Nebraska ESL Teacher Job Description and Certification Requirements

Nebraska is a great example of the positive impact an immigrant population can have on a state’s economy. According to the American Immigration Council, Nebraska’s foreign-born residents account for 22 percent of the total production workforce here and 18 percent of the state’s life, physical, and social science professions. With an immigrant population comprising about 7 percent of the total state population, it’s easy to see why the health and vitality of the state’s economy relies on this unique demographic.

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), between 2016 and 2018, Nebraska’s English Language Learners (ELLs) have numbered between 22,000 and 23,000, accounting for between 7.2 and 7.6 percent of the state’s total PreK-12 student population.

These strong numbers have translated into a growing demand for ESL teachers in Nebraska. In fact, as of the 2021-2022 school year, Nebraska reported ESL teacher shortages in all grade levels (PreK-12).

In short, if you have aspirations of joining the state’s ESL teaching field, now is the time to make it happen. But first you’ll need to earn the valuable ESL endorsement alongside your Nebraska teaching certificate.

These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification and become an ESL teacher in Nebraska:

#1 ButtonEarn a Degree in ESL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Nebraska
#2 ButtonPass the Required Praxis Exam
#3 ButtonApply for Initial Teaching Certificate
#4 ButtonEarn an ESL Supplemental Endorsement
#5 ButtonLearn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Nebraska



Step 1. Earn a Degree in ESL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Nebraska

If you want to become an ESL teacher in Nebraska, you’ll need to hold a supplemental ESL (PK-12) endorsement alongside an existing teaching certificate.

If you’re new to the field of education and don’t yet hold a bachelor’s degree, learning how to become an ESL teacher involves completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree within an approved teacher preparation program.

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You’ll major in elementary education, special education, or a single subject in secondary education and then choose an ESL minor, track, or concentration. Fortunately, there is a nice selection of programs in Nebraska that will help you achieve this.

For example, Peru State College offers an ESL supplemental endorsement that can be completed by students who are concurrently completing a subject/field endorsement.

An ESL endorsement program includes a 45 clock-hour practicum working with ELL students and at least 15 credit hours of ESL coursework:

  • Second Language Acquisition
  • English Language/Linguistics
  • Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Methods/Curriculum Design in ESL
  • Assessment and Evaluation of ELLs

Already a Nebraska certified educator and want to add an ESL supplemental endorsement?

If you already hold a Nebraska educator certificate, you can earn the required ESL coursework needed to earn an ESL supplemental endorsement by completing an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, or a master’s in ESL.

For example, the University of Nebraska Kearney offers an MAEd in Curriculum and Instruction: ESL that consists of 36 credits, 24 of which are in ESL, and a fully online course of study for practicing educators. Some of the ESL coursework in this program includes:

  • English Language Learners (ELL): Culture, Civil Rights, and Advocacy
  • Content Methods & Strategies for Teaching English as a Second Language
  • Curriculum Development & Research
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Descriptive Linguistics
  • Practicum: Education (English as a Second Language)

Already have a bachelor’s degree in another field?

If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may qualify for Nebraska’s Transition to Teaching program, which allows recent grads and mid-career professionals to earn a Nebraska Transitional Teaching Permit while receiving mentoring and supervision through a school system and earning skill and information development through a participating Nebraska college or university.

With a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may qualify for a master’s degree leading to an initial teaching license. Many schools that offer bachelor’s level teaching certificate programs also offer master’s options that include all of the coursework and practical experiences necessary to become certified as a Nebraska teacher.



Step 2. Pass the Required Praxis Exam

You’ll need to pass the appropriate Praxis subject assessment that corresponds to the subject/field in which you’re seeking initial certification.

A Praxis exam in ESL is not required to add a supplementary endorsement in ESL.



Step 3. Apply for Initial Teaching Certificate

You’ll first earn an Initial Teaching Certificate and then transition to a Standard Teaching Certificate after completing two years as a contractual teacher. Once you’ve earned a master’s degree or National Board Certification, you can transition to a Professional Teaching Certificate.



Step 4. Earn an ESL Supplemental Endorsement

If you have completed at least 50% of the program requirements, you can apply for a Provisional Endorsement. You cannot renew this type of endorsement.

If you’ve completed the ESL program, you can apply for a Full Endorsement through the Nebraska TEACH Educator Application and Certification Hub. The certification officer at the approved teacher education institution where you completed your ESL program must submit an institutional verification form before you can apply for your ESL endorsement.

Learn more about adding an ESL endorsement here.

If you have a full ESL endorsement, your renewal options vary depending on the status of your teaching certificate. If you have a license that is less than five years old, you will need either college credit hours or recent teaching experience.

You can submit a Verification of Experience form that shows that you taught at least half-time for one year within the past five years.

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Another option is to complete six semester hours that were recommended by an approved teacher’s program. Earning a master’s in ESL would more than satisfy these semester hour requirements.

If your license expired over 5 years ago, you need to take 15 specific semester hours that includes a practicum of at least 100 clock hours in the classroom setting.



Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Education provides a list of resources through its ELL Program Guide to help you plan your curriculum and assess your students.

You can also join MIDTESOL—the TESOL professional organization for teachers in the Mid-West to connect with other Nebraska ESL educators and stay abreast of changes in the field.

As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for educators in Nebraska:


Elementary School

Early Career (25th percentile): $50,320
Median: $60,300
Experienced (90th percentile): $86,340


Middle School

Early Career (25th percentile): $50,580
Median: $60,990
Experienced (90th percentile): $85,930


High School

Early Career (25th percentile): $51,450
Median: $62,090
Experienced (90th percentile): $81,730


BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Nebraska in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:


Grand Island (Elementary School)

Early Career (25th percentile): $56,360
Median: $66,200
Experienced (90th percentile): $109,160


Lincoln (Middle School)

Early Career (25th percentile): $50,430
Median: $60,690
Experienced (90th percentile): $90,920


Omaha (High School)

Early Career (25th percentile): $53,070
Median: $64,110
Experienced (90th percentile): $84,310


May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and secondary school teachers represent state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2021.

Student population data from the National Center for Education Statistics represents English language learners (ELL) enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in the fall of 2018.

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