The Virginia Teaching and Certification Resource

For anyone looking to become a certified teacher in Virginia, the state is a wonderful place to work in education. It’s mandatory to obtain a teacher certification to be able to teach in Virginia public schools and most private schools as well. The state’s Department of Education oversees the Virginia teacher certification process, which is outlined in detail below.

How to Become a Teacher in Virginia

Like all of the states, 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 education program, passing state-determined assessments, and completing the application process.

First time teachers will apply for an Initial Virginia License, which is a five year renewable license. A Provisional license, which is non-renewable license valid for three years, can be issued if all of the requirements for licensure have not been met, but are considered “allowable deficiencies”. In this case, a Provisional License will be issued while applicants work to complete all of the remaining requirements.

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For those experienced teachers who hold an out-of-state teacher certification, Virginia reciprocity may be possible provided applicants fulfill the remaining requirements. For more information on reciprocity and Virginia teacher certification renewal processes, contact the state’s Department of Education.

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Virginia

In order to teach in Virginia, individuals must possess one very important piece of paper: a Virginia teacher certification. Therefore, one of the most important steps towards teacher certification in Virginia is finding an approved teacher education program in an accredited school.

There are six regional accreditation agencies, which are overseen by the US Department of Education, that accredit all US schools. Virginia schools are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). All teachers looking to become certified teachers in Virginia should confirm that any chosen school is SACS-accredited. For anyone considering distance education, schools offering online teaching certification should also be accredited by one of the six accreditation agencies corrresponding with their registered headquartered state.

Additionally, like most states, Virginia looks for an accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparedness (CAEP). CAEP is a newly formed organization formed by the merger of TEAC and NCATE, two former accreditation agencies. Both TEAC and NCATE were recognized by the US Department of Education. CAEP will continue to serve the education sector as a highly-respected sign of rigorous standards in terms of curriculum, process and organization. Although a CAEP accreditation may not be mandatory for Virginia state approval, most schools in the state will apply for its accreditation due to its distinguished reputation.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Virginia.

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Virginia Teacher Education Requirements

The initial step toward becoming a certified teacher in Virginia is to complete the state’s educational requirements. First, a bachelor’s degree must be earned at an accredited academic institution. In addition, a state-approved teacher preparation program is required. In some cases, a state-approved alternative program may be completed instead.

In addition to the aforementioned requirements, the Virginia DOE requires that all teachers pursuing a Virginia educator certification complete a child abuse recognition and intervention course before being eligible for certification.

Additionally, effective on July 1, 2013, every applicant seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license must complete a certification or training in the following:

  • Emergency first aid
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • The use of automated external defibrillators (AED)
Virginia Teacher Outlook as of 2014
The Occupational Supply & Demand System estimates that there will be 1,420 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 650 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 880 average annual openings for secondary school teachers in Virginia through 2022. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are about 76,250 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in Virginia, excluding special education (2013). Elementary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $58,750, middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $58,140, and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $61,180 (BLS 2013). 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.

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Virginia Teacher Testing Requirements

Virginia State SealOnce the educational requirements for becoming a teacher in Virginia have been met, teacher candidates must pass the prescribed examinations as determined by the Virginia Board of Education. Three assessments are used for initial licensure in Virginia, depending upon the teaching area that has been chosen. The first is the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment, which is required for teachers in all subject areas. Next, the Praxis II assessment evaluates the teacher candidate’s knowledge of his or her content area. Finally, the Reading Assessment is required for those pursuing the following endorsements: Reading Specialist, Early/Primary preK-3, Elementary Education preK-6, or a variety of Special Education areas.

Those who hold a valid teaching license in another state and who have taught for at least three years are exempt from taking the above tests. In addition, individuals who have completed the requirements for certification and have received employment in Virginia but have not passed the required tests may be eligible for a nonrenewable provisional license that is valid for three years. This license must be requested by the hiring school district.

Additional Virginia Teacher Certification Requirements

Like most states, Virginia requires that all public employees submit to a federal and state background check by turning in a set of fingerprints. Therefore, it is necessary for first time teacher applicants to complete a fingerprint/background check as part of the initial application process.

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Teaching License Application Process

Once all the steps towards Virginia teacher certification have been completed, applicants should send in all of the required information. Due to the large volume of applications received by the Office of Professional Preparation, the estimated time for processing of applications is approximately three months so it’s recommended to send in applications con ample time. Documents included in the application package are as follows:

  1. Verification of completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program, including student teaching
  2. Completed study in child abuse recognition and intervention in accordance with curriculum guidelines approved by the Board of Education
  3. Emergency First Aid, CPR, and AED Training or Certification
  4. Submission of official transcripts of bachelor’s degree
  5. Passing score on the Praxis II content area assessments
  6. Submission of completed application
  7. Payment of non-refundable processing fees

Virginia Department of Education
Division of Teacher Education and Licensure
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120
(804) 225-2022

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 8,700 $32,180
Kindergarten Teachers 4,200 $57,790
Elementary School Teachers 36,220 $58,510
Middle School Teachers 16,610 $58,180
Secondary School Teachers 23,640 $60,180

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

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Virginia Teacher Interview

Interview with Mimi Hager, Virginia Fifth Grade Teacher

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Virginia

Question: What is the requirement 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 approved special education teacher preparation programs.

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. 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 need to have a provisional license. Requirements for the license include a bachelor’s degree, either with a major in education or in conjunction with a teacher preparation program, an elementary student teaching experience, passing scores on state education exams, and participation 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 need to get a secondary provisional license. This requires that you have a bachelor’s degree in the subject you want to teach as well as adequate education coursework. You must also participate in student teaching and a mentoring program, and pass the state tests for educators.

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1. Virginia State Department of Education: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/
2. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000

Page edited by Charles Sipe.