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The Virginia Teaching and Certification Resource

Teacher licensure is required to teach in Virginia public schools as well as in most private schools in the state. The Virginia Department of Education oversees the teacher certification process, which is outlined in detail below for those who want to learn how to become a teacher in Virginia.

How to Become a Teacher in Virginia

Virginia has established specific requirements that must be fulfilled in order for an individual to earn a Virginia teaching certificate. These requirements include holding a bachelor’s degree, completing an approved teacher education program, passing state-selected assessments, and completing the application process.

Virginia uses a tiered system for teacher licensure. The traditional route to licensure leads to the issuance of the Collegiate Professional License, which is a five-year renewable certificate for those who satisfy all licensure requirements to teach. Those who go on to complete a graduate degree may become eligible for a Postgraduate Professional License.

Other licensing options such as the Provisional License and the Technical Professional License are typically pursued by alternative route teachers. For more information on pursuing teacher licensure through these pathways, visit our guide to alternative teacher certification in Virginia.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Virginia

Projected Job Growth

11.4%

Growth in Teaching Jobs in VA through 20242

In order to teach in Virginia, candidates must complete an approved teacher education program from an accredited school. The Virginia Department of Education provides a list of approved schools for the preparation of educators. Note that those who attend a teacher preparation program within the state that is not approved will not be eligible for licensure.

Candidates who attend an out-of-state school or an online program should be aware that any such program must be approved by that state’s Department of Education as a teacher preparation program in order to be eligible for Virginia licensure. Schools offering online teaching preparation should also be accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies corresponding with their registered headquartered state.

Additionally, programs may hold accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Although CAEP accreditation is not mandatory, most schools apply for its accreditation due to its distinguished reputation.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Virginia.

Virginia Teacher Outlook
The Virginia Labor Market Information System estimates that there will be 395 average annual job openings due to growth for elementary school teachers, 185 average annual job openings due to growth for middle school teachers, and 262 average annual job openings due to growth for secondary school teachers in Virginia through 2024.3 These projected openings are in addition to replacement openings as current teachers leave their positions. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 77,340 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in Virginia, excluding special education.4 Elementary school teachers in the state earn an average annual salary of $63,330, middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $62,140, and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $65,010 4 Visit the Virginia Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, for updates on education policy, budget allocation and local employment opportunity across the state.

Virginia Teacher Education Requirements

The initial step towards becoming a certified teacher in Virginia is to complete a bachelor’s degree that includes a state-approved teacher preparation program. The Virginia Department of Education also requires that prospective educators complete a child abuse recognition and intervention training course before becoming eligible for certification. The course is available online at no cost.

Virginia Teacher Testing Requirements

Virginia State SealOnce the educational requirements for becoming a teacher in Virginia have been met, teacher candidates must pass the examinations for initial licensure set by the Virginia Department of Education. The first is the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA), a measure of academic skills that is required for teachers in all subject areas. Next, the Praxis Subject Assessments evaluate the teacher candidate’s knowledge of his or her content area. Finally, the Reading Assessment is required for those pursuing endorsements in Elementary and Special Education.

Additional Virginia Teacher Certification Requirements

Like most states, Virginia requires that all public employees submit to a federal and state background check based on fingerprints. Therefore, first-time teacher applicants must complete a fingerprint/background check as part of the initial application process. Virginia also checks the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) clearinghouse for disciplinary actions against teaching licenses held in other states, which may impact a candidate’s eligibility to teach in Virginia.

In addition, every applicant seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license must complete training in emergency first aid, CPR, and AED certification, preferably from a program recognized by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.

Virginia Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once all basic requirements for Virginia teacher certification have been satisfied, candidates must apply for a license. The candidate must provide the following documents to support the application:

  • Verification of completion of a bachelor’s degree and state-approved teacher preparation program.
  • Proof of completed course in child abuse recognition and intervention.
  • Proof of Emergency First Aid, CPR, and AED Training and Certification.
  • Passing scores on the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) and Praxis Subject Assessments.
  • Submission of completed application.
  • Payment of non-refundable processing fees.

The application, which can be downloaded from the Virginia Department of Education, must be sent to:

Virginia Department of Education
Division of Teacher Education and Licensure
PO Box 2120
Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120

Visit the state’s Department of Education for further details on teacher certification in Virginia.

Virginia Teacher Salary and Jobs

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers 10,370 $36,710
Preschool Teachers, Special Education 700 $67,380
Kindergarten Teachers 4,790 $60,900
Elementary School Teachers 35,750 $63,330
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School 5,550 $63,950
Middle School Teachers 16,620 $62,140
Middle School Teachers, Special Education 2,720 $63,310
Secondary School Teachers 24,970 $65,010
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education 3,730 $65,570
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education 2,450 $63,310

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.4

Virginia Teacher Interview

Interview with Mimi Hager, Virginia Fifth Grade Teacher

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Virginia

Question: What are the requirements to become a special education teacher in Virginia?

Answer: In order to become a special education teacher in Virginia you must complete a course of study at a state-approved program that offers special education teacher preparation programs. You must also pass the standard assessments for Virginia educators as well as the Praxis Series Reading for Virginia Educators: Elementary and Special Education reading assessment.

Question: How do you become a substitute teacher in Virginia?

Answer: To become a substitute teacher in Virginia, you must apply to individual districts. Each district has its own requirements for substitutes. Common requirements are at least 60 credit hours of college study and completion of the Child Abuse and Neglect Training module. At the state level, substitute teachers must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.

Question: How do I become an elementary teacher in Virginia?

Answer: In order to become an elementary teacher in Virginia you must earn a bachelor’s degree with a major in education in conjunction with a teacher preparation program, complete an elementary student teaching experience, post passing scores on the state teacher certification exams for Elementary Education, and participate in a mentorship program.

Question: What are the requirements to become a high school teacher in Virginia?

Answer: To become a high school teacher in Virginia, you must earn a bachelor’s degree in the subject you want to teach as well as complete an approved teacher preparation program. You must also participate in student teaching and a mentoring program, and pass the state tests for educators.

Teaching and Education Programs

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References:
1. Virginia State Department of Education: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. Virginia Labor Market Information: https://data.virginialmi.com/vosnet/Default.aspx
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Virginia: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_va.htm