How to Become a Teacher in Washington

Those interested in learning how to become a teacher in Washington need to understand both the educational and the certification requirements. Through traditional and online degree programs, current and future teachers can receive the training they need for a lifelong career in the classroom.

Teaching in Washington

Teaching in Washington is a rewarding career, both financially and emotionally. Washington is a state that values its teachers, and pays them well as a result. Teachers will find a supportive, welcoming atmosphere when they choose to teach in this state.

Washington by the Numbers

In 2012 there were 61,724 teachers in the state of Washington, 67 percent of whom had a master’s degree or higher, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state. The state’s public schools had 1,038,503 students enrolled in May of 2012.

Washington regularly falls within the top half of the states for average teacher salary, according to a report from the Education Research and Data Center;  bear in mind teacher salaries will vary depending on education levels, experience and the district in which the teacher teaches. According to the report, teachers earn an average of $49,448 a year, which is 15th in the nation. The Washington Employment Security Department says elementary school teachers earn $58,956 and secondary school teachers earn $60,054. The wages of part-time teachers likely contribute to discrepancies between these two statistics.

Job Outlook for Teachers in Washington

According to the Employment Security Department, Washington is not going to have a tremendous demand for teachers in the coming years. The state is only expecting a 1.1 percent growth in demand for elementary teachers per year through 2016, with 0.5 percent as the projection for secondary teachers. However, the U.S. Department of Education indicates that biology, chemistry, early childhood special education, science and math teachers are all considered to be in short supply throughout the state. Those who pursue one of these specialties will likely find better job opportunities in Washington.

How to Become a Teacher in Washington

To become a teacher in Washington, an interested individual must first complete an approved teacher training program. The Professional Educator Standards Board says the state has 21 approved programs at colleges and universities throughout Washington. To be admitted into one of the state’s programs, an interested candidate must past the WEST-B test, the state’s assessment for basic skills. Potential teachers must graduate with at least a bachelor’s degree. They also must complete a second test, the WEST-E, with at least one subject area or grade-level endorsement. Once all of these qualifications are in place, teachers must pass a background check prior to applying for a license.

Washington teachers do not have to attend college in the state. They can take online degree programs or attend an out-of-state school and apply for certification, provided the school is regionally accredited and approved by its home state. Those who attend out-of-state schools still must complete the required assessments and background check before applying for a Washington license, according to the Professional Educator Standards Board.

Teaching is a career that brings numerous rewards. With online degree programs making it easier than ever to pursue a teaching certificate in Washington, those interested in becoming a teacher will find that this is one of the best times to do so.