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 are available for those who have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher preparation program. For more information on pursuing teacher licensure through these pathways, visit our guide to alternative teacher certification in Virginia.
- I want to be a teacher in Virginia, but don’t have a degree: Earn an Education Degree
- I want to be a teacher and have a degree, but not in education: Learn about Virginia’s Alternative Certification Process and Programs
- I have a teaching degree and am interested in more education: Learn about Master’s Degree Education Programs or Doctorate Education Programs and Information.
- I am already certified and want to teach in another state: Learn about Teacher Certification Reciprocity.
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Virginia
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in VA through 20262
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. You can compare key metrics for Virginia state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Virginia schools page.
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.
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.
In addition, every applicant seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license must complete hands-on training in emergency first aid, CPR, and AED certification, preferably from a program recognized by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. Licensure candidates must also complete VDOE-approved dyslexia awareness training.
Virginia Teacher Testing Requirements
Once 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.
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 content-area exams.
- 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 Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
During the 2016-2017 school year, there were 2,134 K-12 public schools in Virginia, with an estimated student population of 1.28 million.3 Based on an estimated 91,627 public school teachers, Virginia had a student-to-teacher ratio of 14:1 during this timeframe.3
Estimates are that there will be 2,950 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 1,350 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 2,110 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers in Virginia through 2026.3 Elementary school teachers in the state earn an average annual salary of $67,610, middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $66,870, and secondary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $68,770.4 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.
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||600||$66,470|
|Elementary School Teachers||36,450||$67,610|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||5,870||$66,790|
|Middle School Teachers||17,130||$66,870|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||3,150||$72,960|
|Secondary School Teachers||26,830||$68,770|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||4,110||$61,890|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||2,690||$65,290|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Teacher Shortages in Virginia
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, Virginia broadly has the following shortages5:
- Career and Technical Education (General)
- Core Subjects (Elementary Education), Pre-K-6
- General Shortages (Education General), 6-8
- Health and Physical Fitness (General), Pre-K-12
- Language Arts (English), 6-12
- Mathematics (General), 6-12
- Science (General), 6-12
- Special Education (General), Pre-K-12
- Support Staff (Instructional Library Media), Pre-K-12
- World Languages (General), Pre-K-12
Virginia Teacher Interview
- Fifth Grade Teacher, Mimi Hager
Frequently Asked Questions
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, have at least two years of postsecondary education or two years of experience with children, 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.
1. Virginia State Department of Education: https://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. National Center for Education Statistics, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Virginia: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_va.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports