How to Become a Teacher in Washington, D.C.

There are few decisions in life that can put you in a position to have a positive influence on potentially thousands of other people, but becoming a teacher is one of them. Each day presents an opportunity to teach and support the students you come in contact with. And your students may very well do good work with a similar impact on the people they meet as they move forward in life.

Follow the steps in this guide to find out exactly how to become a certified teacher in Washington D.C..

Choose What You Want to Teach

When you start a certified teaching program, you will most likely be required to choose a topic, grade, or type of students you would like to work with. Those who prefer to work with younger children tend to focus on elementary studies. Elementary school teachers teach multiple subjects to the same group of students throughout the day. On the other hand, those who have a liking towards a specific subject area (math, social studies, English, etc.) will most likely enjoy working at the secondary school level (middle school or high school). Secondary school teachers usually just teach one subject to different groups of students throughout the day. The decision you make will determine classes, placements, and projects you complete throughout your course of study. To begin your course of study in Washington D.C., visit the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

Earn a Bachelor's in Education to Meet the Requirements for a Teaching Certificate in Washington, D.C.

To earn teacher certification in Washington D.C., you'll need to graduate from an accredited college or university with a bachelor's in education or higher degree. In addition, teacher candidates must complete an accredited Educator Preparation Program.

Those who know from early on that they want to teach might complete a blended or joint degree and Educator Preparation Program. However, many people earn their degree ahead of time (often, in an unrelated field) and later go on to completing an Educator Preparation Program after deciding to switch career paths.

Complete an Educator Preparation Program

In order to become a teacher in Washington D.C., one must complete the required coursework for a teaching license through an accredited Educator Preparation Program at a college or university. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is the current accrediting body for educator preparation programs. Any college or university should provide verification of current accreditation upon request. A list of accredited programs in Washington D.C. can be found on the Directory of Approved Educator Preparation Programs.

For the most part, the majority of people gain a teaching license in conjunction with a bachelor's degree. In other words, many people enroll in joint programs which blend together the requirements for a degree and an educator preparation program. Additionally, some colleges and universities may even offer a joint teacher education and master's degree program. This specific information can be obtained from a school counselor or advisor as needed.

Though each teacher education program will vary to some degree, they will all contain classes to prepare the future teacher to handle a classroom, curriculum, and student needs. This will not only include classes on subject specific topics and how to teach to the appropriate grade level, but classroom management techniques, lesson plan preparation, and humanities classes. One will also have to complete student teaching, observation hours, and testing as part of the program. Passing scores will vary among states and districts but will be known by the college which you attend.

Alternative Teacher Certification in Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. currently offers two separate routes to alternative certification:

Teach for America

One way in which to become a teacher through alternative routes is the Teach for America program. For more than 25 years, Teach for America has helped over 50,000 people from a variety of backgrounds (career changers, college students, etc.) become inspirational teachers. Through TFA, candidates will work in a classroom for at least two years in a low-income community.

DC Teaching Fellows

Additionally, Washington D.C. offers another alternative route through DC Teaching Fellows. DC Teaching Fellows is designed specifically for people who do not have prior experience as a licensed teacher. The program provides an accelerated path into teaching. There are specific requirements for this program that must be met. Some of the requirements include the possession of Bachelor's Degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher, never having obtained a professional teaching license, being able to legally work in the U.S., and more.

Pass the Tests Required for Teacher Certification in Washington, D.C.

Prospective teachers in Washington, D.C. who wish to become certified must be able to pass the required Praxis Series exams: Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) Tests and Praxis Subject Assessments (formerly the Praxis II tests).

Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators

The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators tests measure a teacher candidate's basic knowledge and skills in the following areas: Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. These tests are needed prior to Level I or Level II licensure in the District of Columbia. Passing scores on these tests are often required prior to admission or within the first two years of an education program. In order to find out specifics, this should be discussed with a college counselor or program advisor.

Praxis Subject Assessments

The Praxis Subject Assessments must be taken based on the specific subject or level a candidate wishes to become licensed in. These tests assess subject-specific content knowledge, as well as subject-specific teaching skills.

The scores are all submitted with the licensure form and fee in order to gain and maintain a teaching license. Learn more about specific score and state information here.

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Apply for Your Washington, D.C. Teacher Certification

After completing all the requirements, you will be able to apply for your teaching license in Washington, D.C. by providing proof of the following:

Application Requirements for Regular II Teacher License:

  • Complete online application through the Educator Credential Information System (ECIS) portal
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Verification of successful completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program
  • Passing scores for the required exams in applicable subject areas (Basic Skills, Content Knowledge, Pedagogy/Principles of Learning and Teaching)

Contact Information

Office of the Superintendent of Education (OOSE)
Division of Elementary, Secondary, and Specialized Education
Educator Credentials Office
810 First. St. NE - Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 741-5771
Email: [email protected]

District of Columbia Public Schools
1200 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202)442-5885
Fax: (202) 442-5026

Finding a Teaching Job in Washington, D.C.

Once you have become certified and licensed then you can begin looking for a job in Washington DC. There are three options for teaching and/or subbing in DC, these include public, private, and charter schools.

Public School

Teaching in a public school means you will be working for the state and must meet all the necessary requirements. You will typically be observed in the classroom at set times throughout the first few years until tenure is gained. There are usually more state jobs available but pay rates will vary by district. Public schools are open to all students. Each public school district sets up curriculum for their schools. However, education and testing standards are usually set up by the state.

Private School

Teaching at a private school means working within the school's chosen curriculum. Private schools are not funded by the public; they are often supported by private funds and tuition. Depending on the institution, hours and pay scales can vary greatly from school to school or even within the district. Private schools are separate from public schools and may choose their own curriculum and set requirements for teachers and other staff. Although private schools are not required by the government to hire certified teachers, most private schools prefer to do so anyway.

Charter School

The third option is a charter school. A charter school is not government funded, but it is publicly funded. It is a public school that is established by teachers or other community members. There are two types of charter schools: independent charter schools and affiliated charter schools. Affiliated charter schools are connected to the district in which the school resides. Although they are more autonomous than a public school, they must still abide by certain rules and regulations. While charter schools are held accountable for academic results, they must also meet the criteria of their charter. Charter schools may be more competitive in hiring but are likely to pay less than traditional public schools.

Find teaching jobs in the Washington D.C. area through DC Jobs or the District of Columbia Public Schools.

Teacher Shortage in Washington, D.C. by Subjects or Discipline (2021-2022)

The following list of teacher shortage areas in Washington, D.C. has been obtained from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) list for the 2021-2022 school year:

  • Elementary Education K-6
  • Mathematics 6-12
  • Science 6-12
  • Language Arts 6-12
  • Career and Technical Education 6-12
  • ESOL PreK-12
  • Special Education PreK-12
  • Health and Physical Fitness PreK-12
  • World Languages PreK-12
  • Art and Music Education PreK-12

Number of Public and Private School Teachers By Grade

The following Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) table highlights the number of teachers in Washington D.C. in both private and public schools, by grade level, as of May 2021:

Grade Level Number of Teachers
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 2,240
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education 3,330
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 1,010
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 2,940
Special Education Teachers, Preschool -
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School 950
Special Education Teachers, Middle School 240
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School 400

Continue Your Education and Professional Development

Those who are beginning teachers in Washington D.C. will be assigned a mentor teacher that will be considered a ‘master teacher' in their field. This mentor will meet with the new teacher periodically, offering advice and help when needed. Additionally, all teachers should continue to grow and learn through professional development. Most schools require a set number of professional development hours, but this is typically determined by the district. Further information about the mentoring program, as well as professional development, can be found here.

Consider the Benefits of Earning a Master's Degree For An Education Level Promotion and Significant Salary Increase

The District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has three tracks for renewing your Standard License every four years. Renewal Option B, Professional Development Activity-based renewal, is the track that allows you to take advantage of credits earned toward a master's in education to fulfill the 120 clock hour requirement for professional development.

You can submit the following combinations of credits or PLU hours to fulfill your renewal obligation:

  • 8 credit hours in your licensure subject area
  • 4 credit hours in your licensure subject area and 4 credits in other education-related subjects
  • 4 credit hours in your licensure subject area and 60 education-related PLUs

The same combination of credits allow you to add an endorsement to your license if you want to expand your credentials to include a new subject area.

Achieve Your Highest Earning Potential with a Master's in Education

Although you are not required to earn those credit hours through graduate-level courses, a master's degree is a great way to earn you a higher salary. According to the District of Columbia Public Schools, the minimum salary for teachers as of 2019 was $66,735 on the ET-15 salary schedule, while the minimum salary for teachers with a master's degree was $70,731 - a difference of nearly $4,000.

On top of the prestige and additional knowledge that will come with a master's degree, that's a significant chunk of take-home pay coming your way… more than enough reason to advance with a master's degree.

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2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Teachers (Preschool, Elementary, Middle School, High School) and Special Education Teachers, (Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary, Middle, High School) reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2023.