How to Become a Teacher in Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia has a shortage of teachers. See how you can get your teaching license and teach in Virginia.
Updated June 10, 2022
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Teaching is a challenging and rewarding career that is in high demand across the nation, meaning qualified teachers are likely to have job opportunities and security wherever they go.
However, the road to becoming a teacher varies greatly state by state. For Virginia residents who want to go into teaching, the Virginia Department of Education requires that you have earned a bachelor's degree, have completed a teaching certification course, and passed an exam for your teaching license.
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Ready to start your journey?
For those looking to change careers in Virginia and become a teacher, there are many advantages, including an average annual salary of over $52,000. However, shifting to teaching in Virginia may also mean going back to school for a certification course, or even an entire degree.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Virginia?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is a multi-step process to becoming a licensed teacher, and there are many ways to complete the requirements. In Virginia, a teaching license is earned through an education requirement, classroom time and teacher training, and an exam to receive your license. While you can technically apply to teach in Virginia without a license, you will need to disclose this fact on your job applications, and get a license once hired.
If you want to teach in a particular focus area, like mathematics or special education, you will need a certification in what is called an endorsement, or specialization. If you already have a teaching license or certification from another state, Virginia has a reciprocity program that will allow you to teach in Virginia once you have moved.
Meet Minimum Education Requirements
To get a teaching license in Virginia, you must hold a bachelor's degree, and have completed an educator preparation program, either as an undergrad or after. While this does not need to be a BA in education or early childhood education, education degrees are often ideal for those interested in pursuing teaching, as their coursework includes everything you will need to earn your teaching license. There is no minimum GPA requirement, so long as you pass your degree program.
In addition to your bachelor's, you will need to complete an educator preparation program, either in Virginia or elsewhere. The Virginia Department of Education maintains a list of colleges and universities in the state that offer approved educator preparation programs. There is no minimum GPA requirement to become a teacher in Virginia. You will also need to complete basic safety and sensitivity training in mandatory short modules.
Gain Student Teaching Experience
As part of your teacher training, you will need to spend time in the classroom as a supervised student teacher. How long your student teaching will last varies depending on the educational program you choose, but you can expect to spend roughly 3-4 months as a student teacher before you can apply for your license.
If you are studying an education degree, you will likely get your student teaching experience as part of your degree program, with the opportunity to specialize in a subject and grade level. This is true for a bachelor's and a master's.
Pass Required Certification Tests
You will need to complete an assessment to get your Virginia teaching license. The Virginia Licensure Assessment has two parts: the Virginia Communications Literacy Assessment (VCLA), which is a basic academic skills test, and, if applicable, the Praxis Subject Assessment, which measures your skills in the subject you wish to teach.
If you want a qualification, called an endorsement, in a specific area, there will also be a portion of your assessment on that topic.
Apply for Certification
You will need to fill out an application for your license, which can be found on the Virginia Department of Education website. The application form is available to download, and the application fee is $100 if you are applying in-state, $150 if you are applying out-of-state.
You will also need to provide official transcripts and scores from your licensure assessment, as well as certifying you have completed mandatory training modules. Your license should be processed in eight to ten weeks.
How Do I Maintain Teaching Certification in Virginia?
Once you have received your Virginia teaching license, it will be valid for five years. After this five-year period, you will need to prove that you have completed 180 "points" in the Virginia system to renew your license. These points can be earned through classroom teaching and professional development and training. This includes further academic study as well as teacher training programs.
As of 2018, you can renew your license for a ten-year period after your first five-year license expires. The ten-year licenses are also renewable. You will need an up-to-date and valid license to teach in Virginia.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Virginia
Virginia is experiencing a teacher's shortage, meaning teachers are in high demand throughout the state. As a K-12 teacher in Virginia, you can expect to be earning a comfortable living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arlington, VA, is one of the highest-paying areas in the country for secondary school teachers, with a mean salary of $86,470.
If you choose to get a master's degree in education, you will likely have even more job opportunities available to you, including in competitive teaching markets in major metropolitan areas. A master's degree may also help you specialize in a particular type of teaching, like educational technology or special education.
In-Demand Teaching Careers in Virginia
As a science teacher, you will be opening middle or high school students' minds to the natural world and the scientific method. Science is an endorsement-specific specialty in Virginia, with the potential to require extra education, so be sure to look into the necessary training if you think you might want to be a science teacher.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $62,870
Math is one of the fundamentals of K-12 education, and Virginia has a shortage of math teachers. Depending on what level of math you wish to teach (high school, middle school, elementary) you will need specialized student teaching, which your educational program should provide.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $62,870
Special Education Teacher
Special education is a vitally important area in any school. Special ed teachers need to have particular training (called an "endorsement" in Virginia) to begin teaching. As a special ed teacher, you will need to be aware of each of your students' unique educational needs, and design plans that help them succeed.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $61,500
America is a nation of immigrants, meaning there is always demand for ESL (English as a second language) teachers. The Virginia DOE has a variety of resources to help teachers who want to improve their ESL teaching abilities, including earning an endorsement as an ESL teacher.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $55,350
Description teaching the youngest students in the classroom is very different from teaching at the high school level. If you are good with kids and want to help them take their first steps in the school system, you might enjoy being a kindergarten teacher. You will want to do your student teaching in early childhood education if this path seems right for you.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $60,660
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Certification in Virginia
How do I get a teaching certification in Virginia?
You will need a bachelor's degree to get your teaching license in Virginia. You will also need to complete supervised student teaching, and take a licensing assessment, in addition to completing a few basic safety modules. If you already hold a teaching license or certification from another state, you can get your Virginia teaching license through the state's reciprocity program. Once you have your Virginia teaching license, it is good for five years, at which point you may renew it for a ten-year license.
Can I teach in Virginia without certification?
You will need a license to teach at a public school in Virginia. You do not need a license to teach at a private school in Virginia, unless you will be working with students with disabilities, in which case licensing is mandatory. Given that most schools in Virginia, public and private, will have some students with disabilities attending, it is likely that you will need your license to teach in Virginia, even if you intend to teach exclusively at private schools. Furthermore, having your license may give you a significant advantage when applying for teaching jobs, even though you may apply without one.
How long does it take to become a teacher in Virginia?
Once you have completed all of your educational and student teaching requirements, completed your assessment, and applied for your license, it should be processed in eight to ten weeks. If you are getting your license through a reciprocity program after receiving certification in another state, you will only need to wait for your application to be processed. If you were not previously certified elsewhere, how long it takes to complete your requirements will vary depending on your personal circumstances, including whether or not you will need to earn your bachelor's.
What can I do with teaching certification in Virginia?
Once you have your teaching license, you can teach at public or private PreK-12 schools anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you choose to pursue a specialty, known as an endorsement in Virginia, you may teach in your endorsement subject, such as ESL or special education. Your license will be valid for five years before you need to renew it, and Virginia's tiered licensing system means each subsequent renewal is valid for longer, with ten-year licenses available after your initial five-year license.
How do I become a substitute teacher in Virginia?
Substitute teachers do not need a Virginia teaching license. The only educational requirement for substitute teachers in Virginia is a high school diploma or GED or higher. To be a substitute teacher in Virginia, you will need two years of prior work experience with children, or two years of postsecondary education. You will need to apply through a specific school or school district to become a substitute teacher. Being a substitute teacher in Virginia is not a necessary part of getting your teacher's license, and is not related to supervised student teaching.
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