Iowa ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives

Nearly five percent of Iowa’s K-12 students were English Language Learners (ELL) in 2011-12 according to the Iowa Department of Education. The number of public school ELL students has doubled since 2000, while the number of ELL students in private schools has quadrupled during that time frame. Of the 23,050 ELL students enrolled during the 2011-12, 70% of them spoke Spanish while 3.9% spoke Vietnamese and 3.5% Bosnian.

Iowa’s state code requires that ELL students be placed in a program with highly qualified teachers who hold an ESL endorsement. This can be a challenge, since Iowa had a critical shortage of ESL teachers in 2013-14 and 2014-15 according to the U.S. Department of Education.

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According to the report of an ELL task force that was presented to the Iowa Department of Education in 2013, only 1.31% of Iowa’s certified teachers were endorsed to teach ESL. At that point, almost 5% of the state’s student population was comprised of ELL students.

The need for ESL teachers is so great in Iowa that when Sioux Central Community Schools advertised for an ESL teacher for the 2014-15 school year, they had received permission for teachers lacking an ESL endorsement to apply for a temporary endorsement.

2014 salary data for teachers is available from Iowa Workforce Development and is shown below:

Grade Level
Elementary School Teachers
Middle School Teachers
Secondary School Teachers

Iowa teachers with an ESL endorsement are likely to command a premium for their additional training and should earn more than the median annual salary.

Information about adult ESL teachers in Iowa is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is included in the category of Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers and is shown in the following table.

Area name
Annual Median Salary
Cedar Rapids IA
Estimate Not Released
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA
Southeast Iowa nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released