How to Earn Teacher Certification in West Virginia
If you want to be a teacher in West Virginia, your first step is to earn your teacher certification. While there are several pathways to doing this, your options depend upon your current level of education and student teaching or teaching experience.
This guide can help you determine the pathway that’s right for you at any point in your career. Perhaps you’re beginning your journey and need to know about West Virginia’s certification process. Or maybe you want to learn how to get an endorsement and specialize, or you’re a teacher looking to move to West Virginia from another state. You’ll find all that information and more right here.
The short video below gives an overview of what to expect as a certified teacher in West Virginia.
The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) values the education it provides to its students so it requires teachers to meet certain qualifications. All teachers in West Virginia must be U.S. citizens of good moral character (they must pass both a state police and an FBI background check) and be at least 18 years old. They must be physically, mentally and emotionally qualified to be teachers, and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA in college (or 3.0 for master’s level work).
Minimum Education Requirements for West Virginia Teachers
After you gain teaching experience, you can apply for a permanent teaching certificate. Permanent certificates are issued to teachers who satisfy one of the following requirements:
Have an initial teaching certificate for three years, convert the certificate to a five-year certificate and renew the five-year certificate twice, or
Successfully teach for five years in your endorsement area or areas and hold a master’s degree in a relevant subject.
For teachers who have completed professional development, coursework and testing that goes beyond minimum requirements, West Virginia offers an advanced credential, which exceeds the requirements for a professional certificate. Endorsements identified as Advanced Credentials have unique and specific requirements for the initial issuance and subsequent renewal. Advanced Credentials may be required for employment.
An educator who receives a Professional Teaching Certificate must successfully complete a Beginning Educator Internship or Induction. An educator who has successfully completed five years of out-of-state teaching experience is exempt from completing the Beginning Educator Internship/Induction.
Pass West Virginia Certification Exams
The testing requirements in West Virginia include the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Tests, the Praxis II tests for content areas in which applicants wish to be certified, and the relevant professional knowledge tests.
Each applicant must first register with the Certification Portal to connect their certification records with their Single Sign-on Account or Webtop Account. A Webtop Account (SSO) is assigned to all full-time county school employees. If you are not a full-time employee, you must complete set steps to create an account and apply for certification.
How Much Do Teachers in West Virginia Make?
Here are median annual salaries for a variety of teaching positions, as cited by the 2021 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics.
|Early Childhood Educator||$28,290|
|Elementary School Teacher||$48,290|
|Secondary School Teacher||$49,850|
|Special Education Teacher||$49,980|
Job Growth for High School Teachers through 2031
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, 2021
Early Childhood Education
ECE Pre-K teachers in West Virginia must complete the traditional route to early childhood education certification and complete curriculum, ECE assessment, family and community child development, special needs and language and literacy coursework. You must fill out the Application for Community Program Authorization when applying for the permanent, initial, or to renew, certification to teach in a partnership between a local school system and a community PK program.
Elementary School Teacher
Elementary teaching is defined as K- 6 in West Virginia, and future educators must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program at one of 19 state approved colleges or universities (the list is here).
Those who have completed the pathway to teacher certification and want to specialize in elementary education can choose from three general education specializations: elementary education, elementary mathematics education and elementary mathematics specialist.
Elementary school teacher endorsement includes 18 hours of classes in reading and literacy, classroom management, state and local policies, content standards and objectives, and school law to include reporting requirements for suspected child abuse.
Secondary School Teacher
In order to become a secondary school teacher in West Virginia, you must earn your professional teaching certification through approved state channels, including attending an accredited, state-approved educator program, a teacher prep program, passing the requisite Praxis exam and passing a background check.
Teachers may then take other coursework in an area of specialization, and upon successful completion, apply for a Provisional Teaching Certificate, which is endorsed to indicate the specializations and grade level in which the holding teacher is then legally assigned within the West Virginia public school system. Teachers also will need recommendation from the Superintendent from the employing county, have a satisfactory evaluation history, and the prescribed number of hours of required coursework; the Praxis II Content Specialization Test must be passed for each area of specialization if a test is required.
Substitute Teacher Certification
West Virginia offers two types of substitute teacher certifications: short-term and long-term. Applicants looking to become a substitute teacher in West Virginia must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants seeking short-term licensure must have an overall GPA of at least 2.0. Those seeking long-term licensure must have at least a 2.0 GPA in each endorsement area.
Any applicant with a valid West Virginia Professional Certificate or a Permit for Non-United States Citizen may apply for a Long-Term Substitute Permit for any specialization area for which they are qualified without completing the initial 18 clock hours of training.
If an applicant keeps their West Virginia Professional Certificate valid, they are not required to complete the 12 clock hours of renewal training when renewing the Long-Term Substitute Permit, provided all other requirements are met.
Physical Education (PE) Certification
West Virginia requires certification of PE teachers at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. The Praxis exam is required for certification, and must be renewed every five years. Professional development hours are required in order to renew physical education teaching licensure as well. West Virginia encourages National Board Certification for PE teachers, and offers incentives to undergo the NBC process, including funding for education and an ongoing higher rate of pay to teachers who complete board certification.
Special Education Certification
The West Virginia Department of Education offers certification in special education to those who meet the proficiency score on required state competency exams in special education content and the state exam in pedagogy, Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching, for the levels in which the applicant wishes to teach.
English as a Second Language Certification
The ESL endorsement is available as an add-on for teachers who are already licensed as an elementary or secondary teacher in the state of West Virginia. There are two schools in the state (Marshall University and West Virginia University) that currently offer the opportunity to enroll in a TESOL certification program. In one program, you must complete 21 hours of coursework leading to a graduate certificate which meets state standards, and the other is a master’s program in TESOL that includes 53 hours of coursework. Once completed you can apply for the certification with endorsement code 1050, English as a Second Language. You do not need to pass a Praxis exams or other tests. You may then renew your license through the Professional Development pathway.
Certifications for School Administrators
Certifications for school administration-Principal, General Supervisor or Superintendent-may be granted to an individual who has completed a minimum of a master’s degree through an approved accredited institution of higher education, the general requirements for certification, earned the minimum GPA, has three years of managements level experience, and completed training in evaluation skills through the West Virginia Center for Professional Development or equivalent training.
The Permit for Administrators is valid for one school year and expires at term of the school year, or on June 30. An educator employed on or after January 1st of any given year may be issued a Permit valid until June 30 of the following school year.
Teaching Reciprocity Agreements in West Virginia
Under West Virginia Code, out of state applicants seeking initial licensure in the state of West Virginia, based on reciprocity, are required to meet specific requirements, including holding a valid teaching certificate or a certificate of eligibility issued by another state, must have graduated from a state-approved educator preparation program at a regionally accredited institution of higher education, and have successfully completed a student teaching experience or equivalent in the state in which the approved program was completed. You must also request fingerprint cards, a Hard Card form and payment in full to MorphoTrust for these services.
|NASDTEC Interstate Agreement||West Virginia is a member of the National Association of State Directors of Teaching Education Certification, or NASDTEC, that promotes the mobility of educators across state and national lines utilizing consistent standards for certification and education personnel. Although West Virginia participates in this interstate agreement, specific requirements for granting certification to out-of-state applicants applies.|
|State Grants full Reciprocity||No.|
|Coursework Requirements||No coursework requirements in West Virginia.|
|Test-out or Exemption||West Virginia does not have any additional requirements or testing in place.|
|Assessment Requirements||Yes, but not for all candidates. Subject to some exemptions, out-of-state candidates may be required to achieve passing scores on a test of basic skills, content specialization and professional education. Candidates who have completed three years of successful experience in a public school within the last seven years in the area for which they are seeking licensure are exempt from additional assessment requirements.|
|Different Requirements Based on Experience||Applicants with permanent out-of-state licenses and the ability to verify five years of experience in the endorsement areas are eligible to receive a Permanent Professional Teaching Certificate. Applicants who have completed three years of successful experience in a public school within the last seven years in the area for which licensure is being sought are eligible to receive a Professional Teaching Certificate and are exempt from additional assessment requirements. Applicants with a valid out-of-state teaching license but who do not meet experience requirements may be eligible to receive a three-year, renewable Initial Professional Teaching Certificate if they meet GPA and assessment requirements. Temporary Teaching Certificates are issued to candidates working to meet requirements for full licensure. Applicants with less than five years of out-of-state teaching experience are required to complete the beginning internship or induction program.|
|Performance Requirements||Candidates can be exempted from performance assessment requirements if they can demonstrate three years of successful experience within the last seven years in the specialty subject area for which they are seeking licensure.|
|Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials||Yes. West Virginia has three main licensure levels: Initial, Professional and Permanent. Out-of-state applicants who can verify a minimum of five years’ experience in their endorsement area may be eligible to receive a Permanent Professional Teaching Certificate. Applicants who have completed three years of successful experience in a public school within the last seven years in the area for which licensure is being sought are eligible to receive a Professional Teaching Certificate and are exempt from additional assessment requirements.|
Alternate Teaching Certification
In order to enroll in an alternative route to certification for a general education endorsement, an individual must be offered employment in a shortage area by a West Virginia county school district, possess the minimum of a bachelor’s degree with a minimum overall 2.5 GPA from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, meet the proficiency scores on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators tests or qualify for an exemption, meet the proficiency scores on the Praxis Subject Assessments or qualify for an exemption, and complete a West Virginia State Police and FBI background check.
While alternative preparation program providers determine the specific coursework required in their programs, minimum requirements for all alternative certification programs for general education include the completion of 18 semester hours of coursework in the areas of student assessment, development and learning, curriculum, classroom management, the use of educational computers and other technology, and special education and diversity; all programs must include three semester hours of instruction in special education and diversity.
Teach for America
One other way to become certified to teach in West Virginia is to go through the Teach for America program (TFA). TFA supports its members as they work in low-income urban and rural settings. Anyone with a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate subject area is welcome to apply. Their training and professional development supports will ensure success and a path to full certification.
To apply for certification, you must have all of your transcripts for all of the courses you have completed. You must also have passing scores from the Praxis I and II academic skills tests.
Transition into Teaching for Career Changers
The West Virginia Department of Education assists school districts in their efforts to promote, recruit and retain a well-educated and diverse workforce. West Virginia Code has created opportunities for school districts to recruit individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and meet the eligibility criteria to fill teacher vacancies in areas of critical need and shortage in the state. Opportunities for participating in West Virginia’s former alternative certification program known as Transition to Teaching program are no longer available.
Instead, individuals who would like to participate in a state-approved alternative certification program must contact a school district that has an approved program for eligibility details and receive an offer of employment for a vacancy in an identified area of critical need and shortage. Candidates must also meet requirements to hold an alternative teaching certificate. Upon successful completion of a state-approved alternative certification program, applicants are eligible to apply for an Initial Professional Teaching Certificate.
Non-U.S. Citizens Teaching in West Virginia
In accordance with West Virginia code, a non-United States citizen may be granted a permit to teach based upon verification by a WVDE-approved foreign credential evaluation agency that the applicant has completed the equivalent of an approved educational personnel preparation program in the United States and in a specialization offered in West Virginia, with or without the required tests in pre-professional skills, Content or Professional Education, and that the applicant has completed a degree equivalent to the required degree level in the United States and has earned an overall GPA equivalent to a 2.5 in the United States.