As in most states, the path to becoming a teacher in Washington largely depends on the subject and educational level chosen. Teaching elementary school, middle school and high school typically requires a bachelor's degree, although private schools may sometimes differ; a graduate degree may lead to more advanced positions.
To start though, individuals typically need to pass the West-B (Basic Skills Test) and West-E (content assessment) tests. Qualifying to teach college usually requires a graduate degree in a specific subject — the subject you'd want to focus on.
Areas of Specialization for Teachers in Washington
Before becoming a teacher in Washington, you should have an idea of what kind of teacher you want to be. For those who wish to teach middle school, high school or college, you will typically need to specialize in one or more subjects. Examples of these may include:
- Computer Science
Some people may teach a couple of related subjects, such as English and journalism, and earning a minor in a related subject while in college may help you reach your goal, as well. In order to teach public school, you may need to also take some education courses, whereas teaching private school and college may only require subject-specific courses.
Washington Teaching Licensing Requirements
There are a few requirements to earn a license to teach in Washington. The first of these involves earning a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Next, potential educators should complete a teacher preparation program. The Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) has a list on its website of approved schools and programs to help in your search. You can typically expect to also earn passing scores on the West-B (Basic Skills Test) and West-E (content assessment) tests.
Out-of-State Educators in Washington
For those who have earned their degree and teaching credential from another state, Washington has detailed steps that must be followed in order to qualify to earn a Residency Certificate to teach. You must first have earned a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited college or university. You must also have passed a teacher preparation program, or have at least three years of K-12 teaching experience, and hold a teaching certificate from another state. Then, you can expect to need a passing score on the West-B and West-E basic skills assessments within 12 months of receiving a temporary permit.
For more information about this process, please visit the certification page of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Alternate Paths to Teaching in Washington
There are different routes to becoming a teacher in Washington, most of which also require a bachelor's degree and passing either the West-E or West-B exams. An example is for someone with subject-matter expertise who doesn't work in the school system. In that case, you must pass the West-E and West-B exams, have at least a bachelor's degree, meet the age, good character and moral fitness requirements, have demonstrated experience with students or children, and have positive letters of reference. The full list of the alternate routes can be found on the PESB website.
- Pathways to Becoming a Teacher in Washington, Checklist, PESB, http://pathway.pesb.wa.gov/
- Alternative Routes to Certification, PESB, http://pathway.pesb.wa.gov/future-educators/alternative-routes
- Teacher Preparation Programs, PESB, http://pathway.pesb.wa.gov/future-educators/becoming-a-teacher-in-washington/prospective-teachers/preparation-program
- Certification, State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, http://www.k12.wa.us/certification/Teacher/NotCertified.aspx