Educators across Washington work with students of all ages and backgrounds, teaching fundamental skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics. Many teachers work in specialized areas like bilingual education, special education, and advanced content. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), teaching in Washington can be a lucrative opportunity, with elementary and secondary teachers averaging over $60,000 a year.
teaching in Washington can be a lucrative opportunity, with elementary and secondary teachers averaging over $60,000 a year.
While teaching is a dynamic, rewarding career, becoming a teacher requires a significant time commitment. To become a teacher in Washington, candidates must complete the state's licensure requirements, which includes earning a bachelor's degree and completing a teacher preparation program. Each state sets its own requirements. In Washington, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) issues teaching certificates and regulates the field. While Washington provides the simplest procedure for graduates through in-state teacher preparation programs, the state also issues certificates to graduates from out-of-state teaching programs and teachers licensed in other states.
Prospective Washington teachers may benefit from the flexibility and accessibility of an online teaching program. Graduates with an online teaching degree from an accredited institution complete the same teacher licensure process as on-campus students. Many students prefer online courses because of increased flexibility and accessibility. Online programs allow students to schedule education around their work or family obligations. Current teachers, in particular, rely on online graduate degrees to accelerate their career and increase earning power. By researching the state's teaching requirements and teacher preparation programs, students can become licensed Washington teachers.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Washington?
Each state sets its own educational, testing, and experience requirements for teacher licensure. State licenses do not automatically transfer between states. In Washington, teachers must hold a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher preparation program, pass basic skills and content area tests, and complete a background check. Graduates with a bachelor's in teaching meet the state's educational requirements, including graduates from online teaching programs.
Washington offers limited reciprocity with two other states. Teachers with a Wisconsin Masters Educator License or an Ohio Professional Teaching License can receive the Washington professional license. No other state certification procedures automatically meet Washington's requirements. However, teachers licensed in other states can apply for a Washington residency certificate, and the state does accept out-of-state approved educator preparation programs for the Washington teaching requirements. Licensed Washington teachers who plan to move out-of-state should research that state's reciprocity rules.
Like many other states, Washington teachers must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and complete a teacher preparation program. However, graduates with an associate degree or a non-teaching bachelor's degree can also pursue certain careers in education. Current teachers can advance their careers by earning a master's in teaching, which requires an additional two years of coursework.
Most bachelor's in teaching degrees require 120 credits of coursework, which typically takes four years of full-time study. Teaching programs include classes on the best practices in education, instructional methods and approaches, and teaching diverse student populations. Learners also gain field experience through student teaching in a K-12 school. Secondary teachers may choose to major in their content area instead of education.
Washington also provides a pathway to teacher certification for graduates who majored in a non-teaching field as well as career and technical educators. Washington offers several alternative routes to certification that include a teacher preparation program. The career and technical education certificate requires a bachelor's degree, completion of a state approved CTE program, passing scores on an approved content knowledge test, and professional experience in the subject area.
Most bachelor's in teaching degrees require 120 credits of coursework, which typically takes four years of full-time study.
Although elementary and secondary teachers must hold a bachelor's degree, graduates with an associate in teaching can also work in education. Associate degree holders can work as preschool teachers, daycare or childcare center workers, and as paraprofessionals (also known as teacher's aides). An associate program also prepares graduates for a bachelor's in teaching, with many or all credits transferring toward a bachelor's degree. Earning an online associate degree in teaching can help prospective teachers decide whether to pursue a bachelor's.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Washington
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Introduction to Education||Introductory courses cover standards-based education, curriculum and instruction, and professionalization. Students may participate in field exercises.|
|Early Childhood Development||Many associate degree holders work in early childhood education. This course focuses on the needs of young children from birth to age eight, including creating an effective learning environment.|
|Educational Technology||Courses on educational technology introduce students to uses of computers and technology in the classroom. Coursework includes integrating technology into the curriculum and selecting the best software.|
Bachelor's Degree in Teaching
|Adolescent Development and Education||Students explore trends and issues in adolescent development and behavior as they relate to education. Coursework may cover adolescent identity, interpersonal relationships, and academic engagement.|
|Multicultural Teaching||Future teachers learn the concepts, theories, and strategies behind multicultural education, with a focus on racial and ethnic groups, social class, and gender. The class also covers content integration, prejudice reduction, and school culture.|
|Assessment||This class introduces students to various theories and methods of learning assessment and evaluation. The class may include performance assessment methods, approaches to student projects and papers, and examinations.|
Master's Degree in Teaching
|Environmental Education||Master's students learn how to integrate lessons on the environment, sustainability, and nature into the curriculum. The class includes an examination of environmental education instructional materials.|
|School and Society||Educators learn about issues regarding schooling and society, including value tension in American schools, social values in education, and a history of the relationship between social values and the education system.|
|Immigration and Schooling||Classes on immigration and schooling provide instruction on the historical, legal, political, policy, and cultural dimensions of schooling for immigrant students. The class covers common issues experienced by diverse students.|
How to Get a Teaching Certificate in Washington
The OSPI issues Washington teaching certificates to qualified educators. All candidates must meet the educational requirements, complete a basic skills test and a content area test for each endorsement, and pass a background check. The state provides several different certifications based on the prospective teacher's qualifications.
Graduates from an approved Washington state teacher preparation program can apply for a residency teacher certificate. Candidates must provide proof they earned a bachelor's degree or higher, complete a Washington teacher preparation program, and pass a basic skills test and content area test. The state uses the Washington Educator Skills Test (WEST). Applicants must provide WEST-B scores for basic skills and WEST-E scores for endorsements. Each test costs $155. Students currently enrolled in a Washington teaching program can apply for pre-residency clearance.
Educators who complete an out-of-state bachelor's in teaching program or who hold a valid out-of-state teaching license can also earn a residency teacher certificate. Candidates must submit official transcripts or provide proof of an approved alternate route program. Alternatively, three years of full-time teaching experience in another state fulfills this requirement. Applicants must also pass either the WEST basic skills test and content area test, or provide approved alternative test scores, including the Praxis test.
Recipients of the initial residency certificate can upgrade to the continuing residency certificate with a master's degree or 45 quarter hours of upper-division or graduate-level postbaccalaureate study. Candidates must also complete 180 days of teaching experience. Experienced teachers can upgrade to the professional certificate if they complete the professional certificate assessment, hold a certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, or complete an approved out-of-state professional educator program.
Most Washington teaching credentials remain valid for five years. Teaching certificates cost between $64-$74, and renewal costs between $39-$64, depending on the certificate.
Choosing a Degree Program in Washington
Prospective teachers must first choose the program that best fits their interests and career goals. With so many options, including online teaching programs across the country, it can be difficult to select the right school. However, by evaluating programs using several key criteria -- such as cost, location, time to degree, and specialization -- future teachers can find the best teaching program for their career.
While some in-state programs offer reduced tuition to residents, out-of-state programs may provide lower tuition for online students.
All teaching programs cost money, but the total bill can vary greatly depending on the school, residency discounts, and online discounts. While some in-state programs offer reduced tuition to residents, out-of-state programs may provide lower tuition for online students. Prospective students can look both at the annual fees as well as the per credit rate. Some teaching programs require more credits, which may lead to a higher cost. Location also matters for student teaching placements and access to support resources.
Graduation requirements vary by program. Some requirements, such as extended student teaching experience or certain specializations, may add time to the degree. Prospective students interested in teaching in Washington can check whether their program meets the state's certification requirements. Finally, students may benefit from the flexibility and accessibility of an online teaching program.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Washington?
Washington state issues several different types of teacher certificates, but the standard license requires a bachelor's degree from a teacher preparation program. In addition to traditional on-campus programs, online teaching programs offered through an accredited college or university meet the state's education requirements. Candidates who earn an online teaching degree in Washington can earn a teaching license, as can prospective teachers who complete an online teaching program located in another state.
In Washington, graduates from online teaching programs complete the same licensure process as graduates from traditional programs. In-state online programs provide graduates with a simpler pathway to the standard license, while graduates from out-of-state online programs must submit a transcript that shows they completed that state's approved teacher preparation program at an accredited institution. Online teaching students can also complete the fieldwork requirement by arranging a student teaching experience at a school near their home or workplace.
Accreditation is an important marker of academic excellence. Washington, like many other states, only accepts bachelor's degrees from accredited institutions. Washington accepts accreditation from a number of regional and national associations, which are shown on the state's recognized accreditation associations list. However, online degree students should avoid unaccredited institutions which do not meet the state's requirements.
Directory of Teaching Schools in Washington
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in Washington
Most teaching positions in Washington require candidates to hold at least a bachelor's degree. Before enrolling in a teaching program -- whether at the associate, bachelor's, or master's level -- prospective teachers need a plan to pay for tuition and other costs. Fortunately, teaching students benefit from a number of scholarship and grant programs, as well as loans and loan forgiveness options.
Washington teaching students can receive thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants, which can cover all or part of tuition. The state offers programs for preschool teachers working on a bachelor's degree, as well as current teachers earning a master's degree. Prospective students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for federal grants and loans. Although graduates must repay their loans, there are several forgiveness programs that discharge part or all of a teacher's student loans.
Teaching students may also benefit from financial aid packages offered by their college or university, including many options restricted to teaching majors. Some employers also offer tuition reimbursement programs, which may help current teachers pay for an advanced degree.
Loan Forgiveness for Washington Teachers
Loan forgiveness programs help graduates pay back their student loans based on their professional contributions. Teachers qualify for several loan forgiveness programs, particularly if they work in a designated low-income school or teach in a high-need field. By researching loan forgiveness programs before taking out student loans, future teachers can ensure they qualify for loan forgiveness after graduation.
The federal government offers two loan forgiveness programs for teachers. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program provides up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness on subsidized and unsubsidized direct loans and Stafford loans. To qualify, teachers must work for five consecutive years at a low-income school. The Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation program discharges up to 100% of Perkins loans for teachers who work in low-income schools or in high-need fields such as special education. Teachers may qualify for loan deferment while meeting the teaching obligation. Educators in public schools also qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Teachers can use the Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory to look up qualifying schools for certain federal loan forgiveness programs. Washington state does not currently operate its own loan forgiveness program for teachers; however, the state does offer multiple scholarships for education students.
Scholarships for Teaching Students in Washington
Washington teaching students benefit from several scholarship opportunities that can provide thousands of dollars in financial support. The state offers awards for currently licensed teachers adding an endorsement, for aspiring educators working toward an associate degree, and for students completing their student teaching hours. Some scholarships carry obligations such as working for a minimum number of years at a low-income school.
Educator Retooling Conditional Scholarship Program $3,000
Pipeline for Paraeducators Conditional Loan Scholarship $4,000
Bachelor's Degree Completion Pathway $9,000
TEACH Grants $4,000
Student Teaching Residency Grant $10,000
Future Teachers of Color Promise Scholarship $1,500
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in Washington
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
With over 182,000 teachers working in Washington, educators makes up a significant portion of the state's workforce. According to the BLS, Washington state teachers earn an average salary of $53,510, just under the national average of $54,520. However, elementary, middle, and high school teachers in Washington earn $3,000-$4,000 above the national average.
Preschool teachers earn the lowest average wages in Washington, making just over $30,000 a year. However, preschool teachers do not need a teaching license and they are not required to hold a bachelor's degree. At the K-12 level, Washington teaching jobs pay higher salaries, with kindergarten and elementary teachers earning around $60,000 a year and middle school and high school teachers making over $62,000 on average.
Within these broad categories, salaries vary based on job title, educational experience, grade level, and location. Most school districts increase teacher compensation based on years of experience teaching and highest degree, with teachers holding a master's degree earning more than those holding only a bachelor's degree. Teachers in Washington's metropolitan areas -- including Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane -- earn more than teachers in rural areas.
|Elementary School Teachers||$60,950|
|Middle School Teachers||$62,050|
|Secondary School Teachers||$62,370|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Washington
How do I get a teaching license in Washington?
How much does a teacher make a year in Washington?
How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in Washington?
Resources for Teachers in Washington
- Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) The OSPI, which acts as the Washington Department of Education, issues teaching licenses and handles the renewal process. In addition, the office provides information about learning standards, the state's assessment systems, and professional development resources for educators.
- Washington Education Association (WEA) Affiliated with the National Education Association, WEA advocates for students, teachers, and public education as a whole. WEA provides collective bargaining support for members, in addition to benefits such as professional development resources, group insurance plans, and legal support.
- Public School Employees of Washington (PSE) Dating back to 1948, PSE has advocated for the rights of the state's educational support professionals. The labor union represents over 30,000 members working in early learning, K-12 education, and higher education. PSE provides scholarships, discounts, and assistance to its members.
- Washington State Parent Teacher Association (PTA) The Washington State PTA, founded in 1905, is the state's largest nonprofit volunteer organization. The PTA's goal is to support children and education through innovative, forward-thinking, and effective advocacy. The organization provides scholarships, events, and programs for educators, parents, and community members.
- National Education Association (NEA) Since 1857, NEA has advocated for the rights of educators and children. Today, NEA represents three million members, making it the largest professional employee organization in the United States. The association provides several benefits to its members, including lesson plans, teaching strategies, and discounted legal services.