North Dakota ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

If you are interested in teaching English as a Second Language in North Dakota, you may earn your degree in ESL directly or add an endorsement later in your teaching career. The North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board has declared that there is a critical shortage in every educational area, except for the areas of Elementary and Physical Education. This board is responsible for regulating and licensing teachers throughout the entire state.

As of the 2011-2012 school year, 2.7% of the students attending North Dakota schools were enrolled in ESL courses. By becoming an ESL teacher in North Dakota, you will be helping these students develop their ability to effectively communicate for the rest of their lives.

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After following these steps, you will be eligible for a teaching license with ESL endorsement in North Dakota:

#1 ButtonEarn Your Degree in TESOL from an Approved Teacher Prep Program
#2 ButtonComplete the Required Exams
#3 ButtonApply for Teacher Licensure with an ESL Endorsement
#4 ButtonMaintain Licensure and Pursue Further TESOL Education



Step 1. Earn Your Degree in TESOL from an Approved Teacher Prep Program

To start the journey of becoming an ESL teacher in North Dakota, you must complete at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.50.

Your program must include general studies courses, a professional pedagogy program consisting of at least 22 semester hours, and a major in education with a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), or vise versa.

If you are an education major, you must complete at least 32 semester hours of classes in your major beyond the introductory courses.

TESOL Courses must include:

  • At least 16 semester hours in ESL classes to include
    • Multicultural Education (2 hours)
    • Foundations of Second Language Instruction (2 hours)
    • Linguistics, Psycholinguistics, Sociolinguistics (6 hours)
    • Six or more hours in a modern language or Native American languages
  • At least two semester hours student teaching in an ESL or bilingual class
  • Bilingual endorsements require additional courses in bilingual education

The board requires that you complete at least 10 weeks of student teaching under the direct supervision of a licensed teacher. The length of your student teaching process may differ depending on the requirements of your college or university.

There are four colleges and universities that offer degrees in TESOL.

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Step 2. Complete the Required Exams

As of July 1, 2002, all applicants for initial licensure must submit their PPST scores in mathematics, reading, and writing. The minimum passing scores for the PPST are as follows:

  • Math – 170
  • Reading – 173
  • Writing –173

As of September 1, 2014, you will have the option of taking the Core Academic Skills for Educators tests instead of the PPST tests. The following scores are the minimum passing grades for the Core tests:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics – 150
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading– 156
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing – 160



Step 3. Apply for Teacher Licensure with an ESL Endorsement

In North Dakota, you may apply for your ESL endorsement at the same time you apply for your initial teacher licensure. Follow these steps in order to apply for your initial license and your ESL endorsement:

  • You must submit a request for an initial application form, along with a fee of $30
  • Complete and submit your application for initial licensure
    • You must pay an application fee of $70
    • If you completed your degree outside of North Dakota, you must also pay a transcript review fee of $175
  • You must submit a fingerprint screening for a criminal background check
    • In-state graduates can acquire the necessary fingerprinting materials from their college or university
    • Out-of-state graduates must receive the materials directly from the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board
    • The actual fingerprinting process must be carried out by an authorized law enforcement officer
    • The fee for fingerprint screening is $44.50
  • Initial licenses are valid for two years

If you have already been licensed in another state, you must satisfactorily complete these prerequisites:

  • Meet the basic education requirements as listed above
  • Apply for licensure in North Dakota
    • You must apply for initial licensure, even if you have been teaching out of state
    • Pay the appropriate fees for initial licensure
      • Request for initial licensure form – $30
      • Transcript review – $175
      • Application fee – $70
  • Complete the fingerprinting criminal background check

After completing these steps, the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board will notify you of any remaining requirements that you must complete. You will need to submit a plan to the board for completing these requirements and, upon their approval, you will be granted an interim reciprocal license. This license will be valid for two years and is renewable one time, only if you are making adequate progress on your remaining North Dakota requirements.

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In order to be endorsed in ESL when applying for your license, you must fulfill these additional requirements:

  • Complete a minimum of 16 semester hours, 24 quarter hours, of college credit in the study of ESL, including the following:
    • Foundations – four semester hours (six quarter hours)
      • Multicultural education
      • Foundations of bilingual education
  • Linguistics – six semester hours (nine quarter hours)
    • Basic linguistics
    • Psycholinguistics
    • Sociolinguistics
  • Methods – two semester hours (three quarter hours)
    • Methods of teaching bilingual education
    • Methods of teaching English as a second language
  • Assessment – two semester hours (three quarter hours)
  • Field experience – two semester hours (three quarter hours)

If you already have a teaching license in North Dakota, but wish to be certified in ESL, you must fulfill the above requirements before you may teach ESL courses. You must also submit an application for Bilingual Language Endorsement.

If you are applying for endorsement between renewal periods, you must also submit a $75 fee.



Step 4. Maintain Licensure and Pursue Further TESOL Education

After being licensed in North Dakota, you must renew and maintain your license every five years, after the initial license validity period of two years. In order to qualify for a five-year renewal period, you must have taught full-time for at least 18 months in North Dakota. You must also be under contract for at least 30 days during your renewal period and complete at least six semester hours of approved re-education.

If you do not meet these requirements, you will be issued a probationary two-year license. You will only be issued one probationary license before your license is revoked. You will renew your license online.

One of the best ways to complete your re-education requirements is to continue your studies working towards a graduate degree. Earning a graduate degree will allow you to work towards additional teaching endorsements, earn tenure, and receive an increase in pay. A number of North Dakota colleges offer master’s degrees in English Language Learner education.

North Dakota ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives

The North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board is responsible for granting and controlling the state’s ESL endorsements. However, ND is unique because while the number of families that did not speak English in the home between 1980 and 2000 had increased nationally from 11 percent to 17.9 percent, the ND State University extension service reported that that their state’s non-English speaking households had decreased from 11.3 percent to 6.3 percent during the same period.

Nonetheless, North Dakota has a need for ESL teachers. Statistics from 2013 show that 43.11 percent of the ESL students speak Native American languages (Ojibwa 19.13%, Dakota 18.37, North American Indian 5.61 %) followed by Spanish (16.32%), Somali (5.61 %) and “other.” ESL students in ND represent 117 different language groups!

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ESL teacher salaries are mostly lower than the national average except in the largest cities. Many cities, like Bismarck, offer an additional $1,000/year incentive for15 hours additional credits which includes the ESL requirement.

  • National average annual salary for starting teacher:     $35,672
  • North Dakota average annual starting salary          $31.065

Starting annual salaries for teachers in various North Dakota cities are:


  • Bachelor’s degree only – $42,685
  • ESL endorsement (15 extra hours) – $44,356
  • Master’s degree – $48,167


  • Bachelor’s degree – $32,374
  • ESL endorsement – $32,536
  • Master’s degree – $33,345

Grand Forks

  • Bachelor’s degree – $46,850
  • ESL Endorsement – $37,650
  • Master’s degree – $41,100


  • Bachelor’s degree – $36,403
  • ESL Endorsement – $47,650
  • Master’s Degree – $40,898

Salary data is taken from each city’s 2014-15 salary schedule.

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