and a master’s degree. The master’s degree is to be in an endorsable area.

The licensing authority notes that out-of-state programs that were not offered through academic institutions and/or did not include student teaching generally do not qualify. However, the Class 5 license gives a teacher the opportunity to begin teaching while completing coursework. Some out-of-state alternative program completers will qualify on the basis of five years of teaching experience.

National Board certification is also evidence of educational requirements having been met at the Class 2 level.

A Class 5 provisional license can be issued to a person who has earned a bachelor’s degree but has not yet completed a teacher preparation program. This authorizes the person to begin teaching while he or she is completing a program.

If an out-of-state teacher has an expired license, he or she will begin at Class 5 unless he or she has six credit hours of recent coursework.

There are other licenses for special circumstances, for example, Native American Language and Culture Educator. Some licenses are for non-teaching professional positions in the schools.

Montana Teaching Endorsements

Montana recognizes the following classifications:

  • Early childhood (preschool through 3rd grade)
  • Elementary (kindergarten through 8th grade)
  • Middle grades (4th through 8th grade)
  • Special education (preschool through 12th grade)
  • Content specific secondary endorsement (5th through 12th grade)
  • K-12 endorsements

K-12 endorsements include music, art, and health and PE.

Montana has programmatic requirements for teachers who wish to add endorsement areas but also has provisions to allow these teachers to simultaneously teach in their new area and meet their new set of requirements.

The Assessment Process

Montana uses Praxis subject assessments. In-state applicants should receive information from their programs. ETS has provided information for out-of-state applicants ( It is possible to test at computerized testing centers outside Montana, but the candidate will need to designate Montana OPI as a score recipient.

ETS has also provided general information about examination content and policies. The ‘Montana Requirements’ page includes passing scores.

The Application Process

Montana requires an online course in Indian Education. It is free.

Montana has an electronic licensing system, the Educator Information System ( Applicants still have the option of submitting application forms through the mail. Some supplemental forms will need to be mailed even when the application itself is submitted electronically. A completed application packet includes a notarized statement of veracity. Transcripts and may be emailed. Supplemental forms can be found on the website of the Office of Public Instruction ( Applicants can click on their expected license class to see specific requirements.

The licensing authority notes that the fingerprinting process required at the licensing level is separate and distinct from the one required at the employment level.

Fingerprints may be made at any of many locations, including law enforcement agencies. Instructions can be found in the forms section of the Office of Public Instruction website. Applicants are cautioned to mail their fingerprint cards to the Department of Justice, not the Office of Public Instruction.

Additional Information

Information is available from the Montana Office of Public Instruction ( Educator Licensing can be reached at 406-444-3150. Information may change.