Wondering how to become a teacher in West Virginia? There are two pathways to gaining teacher certification in West Virginia: traditional and alternative. The traditional route involves progressing through an approved educator preparation program, typically from a college, then passing all required examinations and a background check. This teacher preparation program may be an undergraduate or graduate program that must be approved by the West Virginia Department of Education. The alternative route for West Virginia teacher certification allows individuals to work as a teacher with a temporary license while completing a study program and taking the required exams. Both typically involve pedagogical and content coursework.
There are several different kinds of West Virginia teacher certifications depending on what stage a teacher is in their career. The requirements also vary depending on a teacher's education background. These are the five teaching certificates in West Virginia: alternative teaching certificate, provisional teaching certificate, professional teaching certificate, five-year teaching certificate, and the permanent professional teaching certificate.
Types of Available Teaching Certificates
Here are the five available West Virginia teacher certifications available to a teacher throughout their career:
Alternative teaching certificate
This allows a bachelor's-educated candidate with a major in an endorsement area or relevant work experience to work in a critical need school in a West Virginia public school. The candidate needs to be enrolled in an alternative certification program.
Provisional teaching certificate
This certificate is provided to prospective teachers who have completed an alternative certification program and wish to gain West Virginia teacher certification. This can be converted to a full professional teaching license.
Professional teaching certificate
This certificate is for an individual who has completed the traditional training routes with an in-state approved teacher preparation program. This is an initial license that allows teachers to work in West Virginia public schools.
Five-year teaching certificate
Once a teacher has at least two years of experience in their professional license area, and at least one of those years is in West Virginia, they can apply to convert to a 5-year certificate. They must have also completed the state's beginner educator internship program, when a new educator is paired with an experienced mentor.
Permanent professional teaching certificate
Once a West Virginia public school teacher has twice renewed their 5-year teaching certificate, they can then apply for permanent teacher certification in West Virginia. This also applies to National Board-certified teachers and those with education-related master's degrees and 5 years of experience (one in West Virginia).
What to Consider When Becoming a Teacher in West Virginia
Those who want to enter West Virginia public schools as teachers have a number of things to consider. Teaching offers a wide range of schools, ages, subjects, and routes for candidates. Being clear on their professional goals before they begin can help a prospective educator plan for their training and career.
Public school teachers work with all ages of the state's children, from early childhood through to high school grades. Each age or group of ages will have its own content certification and educational requirements. Elementary teachers will take different classes than high school subject specialists, for example. Prospective educators should consider what ages of children they want to work with as they plan their West Virginia teacher certification.
How prospective teachers focus on a subject depends on their chosen age. Elementary teachers will need broad knowledge of all subjects in the classroom. Middle and high school teachers will specialize in a given subject such as Language Arts, Math, Science, etc. Candidates should try to think if they possess or want to teach advanced subject knowledge in the classroom. Each subject area comes with its own West Virginia Praxis test.
A traditional certification route involves an approved teacher preparation program such as an undergraduate degree, Praxis Series exams, then licensure. Alternative paths may be available if aspiring teachers have prior content work experience and may be able to work while also pursuing relevant coursework for licensure.
First-time teachers in West Virginia with no prior experience and an undergraduate degree will earn a base salary of $36,815. Those with a master's may earn $39,627. Every district will have its own percentage on top of this base salary, which will vary by the cost of living in that area.
West Virginia Traditional Teacher Certification Paths
The traditional path to West Virginia teacher certification involves a degree from an undergraduate or graduate program with education coursework. This typically involves a degree in teaching, where students take content and pedagogy classes. These programs are in numerous higher education institutions across West Virginia, and they must be approved by the West Virginia Department of Education.
The next traditional step in how to become a teacher in West Virginia is by taking the relevant Praxis exam. The required exams include the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators, a three-part assessment of reading, writing, and math combining multiple choice and essay writing, and the relevant Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) for the teacher's desired grade level. Aspiring teachers will also need to take Praxis content exams relevant to their area of study. The number and length of the West Virginia Praxis tests for content areas vary. Elementary educators, for example, will need to take the three separate subtests of the Praxis Elementary Education Multiple Subjects, whereas most of the higher grade individual subjects will have one more detailed individual test. All of these tests have their own lengths and passing scores and can be reviewed on the Praxis website.
Candidates must pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators, composed of 3 subtests. The computer-based tests take a total of 275 minutes and have a minimum passing scores of 156 (reading), 152 (writing), and 160 (math). They can be taken separately as three subtests or all together as one test. The subtests involve the following:
They must also receive a passing score on the relevant Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching test. Grades K-6 and 5-9 teachers require a 160 to pass that test, while 7-12 teachers need to get a 157 to pass. Finally, Praxis passing scores vary for the required content assessment for each desired endorsement area.
West Virginia Alternative Teacher Certification Paths
How to become a teacher in West Virginia without a full education degree? The steps to gain a West Virginia alternative teacher certification are similar to the traditional route with some differences of order. These opportunities only exist in high-need districts across the state to fill teacher vacancies. Once an aspiring teacher has an offer from a district, they can receive a state Alternative Teaching Certificate. The minimal qualifications for alternative West Virginia teacher certification include a background check and either a bachelor's degree or occupational experience in a relevant content area.
The teacher can then work in the district while enrolling in an approved alternative education program. This is typically at a higher education institution and involves pedagogy coursework with no general education requirements. This is an ongoing course while working to pursue teacher certification in West Virginia.
Once the teacher has received at least a 2.5 GPA on the approved education program, they will need to receive approval from the district and a satisfactory evaluation report.
Eventually, after more time and experience, the provisional license can be converted into a full West Virginia teacher certification.
West Virginia Teaching Certification for Out-of-State Teachers
The question of how to become a teacher in West Virginia is different for out-of-state teachers looking for licensure to teach in-state. There are several requirements, and prospective teachers must meet all of them to gain West Virginia teacher certification.
The first is reciprocity, an agreement between West Virginia and other states to acknowledge each other's teaching certifications and allow teachers to work freely. West Virginia has a conditional reciprocity with other states. This means that while it accepts other state certifications, there are requirements that everyone must meet before full gaining teacher certification in West Virginia.
First, all prospective teachers must possess a valid teaching certificate from another state. Second, they must have an approved higher education qualification. Third, they must have experience teaching in another state. If these conditions are met, a teacher can then gain professional West Virginia teaching certification. If the teacher has five or more years of teaching experience, they are able to apply for permanent teaching certification in West Virginia.
Candidates may have to take the required Praxis test if they do not have an existing license but have passed a teacher training program. The Education Committee of the States (ECS) has a breakdown of West Virginia's requirements by various conditions available on their website.
Additional Requirements for West Virginia Teaching Certification
Beyond the program requirements to gain West Virginia teacher certification, there are several administrative requirements.
For example, as part of the licensure online application through the Department of Education, candidates will have their transcripts reviewed. This is to verify coursework and GPA as part of the process of how to become a teacher in West Virginia.
They will have to be either a US citizen or hold some eligible work documentation to gain teacher certification in West Virginia. These documents will be verified during application. West Virginia requires that candidates have 'good character' and are 18 or older. They will need to demonstrate that they are emotionally, mentally, and physically qualified for their content area.
To maintain the safety of students in West Virginia's public schools, all first-time applicants must complete a fingerprint and background check. This is completed by the state police and Federal Bureau of Investigation. This is done by a third-party company's website, and fingerprints must be taken either in person at one of the required locations, or remotely on a fingerprint card if unable to attend.
West Virginia Teaching Certification Application Process
The applications for all West Virginia teaching certifications are all online, but each with small differences. An initial licensure requires the online registration through the in-house certification portal. Candidates shouldn't have to submit payment until all required documents have been submitted. Once this has happened applicants will submit their payments online, which may vary by type of license. This fee must be paid online with a credit or debit card.
A first-time professional license for traditional candidates and alternatives candidates who have completed their experience and training costs $35. This requires an official recommendation from the district's superintendent. It also requires either a 2.5 undergraduate GPA or a graduate GPA of 3.0.
An alternative path license also costs $35. After a year of teaching under this license and having completed the requirements and evaluations, the provisional license then costs another $35.
The question of how to become a teacher in West Virginia for out-of-state applications is quite different than the other tracks. This involves an application costing $100, a much higher cost than other licenses. Candidates have to send all official transcripts electronically to the WVDE office. They also have to send a form to the state in which they initially gained licensure, which will be forwarded to the WVDE office to verify an existing teaching certificate.
All 1, 3, and 5 year, as well permanent, renewals cost $35 each and have document requirements to verify that the teacher has the required experience.
West Virginia Certification Renewal and Career Outlook
Once candidates have addressed how to become a teacher in West Virginia and completed the requirements, they should consider advancement. As their careers progress, there are several options open for teachers to improve their skills and salaries. This may involve a change in their West Virginia teacher certification. Teachers can add new content area specializations to increase their employability. This typically involves taking another Praxis Series test and adding to their existing teaching license.
West Virginia teaching salaries rise for every year of experience, typically by about $400 or more each year depending on the teacher's qualification. A teacher with a master's and 5 years of experience may gain more of an annual raise than one with a bachelor's and equal experience.
Another teacher certification progression in West Virginia is to become a National Board Certified teacher. This national program offers possible salary benefits, as well as the possibility of professional advancement. Many districts also offer salary incentives or loans to pursue this nationally respected qualification for teachers. These several options, as well as ongoing professional development with their district, offer different advancement routes for committed teachers.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get a teaching certificate in West Virginia?
Either use an approved training program to gain West Virginia teacher certification or an alternative route for those seeking teaching work without an education background.
How do I renew my teaching license in WV?
A professional West Virginia teacher certification can be renewed for 1, 3 or 5 years online through the Department of Education's online application portal.
How do you get certified to teach in West Virginia?
How to become a teacher in West Virginia depends on experience and goals. Either take an approved higher education teacher training program or find an alternative route through a district in need based on prior content experience.
What is a passing score for the Praxis exam?
There are two required West Virginia Praxist tests. The four Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators subtests have minimum passing scores of 156 (reading), 152 (writing), and 160 (math). The Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) passing rates depend on the preferred age group (K-6, 5-9, 7-12) of the aspiring teacher, with the younger ages having a passing score of 157 and upper grades 160.
Do you need a teaching degree to teach in West Virginia?
Not necessarily. A West Virginia alternative teacher certification can turn occupational or educational knowledge of a content area into a teaching job in a needy district.