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Teaching License Updated August 9, 2014

Virginia Teacher Certification: How to Become a Licensed Teacher in Virginia

By Room 241 Team August 9, 2014

Becoming a Virginia-licensed teacher requires hard work. It is important to comply with all the prerequisites to ensure you are eligible for licensure. There are many routes you can take to obtain teaching certification in Virginia.

Requirements for certified teachers in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Education requires all applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. You must have completed an approved teacher preparation program that includes student teaching. Individuals who have completed the state-approved program should have their certification applications submitted by the college or university.

Those who have graduated with degrees outside education who have five years of professional work experience may also be qualified for the state’s career switcher program.  They must enroll in one of six Virginia higher education institutes that offer these programs in order to complete the required coursework. Completing these programs will qualify them to teach in their desired areas.

Applicants must complete the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment. Those who opt for pre-kindergarten to sixth grade and special education must also take the Virginia Reading Assessment. The PRAXIS Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE) series of tests are also required. This exam covers mathematics, writing and reading. You must take the PRAXIS II series appropriate to the grade level and subject you wish to teach. Most importantly, all applicants must pass a fingerprint background check.

Many educators add endorsements to their existing Virginia certified teacher licenses in order to advance their teaching careers. Those who opt for a five-year renewable license must comply with the special requirements set by the Virginia Department of Education. They must also pass the Professional Teacher’s Assessment and complete the Professional Studies Requirements. Educators may renew their licenses every one to five years depending on the type of license they hold.

Virginia jobs for licensed teachers

There are many other paths that one can take in order to get their Virginia teaching certification.

  1. Alternative: Many people can get a three-year non-renewable Virginia certified teacher license. This is also called the career switcher program.
  2. Approved Program Initial Educator: You have obtained an education degree from a Virginia-approved program. The Virginia Department of Education has a list of all approved teacher education programs.
  3. Career and Technical Education: You have obtained education and training in a specialized field from an approved program. This includes technology and agriculture education.

There are many good reasons why you should opt to teach in Virginia. The state’s Department of Education has strict requirements to ensure that all certified teachers in Virginia are competitive and knowledgeable. Additionally, the government and private institutions work together to provide qualified applicants with a good education.

If you plan to teach a subject designated as a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) by the U.S. Department of Education, you might be eligible for student loan deferment or cancellation. The following TSAs have been approved for Virginia for the 2015-2016 school year:

  • Career and Technical Education
  • Elementary Education (Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 6)
  • English (Secondary)
  • Foreign Languages (Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • Health and Physical Education (Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • History and Social Sciences (Secondary)
  • Mathematics (Grades 6-12, including Algebra I)
  • Middle Education (Grades 6-8)
  • School Counselor (Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • Special Education

A full and current list of TSAs for each state is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

Teaching license reciprocity in Virginia

The state has many conditions attached to providing teaching certification in Virginia for out-of-state applicants. They should have completed a state-approved teacher preparation program and hold a valid out-of-state teaching license. Alternatively, they could have a national certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards or any recognized certification program approved by the Board of Education.

However, there are also exemptions. Educators with a valid out-of-state license with full credentials and a minimum of three-year full time successful teaching experience in accredited private or public schools from kindergarten to grade 12 outside Virginia are not required to comply with the professional teacher’s assessment requirements. More information on license reciprocity between Virginia and other states can be found at Teaching License Reciprocity Explained.

Disclaimer: Licensing requirements are subject to change. Please visit your state board of education to check for recent revisions to teaching license requirements.

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