Virginia Alternative Teacher Certification

There are options for Virginia alternative teacher certification for candidates who have not completed a traditional teacher preparation program. Virginia state law and the state Department of Education provide for several routes to the classroom for career switchers, which are outlined below.

Requirements for Alternative Certification

To be eligible for alternative teacher certification in Virginia, candidates typically must have at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school. Other requirements vary based upon the route to licensure followed.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Virginia

Career Switcher Alternative Route to Licensure Program

To be eligible for the Career Switcher Alternative Route to Licensure Program, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of work experience. The candidate must also meet the academic requirements for the endorsement area sought and post qualifying scores on the appropriate professional assessments for the subject(s) and grade level(s) to be taught. These assessments include the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) and the Praxis II Content Assessment for the subject area to be taught.

After meeting these requirements, candidates must apply to one of the approved teacher preparation program providers in Virginia. You can view a list of approved programs on the Virginia Department of Education website. Only an approved career switcher preparation program can qualify a candidate for licensure in this pathway.

Level I, the first year of the program, involves the study of instructional methods and pedagogical knowledge and requires at least 180 hours of instruction, including field experience. A Provisional Career Switcher License is awarded after completion of Level I. Candidates then must be hired into a teaching position and a mentor is assigned to the teacher candidate to aid in the transition to full-time teaching. Following successful completion of the second year of the program while teaching full time and all licensure requirements, the candidate may be recommended for a Five-Year Renewable License, Virginia’s standard teaching certificate.

Provisional License

Candidates who do not meet all of the requirements for standard teacher licensure in Virginia may be eligible for a three-year Provisional License to teach. The Provisional License allows those with a bachelor’s degree three years in which to complete the remaining requirements for a standard Five-Year Renewable License while leading a classroom. A school district must hire an individual and request the Provisional License for him or her. During this time, the candidate must complete remaining requirements (such as endorsement deficiencies, teacher assessments, or professional studies coursework) to receive a renewable five-year license.

Technical Professional License

For those who wish to teach career and technical education subjects, the Technical Professional License is a common route to alternative teacher licensure in Virginia. To be eligible for this type of licensure, candidates must have at least a high school diploma and nine semester hours of professional studies coursework in specific education areas. Candidates must also hold an industry certification credential in the career field to be taught, as well as two years of entry level experience plus at least four years of management or supervisory experience in the applicable career field. As these requirements may vary based on career subject area, candidates should consult the Virginia Department of Education Guidance Document for career and technical education certification for further information.

Testing Requirements for Virginia Alternative Certification

All educators in Virginia must pass the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) and the Praxis II Content Assessment appropriate to the content area and grade level(s) for which the candidate is seeking endorsement. You can read more about the required exams and minimum scores through the Virginia Department of Education.

Transferring Teaching Licenses from Another State

Reciprocity is available for teachers who already hold a valid license to teach in another state and who have completed a state-approved teacher preparation program at an accredited four-year school. An application for reciprocity should be submitted to the Virginia Department of Education in this case for review. The typical state-mandated professional educator assessments must be taken unless the candidate holds certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. For more information, review our teaching license reciprocity guide.

Additional Resources

Schools with Alternative Certification Programs in Virginia

Because the alternative certification process is complex, we have researched and provided specific school programs below for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree outside of education and want to become a teacher. We recommend you request information from one or more of these specific programs:

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1. Virginia State Department of Education: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/