Alternative Teacher Certification in Virginia

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Virginia offers two alternative certification routes for educators. Read on to learn about the different alternative certification options and the requirements for each.

Alternative Routes to Virginia Teacher Certification

An educator seeking alternative certification to teach in Virginia must first either receive a recommendation by the public or private school by which they are currently employed, or qualify for a Career Switcher program at a state-approved college or university. Both routes require candidates to already hold a baccalaureate degree and meet additional qualifications.

Alternative Certification for Recommended Candidates

A non-certified teacher who is employed by and receives the recommendation of a Virginia school may receive a three-year nonrenewable teaching license from the state by meeting one of three requirements:

  • Complete coursework required for endorsement in a teaching area.
  • Meet experiential learning requirements, which include five or more years of full-time work experience and passing Virginia's content knowledge assessment for teachers. This route is not available to teachers seeking certification in elementary or special education.
  • Meet the qualifications for a provisional license in special education. These include having a licensed mentor, completing required special education coursework, and working toward special education endorsement requirements.

Having met these criteria and earned the three-year license, educators may pursue a renewable license by completing required coursework, professional studies and teacher assessments. Detailed information may be downloaded from the Virginia Department of Education website (

Alternative Certification for Career Switchers

Virginia offers the Career Switcher program as an alternative route to teacher certification for non-education professionals who want to pursue a new career in teaching. To earn certification in this way, an applicant must have at least five years of work experience, complete an approved Career Switcher educational program, fulfill the qualifications for endorsement in their desired teaching area, and pass appropriate state teacher assessments. The Virginia Career Switcher program requires candidates to complete a minimum of 180 hours of coursework which includes student-teaching experience. Having fulfilled that requirement, a teaching candidate is eligible for a one-year provisional teaching license. During their first year of employment, they must complete at least 20 hours of development seminars. An additional year of supplemental training may also be required of some teachers in a Career Switcher program. After meeting all requirements, including recommendations from a program administrator and the employing agency, a graduate of a Career Switcher program may apply for a five-year renewable teaching license.

Resources for Teachers Seeking Alternative Certification in Virginia

If you are pursuing alternative teacher certification in Virginia, offers a variety of online courses to help you master teaching strategies and ace your state teaching assessments. All courses are self-paced and available on your computer, smartphone, or tablet whenever you have time to study. Each course features multiple lessons, self-assessment quizzes, and practice exams. See, for example:

  • The Resources for Teachers course, which includes chapters on lesson plans, rubrics, integrated curriculum, and activities.
  • This vast array of prep, study and practice guides for Praxis tests. Virginia uses Praxis tests as teacher certification exams, and these courses zero in on the exact content of the tests. Choose the courses for the assessments you need to take and rest assured that you are mastering the skills and knowledge you'll need to pass your test.

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