West Virginia Teacher Certification: How to Become a Licensed Teacher in West Virginia
If you are considering a career as a teacher in West Virginia, it’s important to know your teaching license options. You should understand the requirements for becoming a certified teacher in West Virginia in order to prepare for success as an educator in this state.
Requirements for certified teachers in West Virginia
To satisfy the requirements for a West Virginia teaching license, according to the West Virginia Department of Education, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university. You must also complete an approved educator preparation program, whether this is an education degree or coursework in addition to a bachelor’s degree outside the field of education.
If you choose to earn an education degree, it is necessary to choose a grade level and area to specialize in during your undergraduate education. On your teaching license, the specialization you select becomes the first endorsement area. That endorsement governs which grade level and subject you are certified to teach in West Virginia.
Additionally, you must have attained at least a 2.5 GPA for all completed courses at the undergraduate level, or if at the master’s degree level, the minimum GPA must be 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).
There are two exams that can be taken in West Virginia for first-time teachers. For all areas (K-12), you must take the PRAXIS Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE) in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. For certification in a specific area, you must take the Principles of Learning and Teaching exam for one of the following: Grades K-6, Grades 5-9, or Grades 7-12. You must also take a PRAXIS II exam specific to the grade and subject you wish to teach.
Your fingerprints must be submitted to the West Virginia Bureau of Investigation and you must also pass a criminal background check.
West Virginia jobs for licensed teachers
Obtaining an education degree is not the only way to earn a West Virginia teaching certification. The West Virginia Department of Education lists five teaching license categories:
- Initial Professional Teacher: You meet the general requirements for teacher licensure, including a bachelor’s degree and completed PRAXIS exams. This license is valid for three years.
- Temporary Teacher: You meet the general teacher licensure requirements and either have completed an approved out-of-state teacher education program or have foreign credentials.
- Alternative Teacher: You have passed the CORE or PRAXIS II exam, are exempt from the CORE and pass the PRAXIS II, or provide related life experiences within the content area. Must also be offered employment in a shortage area.
- First Class-Full-Time: You have verification of the completion of six semester hours (or 25 percent) toward the endorsement, verification of your enrollment in the state approved program, and a county superintendent recommendation as the most qualified candidate for the position
- Permanent Teacher: You have an Initial Professional Teaching Certificate valid for three years, converted the certificate to a five-year certificate, and have renewed the five-year certificate twice. Alternatively, you have a master’s degree related to the content area and have five years of experience teaching in that content area.
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 West Virginia for the 2015-2016 school year:
- Elementary Education (Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 6)
- Middle School Education (Grades 5 – 9)
- General Science
- Social Studies
- High School Education (Grade 5 – Adult Level)
- Biological Sciences
- Business Education/Mathematics
- Driver Education
- Family Consumer Science
- Foreign Language
- General Science
- Health Education/Physical Education
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Pre-Kindergarten – Adult Areas
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Reading Specialist
- Individual Endorsement Areas
- Career and Technical Education
- School Librarian/Media
- School Nurse
- School Psychologist
- Social Services/Attendance
- Special Education
- Behavior Disorders
- Gifted Hearing Impaired
- Mentally Impaired-Mild-Moderate
- Multi-Categorical (Behavior Disorders, Learning Disabilities, Mentally Impaired)
- Preschool-Special Needs
- Severe Disabilities
- Specific Learning Disabilities
- Visually Impaired
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 West Virginia
West Virginia participates in a teaching license reciprocity agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). When you apply for a teaching certificate in one state using an existing license from another, the “destination state” is actually recognizing your credentials as verification that you are qualified to teach. You must still meet all requirements before you can teach there.
Fortunately, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure streamlines this application process and expedites the goal of teaching in your new state. For more information, see 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.