How to Become a Teacher in Virginia
Congratulations on deciding to teach in Virginia! This decision will allow you to change the future for the better. There following steps will help you become a teacher in Virginia.
Choose What You Want to Teach
Choosing a grade level or subject area in which you desire to teach could be challenging. You can choose from a variety of subject areas and grade levels. You may even choose to teach special education or become an administrator. Before choosing which area is best, consider what age group you most enjoy being around and/or what subject you are passionate about. If you are not sure, you can talk to an advisor or school counselor. You can also find information on educators and schools in the state by visiting the Virginia Department of Education website.
Complete Your Education Requirements for Teaching in Virginia
Virginia requires a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree in order to become a licensed teacher in the states. Different programs will require varied classes and experiences. However, Virginia requires between 300 - 375 hours of field experience, such as observation, and an additional 150 hours of supervised student teaching for every teaching candidate. More information on requirements can be found here. All hours and classes must be completed at an accredited college or university as determined by CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation).
Complete a Teacher Preparation Program
Public school teachers in Virginia should have a teaching license. In order to gain certification, you must complete an accredited program. For those who know they wish to teach early in their educational careers, this can often be accomplished through a blended program. A blended program is one that allows the student to gain a Bachelor's Degree as well as a teaching license simultaneously. This does require a specific GPA, passing scores on tests, and successful completion of fieldwork and curricula as defined by the specific program in which you are studying.
Alternative Teacher Certification in Virginia
Some people do not decide until later in their careers to become a teacher. If you already possess a Bachelor's Degree, an alternate route to becoming a teacher is available. Virginia state requirements for the alternate route of study include:
- A Bachelor's Degree from an accredited institution
- Professional work experience of at least five years
- Coursework for the area of teaching
- Qualifying scores on professional teacher exams (as described below)
Pass the Required Tests for Virginia
All teaching candidates must take and receive passing scores on certain tests to receive certification.
All teachers must pass the VCLA (Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment). The Reading subtest includes approximately 40 multiple-choice items while the Writing subtest includes about 40 multiple-choice items along with 3 short-answer items, 1 written summary assignment, and 1 written composition assignment.
The PRAXIS II: Subject tests should also be taken. The PRAXIS II will vary based on which subject areas of study you have chosen to complete throughout your education. To know which tests you need, speak to an advisor in your education program.
Reading for Virginia Educators: Elementary and Special Education
Elementary and Special Education certification also requires the PRAXIS Series Reading for Virginia Educators (RVE) to be taken and mastered.
Educators that have moved into Virginia after being certified elsewhere may be allowed to teach in the state on an out of state certificate. Keep in mind that passing scores may still be required. Some colleges may require students to pass some or all of these exams prior to admission or completion of the education program.
Apply for your Virginia Teaching License
In order to apply for certification in Virginia, you must complete the application packet available online. You will also be required to pay a registration fee of $75. The packet will require copies of transcripts, test scores, GPA, fingerprint cards, and basic information for areas of certification. In addition you must complete a Child Abuse Recognition and Intervention training that can be completed free online, but must be mailed back with the overall packet of information.
Virginia Board of Education
PO Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218
James Monroe Building
101 N. 14th Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Find a Teaching Job in Virginia
Congratulations! You are finally ready to get a teaching job in Virginia. Use the following resources to help you find gainful employment.
The state of Virginia has a number of critical shortage areas for teaching and welcomes candidates that are impassioned and certified to teach special education, math, sciences, foreign languages, health, physical education, and English at the elementary, middle, and secondary school levels. The Department of Education maintains an up-to-date job bank in order to connect potential employees with district employers.
Professional Teacher Associations in Virginia
Once hired, certified teachers may join a professional association like the Virginia Education Association (VEA) or the Virginia Professional Educators. Professional teacher associations are advocated for teachers in the classroom and the political arena.
Retirement Benefits for Virginia Teachers
Those who work in the public sector will be able to benefit from the Virginia Retirement System. Retiring teachers can access their monthly pension funds through the Virginia Retirement System.
Should teachers wish to pursue a career outside of the state's public system, Virginia has 945 private schools that serve over 135,000 students. At a ratio of 10:1, teachers gain an opportunity for a dynamic classroom environment. Compensation and contract details may differ from those of public schools in Virginia.
Continue Your Education and Professional Development
The state of Virginia's goal as expressed through the state Department of Education is that all stakeholders work in partnership to support and improve student achievement through a variety of programs and endeavors. For teachers in particular, a large portion of the aforementioned programs concern professional development. Throughout the course of their career, it has been shown that teachers who engage in regular professional development boost classroom achievement and school leadership initiatives. Included in the improvements are revising and improving best practices in the classroom, integrating additional subject knowledge for student engagement, improving technology and assessment practices.
Professional Development in Virginia
Virginia mandates that teachers strive to become highly qualified in their respective subject areas. Professional development is created by the Department of Education and in tandem with strategic partners like Intel in order to ensure that that teachers enter the classroom with content knowledge and instructional skills aligned to the state's standards for learning and student academic achievement.
Earn a Master's Degree and Satisfy Continuing Education Requirements
A master's degree isn't required to teach in Virginia, but for educators serious about advancing in the field, enhancing their craft, and improving student outcomes, a master's degree is a must. Plus, the credits earned in a master's degree easily satisfy the professional development points for one licensure cycle.
Note: As of July 1, 2018, all educator licenses in Virginia are valid for a period of ten years. You must earn 360 professional development points during this period for renewal. However, if you currently hold a five-year license, you must earn 180 professional development points for renewal.
There are eight ways to earn the professional development points you need for renewal, including college credit (either undergraduate or graduate).
One semester hour of college credits equals 30 points, so earn a master's degree and you can satisfy the necessary points for renewal by taking just two classes for the five-year license or four classes for the ten-year license.
Earning a Master's Also Comes with a Significant Salary Bump
According to 2016-17 workforce data compiled by the Virginia Department of Education, all school districts in the state granted teachers with a master's degree a higher starting salary than those with a bachelor's degree. For example, teachers with a bachelor's degree earned a starting salary of $38,610 in Richmond County, while their counterparts with a master's degree earned a starting salary of $40,710.
Similarly, bachelor's-prepared educators in Prince William County Public Schools earned a starting salary of $46,923, while master's-prepared educators earned a starting salary of $52,552, an increase of nearly $6,000.