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The Washington DC Teaching and Certification Resource

Teachers in District of Columbia K-12 public schools must be properly licensed. Teacher licensure in Washington DC is managed by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. The teacher certification process is outlined below to help you learn how to become a teacher in Washington DC.

How to Become a Teacher in the District of Columbia

In order to earn certification to teach in public schools in Washington DC, prospective teachers must satisfy the requirements for initial licensure, which include completing a bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program, educator testing, and a criminal background check.

Those interested in teaching who have earned a bachelor’s degree but did not complete an approved teacher preparation program may be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Washington DC.

The District of Columbia uses a tiered system of teacher licensing. The Regular I license is the initial certification for traditional route educators, is valid for two years, and can not be renewed. Candidates must complete additional testing and graduate from an approved teacher preparation program to earn the Regular II license, which is valid for four years and can be renewed.

Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Washington DC

Projected Job Growth

5.2%

Growth in Teaching Jobs in DC through 20242

One of the most important steps towards becoming a licensed teacher in Washington DC is graduating from a district-approved teacher preparation program. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education provides a list of approved programs.

Programs headquartered out-of-state or that provide online teacher preparation must be approved by the board of education or teacher licensing agency for the state in which the program is headquartered. In addition, both the teacher preparation program and bachelor’s degree program completed must be accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies overseen by the US Department of Education.

Additionally, schools may hold accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Although CAEP accreditation is not mandatory, it is a highly-regarded symbol of excellence in terms of teacher preparation curriculum and process.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Washington DC.

Washington DC Teacher Outlook
The Washington DC Department of Employment Services estimates that will be 18 average annual job openings due to growth and 74 average annual job openings due to replacements for elementary school teachers, 41 average annual job openings due to growth and 10 average annual job openings due to replacements for middle school teachers, and 59 average annual job openings due to growth and 13 average annual job openings due to replacements for secondary school teachers in the District of Columbia through 2024.3 The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are about 7,210 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in DC.4 Excluding teachers in special education, Washington DC elementary school teachers make an average annual salary of $68,920, middle school teachers make an average annual salary of $69,010, and secondary school teachers make an average annual salary of $62,340.4 The District of Columbia Public Schools provides information on employment opportunities and hiring outlooks for the DC area.

Washington DC Teacher Education Requirements

The traditional route to acquiring a teaching license in Washington DC requires completion of a bachelor’s degree and approved teacher education program from a regionally accredited college or university. The Regular I license, which is valid for two years and is not renewable, requires a bachelor’s degree and verification of current enrollment in an approved education program. To qualify for a Regular II license to teach after the two year period that the Regular I license is valid candidates must successfully complete an approved educator preparation program.

Washington DC Teacher Testing Requirements

To qualify for a Regular I license, prospective teachers must earn passing scores on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam and the Praxis Subject Assessments in the area(s) to be taught. To upgrade to a renewable Regular II license, an educator must pass the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exam for the subject(s) and grade level(s) for which he or she is seeking endorsement.

Additional Washington DC Teacher Certification Requirements

Like most states, Washington DC requires prospective educators to complete a criminal history background check. Candidates must submit fingerprints through an approved agency. For current requirements and instructions, refer to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Additionally, candidates pursuing the Regular I license must have a current employment offer from a District of Columbia public school, unless they meet the requirements for a Regular II license.

Washington DC Teachers Licensing Application Process

Once all requirements for licensure have been met, candidates must submit an application for a Regular I license with the following documentation:

  • Official transcripts demonstrating proof of completion of bachelor’s degree.
  • Verification of current enrollment in or graduation from an approved teacher preparation program.
  • Verification of an employment offer in a local DC school district.
  • Sealed results of the fingerprint background check, unless a local DC school district is providing results to the licensing office on the candidate’s behalf.
  • Passing scores on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators and Praxis Subject Assessments.

Candidates for the Regular II license must also submit verification of completion of a teacher preparation program as well as passing scores on the appropriate Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching exam. For additional information on these requirements, consult the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

Washington DC Teacher Salary and Jobs

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers 830 $40,280
Preschool Teachers, Special Education Not available Not available
Kindergarten Teachers 100 $53,080
Elementary School Teachers 3,140 $68,920
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School 940 $62,840
Middle School Teachers 1,730 $69,010
Middle School Teachers, Special Education 240 $63,520
Secondary School Teachers 2,340 $62,340
Secondary School Teachers, Special Education 470 $70,210
Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education Not available Not available

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

Student Review: “The George Washington University was a wonderful experience. It was really great living in the heart of DC – the area was safe, the dorms were really nice, and there was never a lack of stuff to do! Bars, clubs, go to the monuments. Due to the overwhelming presence of government agencies, business headquarters, startups, and non-profits, there are opportunities galore no matter what your interest is in. The only major complaint is the cost of the education and the cost of living in DC – quite high. I would not recommend the school if your money is tight, it’s just not worth it these days. It was a great experience but I’m incredibly grateful for my scholarships.” -Gabriel Y., student at The George Washington University
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References:
1. Washington DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education: http://osse.dc.gov/service/teacher-licensure
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. Washington DC Department of Employment Services: http://does.dc.gov/publication/dc-industry-and-occupational-projections-2012-2022
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, District of Columbia: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_dc.htm