Teaching is an exciting and deeply rewarding profession, and enrolling in a high-quality academic program is a vital first step toward becoming an effective educator. Future teachers who want to attend a school in the Midwest can choose from a number of reputable teacher-education programs in Nebraska, ranging from small public colleges to large universities.
Accredited online education programs are flexible without sacrificing academic rigor. Completing a teaching degree online allows you to structure your schedule around your other obligations and complete your work from the comfort of your own home. At the same time, a well-structured online program also gives you ample access to resources and qualified faculty who can help you succeed. As you research potential programs, consider these options from some of the best online colleges in Nebraska.
How to Earn a Teaching Degree in Nebraska
One of the key requirements of state teacher certification is holding a bachelor’s degree, but the process doesn’t end there. Aspiring educators must also meet additional criteria in order to become fully licensed teachers.
Teaching Certifications in Nebraska
Your education and professional experience will help determine your route to certification. The state of Nebraska has several different levels of certification, each of which has its own unique requirements.
In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree that meets the qualifications for at least one endorsement area, you will also need to complete an approved teacher preparation program. If you major in education, your bachelor’s degree program most likely already fulfills this requirement, but it’s always wise to check with your advisor or faculty members to make sure that you are taking all the necessary steps.
Once your bachelor’s degree is complete, you can begin the process of applying for initial certification. The state has an established list of criteria, which includes submitting:
- An application and fee
- Official transcripts
- Skill and content test results
- Human relations training
- Special education training
Applicants who have previously worked as educators in other states may also need to provide additional materials, such as employment verification. After the state determines that you have satisfied all of the requirements, you will receive an Initial Certification, which is valid for a period of five years.
Educators who teach at least half-time for a minimum of two consecutive years are eligible to upgrade their certifications. The Standard Certification is also good for five years, at which point you will have to apply for a renewal.
Educators who have a master’s degree in education or an endorsed content area can opt to apply for a Professional Certification. Unlike the other certification options, the Professional Teaching Certificate is valid for a period of ten years.
Teaching Exams Required in Nebraska
Part of the certification process involves passing the Praxis exams. These tests were created by the Educational Testing Service to help verify that teachers are qualified to work in the classroom.
The Praxis I test, also known as the Core Academic Skills Test, assesses basic skills like reading, writing, and math. The state of Nebraska requires all teachers to pass the exam in order to obtain Initial Certification, and many bachelor’s degree programs will not allow you to officially declare education as your major until after you have received a passing score on this exam.
After passing Praxis I, prospective teachers in Nebraska move on to the Praxis II exam, commonly referred to as the Praxis Subject Assessments. There are dozens of different Praxis II exams available in different endorsement areas, and educators only take the ones that are applicable to their teaching areas. Based on their subject specialty, teachers will have to complete one or more Praxis II exams before becoming certified.
Teachers Moving to Nebraska
Educators with professional experience in another state don’t have to start over from scratch if they move to Nebraska. The NASDTEC Interstate Agreement makes it possible for teachers from one state to become certified in another, assuming basic requirements are met. More than 50 states and Canadian provinces have agreements through the NASDTEC.
Although Nebraska participates in the NASDTEC, the specific requirements for certification differ based on jurisdiction. According to the Nebraska Department of Education, some jurisdictions have full reciprocity with other states, which means that incoming educators do not have to meet any additional requirements as long as they were legally certified in their previous states. Other jurisdictions, however, have limited reciprocity and impose further steps that teachers must complete to earn certification.
Salary and Career Outlook for Teachers in Nebraska
The typical earnings and job growth for teachers differ based on the size of the school and the area of the state where you teach. In general, teaching salaries in Nebraska are competitive, and the employment outlook looks bright.
Teaching Salary in Nebraska
Average salaries for teachers in Nebraska vary based on location. However, because Nebraska has a low level of urbanization compared to many states, salary disparities between rural and urban areas are not as great as those seen in many other parts of the country.
For example, a comparison of average mean salaries reported by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for various teaching occupations in Lincoln, Omaha, and the “South Nebraska nonmetropolitan area” (a BLS designation) shows relatively competitive compensation levels:
- Preschool Teachers—$40,210
- Kindergarten Teachers—$57,030
- Elementary School Teachers—$67,010
- Middle School Teachers—$66,340
- Secondary School Teachers $67,230
- Preschool Teachers—$42,220
- Kindergarten Teachers—$66,590
- Elementary School Teachers—$62,190
- Middle School Teachers—$64,840
- Secondary School Teachers—$64,490
South Nebraska nonmetropolitan area
- Preschool Teachers—$45,230
- Kindergarten Teachers—$65,880
- Elementary School Teachers—$57,560
- Middle School Teachers—$59,740
- Secondary School Teachers—$59,110
As in other states, the level of education being provided is a much more significant factor in compensation, and for those who teach in college and university settings, salaries vary a great deal depending on the field of study. In Nebraska, postsecondary criminal justice teachers earned a mean salary of about $64,000 in 2021, while law instructors at the postsecondary level earned about $150,000, according to the BLS.
Job Outlook for Teachers in Nebraska
Teachers hoping to work in Nebraska can look forward to stable job growth over the next several years. According to a 2021 report from the Nebraska Department of Labor, the employment of teachers in Nebraska is projected to grow at a rate of 5.9% through 2028. Some specific areas of education have even stronger growth rates. According to O*Net OnLine, which is affiliated with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth rate for secondary special education teachers in Nebraska is 8% through 2030.
Do Educators Need Master’s Degrees to Teach in Nebraska?
Most employers don’t require students to have a master’s degree to work in the classroom, and a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for teaching certification in Nebraska. However, there are distinct advantages to earning an advanced degree.
Teaching is an ever-evolving field, and educators with master’s degrees have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and update their skill sets. A master’s program allows for a more detailed study of crucial topics like classroom management, diversity, and pedagogical best practices. Earning a master’s degree is also an opportunity to specialize in an area of particular interest. During a master’s in education program, students can select a concentration, such as educational technology or curriculum development, that enhances their qualifications and performance in the classroom.
A master’s degree can also lead to a broader pool of job opportunities. Master’s degree holders may be more competitive when applying for teaching positions, and they are also better positioned to apply for administrative roles. To work as an administrator at an elementary, middle, or high school, you will most likely need a master’s degree in education. The median annual salary for a school principal is $98,420, according to May 2021 data from the BLS.
Most school districts structure their salaries based on education and experience. The base salary for a teacher with a master’s degree is often significantly higher than for an educator with a bachelor’s degree. According to Payscale, as of November 2022, the median annual salary for a Bachelor of Education degree is around $58,000, compared to $63,000 for a Master of Education.
Top Teaching Programs in Nebraska
Nebraska has many strong teaching programs. These programs are especially respected by alumni, educators, and employers because of their curriculum and practical experiences, both of which are vital to developing effective teaching skills and becoming certified.
Chadron State is a small public college with just over 2,400 students and an average class size of 14. The cost of online undergraduate courses at Chadron State for the 2022-23 academic year is a flat rate of $299 per credit hour.
The college offers bachelor’s and master’s programs in education, including online undergraduate degree programs in elementary and secondary education, as well as an endorsement in special education. The curriculum for Chadron State’s education bachelor’s degrees includes degree-specific courses like linguistics, behavioral interventions, and special education. They also require teaching observations and field experiences and offer a special education apprenticeship program.
College of Saint Mary
College of Saint Mary is a women’s college that serves under 1,000 students. Class sizes are very small, with an average student-to-faculty ratio of seven to one. The cost of admission at College of Saint Mary is $750 per credit hour for part-time students. To enroll at the college, students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 and an ACT score of 18 or higher or an SAT score of 870 or higher.
Education is the second most enrolled major at the school, which offers bachelor’s degrees in early childhood, elementary, middle, and secondary education, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching. The college also offers a fully online Doctor of Education Degree (Ed. D.). The education programs include field experiences, including a practicum focused on literacy and another centered on math, science, and technology.
Concordia University – Nebraska
Concordia University, Nebraska serves just under 1,500 students. Applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher do not have to report test scores, but students with lower GPAs will need to submit scores from the ACT, SAT, or CLT tests. Tuition for full-time undergraduate students for the 2023-24 academic year is $38,500.
Concordia offers a number of different education degrees, including bachelor’s degrees in art education, Christian education leadership, and early childhood, elementary, middle, and secondary education. In terms of online offers, the university has graduate programs in subjects including educational administration, early childhood special education, and curriculum and instruction. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education are required to complete a field experience prior to graduation.
Creighton University has a total enrollment of approximately 8,700 students. Class sizes, however, remain small, with an average student-to-faculty ratio of 11 to 1. The cost of undergraduate tuition for part-time students during the 2022-23 academic year at Creighton is $1,367 per credit hour.
Creighton has bachelor’s degree programs in elementary and secondary education, as well as master’s programs in areas like teaching and educational leadership. All undergraduate education students are required to complete a clinical practice program, and they must have a 2.75 GPA or higher in order to begin student teaching.
Peru State College
Peru State College serves a student population of around 2,000, and the average class size is under 20. The cost of online tuition is $299 per credit hour. The college does not require students to submit ACT or SAT scores when they apply for enrollment, though they are welcome to do so if they hope to qualify for scholarships.
The School of Education at Peru State College offers bachelor’s programs in early childhood, elementary, middle, secondary, and special education. They require practicum and student teaching experiences prior to graduation and have several organizations for education students. To gain admission to the teacher education program, students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 and passing Praxis I test scores.
University of Nebraska
The University of Nebraska has a total enrollment of nearly 50,000 students, and the undergraduate programs at the university have an average student-to-faculty ratio of 21 to 1. The base tuition rate for in-state students is $259 per credit hour, while the cost for non-resident students is $830 per credit hour.
The College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska offers bachelor’s degrees in elementary and secondary education and graduate degrees in areas like teaching, learning, and teacher education. The curriculum includes student teaching and practicum experiences, as well as courses in subjects like pre-professional education, multicultural education, and learning in the classroom.
Wayne State College
The total student enrollment of Wayne State College is around 4,500 students, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1. The cost of tuition for online undergraduate students is $299 per credit hour. The college does not require students to submit ACT or SAT test scores, but strong scores can strengthen a student’s application and opportunities to receive scholarships.
Elementary education is the second most popular major at Wayne State College. In addition to bachelor’s degrees in education, students at the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership can also earn a Master of Science in Education. Undergraduate students in Wayne State College’s education degree programs participate in field experiences and clinical practices after completing their core coursework. They can also participate in a number of different student organizations for future educators, like Kappa Delta Pi.
Resources for Teachers in Nebraska
Becoming a teacher can be overwhelming at times, particularly when it comes to ensuring that you have completed every step toward certification. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources available to help guide you through the process.
- NDEA: The Nebraska Department of Education has extensive information about the certification process, job vacancies, and alternative certification options.
- NebraskAccess: The Nebraska Library Commission curates a list of websites with helpful information for Nebraska educators.
- NSEA: The Nebraska State Education Association is a professional association that offers training and development opportunities and mentorship for teachers in the state.
- Nebraska Public Media: Nebraska teachers looking for strategies for teaching with media can access resources through Nebraska Public Media, including material from PBS and Nebraska Studies.
Once students have enrolled in an online teaching degree in Nebraska, they can also turn to their department faculty for guidance and additional resources.