Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I get my Teacher Certification at a community or technical college?
  2. Do I need to take a test before I can become a teacher?
  3. Do I have to earn a Bachelor's in Education in order to be a teacher?
  4. How do I decide which type of program is right for me?
  5. How long is a Teaching Certificate valid?
  6. Once I'm certified, can I teach any subject or any grade level?
  7. How do I get an Endorsement?
  8. How many endorsements do I need?
  9. Can credits earned in Community College be applied towards Endorsements?
  10. If I don't earn a BA in Education, what major should I pursue as an undergraduate?
  11. I think I want to be a teacher, but how can I find out what it's really like in a public school classroom these days?

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Question:  Can I get my Teacher Certification at a community or technical college?
No. You must earn a bachelor's degree and complete a state-approved teacher certification program. There are currently 22 colleges and universities in the State of Washington that offer teacher certification programs. Each of these programs is structured slightly differently, but all lead to a Washington State Residency teaching certificate.
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Question:  Do I need to take a test before I can becaome a teacher?
Yes. The Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic (WEST-B) is the required test. This basic skills assessment is required of all applicants to Washington-approved teacher preparation programs and persons from out of state applying for a Washington State residency teaching certificate. The basic skills areas included in the assessment are reading, mathematics, and writing.
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Question: Do I have to earn a Bachelor's in Education in order to be a teacher?
All teachers in WA, except some vocational instructors must have earned at least a baccalaureate degree. Learn more about the pathways to teaching.
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Question:  How do I decide which type of program is right for me?
Which type of certification program you pursue will influence how long it will take you to become a teacher, and where you will fall on the salary scale once you start teaching. For a high school or community college student, a Bachelor's in Education program is the fastest route to becoming a teacher. Post-baccalaureate programs require a minimum of one year of study beyond a Bachelor's degree, and Masters programs generally two years. While there is a greater commitment of time and money involved with these programs, the added years of education are compensated by a higher starting salary and a greater depth of knowledge.

Question:  How long is a Teaching Certificate valid?
The Residency Certificate is valid for five years, during which time the teacher must begin making progress towards the Professional Certificate. The Residency Certificate can be renewed beyond five years for a two year time period as long as the teacher is enrolled in a Professional Certificate program and making satisfactory progress towards the Professional Certificate.

Question:  Once I'm certified, can I teach any subject or any grade level?
What you are able to teach will depend on what endorsements you have earned. If you want to teach at the elementary level, you should earn an Elementary Education endorsement, which allows you to teach any subject, any grade level, Kindergarten-8th grade. If you are more interested in teaching high school, you should earn a Subject Area endorsement to teach the specific subject(s) of interest. Middle school teachers, may hold an Elementary Education, any of the Secondary subject area endorsements or a Middle-level Humanities or Math/Science endorsements.

Question:  How do I get an Endorsement?
Endorsements are attached to your teaching certificate, and are based on your college coursework in a certain subject area. Some endorsements, like Elementary Education, will be covered by coursework within a certification program. More specific subject endorsements, for example History or Biology, will require coursework in that subject area. Not all endorsements are offered by all certification programs, so if your goal is to teach a specific subject, you'll want to find a certification program that offers the endorsement you are seeking.

Question:  How many endorsements do I need?
Only one endorsement is required to obtain a teaching certificate. However, some endorsements are offered only in conjunction with another endorsement. Also some colleges offer certain endorsements only as “add-ons” for current teachers.

Question: Can credits earned in Community College be applied towards Endorsements?
 Only the college or university where you are completing the certification program can determine whether community college credit will be acceptable toward meeting endorsement requirements. Community College credits may end up contributing to your endorsement, but you should discuss this with an advisor. Also, some community colleges are now offering Associate degrees specifically for future teachers. These community colleges have typically made an agreement with universities, to ensure the degree will transfer.

Question: If I don't earn a BA in Education, what major should I pursue as an undergraduate?
If you are interested in teaching at the elementary level, most certification programs recommend that you pursue a liberal arts degree, since this best prepares you to teach in many different subject areas. If you are interested in teaching a specific subject at the high school level, you should pursue that subject as a major, as this will best prepare you to become endorsed in that subject area.

Question:  I think I want to be a teacher, but how can I find out what it's really like in a public school classroom these days?
The best way to experience a modern school classroom is to observe or volunteer. Most schools and districts make observation and volunteering in the classroom quite simple. Larger school districts have Volunteer Coordinators who can help to place you in a school that is close to your home or office. In smaller districts, you can contact individual schools for more information. If you are an undergraduate student, you may be able to earn credit for an internship or practicum experience for your time spent observing or volunteering. Some teacher certification programs even require some amount of classroom observation as an admission prerequisite.