Teaching can be an incredibly fulfilling career path, often considered a true calling by those in the field. From your first year to when you near retirement, just imagine the thousands of lives you could positively impact. And if you live in Virginia, you may have chosen the right time to enter the field. The pandemic only exacerbated the shortage of teachers in the state. But what may be bad news for Virginia school districts could be good news for you and your future career prospects.
If you want to begin on this rewarding journey, here’s how to get started:
1. Choose Your Grade Level and Concentration
Whether you want to work with children at the local elementary school or those preteens at a centralized middle or high school, choose your focus before you enroll in a college program. The requirements in elementary ed will be different than if you choose to become a high school math instructor or history teacher.
2. Attain Your Bachelor’s Degree
Virginia requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program to become a licensed teacher in the state. As a part of this degree, you will need field experience, along with time as a supervised student teacher. All of these hours and coursework must be completed at an accredited school prior to licensure.
3. Take and Pass Virginia’s Required Teaching Tests
Before you can teach in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you’ll need to take and pass a series of certification exams. Exactly which certifications you will need may depend on your specialty but among the certifications you’ll need are:
- Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA)
- PRAXIS II Subject tests
- Reading for Virginia Educators (for elementary or special education certification)
- Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition and Intervention Training
- Hands-on CPR and Emergency First Aid
- Automated external defibrillation (AED)
- Dyslexia Awareness Training
- Behavior Interventions and Support Training
Minimum passing scores vary depending on the exam. With a passing score, you will receive a ten-year renewable license to teach.
4. Apply for Your Virginia Teaching License
Once you have passed your certification exams, you will submit your licensure application and supporting documentation to the Virginia Department of Education for initial licensure. The in-state fee is $100, out-of-state fee is $150. As a part of your application, you will need to provide copies of your transcripts, test scores, fingerprint cards, and other information pertaining to your specific areas of certification. You will also need to undergo a background check.
5. Build Out Your Teacher Portfolio
For any job opportunity, you’ll need to have a well-built resume and customized cover letter. But for a teacher portfolio, you’ll add your student teaching, internship, and all your certifications. You will also want to include recommendation letters from your supervisors and professors. You may even need to speak to your education philosophy. All of this can be built during your student teaching, but you can—and should—add to it throughout your career.
6. Apply for Teaching Jobs in Virginia
Leverage your network, speak with your colleagues and instructors, and get ready to get serious about your job search. If you visit the Virginia Department of Education, they’ll have a current listing of job openings across the state. Check this site out often to keep updated on jobs, as they come open.
Virginia also offers an alternative route to teaching certification and licensure if you are coming from another career and now want to teach. The Career Switcher Alternative Route gives you credit for life experience, although you will still need to meet prerequisites and apply to an approved career switcher program.
The Bluefield University School of Education and Social Sciences is a TEAC accredited and CAEP eligible teacher preparation program. You can earn your bachelor’s degree and prepare for your certifications and Virginia teaching licensure. Visit our program page today to learn more and apply to our program.