Washington State Alternative Teacher Certification

Washington State offers traditional and alternative paths to teacher certification. The alternative paths allow people who meet certain requirements to gain a Residency certificate, generally more quickly and affordably than the traditional paths do. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Washington State Alternative Teacher Certification Overview

Washington State has several routes to licensure for people who want to teach but haven't yet completed all the requirements for full Professional certification. These routes allow prospective teachers to complete the requirements for a Residency teaching certificate while gaining hands-on teaching experience.

Education Requirements Associate degree (minimum)*
Exam Requirements Required tests include WEST-B, WEST-E/NES, and edTPA* (alternative tests may be taken in lieu of these; contact Washington's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for more information**)
License Renewal Period 5 years (for most licenses)**
Continuing Education Requirements 50 hours or equivalent to renew a Conditional certificate; 100 hours or equivalent college credits to renew Residency Teaching certificate**
Annual Mean Salary (2018, Washington State) $32,960 (preschool); $62,330 (kindergarten); $65,180 (elementary); $65,630 (middle school); $67,550 (secondary)***
Job outlook (2016-2026, nationwide) 7% (kindergarten and elementary school); 8% (middle school); 8% (high school)***

Sources: *State of Washington Professional Educator Standards Board, Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Washington State's 4 Alternative Certification Pathways

If you have an associate degree and are currently employed by a Washington school district, you can follow alternative route 1 to get a Residency teaching license. Route 2 is appropriate for people who work at a school district and have a bachelor's degree; this route requires you to attend a pre-residency program and complete a year-long supervised teaching component while you complete your coursework. Route 3 is very similar to route 2; the difference is that you do not need to be employed by a school district (both routes 2 and 3 result in a Residency certificate). The last route (route 4) is also designed for people who want a Residency certificate: this path requires they have a bachelor's degree, be currently employed by a Washington State school district, and already hold a limited teaching certificate. Among other conditions, all the routes also require you to complete at least 540 clinical practice hours.

Getting a Conditional Teaching Certification

In some instances, a school district may want to hire someone based on their knowledge and expertise in a particular shortage area. In those instances, the school district can initiate an application for a Conditional teaching certificate on the person's behalf. This type of license is considered a limited certificate and is issued for 2 years (renewal is possible with 50 hours or the equivalent of course work). A fingerprint-based background check is required before final approval of the certification.

Overview of the Residency Teaching Certificate

Washington State's Residency teaching certificate is considered a full license. It is issued for a period of 5 years, but the 5-year period only begins once you've been hired. If your Residency certificate is issued without an expiration date, you'll need to apply to get it reissued once you have a firm offer of employment. This particular certificate is appropriate for people who are applying for a full Washington State teaching certificate for the first time. To learn more and apply, visit the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction's website and their online E-Certification platform.

Applying for the Residency Certificate

To apply for the Residency Certificate, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a bachelor's degree (minimum)
  • Successfully complete an approved educator preparation program
  • Pass all required exams (including a basic skills test and tests for your area of focus)
  • Undergo a background check (including submitting fingerprints)
  • Fill out all required supplemental forms (including the character and fitness supplemental questionnaire)
  • Pay the application fee ($74 for initial application, $39 for reissue of the certificate)
  • Have a recommendation from your educator preparation program for the Residency certificate

Keep in mind that your institution will need to initiate your application for this certificate. Once that's done, you can use the E-Certification portal to complete your application.

Renewing Your Residency Certificate

To renew your Residency certificate, you must complete an Issues of Abuse course and record completion in your E-Certification account. Additionally, you must have completed 100 hours of coursework (you may also satisfy this requirement through equivalent college credits and/or a Professional Growth Plan), and undergo another background check. Go to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website for more information.

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