South Dakota Registered Teacher Apprenticeship Pathway

Earn your teaching certificate while on the job in South Dakota!
There will be an orientation for those selected on July 31, 2023, with classes to begin Fall 2023.
Courses will count toward the Apprenticeship through the Summer 2025 semester.

Please note: As people graduate or leave the program, there will be a rolling admission to maintain the 60 student capacity.
Teacher Apprenticeship

South Dakota Registered Teacher Apprenticeship Pathway

South Dakota is piloting a two-year Registered Teacher Apprenticeship Pathway to provide classified staff employed in an accredited school system the opportunity to earn a teaching certificate. Participants will earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, special education, or secondary education while gaining hands-on experience in the classroom and receiving support from experienced mentors.


The South Dakota Department of Education is leading this effort in partnership with Dakota State University (elementary and special education), Northern State University (secondary education), the South Dakota Board of Regents, the South Dakota Department of Labor, and potentially other partners. The effort is aimed at addressing teacher shortage challenges across the state.
All classified/support staff may apply for the program, but selected participants must be employed as a paraprofessional (also known as an “aide”, “educational assistant”, or “teacher’s aide”) during the apprenticeship until the beginning of student teaching. Participants will continue to be compensated at rates determined by the district. A paraprofessional will be considered a full-time school employee with a minimum of 950 hours. The pilot program will accommodate up to 60 participants.
Classes will be held in an online format or in the evenings, on weekends, and during the summer. Courses will be offered online or Hy-flex. A Hybrid-Flexible (Hy-Flex) course design enables flexible participation. Students may choose to attend face-to-face synchronous class sessions in-person, via Zoom, or they can complete the course learning activities online asynchronously. Collaborative opportunities will be offered via Zoom. Participants will need computer and internet access to complete course requirements. The expected time to complete is two years, assuming a full course load each term.
Participant Support
Participants will receive 1:1 mentoring provided by a local mentor in the school district. In addition, group mentoring will be provided remotely in small cohorts.
Participants will be responsible for up to $1,000 per year to assist with tuition, the cost of required books, and state-designated assessments, such as the Praxis test.
Application Process
An application will be made available in spring 2023. Qualified applicants will be asked to provide background information, postsecondary credits, character and fitness questions (information needed when applying for a teaching certificate), and a letter of support from building level or district administration. Interested paraprofessionals will need to get an application and letter of support from their administrator, as local buy-in is necessary for a successful experience.
School District Responsibilities
The district will be asked to provide information to interested employees. For potential, qualified candidates, the district must provide a letter of support. If an applicant is selected, the district will be responsible for the following: - Provide a financial payment of $1,000 per year while participant is enrolled in the program - Provide a local mentor who is a certified teacher, with the mentor stipend paid by the Department of Education - Ensure that the apprentice will continue to serve as a paraprofessional paid by the district until the applicant’s move to student teaching status (During student teaching, the applicant will no longer serve as a paraprofessional but will continue to be paid at a district-determined rate throughout their student teaching period.) - Provide a laptop or similar technology (if needed) to the apprentice The district is not obligated to hire the apprentice as a certified teacher.
Interested paraprofessionals with additional questions should talk to their principal or superintendent. School administrators with additional questions should email Don Kirkegaard at