How to Become a Teacher in Virginia


How to Become a Teacher in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) requires prospective educators to earn a teacher certification in order to begin, or continue, teaching. These requirements consist of obtaining a bachelor's degree along with the completion of a state-approved preparation program. Approved programs include clinical practicum (graduate-level teaching), student teaching, or an internship. The VDOE insists upon a list of demands that must be satisfied before an application for teacher licensure is to be considered.

Requirements will differ depending on the type of teaching one wishes to pursue, but they will generally be similar when it comes to educational standards. Upon completion of these basic education requirements, there are VDOE-approved training courses, examinations, and background checks that must be completed, documented, and included in the application for licensure.

A teaching license has a lifespan of five years in the state of Virginia, and the process of renewing that license follows a list of requirements different from those needed for initial licensing. Once all necessary requirements have been satisfied, the application process for a new or renewed teaching license can begin.

Virginia Teacher Certification Programs

There are a select number of options available, both traditional and non-traditional, when determining how to pursue a career in education. As referenced above, these requirements will differ depending on the type of education one wishes to pursue, as well as which program or certification route prospective teachers choose. The Virginia Department of Education website lists the state-approved ways in which licensure can be obtained and the specifics offered within each of these programs. If interested in more traditional methods of certification preparation, then the collegiate direction may be considered.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has over 30 colleges and universities that offer various programs within the education system. These schools offer majors and courses in both undergraduate and graduate programs geared towards preparing students for internships, student teaching, and eventual careers in education. Most colleges and universities will offer common programs such as Elementary Education PreK-6, Middle Education Grades 6-8, Administration and Supervision PreK-12, School Counselor PreK-12, and other subject-specific studies such as English, Math, and Reading. Multiple universities offer added endorsements that allow educators to learn and ultimately teach additional grade levels and subjects. Some of the top accredited universities for educational studies are the College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Virginia.

An alternative route to collegiate preparatory programs is that of career switching. Career switching programs are offered to those who may not have gained the traditional experience necessary to apply for a teaching certificate through a preparation program. This option is available to individuals who did not specifically complete a course of study in education but instead possess practical experience that is relevant to teaching pre-K through grade 12. Career switcher programs are offered by Old Dominion University, Regent University, Shenandoah University, Virginia Commonwealth University (Pathways to Teaching), and Virginia Community College System (Educate Virginia). The final route to certification would be that of a provisional license. A provisional license is temporary and allows an individual to teach, per request of the institution, for a limited time period.

Virginia Teacher Education Requirements

Virginia requires that a bachelor's degree, generally consisting of 120 credit hours, be completed as a minimum requirement before applying for licensure. Certain subjects may require prospective educators to enlist into graduate programs after earning their bachelor's. Courses within each program will depend on the grade level and type of teaching that education students hope to pursue. Virginia also necessitates the completion of a state-approved preparation program for field experience prior to licensure. This can include student teaching, clinical practicum, an internship, or any type of contractual teaching at a public school or accredited nonpublic school lasting a year or more.

Virginia Teacher Testing Requirements

Once the initial education requirements have been completed, prospective educators must take the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessments (VCLA) and often one or more Praxis exams. The VCLA will measure academic skills while the Praxis will evaluate knowledge on content/subject matter. Unlike in VCLA, Praxis test score requirements depend on the subject area being tested; a passing score on each subtest is required. For those pursuing endorsements in Early/Primary Education PreK-3, Elementary Education PreK-6, Special Education, Special Education Hearing Impairments, or Special Education Visual Impairments, the Reading Education for Virginia Educators (RVE) exam must also be taken in addition to the VCLA and the Praxis. Similar to the Praxis, RVE scoring depends on the content area being pursued. For information regarding RVE and Praxis registration, fees, or test prep resources, please refer to the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment

The Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) measures basic literacy and communication skills that are deemed necessary in order to teach in Virginia. The assessment is a computer-based test administered by Pearson and consists of Reading and Writing subtests. Test-takers are given 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete all sections of the exam. Passing scores for the VCLA consist of a composite grade of 470, or a 235 on both the Reading and Writing subtests. Testing is available at Pearson VUE owned and operated test centers or can be proctored and taken remotely.

Praxis Test in Virginia

The Praxis Core test is used to establish an applicant's knowledge of content and instructional skills necessary for the classroom; many state teaching programs accept this exam as a form of entry assessment. The test consists of three subparts which include Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. Praxis Subject Assessments may also be required to earn endorsement in specific subject areas. Typically a passing Praxis score will be above a 160, but this number may differ slightly based on subject. Passing scores depend on the content material being examined, as well as when an individual will receive their scores. It should also be noted that paper administered tests have been discontinued and are now formally taken in an online format.

Other Requirements for Virginia Teachers

As with most public positions, Virginia applicants must submit to both a federal and state background check by providing fingerprints. Virginia also requires that the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) be cleared in regard to disciplinary actions against teaching certifications retained in separate states.

Virginia Teaching License Process

Once the initial education and exam requirements for any given teaching position have been met, candidates must complete the remaining training requirements and submit their application for licensure. Virginia requires that prospective educators attend hands-on trainings in emergency first aid, CPR and AED certification, a VDOE-approved dyslexia awareness program, and certification of Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition and Intervention training. The application must include certificates detailing the completion of each training and program required. The application is available for download at the Virginia Department of Education website and requires a nonrefundable fee of $100. Out-of-state applications have a fee of $150. If the application is declined or an incomplete packet was submitted, the application will be retained for one year; after that point, a new application may be submitted.

Virginia Teacher Certification Through VDOE Licensure

With the completion of each education, training, and testing requirement, the application process may begin. The application MUST include the following documents in order to be considered:

  • Payment of application fees
  • Proof of bachelor's degree supplemented by state-approved preparation program
  • Certificate of completion in the following training courses: Emergency First Aid, CPR, and AED Training
  • Certificate of completion in the following programs: Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition and Intervention and Dyslexia Awareness
  • Passing scores from the Praxis exam and the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment
  • Application sheet

Virginia Teaching License Renewal

A Virginia teaching license is renewable after five years and only after the 1st of January during the year of expiration. The application is submitted in the same manner as initial licensure; however, the only requirement for renewal is to have earned 180 hours of professional development. This can be acquired through college credit, publication of an article or book, professional conference attendance, mentorship or supervision, professional development activity, or educational projects.

Alternative Paths to Certification

Aside from collegiate studies and career switching, another alternative (although temporary) path to becoming a teacher in Virginia would involve a provisional license. A provisional license must be approved by the Virginia Department of Education and at the request of the hiring school division, not by the individual seeking the license. An individual seeking this option is someone who has attained a bachelor's degree without coursework specifically in education. Provisional licensure is nonrenewable and may not exceed a time span of three years. The individual must complete the requirements for a general teacher licensure within the three years provided by the provisional license.

Certification in Virginia for Out-of-State Educators

If an individual seeks to teach in a different state, a new application for licensure must be submitted through reciprocity within that state. The reciprocity guidelines are identical to that of initial teacher licensure in Virginia. Alaska, Iowa, and Minnesota are the only states that Virginia does not hold reciprocity agreements with under the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC).

Virginia Teacher Employment Outlook and Salary

Preschool teachers make an average annual salary of $37,880, and with a specialization in Special Education, preschool teachers make an average of $66,470. Kindergarten, elementary, middle school, and secondary school teachers all earn an average annual salary of $65,000-$68,000 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 2020 it was reported that there was a 1.63 percent increase in teacher salaries from the 2019 fiscal year.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to get a Virginia teaching license?

    With the inclusion of attaining a bachelor's degree the Virginia licensure process could take 3-5 years as a bachelors degree requires 120 credit hours (generally 4 years). Once a bachelor's has been obtained the licensure process can take under one year.

  • What states have teaching license reciprocity with Virginia?

    Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

  • Does Virginia require the Praxis?

    Virginia does require prospective educators to successfully pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators examination prior to achieving teacher licensure.