How to Become Certified to Teach in Washington State
The State of Washington offers a variety of certificate types that generally fall into one of three categories: limited/conditional certificate, residency certificate, or professional certificate. However, the type of certification a candidate qualifies for may depend on whether they are an in-state or out-of-state applicant.
Here is a list of each certificate type and the basic information about each one.
|Teacher College Recommendation Certification||For educators who have completed all requirements for full certification and have been recommended for certification by a state-approved teacher preparation program.|
|Conditional Teacher Certificate (limited)||For educators who have yet to earn full certification. Application must be initiated by an employer that is seeking to hire the educator based on their teaching experience and expertise.|
|Intern Substitute Certification (limited)||For educators who have yet to earn full certification. Application must be initiated by an employer that is seeking to hire the educator to substitute for their mentor in case of their absence.|
|Emergency Substitute Certification (limited)||For educators at the request of an employer. It is a limited certification not available to those that hold full certification.|
|First Peoples' Language, Culture and Oral Traditions Certification||For educators who have completed all requirements for full certification and completed a sovereign tribal government's language and cultural teacher preparation program.|
|Residency Teacher Certificate||For educators that either have completed a state approved teacher preparation program OR currently have or previously held a teaching certificate in another state.|
|Professional Teacher Certificate||For educators that meet all the requirements necessary to earn a Residency Teacher Certificate and at least one of the following:
1)Have or previously held a teaching certificate from another state
2) Certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
3)Successful completion of the Washington ProTeach Portfolio
|Substitute Teaching Certificate||For educators that completed a state approved teacher preparation program (or approved alternative) OR have minimum of three years of out-of-state teaching experience and hold a standard out-of-state teaching certificate.|
|Conditional Teacher Certificate (limited)||For out-of-state applicants who have yet to earn full certification. Application must be initiated by an employer that is seeking to hire them based on their teaching experience and expertise.|
|Intern Substitute Teacher Certificate (limited)||Must be initiated by an employer that is seeking to hire out-of-state applicants to substitute for their mentor in case of their absence.|
|Emergency Substitute teacher Certification (limited)||Must be initiated by employers that need out-of-state candidates to fill a substitute teaching role on an emergency basis.|
|Foreign Trained Applicants Teacher Certification||For educators that completed a preparation program in a different country. Applicants must provide documentation verifying the equivalency of both their degree and preparation program. Evaluation varies by origin country.|
To become a licensed educator in Washington State, there are three basic requirements:
- Complete a bachelor's degree.
- Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program (completed during or after the bachelor's degree).
- Complete both the Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic Skills (WEST-B) and Washington Educator Skills Test-Endorsement (WEST-E) assessments.
Teacher Preparation and Certification Programs in Washington State
A teacher preparation program in Washington State offers the training, knowledge and skills necessary to perform the duties of an educator. Below is a complete list of the public and private institutions in Washington.
- Antioch University in Seattle
- Bates Technical College in Tacoma
- Cascadia Technical Academy in Vancouver
- Central Washington University in Ellensburg
- Centralia College in Centralia
- City University of Seattle in Seattle
- Columbia Basin College in Pasco
- Eastern Washington University in Cheney
- Gonzaga University in Spokane
- Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen
- Heritage University in Toppenish
- Highline College in Des Moines
- Lower Columbia College in Longview
- Northwest University in Kirkland
- Olympic College in Bremerton
- Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma
- Pierce College in Lakewood
- Saint Martin's University in Lacey
- Seattle Pacific University in Seattle
- Seattle University in Seattle
- South Seattle College in Seattle
- The Evergreen State College in Olympia
- University of Puget Sound in Tacoma
- U of W in Bothell
- U of W in Seattle
- U of W in Tacoma
- Walla Walla University in College Place
- WSU in Pullman
- WSU in Richland
- Wenatchee Valley College in Omak
- Western Governors University - Online
- Western Washington University in Bellingham
- Whitworth University in Spokane
- Yakima Valley College in Yakima
What are the Education Requirements to Teach in Washington State?
Certification candidates must hold a bachelor's degree and must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. Candidates with a bachelor's degree in an area other than teaching can enroll in a certificate only or master's program that allows them a short, streamlined route toward certification.
Alternatively, candidates with an associate's degree are encouraged to enroll in a program that allows them to complete a bachelor's and both their teacher preparation and certification requirements concurrently.
Washington State Tests and Exams for Teacher Certification
Candidates must complete two Washington Educator Skills Tests (WEST):
- WEST-E - must be taken by candidates that wish to add an endorsement to a new or previously awarded teacher certification.
- WEST-B, - for candidates applying to a state-approved teacher preparation program or for out-of-state candidates applying for a teacher certification.
Candidates that completed a teacher preparation program outside the state of Washington may apply for a teaching permit that grants them temporary employment for up to 12 months while they fulfill their WEST-E and WEST-B requirements.
There are alternatives and exemptions for the WEST-B assessment. Candidates applying for admission to a state-approved teacher preparation program may submit scores from their SAT or ACT as an alternative, and those who earned qualifying scores on an approved basic skills equivalent assessment may be exempt.
For the WEST-E, out-of-state candidates with a National Board Certificate may be exempt from taking the test if they can verify that there is a direct equivalency between their certificate and endorsement, as determined by the Professional Educators Standards Board and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Also, out-of-state candidates with qualifying scores on an approved content knowledge equivalent assessment may be exempt.
Character and Background Requirements to Teach in Washington State
Washington State requires educators and administrators to complete fingerprint record checks as part of their certification and employment. These checks must be done in person at one of the state's nine fingerprint office locations, otherwise a fingerprinting card must be sent by mail to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction along with a fee of $45.25.
Washington State's Teaching License Application Process
Washington State's Teaching license application has four basic steps:
- Education & Preparation - verification of a bachelor's degree and completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program (form from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)).
- Testing - WEST-B and WEST-E test or alternatives.
- Teaching Experience & Internships - applicants with at least 3 years teaching experience or those with an out-of-state teacher certificate must complete a form provided by the OSPI detailing their experiences along with their teaching certificate.
- Application Submission - applications for teacher certificates can be found at Washington's online certification portal. Then candidates can register as a new user with the Education Data System (EDS), the E-Certification portal where teacher certifications can be viewed and submitted.
Washington State's Non-Traditional Certification Routes
Washington's Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) offers four routes for individuals with a non-traditional path toward a career in education, each requiring a mentored internship (residency) and student teaching experience.
For candidates with an associate degree, the Washington PESB recommends enrolling in a program that will earn a bachelor's degree and successful completion of teacher certification requirements. To qualify for admission to this program, candidates need to:
- Have an associate's degree.
- Be employed at a school district when applying.
- Have at least one year of student interaction and leadership qualifications.
- Have a fingerprint record check and character references.
- Have taken the WEST-B.
Non-traditional candidates with a bachelor's degree are eligible to enroll in a program that prepares them for certification and requires taking intensive coursework, a yearlong residency, and student teaching experience. To qualify, candidates must:
- Have a bachelor's degree.
- Be employed at a school district.
- Have at least one year of student interaction and leadership qualifications.
- Provide a fingerprint record check and character references.
- Have taken the WEST-B and WEST-E.
Non-traditional candidates with a bachelor's degree in an area outside teaching and those seeking to change careers may enroll in a certification program that requires coursework, residency, and student teaching experience. To qualify for the program, candidates must have:
- A bachelor's degree.
- Reference letters and letters of support.
- Fingerprint record check and character references.
- Taken the WEST-B and WEST-E.
Candidates with a bachelor's degree and a limited certificate can enroll in a program that involves completing intensive coursework and a teaching residency. To qualify for this program, candidates must:
- Have a bachelor's degree.
- Be employed at a school district with a valid limited certificate.
- Submit letters of recommendation and support, including letters that demonstrate experience with students or children.
- Have fingerprint record check and character references.
- Take the WEST-B and WEST-E.
Certified Teachers from Outside Washington State
Candidates that hold a bachelor's degree and are certified educators in another state can apply for certification by completing testing requirements (WEST-E and WEST-B or their alternatives) and completing a fingerprint record check. In addition, they must submit their out-of-state teacher certificate, a form detailing at least three years of teaching experience, a form verifying their completion of an approved teacher preparation program at an accredited institution.
Candidates that meet all these requirements but the testing may apply for a limited (temporary) teaching permit pending completion of tests.
Continuing Education Requirements for Washington State Teachers
Educators with a Residency Teacher Certificate that is set to expire may apply for a five-year renewal. Requirements include 100 clock hours of continued education and up to four Professional Growth Plans (PGPs) in the previous five years. One semester credit of continuing education is worth 15 clock hours while 1 PGP is worth 25 clock hours.
Average Salaries for Washington State Teachers and Job Forecast
Average salaries for teachers in Washington state are significantly higher than the national average. Nationwide, the teaching field is expected to grow by 9% over the next 10 years. Annual mean wage is about 69,000 to 77,000 from kindergarten to high school.