Elementary School Teacher Requirements in Washington State

Read about what it takes to become a certified elementary school teacher in Washington, from the education program to the final certification application.

The state of Washington certifies elementary school teachers to teach in all 295 districts. There are teaching opportunities statewide for elementary school instructors with Residency Teacher Certificates.

Washington Salary Information and Requirements

Average Salary for Elementary Teachers in Washington (2017)* $62,580
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Elementary Education
Testing Requirements WEST-B Basic Skills exam, NES Elementary Education exam

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Before starting the application process, all future elementary school teachers in the state of Washington need to complete an approved, accredited teacher preparation program. They will need to graduate with a degree in elementary education and have student teaching experience. Elementary education majors will take a variety of courses in many subjects in order to get a basis of knowledge to draw from. For instance, students will likely take mathematics, science, English, and other general education classes. Additionally, students will be expected to take education-specific classes to prepare for situations they may face with future students. Some of these kinds of classes might include:

  • Reading Methods
  • Classroom Management
  • Educational Psychology
  • Special Education

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
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Step 2: Pass Required Tests

All future elementary educators will need to take a test of basic skills. This can be fulfilled by the SAT (with scores of at least 27.5 on math, 27 on reading, and 27 on writing), the ACT (with scores of at least 22 on math and reading and 8 on writing), or the WEST-B exam, which is a computer-based basic skills test. It is made up of three subtests: reading (60 multiple-choice questions), writing (50 multiple-choice questions and 2 constructed-response questions), and mathematics (60 multiple-choice questions). Teachers have 5 hours to take all 3 subtests and can take them at any point during the year across the state. The subtests can be taken together for a combined fee of $155; the subtests can also be taken separately for a fee of $75 each. Each section requires a minimum score of 40.

Next, teachers need to take the required subject exam. The Elementary Education subtests are National Evaluation Series (NES) exams, and they test candidates' knowledge of several subject areas. The first subtest focuses on reading, English language arts, and social studies; teachers will have an hour and 30 minutes to complete it. The second subtest focuses on math, science, the arts, health, and fitness. This subtest is an hour and 45 minutes long. Both subtests require scores of at least 220, and the test costs $95 when taken together.

Step 3: Submit the Certification Application

Finally, teachers can submit the application for a Residency Teacher certificate. Teachers will have to provide transcripts and test scores as well as a $74 fee. Teachers will also need to complete a background check and be fingerprinted; a $43 fee is required plus any additional processing fees. Once a teacher receives their undated Residency Teacher Certificate, the license will remain valid until the teacher has reached 1.5 full-time equivalent experience. Then, the teacher will apply for the Five-Year Residency Teacher Certificate.

Study Resources for Future Washington Elementary Teachers

Start studying now for the WEST-B exam and the Elementary Education subtests. Check out the study guides below for practice questions and tips!


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