The United States Department of Education defines a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) as a subject matter or grade level within a state in which there is an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary teachers. The shortage may be caused by teaching positions that are unfilled or are filled by teachers who have temporary certification or teach in in academic subject other than their area of preparation. According to a report by the USDE Office of Postsecondary Education, Washington has the following Teacher Shortage Areas:
Early Childhood Special Education
English Language Learner
Middle Level Science
Earth and Space Science
Middle Level Math
Speech Language Pathologist
Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Washington
Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. Teach.com makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 11/3/2016
To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of Washington, teaching candidates must meet the following requirements:
Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program.
Step Four: Submit a Washington teaching credential application.
Continue below for more information.
Earn Your Washington Teaching Credential
New teachers in Washington State start out with a Residency Certificate and move to a Professional Certificate by completing a Professional Certification Program at a Washington college or university and submitting a ProTeach Portfolio of professional development activities. In order to earn your Washington state teaching credential, you must complete required coursework, fieldwork and standardized testing requirements. If you already have a teaching credential from another state, you may qualify for interstate credential reciprocity. Visit the State of Washington's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website for more on earning your Washington teaching credential.
Washington requires that certified teachers have, at a minimum, a Bachelor’s degree. Although some states have undergraduate credit hour requirements for certification in specialty areas, Washington does not list specific course or credit hour requirements. However, every college or university teacher preparation program will have requirements of its own. Contact your teacher preparation program or the Department of Education for more information.
Step Two: Washington Teacher Certification Programs
In the State of Washington, prospective teachers must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program at an accredited college or university, or they must complete a state-approved alternative certification program. A list of state-approve teacher preparation programs can be found on the Washington Student Achievement Council website.
Typically teacher education programs consist of a combination of courses on foundational knowledge and skills, pedagogy (the art and science of teaching), research, design, and implementation of learning experiences in their field of study, along with hands-on fieldwork. The fieldwork component can include observations, student teaching, and an internship.
Step Three: Required Tests in Washington State
To become a certified teacher in Washington, you must satisfactorily complete the Basic Skill Test and any Subject Area Competence assessments needed for your desired area of instruction. Learn more about Washington’s exam requirement on Washington State’s Professional Educator Standards Board page. The Basic Skills Test can be fulfilled with the
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The online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.
Alternative Certification in Washington
Graduates of accredited colleges or universities who do not have a Bachelor’s in education and who have not yet received a teaching certificate can still obtain an alternative teaching certificate by satisfying certain requirements. Washington State offers four alternative certification routes, two of which are for people already employed as paraprofessionals in the school system.
Visit Washington State’s Professional Educator Standards Board to learn moreabout these options and which one might be the best fit for you. Washington also participates in the Troops to Teachers program. There are also a number of different Limited Certificates that a school district may be able to request if they need you to teach in shortage areas or areas where you have expertise.
Benefits of Earning a Master's Degree in Washington
Teachers with a Master of Education will enjoy a higher salary in a state which is already above the national average in terms of teaching salaries. According to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website, teachers starting out with a Master’s degree in 2014 can expect to earn over $6,500 more than those starting out with a Bachelor’s degree, and a similar differential applies to teachers with some years of experience.
Washington will accept some teaching credentials from other states if the accrediting program meets or exceeds Washington’s requirements. Washington’s rules allow it to recognize any state-approved educator preparation program and degree from an accredited institution to meet basic requirements. Contact the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to inquire about your specific situation.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington teachers earn on the average earn $60,702. This is above the national average, making teaching in Washington particularly rewarding. Salaries and benefits for Washington teaching jobs hinge both on experience and on qualifications.
Retirement benefits for education jobs in Washington are handled by the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). TRS provides benefits for teachers depending on when they established membership. There are three different plans, one for employees who were TRS members before October 1, 1977, and two for employees who became members after this date.
The WashingtonTRS website includes a series of helpful resources, including a benefits calculator, important forms, and additional information. Learn more about benefits for teachers on Teach.com.
Professional Development for Teachers in Washington
The Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction provides a number of professional development opportunities, as do universities and other organizations around the state. Teachers must complete a ProTeach Portfolio of professional development activities to advance to theProfessional Certificate.