Washington State Teacher Certification Requirements

Teaching certification is a required credential for teachers and other education professionals. Get some quick facts about the education, training and testing requirements necessary to qualify for jobs across the state of Washington.

Washington state teacher certification involves completing a bachelor's degree, teacher preparation and an internship before pursuing certification. Basic certification involves passing state exams. After two years of teaching experience it's possible to pursue professional certification, which also includes character and fitness testing and a background check.

Essential Information

There are two levels for teacher certification within the state of Washington. The basic level is for those educators without much experience. It requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree along with completion of a teacher's preparation program and endorsement skills examinations. The professional level is for those educators with a basic certification who also have a minimum of two years teaching in a state school. This level of certification also requires a background check and character and fitness evaluation.

Basic Certificate Professional Certificate
Education 4-year bachelor's degree* 4-year bachelor's degree*
Training Teacher's preparation program and internship* Teacher's preparation program and internship*
Testing Requirements WEST-B (or equivalent)*
WEST-E (content specific)*
Professional Educators Standards Board examination*
Experience None* 2 years minimum*
Other Requirements None* Background check*
Character and fitness supplement*

Source: *Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington

Washington State Residency Teacher Certification

The first level of certification available to teachers in Washington is the Residency Teaching Certificate. A Residency Teaching Certificate is obtained after passing the basic and endorsement skills examinations. Additionally, teachers must have earned a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited university, as well as completed a teacher preparation program and an internship.

This level also allows one to become a substitute teacher for life in Washington. Substitutes can teach for up to 30 school days in a row.

Washington State Basic Skills Test Requirements

The first requirement needed to gain teaching certification in Washington state is to pass the Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic (WEST-B) examinations, which cover math, reading and writing. Teaching candidates that come from outside of the state of Washington can apply previously passed tests in lieu of taking the WEST-B. In California and Oregon, the CBEST is used. In other states, the Praxis or PPST is used.

Washington State Content Area Test Requirements

The second requirement necessary for achieving certification to teach in Washington is passing the Washington Educator Skill Test-Endorsement (WEST-E) exam. The WEST-E test focuses on a number of content areas required for teaching specific subjects. The entire list is much to long to list; however, most areas can be combined into groups. Those areas include:

  • Artistic (dance, music, theater and visual arts)
  • Science (biology, chemistry and other sciences)
  • Education (languages, traffic safety, technology and special education)

Professional Certification

An advanced level certification known as the professional certification can be achieved for Residency Teaching Certificate holders who also have two years of teaching experience with an approved state school. The professional certificate testing was created by the Professional Educator Standards Board. They use three standards and 12 criteria as part of their test measurements.

Once completed, candidates must also complete a character and fitness supplement, as well as clear their fingerprints with the Washington State Patrol and FBI.

Teaching Certificate Exemptions

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers teaching certificate exemptions for those who have valid NBPTS certificates in a subject area or grade level similar to Washington state's endorsement requirement in that area. In order to obtain NBPTS certification, applicants must meet certain requirements. The NBPTS requires that individuals have a bachelor's degree, a minimal of three years of teaching or counseling experience and a valid teaching license during those three or more years. For states where a teaching license is not required, then the individual must have taught in schools that were approved to operate within that state.

Achieving NBPTS certification allows an individual to maintain state teaching certification for ten years. The NBPTS certificate satisfies the professional certificate requirements.

Career Information

Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that in Washington state, as of May 2015, high school teachers earned a mean annual wage of $61,920 while middle school teachers earned a mean annual wage of $61,260. The mean annual wage for elementary teachers was $60,140.

While the BLS does not supply regional employment growth information for teachers, it does indicate that the 2014-2024 growth for elementary, middle and high school teachers in the nation is expected to be 6%.

Basic Washington teacher certification can be pursued after an individual has completed a bachelor's degree, teacher training and an internship. Professional certification is an option after two years of teaching experience, and teachers can also opt to take the Residency Teaching Certificate, which enables them to be a substitute teacher in the state of Washington for life.

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