How to Become a Teacher in Washington
You have made the greatest decision of your life. You are about to become someone who imparts wisdom on a daily basis. You are going to be a teacher! The following steps will help you become a teacher in Washington.
Choose What You Want to Teach
One of the first things you should do is decide what you want to teach. Do you have a passion for a specific subject? If so, you can consider working with high school or middle school children. Do you prefer teaching multiple fundamental subjects like reading and writing? If so, you can consider becoming an elementary school teacher. Deciding what grade level(s) or subject area(s) can be tough, but take your own feelings and preferences into consideration when making this decision. If you need more information before making your decision, you can learn more about educators and schools on the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction's website. You can also seek advice from a college advisor. The specific steps you take will be dependent on which level and/or subject you want to teach.
Complete Your Education Requirements for Teaching in Washington
As with all other states, Washington requires teachers to possess, at a minimum, a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited university. It is also required that prospective teachers complete a teacher preparation program. If you are just starting out in your educational career, you may want to enter a blended or joint degree. The majority of accredited colleges and universities offer joint or blended programs. A joint or blended program is one in which you may earn your Bachelor's Degree while also completing requirements for a teacher preparation program. This route will help you become a teacher faster. If you already have a Bachelor's Degree, see the "Alternative Teaching Certification in Washington" section below.
Complete a Teacher Preparation Program
Public school teachers are required to be licensed to teach in order to teach full time in the classroom. In order to receive teaching credentials one must attend and graduate from an accredited college or university.
Teacher preparation programs typically contain two separate but important elements, that of curricula and fieldwork. Washington does not have extra hours required for any specific certification. However, different colleges may require different course loads, schedules, or number of hours. To learn specifics it is best to contact the head of the department at the accredited college of your choice.
In addition to actual classes and assignments, teaching candidates are often required to complete fieldwork. This includes hours of observation at different schools and grade levels, as well as student teaching toward the end of the program. Student teaching will require the teaching candidate to create, implement, grade, and reflect upon lesson plans while managing and running a full classroom under the guidance of a mentor teacher.
Alternative Teaching Certification in Washington
For those who decide to become a teacher after already obtaining a Bachelor's Degree, a new four year degree is not required. Washington offers an alternative program to receive teacher certification. However, alternate certification is usually an option for areas of high need which include:
- Special Education
- English Language Learner
- Middle Level Math
- Middle Level Science
- Early Childhood Special Education
- Earth Science
- Bilingual Education
Residency Teacher Certification (Route 1)
There are four routes to alternative certification in Washington. Route 1 allows current employees (paraprofessionals) with transferable degrees to seek residency teacher certification with endorsements. These candidates will complete their baccalaureate degree, residency certification, and mentorship program in two years or less.
Certified to Teach in Another Area (Route 2)
Route 2 is for teachers who are certified, but not in the area in which they are applying. These individuals must complete a mentored internship with flexible training and coursework at a local site. These individuals must also pass the subject area specialty exam.
Intensive Summer Teaching Academy (Route 3)
Route 3 is for those who have a Bachelor's Degree in an area other than teaching. These candidates will attend an intensive summer teaching academy followed by a full year of mentored internship, and if necessary, another summer of teaching academy. All subject area tests must also be passed with appropriate scores.
Conditional Certificates (Route 4)
Route 4, the final option, is for those with conditional certificates. These individuals will be required to complete an intensive summer teaching academy followed by a year of mentored internship in which they are the teacher or record and considered highly qualified as determined by NCLB.
All alternative route candidates will be required to pass appropriate subject area tests, provide letters of reference, demonstrate successful experience with students or children, and meet age, character, and personal fitness requirements.
Pass the Required Tests for Washington
The next, and for some the hardest, step is passing the required exams for teacher certification.
Basic Skills Test
You must complete the Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic (WEST-B) or the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) for certification. Often, this test is required before official admittance into a teacher preparation program.
In addition, you must pass a subject area competence exam. The Washington Educator Skills Test (WEST-E) is also required for subject competence areas and will vary based on your field of study. These are PRAXIS exams and study guides or practice tests are available for those who need them. Determining the specific test you need will depend on your field of expertise, speak to your college advisor to find which is needed.
Apply for your Washington Teacher Certification
There are a number of different certificates available in Washington. Each is outlined with a link below.
Residency Certificate : This is for individuals who have earned a Bachelor's Degree or higher from any accredited institution, completed a state's approved teacher preparation program, or 3 years of verified teaching experience and hold a qualified certificate in another state
Nonimmigrant Exchange Teacher Certificate : The visiting teacher must fill out and sign the application form; receive a district review of the application; be fingerprinted within the district; pay $33 to OSPI Professional Certificate office for processing; gain district approval to become the teacher of record
Substitute Certificate: This certificate is good for life, but the substitute must complete the same level of preparation as a regular teacher. This is not a certificate for those who graduated from a Washington teacher preparation program.
Limited Teaching Certificate : This limited certificate is used when enough teachers cannot be found for a given area. This is available to school boards who need to hire someone with expertise in an area, but does not hold a teaching certificate. There are three levels under this heading known as contracted teaching. These include: conditional teaching, emergency teaching certificate, and transitional teaching certificate. Applications can be downloaded above.
Foreign Trained Certificate: This certificate is for those trained outside the U.S. These applicants will need to submit transcripts and class translations to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for approval. A transcript must be evaluated in order for certification to be received.
Student Teaching in Washington : Those who wish to do a student teacher placement in Washington (all students in a teaching certification program) will need to obtain a pre-residency clearance prior to placement. Candidates must show enrollment in an approved educational institution, evidence of good moral character, and personal fitness. Students in a Washington based teacher preparation program need not apply as schools will handle this aspect.
Old Capitol Building
PO Box 47200
600 Washington Street, S.E.
Olympia, WA 98504-7200
Find a Teaching Job in Washington
After completing the previous steps, you will be ready to find a full time position as a teacher in Washington!
Washington State uses a number of third-party databases in order to ensure that district job postings are widely available to potential applicants. Some of the auxiliary sites that the state uses for these means are Educational Service District (ESD), Retire - Rehire, and the Washington Education Joblink. Applicants can use these portals or district websites in order to view up-to-date postings. In both public and private schools, shortages have been identified in subjects such as languages, sciences, special education, and math.
Professional Teacher Association
New teachers are invited to join the state's professional labor union, the Washington Education Association.
Retirement Benefits for Public School Teachers
Upon retirement, public school teachers can begin accessing their pensions funds through Washington State's Teachers' Retirement System (TRS).
Private Schools in Washington
In addition to the public system, teachers may apply to any of the state's 782 private schools to help mitigate the teacher shortages. Bear in mind that tenure, compensation, and benefits may accrue differently than Washington's public school system. Some private schools may not offer retirement benefits at all.
Teacher Shortage in Washington by Subjects or Discipline (2014-2015)
The following list of teacher shortage areas in Washington has been obtained from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) list for the 2014-2015 school year
- Bilingual Education
- Early Childhood Special Education
- Earth and Space Science
- English Language Learner
- Occupational Therapist
- Physical Therapist
- School Nurse
- School Psychologist
- Special Education
- Speech Language Pathologist
Number of Public School Teachers By Grade
The table below lists the number of public school teachers in Washington by grade level during the 2012-2013 school year.
|Grade Level||Number of Teachers|
|Pre-kindergarten & Preschool Teachers||479|
|Middle & High School Teachers||23,575|
|Ungraded Class Teachers||1,985|
Data obtained from the State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data 2013
Number of Private School Teachers By Grade
There are more than 590 private schools with an estimated 6,500 private school teachers in Washington. The table below details the number of teachers by grade level during the 2011-2012 school year.
|Grade Level||Number of Teachers|
|Elementary School Teachers||3,543|
|Middle & High School Teachers||699|
|Combined K-12 School Teachers||2,295|
Data obtained from the Private School Universe Survey (PSS) 2012
Continue Your Education and Professional Development
Teachers are required to engage in a career-long endeavor of professional development. This requirement of individuals in education ensures that teachers continually strive to improve their practice while increasing their salary and achieving their career goals. Professional development can take a number of forms and platforms, from online seminars to scholarly review. However, it is important to remember that the purpose of professional development is to ultimately boost student academic achievement and leadership within the school environment. The results of PD can have far-reaching positive consequences.
Clear Your Preliminary Credential
In order to obtain your professional certification you must hold the NBPTS for at least five years. The professional certificate is the advanced level of teacher certification. This is typically given to those who hold a residency certificate and complete the ProTech Portfolio, though some out of state programs will also be accepted. Specific steps to receive this form of certification can be found here.
Professional Development in Washington
The state of Washington manages educator professional development through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, a division of the Department of Education. With teachers in mind, the Teaching and Learning initiative was designed to provide leadership and support for teachers in order to ensure that adequate support is provided throughout the professional development process. To this end, Teaching and Learning works to ensure that professional development offerings remain focused on learning standards development and professional learning, as well as content support for state assessment systems and K-12 education policies. Teachers with additional questions are encouraged to contact the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Employment and Teacher Salary in Washington
With an average starting salary of $36,335 per annum, new teachers in Washington state can enter their chosen career at the preschool, elementary, or high school level in virtually any subject, as the state is experiencing significant teacher shortages. Teachers are advised to apply to districts with high enrolment; In particular, Seattle Public Schools, Spokane Public Schools, and Tacoma Public Schools are key employers of their respective areas.
Salary Range$51,040 - $74,700
Elementary school teachers have a salary range between $51,040 to $74,700 a year in Washington. There are around twenty six thousand employed elementary school teachers. Read about what it takes to become an elementary school teacher.
Elementary School Teachers
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||9,740||$60,480|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||1,120||$58,170|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||490||$59,960|
|Wenatchee, East Wenatchee||480||$58,390|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Elementary School Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2021)
Salary Range$41,550 - $85,980
English teachers have a salary range between $41,550 to $85,980 a year in Washington, with over 1,400 employed in the state. See details on how to become an english teacher.
English Language and Literature Teachers (College Professor)
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||570||$63,130|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for English Language and Literature Teachers (College Professor) (SOC Code: 25-1123)
Salary Range$52,010 - $77,160
As a high school teacher in Washington you can expect to make between $52,010 - $77,160. There are around twelve thousand employed high school teachers. Take the next step and learn to how to become a high school teacher.
High School Teachers
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||4,500||$63,030|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||600||$60,320|
|Wenatchee, East Wenatchee||210||$61,130|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for High School Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2031)
Salary Range$45,850 - $107,780
In Washington, a history teacher's salary may range from $45,850 to $107,780. There are around 370 employed history teachers. Get more information about becoming a history teacher.
History Teachers (College Professor)
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||150||$72,990|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for History Teachers (College Professor) (SOC Code: 25-1125)
Salary Range$43,290 - $72,990
Kindergarten teachers in Washington, can earn between $43,290 to $72,990 a year. There are around three thousand employed kindergarten teachers. Read about what it takes to become a kindergarten teacher.
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||1,340||$54,830|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||140||$54,140|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||70||$54,220|
|Wenatchee, East Wenatchee||70||$54,190|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Kindergarten Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2012)
Salary Range$43,290 - $127,110
As a math teacher in Washington you can expect to make between $43,290 - $127,110. Washington is home to about fifty thousand math teachers. See our guide on how to become a math teacher.
Mathematical Science Teachers (College Professor)
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||360||$84,240|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Mathematical Science Teachers (College Professor) (SOC Code: 25-1022)
Salary Range$23,460 - $56,580
P.e. teachers have a salary range between $23,460 to $56,580 a year in Washington. Washington is home to about eight thousand p.e. teachers. See our guide on how to become a p.e. teacher.
Coaches and Scouts
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||3,310||$43,140|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||360||$33,290|
|Wenatchee, East Wenatchee||230||$35,690|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||180||$32,110|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Coaches and Scouts (SOC Code: 27-2022)
Salary Range$22,670 - $37,890
In Washington, a preschool teacher's salary may range from $22,670 to $37,890, with over 7,220 employed in the state. See details on how to become a preschool teacher.
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||3,980||$28,280|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||210||$27,540|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||100||$27,800|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Preschool Teachers (SOC Code: 25-2011)
Salary Range$32,780 - $122,560
As a school administrator in Washington you can expect to make between $32,780 - $122,560. Washington is home to about five thousand school administrators. Take the next step and learn to how to become a school administrator.
Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||600||$44,840|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program (SOC Code: 11-9031)
Education Administrators, Elementary, Middle, and High School
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||1,420||$106,830|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||190||$99,120|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||80||$98,210|
|Wenatchee, East Wenatchee||80||$96,450|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Education Administrators, Elementary, Middle, and High School (SOC Code: 11-9032)
Salary Range$49,110 - $76,880
School counselors in Washington, can earn between $49,110 to $76,880 a year, with over 4,320 employed in the state. See our guide on how to become a school counselor.
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||1,780||$58,110|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||140||$63,570|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||70||$60,280|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors (SOC Code: 21-1012)
Salary Range$54,050 - $83,250
School librarians have a salary range between $54,050 to $83,250 a year in Washington. Washington is home to about three thousand school librarians. Read about what it takes to become a school librarian.
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||1,460||$68,680|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||90||$64,270|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||-||$49,770|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Librarians (SOC Code: 25-4021)
Salary Range$48,510 - $75,960
In Washington, a special education teacher's salary may range from $48,510 to $75,960. Washington is home to about six thousand special education teachers. Interested in becoming a special education teacher?
Special Education Teachers (Preschool)
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||160||$58,910|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (Preschool) (SOC Code: 25-2051)
Special Education Teachers (Kindergarten and Elementary School)
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||1,080||$59,450|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||130||$55,580|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||60||$57,750|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (Kindergarten and Elementary School) (SOC Code: 25-2052)
Special Education Teachers (Middle School)
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||400||$60,330|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||60||$56,330|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (Middle School) (SOC Code: 25-2053)
Special Education Teachers (High School)
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||640||$61,750|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||70||$60,400|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Special Education Teachers (High School) (SOC Code: 25-2054)
Salary Range$32,560 - $45,750
In Washington, a substitute teacher's salary may range from $32,560 to $45,750. Washington is home to about sixteen thousand substitute teachers. Read about what it takes to become a substitute teacher.
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||6,520||$40,000|
|Wenatchee, East Wenatchee||320||$27,260|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||200||$36,600|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||-||$31,930|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Substitute Teachers (SOC Code: 25-3098)
Salary Range$26,230 - $38,120
In Washington, a teaching assistant's salary may range from $26,230 to $38,120. There are around thirty three thousand employed teaching assistants. Interested in becoming a teaching assistant?
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||11,910||$32,910|
|Kennewick, Pasco, Richland||1,470||$27,520|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||690||$32,100|
Data taken from BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oes/) for Teacher Assistants (SOC Code: 25-9041)
Top School Districts Supporting Teachers in Washington
Teachers work hard every day and the more support they have the better they can succeed at inspiring our future. This is why Teacher.org has ranked school districts in Washington that excel in supporting teachers inside and outside of the classroom. 109 school districts in Washington were analyzed with the top 30 school districts being featured below. The school districts were scored on several factors which represent how well a school district supports their teachers.
For more information on school district rankings, see our methodology page: http://www.teacher.org/school-district-ranking-methodology.
Continued List of School Districts in Washington
Data obtained from the Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey