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Which are the US States with Teacher Shortages? 

Updated: Sep 28

Top 10 States With the Worst Teacher Shortages


The number of US states with teacher shortages has become something of a national problem. While certain areas fare better or worse than others, many states are dealing with shortages of qualified individuals in this industry across many of their school districts. Educators may leave the profession for a variety of reasons, but finances, burnout, or low academic performance in key areas of study are just some of the common ones. To get a better handle on the situation, we can look at the top ten states that seem to suffer from these shortages the most.


1. California

The pandemic of 2020 didn’t help in-person learning efforts among US schools, but California started experiencing professional shortages long before this problem. Overall, California has thousands of openings for teachers across the state. Even among those who are teaching currently, many have to do so with credentials that may not meet all the requirements the state would like its educators to have. The problem has become bad enough that many schools offer both moving bonuses and stipends in an effort to bring more professionals to the area.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in California

If your goal is to teach at either the middle or high school levels, California prefers that you have a teaching credential in a specific area of study. For professionals wishing to go into the elementary level, multiple certifications will be necessary. Experience at private schools, internships, and traditional university programs are all avenues you can take to get the required experience for California schools.


2. Nevada

Much of the state of Nevada is rural, and this can make it a bit harder for certain districts to fill their open teaching positions. However, even more, populous areas of the state may see hundreds of open teaching positions that they need to fill. Although the gaps stretch across many grade levels and subjects, Nevada seems to be struggling the most with professionals absent from science and tech classes in middle and high school grades. To combat this, Nevada is offering stipends to new teachers, and it is developing praxis training programs as well. On a brighter note, relatively low living costs and no state income tax are some good reasons to consider this area.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in Nevada

To streamline its process for educators, Nevada gives them a single, clear path to follow. Anyone wishing to pursue education as a career in this state can obtain a bachelor’s degree. Once they do, they just need to complete a prep course for the area in which they would like to teach.


3. Washington

Washington is in the midst of quite a severe teacher shortage. Its vacancy numbers are lower than in some other states, but the population sizes can help to account for these differences. In part, Washington is relying on educators that hold certain limited certificates in order to deal with this crisis. This means that many of the professionals in the classroom are still trying to work and get more job experience while on the path to becoming educators. Over time, the state has had to use more of these professionals to provide some education for students. Thankfully, Washington has many populous cities that boast good weather, excellent services, and many opportunities for qualified teachers who would like to help address the shortage of educators.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in Washington

For the most part, people who follow a path to get to the classroom in Washington will do so in the traditional manner. They’ll start by getting at least a bachelor’s degree at the university of their choice. From there, they will engage in a certification program that ends with an official exam. However, some prospective teachers may wish to go for a preparation program for teachers that awards them with the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. An official exam is still part of the requirement for this path.


4. Arizona

Arizona is another of the states that had some staffing issues prior to the problems of 2020, although the additional strain did not help matters. In fact, the state faced some resignations from hundreds of teachers just as it was going to need more remote professionals the most. For most of 2021, the state saw little improvement in these figures. On average, only about a fifth of the open positions filled up during this school year, and some of the new hires didn’t necessarily meet the state’s minimum standards. In particular, middle and high school science classes in many schools need teachers.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in Arizona

Arizona needs lots of teachers, and they want to make sure that it is easy for interested parties to get the training and qualifications they might need. Therefore, the path to the classroom in the state is quite straightforward. All prospective educators need to do is obtain their bachelor’s degrees in education. Once they do, they need to work on a minimum number of hours for experience in the classroom. After that, they have the skills necessary to teach in Arizona.


5. Hawaii

Despite being a highly desirable state in which to live, Hawaii also faces something of a teacher shortage. As of the last quarter of 2021, there are at least a few hundred teaching positions the state has yet to fill. In terms of raw numbers, Hawaii’s shortage of teachers is not quite as dire as that of some other states on this list. However, classes dealing with groups of students with diverse needs are some of the ones that suffer from this shortage the most. Languages and technical courses across multiple grade levels also have too many vacancies. The nice weather and flexible teaching hours are both good reasons to consider helping Hawaii with this problem.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in Hawaii

Hawaii boasts a relatively complex system of tiers when it comes to teacher qualifications. That said, the basic path to the classroom here is much the same as it is in other states. Applicants need to obtain their bachelor’s degrees and complete a state course for preparation. If you decide to get extra hours toward a master’s program, you can increase your teacher salary level relatively quickly.


6. Indiana

As recently as 2021, almost all of the school districts in Indiana had some kind of shortage of educators in some academic areas. By the end of that year, there were still almost 800 educator vacancies waiting for applicants across the whole state. Many of these positions need specialized professionals capable of teaching STEM subjects to students. Because Indiana wants to attract qualified teachers who can take on STEM classes, it is offering new hires various grants or residency programs as incentives. Further, Indiana is providing prospective teachers in some of these fields with stipends that can increase their base payments.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in Indiana

As with many other states, bachelor’s degrees, programs for teacher preparation, and state-level exams are all different but necessary parts of the larger package the state requires of its incoming teachers.


7. District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.)

There is much to admire about the District of Columbia, including excellent academic institutions that people all over the world know. Although various events over the past couple of years have exacerbated a shortage of teachers in the area, Washington isn’t suffering quite as bad as some others. That said, there are still many vacancies the state would like to fill as soon as possible. As a way to deal with this issue, the district offers some excellent perks that are available to most teachers. For example, many positions come with default benefits right from the start. Retirement packages for educators are not at all uncommon, and there are many opportunities to help new hires with the possible debts they may have accrued over the course of their educational paths. Several programs can also help ambitious teachers advance their careers in different ways.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in Washington, D.C.

For the most part, Washington wants its teachers to hold bachelor’s degrees that come with completed preparation courses. Further, applicants need to finish particular educator tests and checks for any criminality in their histories. However, in order to address the shortage, there are some alternatives for interested teachers who may not have their bachelor’s degrees yet.


8. Virginia

Unfortunately, Virginia is facing large teacher shortages in several key areas across different grade levels. Most notably, the state needs qualified personnel willing to teach subjects such as mathematics across six grade levels. Elementary education also has many empty positions Virginia needs to fill, and middle school sees some of this same need. Fortunately, some of the most powerful associations that work for teachers’ rights exist in Virginia, making it an attractive option for many newcomers.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in Virginia

The path to teaching in Virginia is largely the same as it is in many other states. It includes requirements for holding at least a bachelor’s degree and success in a prep program for educators. Unlike some other states, however, Virginia would like its academic professionals to receive special training in recognizing and reporting any signs of abuse or neglect in children.


9. Montana

In 2021, Montana reports for its empty teacher positions reached over 100. While that number does not seem high when compared to many other states facing similar issues, it is very high for Montana. To try to deal with this problem, Montana faced the difficult choice of staffing some of its schools with professionals who didn’t necessarily have the proper licenses for teaching in the state. Although it can be difficult to keep its more rural areas staffed well, Montana does have highly desirable locations that boast some of the best nature you’ll find in the country.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in Montana

Aside from holding a bachelor’s and completing the state exam, prospective academics in Montana will need to complete a test that assesses their knowledge in the specific subject areas in which they are interested.


10. Nebraska

Since 2020, Nebraska’s most populous school districts have lost over 1,000 total teachers combined. With such a large departure, it is no surprise that almost every district in the state reports a shortage of some kind.


Requirements To Become a Teacher in This State

The standard bachelor’s minimum is a requirement for Nebraska. Further, the state wants prospective teachers to have enough qualifications to get at least a single endorsement to educate students in a particular subject or level of study. Both Praxis and state exams round out these requirements.


Other Shortages for Education Careers

While teaching is an area with noticeable staffing issues, education has many more positions it is trying to fill across the country. These might include administrators in various districts or those who write and approve curriculum for students.


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