6 Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Virginia

by | Jul 6, 2021

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.

Do I only apply once?

  • No. Students must apply each academic year for the fall semester and submit the necessary documents.

Do I have to take the classes specified in the Associate's Degree tracks as they are listed on the information sheet?

  • No. Students may take any of the courses that are offered in a given term.

Where do I find the textbook listing, and where do I purchase the books?

  • Log in to myBU, and under the "Student" tab, you will find a list of the textbooks required (if any) for each course. Students are responsible for purchasing their own textbooks.

How long is a semester?

  • Our semesters are divided into two 8-week terms.

Is there an orientation?

  • Yes. Students can attend an orientation session that explains how to access courses, how to register for classes, and answers other questions.

Where can I find a course description?

Does the student need to take the SAT or ACT in order to take Dual Enrollment classes?

  • No. If a student decides to study at BU full time, BU is currently test-optional for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.

Are the classes live? Do students need to log in and participate at certain times?

  • Classes are offered online, so a student can log-on and study at their convenience and their own pace. Students have assignments due each week; you can complete your assignments at any point in time before the deadline.

Does an Early College student need to come to campus for anything?

  • No. However, we would love to have you visit our campus if you are interested in continuing with traditional on-campus study. Students who complete their associate's degree have the option to walk at our commencement ceremony.

Are Early College students able to receive Financial Aid?

  • No. However, Early College courses are very affordable compared to other options. The cost for an online Dual Enrollment course is $100 per credit hour.

How do transferring credits work?

  • Each College or University completes a transcript review in order to decide which courses transfer. Sticking to general education classes generally makes transferring credits simple. All Early College courses at Bluefield University are general education classes that should transfer to another accredited institution.

Is an Early College student considered, and treated, as a transfer student when they become a full-time college student if they have earned enough credits to be a Junior?

  • No. Since they have not graduated from high school, they are considered a first-time college student regardless of how many credits transfer. However, by transferring credits when they enroll as a full-time student, they will have to take fewer classes to receive their bachelor's degree, which shortens the length of time to earn the degree.

Can I speak to someone if I have more questions?

  • Yes. Please contact the Office of Admissions by email or you can call them at 276.326.4231


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