Become a Teacher in Virginia

Virginia Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary $63,330
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary $65,010
Vacation Weeks per Year 15
Pupil/Teacher Ratio 1:24
Expenditure per Pupil $10,973

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218

Virginia Teacher Shortage Areas

A teacher shortage occurs when there are not enough teachers in key subject areas, which has been partly caused by years of teacher layoffs during the Great Recession, a growing student population and fewer people entering teacher preparation programs, according to the Learning Policy Institute.

The following is a list of teacher shortage areas in Virginia for the 2016-17 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education (see page 157). Lists of subject area shortages are determined by individual school districts which consider factors such as the number of teacher vacancies and applicant-to-vacancy ratios in assessing whether there is a shortage. Shortage determinations are then sent to the U.S. Department of Education, which compiles an annual nationwide listing.

  • Career & Technical Education
  • English
  • Health & Physical Education
  • Middle Education
  • School Counselor
  • Special Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Foreign Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Algebra
  • Science

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Virginia

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 11/1/2016.

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of Virginia, teaching candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
  • Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. 
  • Step Three: Pass required exams. 
  • Step Four: Submit a Virginia teaching credential application.

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your Virginia Teaching Credential

Virginia provides several routes to licensure, including college and university programs approved by the Board of Education, reciprocity for educators licensed by other states and alternative routes for qualified candidates. Contact the Virginia Department of Education for more information or go to’s credentialing page.

Step One: Prerequisite Coursework in Virginia

Teacher education programs in Virginia are a combination of curricula and fieldwork. The coursework often includes instruction on foundational knowledge and skills, teaching methodology and preparing students to research, design and implement learning techniques in their field of study. Fieldwork includes student teaching, observing classrooms or completing an internship.

All states, including Virginia, require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to receive teacher certification. Virginia does not list specific course or credit hour requirements, although it does specify the skills it wants teachers in every area or subject to master. The state does require 300-375 clock hours of field experiences, including 150 or more hours of supervised student teaching, depending on your specialization.

Every college or university teacher preparation program will have requirements of its own. Contact your teacher preparation program or the Virginia Department of Education’s licensure page for more information. Visit's Virginia state certification page to learn more about additional requirements regarding Virginia teacher preparation programs.

Step Two: Virginia Teacher Certification Programs

Teachers in Virginia are required to complete an accredited teacher education program from a college or university. A list of state-approved college and university teacher preparation programs can be found at the Virginia Department of Education’s list of Approved Educator Preparation Programs.

Step Three: Required Tests for Virginia

In Virginia, teachers must pass a Basic Skills Test requirement and also Subject Area Competence assessments related to their teaching specialty area.

Basic Skills Test

Subject Area Competence

  • Praxis II: Subject Tests in your specialty area
  • Praxis Series Reading for Virginia Educators (RVE) required for Elementary and Special Education Certification

You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting the Praxis information page provided by Teachers Test Prep, where you can also access free online Praxis Practice Tests and Praxis Study Guides, plus a variety of paid Praxis Test Prep options for those who need additional help, including live prep classes, one-on-one tutoring and on-demand online prep.

Read more about teacher certification tests.

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Featured Online Programs

Explore your career options in education:

Boost your credentials: in this 8-week online course, you'll engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective and engaging teaching methods in the higher education context. Refine your own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy and set yourself apart as effective educator.

BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons is the highly respected Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program delivered online from Simmons College. The program prepares students for leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.

Counseling@NYU offers an online master of arts in Counseling and Guidance program, with concentrations in school and bilingual school counseling to prepare students to become collaborative leaders elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. Part-time and full-time options are available to fit student schedules.

Vanderbilt University's Peabody College offers an online Master of Education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling for students interested in becoming school counselors and making a meaningful difference in K–12 settings.

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT) is for aspiring teachers who want to gain the skills and knowledge they need to become great educators.

The online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.

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Alternative Certification in Virginia

People who wish to teach in Virginia, and who have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university other than an education degree and who have not earned a teaching certificate, can earn an alternative teaching certificate as long as they satisfy the state’s requirements. One route is the Virginia Career Switcher Alternative Route to Licensure Program.

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Benefits of a Master's Degree in Virginia

One of the primary benefits of having a master’s degree in education is a higher salary. Teachers with master’s degrees are also more likely to be offered positions in education that advance their careers. Contact the Department of Education for more information about the benefits of a Master’s in Education Degree in Virginia.

Learn more about the benefits of a Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education on

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Certification Reciprocity in Virginia

Credentials from other states are accepted by the state of Virginia. A list of these states is included in this section. Contact the Virginia Department of Education or visit the reciprocity page for more information.

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Financial Aid in Virginia

More information about how to finance your master’s degree is available at’s section on financing an education.

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Virginia Teacher Salary and Incentives

In 2015, Virginia teachers earned an average yearly salary of $54,486, according to the Virginia Department of Education’s Workforce Data and Reports page. In Virginia, teachers’ salaries and benefits are determined by each teacher’s experience and qualifications. Virginia teachers can also benefit from some of the additional incentives that are offered, which include scholarships, loans and tuition assistance programs.

Learn more about teacher salaries.

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

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Virginia Teacher Benefits and Retirement

Teachers in the state of Virginia are required to become members of the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), a system for all state employees. As a member of VRS teachers are eligible to retire with full benefits at age 65 as long as they have worked a minimum of five years, and at any age if their age and years of service total at least 90. They can also receive reduced benefits if they retire at 60 with a minimum of five years service. More information about retirement options, qualifications and benefits are available through the VRS website.

Learn more about teacher benefits.

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Professional Development for Virginia Teachers

An online list of professional development opportunities is available on the Virginia Department of Education website. Opportunities include archived webinars (online seminars) and educational technology programs. Teachers interested in professional development can find additional resources and programs through the U.S. Department of Education’s online Teacher-to-Teacher workshops and Virginia’s curriculum enhancement program, Community of Learning.

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Virginia Teaching Jobs

Job seekers can find job listings and resources, information about education job recruitment fairs and school district or division websites at the VDOE Another resource is Teach Virginia, an online teaching job bank, which provides information and resources about licensure, critical shortage areas, switching careers and special education.

Learn more about finding a teaching job.

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