Like many places in the U.S., Virginia has a need for good teachers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state was home to more than 8.3 million residents as of 2015, which is a 4.8 percent increase since April, 2010. Meanwhile, 22.3 percent of Virginia's population is younger than the age of 18. This convergence of factors means that with Virginia's school-aged population on the rise plus the potential related increase in demand for teachers, Virginia teaching credentials are becoming a wiser investment than ever before.
Prerequisites for Becoming a Teacher in Virginia
According to the Virginia Department of Education, there are several steps involved in becoming a teacher in the state. The one major requirement for all teachers in Virginia: Applicants must earn a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Coursework typically includes comprehensive instruction based on educational basics, as well as in-depth study of each teacher's area of focus. Prerequisites can include everything from American history to art, English, or mathematics, although many potential teachers move on to advanced coursework as their education progresses.
Upon completion of a bachelor's degree, they must also pass professional teacher assessments associated with their areas of specialization within the first three years of holding their initial license. While the initial license is valid for three years, the Collegiate Professional Licenses can be issued once the teacher meets all requirements for licensure and gains at least five years of experience. To earn the Collegiate Professional License, teachers must pass the professional teacher's assessments as prescribed by the Virginia Department of Education. Those tests include:
- Academic Skills Assessment (Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment)
- Praxis II (if applicable)
- Praxis Series Reading Assessment
Those seeking licensure and endorsement as a Reading Specialist are also required to take a Praxis Series Reading for Virginia Educators (RVE) Test, while those seeking endorsement in administration and supervision are required to take the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA). Additionally, teachers seeking out special subject endorsements are required to take and pass the corresponding Praxis II exam.
Virginia Teaching Degrees, Certifications and Credentials
Although a bachelor's degree is the minimum degree requirement for a career in teaching in Virginia, many teachers complete a master's degree, either before they begin their careers or during. Doing so can increase job prospects and job security, and also lead to higher pay, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As mentioned above, the two types of licenses for Virginia teachers include:
- A state license, which lasts for at least three years (mandatory)
- A Collegiate Professional License, which students can earn after gaining five years of experience and meeting other requirements (optional)
Meanwhile, certain exceptions are made for teachers who seek reciprocity by coming from another state to teach in Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Education, reciprocity is usually granted to individuals who have obtained a valid out-of-state license that is in force at the time they apply for Virginia teaching credentials.
Career Outlook for Teachers in Virginia
Because the population of Virginia continues to grow, the career outlook for teachers is excellent. Using data from Projections Central and U.S. Department of Labor, these are the high-growth careers that require Virginia teaching credentials. Also listed is their respective predicted growth in employment from 2014 to 2024:
- Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education: 11.4%
- Kindergarten School Teachers, Except Special Education: 11.4%
- Middle School Teachers, Except Special Education: 11.4%
- Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Vocational: 11.4%
- Secondary School Special Education Teachers: 10.4%
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Special Education Teachers: 11.5%
- Preschool Special Education Teachers: 10.9%
- Secondary School Special Education Teachers: 11.7%
- Middle School Special Education Teachers: 11.9%
Keep in mind that the average national growth for all jobs is about 5-8% so this is a great outlook for teachers in Virginia. That's just one of the reasons learning how to become a teacher in Virginia now is a good investment of your time and energy.
Meanwhile, excellent job prospects aren't the only factor influencing the value of a teaching degree in the state. Many teaching jobs in Virginia also feature high pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following teaching careers in Virginia featured the highest annual mean wages as of May 2015:
- Special Education Teachers, All Other: $79,070
- Preschool Special Education Teachers: $67,380
- Secondary School Teachers, Except Career/Special Education: $65,010
- Secondary School Special Education Teachers: $65,570
- Kindergarten and Elementary Special Education Teachers: $63,930
- Secondary School Career/Technical Education Teachers: $63,310
- Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education: $63,330
The bottom line: The future is bright for educators in Virginia. And with the right education and Virginia teaching credentials, you can begin a future in any one of these education-related careers.
- Assessment Requirements for Virginia Licensure, Virginia Department of Education, http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/prof_teacher_assessment.pdf
- Long-Term Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
- May 2015 State Occupational and Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Virginia, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_va.htm
- Routes to Licensure in Virginia, Virginia Department of Education, http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/multiple_licensure_routes.pdf
- State & County QuickFacts, Viginia, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51000.html