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Teaching Programs in Virginia

When you become a teacher in Virginia, you help continue the state’s legacy of excellent education. As the nation’s eighth-best ranked educational system for PreK-12 education, Virginia is a leader when it comes to college readiness, high school graduation rates, and math and reading scores.

Virginia is currently facing a shortage of teachers, and to address that shortage, the state is making it easier to become a teacher. This means future teachers may spend less time preparing to become a teacher and more time being a teacher.

How Can I Get a Teaching Degree in Virginia?

There are several pathways you can take to become a teacher in Virginia. Find the best path for you to ensure your success and the success of your future students.

Traditional Pathway to Becoming a Virginia Classroom Teacher

The traditional approach to becoming a teacher in Virginia is to get a bachelor’s degree in a state-approved educator preparation program. To address a state teacher shortage, legislators recently reduced the time it takes for students to complete their teacher training programs—from five years with a master’s requirement to four years with only a bachelor’s needed.

Once you’ve gotten your bachelor’s degree in an approved educator preparation program, you’ll need to pass the required Virginia state exams. These exams include the basic skills test or Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA), and the Praxis subject exam in your specialty area. Additionally, elementary and special education teachers will need to take the Praxis Reading for Virginia Educators (RVE) exam.

Finally, you’ll need to complete the Virginia licensure application and pay the application fee. Your initial teaching license is valid for five years, after which you’ll need to apply for license renewal and demonstrate continued professional development in the field. Subsequent teaching licenses are valid for 10 years.

Becoming a Teacher as a Career Switcher or Through Alternative Certification

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field or are a working professional making a career switch, Virginia has an alternative pathway that may allow you to receive your teaching certification. If you are currently working in a career outside of education, the Virginia Department of Education’s career switcher program allows you to use your life experiences as a springboard into the classroom. Prerequisites include a bachelor’s degree, at least three years of full-time work experience, and completion of coursework and exams with the help of an approved program.

Becoming a Career and Technical Education Teacher in Virginia

If you have substantial work experience in an occupation or vocation and want to share your expertise with students, becoming a career and technical education (CTE) teacher could be a rewarding career path for you. Although you will have to acquire teaching certification in your CTE field of choice, the Virginia Department of Education may grant you a provisional teaching license to allow you to teach while obtaining your CTE industry certification credentials.

Virginia Teaching License Reciprocity

Teachers moving to Virginia qualify for a Virginia teaching license in a comparable endorsement area of they have finished a state-approved preparation program through an accredited four-year institution or if they have a an active teaching license at the time of their move. They may need to take teaching assessments as well, unless they have been teaching for a minimum of three years in a public or accredited private school.

Additional Training Requirements

The state of Virginia requires applicants for teaching licenses, as well as those seeking license renewal, to undergo training to recognize child abuse, neglect, and dyslexia, and to be certified in emergency first aid. Take these additional certifications into consideration while completing your qualifications to become a teacher in Virginia.

Career Outlook and Salaries for Educators in Virginia

The outlook for teachers in Virginia is very good. Salaries for elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers are above national averages, and job growth for teaching positions in Virginia far exceeds national averages. CareerOneStop predicts a 12% boost in elementary, middle, and secondary education jobs through 2026 and an 11% increase in post-secondary education jobs.

It’s worth noting that state salary averages (means) include both densely populated areas like the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan area and less densely populated areas like Harrisonburg. Though salaries differ significantly from area to area, so does average cost of living. As an example, according to Salary.com, the average cost of living in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is 10.5% lower than the national average, whereas the cost of living in Alexandria, Virginia, is 59.6% higher than the national average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean salary for elementary school teachers in Harrisonburg is $44,630, whereas in the Alexandria metropolitan area, it’s $74,320.

Virginia Mean Teaching Salaries (2018)
Elementary:$67,610 per year
Middle School:$66,870 per year
Secondary:$68,770 per year
Post-Secondary:$78,470 per year (averaged from all mean salaries)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Teacher Training Programs in Virginia

There are dozens of certified teacher training programs in Virginia. Below are a few possible options for obtaining your teaching degree and taking the next steps to becoming a teacher in Virginia.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia (UVA) Curry School of Education and Human Development offers four-year degrees in elementary education, special education, and early childhood education. If you’re interested in a master’s degree, UVA’s one-year Post-Graduate Master of Teaching (PGMT) is available in many areas, including elementary education, secondary education, and special education.

  • Cost: Undergraduate tuition at UVA is $14,188 for the 2020-2021 academic year for Virginia residents, $48,036 for non-residents. Graduate tuition at the Curry School is $16,440 per year for full-time Virginia residents, $26,400 for non-residents. The Curry School offers discounted tuition for existing PreK-12 educators.
  • Degrees: Bachelor of Science in education, Master of Teaching
  • Options: UVA’s Bachelor of Science in education program is based on a four-year, in-person degree for bachelor’s degree students. In addition, UVA offers an optional one-year master’s program with full-time attendance, a part-time master’s program for working professionals, options for online master’s degree paths, and alternative routes to licensure.
  • What makes UVA unique: Ranked 13th in the world according to the 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities, the school offers 23 areas of study to a nearly equal number of on-campus and online learners. The Curry School has a student to teacher ratio of approximately 19 to 1, ensuring better access to professors and individualized instruction and assistance.

Shenandoah University

The Shenandoah University (SU) School of Education and Leadership offers bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs that meet all state requirements for teaching licensure.

  • Cost: Full-time undergraduate tuition in the School of Education and Leadership for the 2020-2021 academic year is $16,255 per semester. Graduate tuition is $435 per credit for both part-time and full-time students.
  • Degrees: Bachelor of Education, Master of Science in Education, Professional Studies Certificate (PSC), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Options: Classes at SU are offered at two campuses—Winchester and Loudoun—as well as online.
  • What makes Shenandoah unique: SU offers seven Bachelor of Education programs and seven special education add-on endorsements. In addition to completing coursework necessary to earn Virginia state teacher licensure, you’ll gain 300-500 hours of hands-on classroom experience during your education.

Virginia Wesleyan University

The Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) Teacher Education Program offers 15 teaching endorsement programs that equip students to teach at elementary and secondary levels.

  • Cost: Tuition for full-time undergraduate students in the 2019-2020 academic year was $36,010 per year and $399 per credit for master’s students.
  • Degrees: Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, optional fifth-year Master of Arts in Education
  • Options: In addition to full-time undergraduate studies, VWU offers evening and weekend classes, as well as online programs.
  • What makes VWU unique: All 15 VWU endorsement programs prepare teacher candidates for licensure with an endorsement in their chosen discipline.

Virginia Teacher Resources

The following resources may be helpful to you as you research the best options for pursuing your dream career of teaching in Virginia.

  • Virginia Department of Education: The VDOE encapsulates all the information current and prospective teachers might want to achieve and grow their careers.
  • Teach Virginia: This educator career center is a hub for employment opportunities, information for career switchers, licensure details, and so on.
  • Virginia Education Association: A branch of the National Education Association (NEA), the VEA is a professional union of state educators providing support, advocacy, professional development resources, and skills-sharing opportunities.
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