How to Earn Teacher Certification in Virginia
If you want to be a teacher in Virginia, your first step is to earn teacher certification. While there are several pathways to doing this, your options depend on the level of education and experience you’ve already attained.
This guide to teaching in Virginia can help you determine the pathway that’s right for you at any point in your career. Perhaps you’re just beginning your journey and need to know about the state’s certification process. Or maybe you want to learn how to progress to an advanced specialty certification or endorsement, or maybe you’re already a teacher who’s looking to move to Virginia from another state.
You’ll find all that information and more right here.
Why Teach in Virginia?
According to the 2021 Rankings and Estimate Guide from the National Education Association, Virginia’s student-teacher ratio is 12:4, which ranks it around number 13 in the nation. In terms of college preparedness, Virginia was given a score of 91 percent, or A-, from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. With great expectations for its students and steadfast implementation of the No Child Left Behind legislation, the state’s Department of Education is continuously looking to hire and retain high-quality teachers. To meet this objective, the state has initiated teacher-mentoring programs that provide support for those looking to become a teacher in Virginia.
Minimum Education Requirements for Virginia Teachers
To get started with your Virginia teaching certification, you must first decide which grade level you would like to teach. Virginia teaching is organized by grade level groups, early/primary education (Pre-K to Grade 3), elementary education (Pre-K to Grade 6), middle education (Grades 6 through 8), and secondary education (Grades 6 through 12). The most common way to fulfill the requirements for Virginia teacher certification is to earn your bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, and enroll in a state-approved teacher preparation program. The Virginia Department of Education also requires that teachers complete a child abuse recognition and intervention training course before becoming eligible for certification, and a first aid/CPR course as well.
You must complete a state-approved preparation program that includes student teaching, or at the graduate level a clinical practicum or internship.
Pass Virginia Certification Exams
In order to become a teacher in Virginia, you must also satisfy the state’s testing requirements. The Praxis II, or specialty area test, is required if you are seeking endorsement in a specific content area. Early/primary, elementary and special education teachers must pass the Virginia Reading Assessment (the Virginia Communication and Literary Assessment) as well.
Effective July 1, 2017, every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license needs to complete awareness training, provided by the Virginia Department of Education, on dyslexia, as that term is defined by the board, and the regulatory interventions and accommodations for dyslexia.
You must complete the application process thoroughly, and submit to a federal and state background check and fingerprint card screening. You should report any infractions or disciplinary actions taken against you in another state, as it may impact your ability to teach in Virginia. The state will check the NASDTEC database for any disciplinary actions.
How Much Do Teachers in Virginia Make?
Virginia teachers earn healthy salaries, but remember salaries vary depending upon where you teach and how many years of experience you have, as well as the subject area and grade level you teach and educational degree you hold.
Median Hourly WageN/A
|Metro area||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||$59,530||$49,210||$99,900|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.
Job Growth for High School Teachers through 2032
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, 2022
Early Childhood Education
To earn a certification in early childhood education, teachers must hold a Virginia teaching license with an endorsement in elementary education (such as Pre-K-3 or Pre-K-6), complete nine semester hours of graduate-level coursework in early childhood education, complete a supervised practicum of at least 45 instructional hours in a preschool setting in a public school, an accredited nonpublic school, or another program approved by the Virginia Board of Education. One year of successful, full-time teaching experience in a public or accredited non-public school may be accepted in place of the practicum.
The add-on endorsement to an elementary endorsement that includes Pre-K is not required in order to teach at this level, but the endorsement recognizes any additional preparation in early childhood.
Elementary School Teacher
Teachers who want to earn an endorsement to teach elementary school must have graduated from an approved teacher preparation program in elementary education Pre-K-6, or have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university in liberal arts and sciences and fulfill 57 semester hours in subjects including English (must include composition, oral communication and literature), Mathematics, Science (including a laboratory course), History (must include American history and world history), Social science (must include geography and economics), and arts and humanities coursework.
Secondary School Teacher
If you are interested in teaching any of the secondary education grade levels or obtaining endorsement in a specific subject for high school grades, you must also satisfy the education requirements of your chosen content area.
Substitute Teacher Certification
Each district has its own requirements for substitute teachers, but a general rule of thumb includes successful completion of 60 college credit hours from an accredited university, professional references, and submission of transcripts and a copy of your teaching license (if needed). You must also present test results from a TB test taken within the last 12 months, employment eligibility documents, pass a background check and submit a Virginia State police and FBI Fingerprint check, and complete the coursework verifying you understand the Social Services Child Protective Services laws in the state.
Physical Education (PE) Certification
Virginia requires certification or licensure of physical education teachers at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. Elementary classroom teachers who are generalists may teach required elementary school physical education classes. The Praxis exam is required for certification, and certification must be renewed every five years.
Professional development continuing education hours or credits are required to renew the physical education teacher certification or licensure. Virginia also requires professional development for physical education teachers on physical education subjects.
Special Education Certification
Special education teachers are granted a provisional license within the state if you meet the educational criteria, as individuals may not add a special education endorsement to their licensure through testing. There are five areas in which you can earn an endorsement in special education in Virginia. Requirements vary for each endorsement are as follows:
Special Education Early Childhood (Birth-age five)
You must graduate from an approved teacher preparation program in early childhood special education or complete a major in early childhood special education, or 27 semester hours in early childhood special education, including at least one course in foundations and legal aspects of special education, assessment techniques for young children with disabling and at-risk conditions, instructional programming, speech/language development and intervention, medical aspects, behavior management, consultation, child growth and development, and family-centered intervention.
Special Education Hearing Impairment (Pre-K-grade 12)
You must graduate from an approved teacher preparation program in special education hearing impairments or complete a major in special education hearing impairments, or 27 semester hours in education of the hearing impaired, including at least one course in foundations and legal aspects of special education, characteristics of individuals with hearing impairments, psycho-educational assessment, instructional programming, speech-language development, behavior management, audiology, speech and hearing science, and communication modalities.
Special Education Adapted Curriculum (K-12)
You should graduate from an approved program in special education–adapted curriculum, or complete a major in special education–adapted curriculum, or 27 semester hours in the education of students with disabilities distributed in characteristics that include knowledge of the foundation for educating students with disabilities; legal aspects that include an understanding and application of the legal aspects, regulatory requirements, and expectations associated with identification, education, and evaluation of students with disabilities; assessment and management of instruction and behavior that include an understanding and application of the foundation of assessment and evaluation related to best special education practice; of service delivery, curriculum, and instruction of students with disabilities; and of classroom management techniques and individual interventions; and collaboration that includes skills in consultation and case management.
Special Education General Curriculum (K-12)
You must graduate from an approved program in special education–general curriculum; or complete a major in special education–general curriculum–or 27 semester hours in the education of students with disabilities distributed in characteristics that include knowledge of the foundation for educating students with disabilities; legal aspects that include an understanding and application of the legal aspects, regulatory requirements, and expectations associated with identification, education, and evaluation of students with disabilities; assessment and management of instruction and behavior that includes an understanding and application of the foundation of assessment and evaluation related to best special education practice; of service delivery, curriculum, and instruction of students with disabilities; and of classroom management techniques and individual interventions; and collaboration that includes skills in consultation and case management. You must also complete 15 semester hours in general curriculum coursework in pre-determined related areas.
Special Education Visual Impairment (Pre-K-grade 12)
Graduate from an approved teacher preparation program in special education visual impairments Pre-K-12; or complete a major in special education visual impairments, or 27 semester hours in education of students with visual impairments, including at least one course in foundations and legal aspects of special education; characteristics of persons with visual impairments; psycho-educational assessment and assessment for visual impairment; language and literacy skill development; Braille reading and writing; behavior management; transition; consultation; anatomy, physiology, and diseases of the eye; and instructional programming and methods.
English as a Second Language Certification
Besides the traditional or alternative certification route, English as a Second Language teachers must have either graduated from an approved teacher preparation program in English as a Second Language, or have completed 24 semester hours in the following related areas:
- Teaching of reading (the courses must include the five areas of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension as well as the similarities and differences between reading in a first language and reading in a second language; one course must address reading instruction to English language learners).
- English linguistics, including phonology, morphology and syntax of English.
- Cross-cultural education.
- Modern foreign languages.
- General linguistics, applied linguistics, psycholinguistics, ESL assessment, ESL curriculum development, sociolinguistics.
- Methods of teaching ESL at the elementary and secondary school levels.
Certifications for School Administrators
School administrators should earn a Level I endorsement in administration and supervision, Pre-K-12, by completing a master’s degree program from a regionally accredited college or university; complete three years of successful, full-time experience in a public or non-public school in an instructional personnel position; complete an approved program in administration and supervision from a regionally-accredited university; complete a minimum of 320 hours in an internship that provides exposure to different levels with diverse student populations; and satisfy the requirements for school leaders licensure assessment prescribed by the Virginia Board of Education.
Teaching Reciprocity Agreements in Virginia
You may be eligible to teach in Virginia if you come from another state if you have a comparable endorsement provided you have completed a state-approved teacher prep program through a regionally accredited four-year institution, and hold a valid out-of-state teaching license that is active at the time of application.
You may also be eligible for reciprocity if you hold national certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. If you hold a valid out-of-state teaching license and have completed a minimum of three years of full-time teaching experience in a public, K-12 school you may be exempted from having to submit teacher assessment requirements.
Out-of-state teachers seeking Virginia licensure must submit a complete application packet, including official transcripts and professional teacher assessments as prescribed by the Virginia Board of Education.
|NASDTEC Interstate Agreement||Yes, Virginia is a participant in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.|
|State Grants full Reciprocity||No, Virginia state does not.|
|Coursework Requirements||Out-of-state candidates seeking Initial Certification must complete training in child abuse and neglect, emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs); and dyslexia.|
|Test-out or Exemption||No.|
|Assessment Requirements||Yes, but not for all candidates. All professional teacher’s assessments prescribed by the Board of Education must be satisfied by out-of-state candidates with less than three years of full-time, successful teaching experience in a public or accredited nonpublic school.|
|Different Requirements Based on Experience||Yes. Applicants who hold an out-of-state license and have completed a minimum of three years of full-time successful teaching experience in a public or accredited nonpublic school are exempted from the professional teacher’s assessment requirements. Applicants with less than three years of full-time, successful teaching experience in a public or accredited nonpublic school must complete all licensure assessments prescribed by the Board of Education.|
|Performance Requirements||Not required.|
|Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials||Yes. Virginia has three main licensure levels: Provisional, Collegiate Professional, and Postgraduate Professional. Applicants who hold an out-of-state license and have completed a minimum of three years of full-time successful teaching experience in a public or accredited nonpublic school are exempted from the professional teacher’s assessment requirements and may be eligible to receive the Collegiate Professional License or a Postgraduate Professional License.|
Alternate Teaching Certification
Alternative certification is available through recommendation of the employing school district and by fulfilling requirements of one of three pathways: satisfying endorsement coursework, experiential learning or by meeting provisional special education requirements.
Satisfying endorsement coursework: You must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school and submit your application packet through the employing agency.
Experiential learning pathway: You must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, have at least five years of documented full-time work experience that may include specialized training related to your endorsement, and meet the qualifying score on the content knowledge assessment prescribed by the Virginia Board of Education. Special education and elementary education teachers may not use this pathway in Virginia.
Provisional special education licensure: If you are employed as a special education teacher in a public or non-public special education school but do not hold the special education endorsement, you must be recommended by the employing educational agency, hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, have an assigned mentor who is endorsed, and have a planned program of study in your assigned endorsement area. During your license’s three-year validity, you must make progress toward meeting the endorsement requirements in the competencies of foundations for educating students with disabilities and an understanding of the legal and regulatory requirements associated with identification, education and evaluation of students with disabilities. You may not be granted a provisional license without completing these prerequisites.
Teach for America
A plan was put into place to forge a collaboration between Teach for America and the Richmond School District in 2013, to begin in the 2014-15 school year. Under the agreement, Teach for America would recruit, train, and develop up to 30 new teachers per year for high-need schools and subject areas in the city’s public schools. A year and a half after signing the bill, TFA backed out of the deal, at least temporarily. Since TFA was considered a way to help with recruitment for math and sciences positions in middle schools, it was considered a setback, though there may be future partnerships in the works for TFA to come to Virginia state.
Transition into Teaching for Career Changers
Career changers have an alternative route to seeking endorsements if they want to teacher Pre-K to grade 12 in Virginia, however special education is not included in this pathway. To meet requirements, career changers must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, apply to a Virginia State Career Switcher Program, complete requirements for the endorsement in a teaching area or have comparable experience, and meet Virginia qualifying scores on the professional teacher’s assessments as prescribed by the state Board of Education.