Become a Teacher in Virginia
If beaches, mountains, a wealth of historical sites, and a relatively mild weather fascinate you, then Virginia could be a favorable destination for your career. During fall, the state bustles with colors across its landscape, where a getaway—a scenic drive or a romantic travel—won’t get any better. Also, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay that shape up the geography and climate of Virginia are some of the state’s attractions.
When it comes to education—ranked as the sixth smartest state in the nation by Morgan Quitno Press’s Education State Rankings—the state of Virginia has proved its worth. The state has been one of the high-performing states in the country in terms of elementary, secondary, and high school academics that have contributed to the growing media and technology sectors across the state.
Read on to know more about what it takes to become a teacher in Virginia.
- The first step in becoming a teacher is obtaining a bachelor’s degree. From there, most hopeful residential teachers generally go onto complete a state-approved traditional teacher preparation program, for which they must first demonstrate proficiency on the Praxis I exam. Following the completion of this program, which includes gaining experience teaching in Virginia, those applying for licensure must pass the VCLA exam and the relevant Praxis II exam, depending on the type of teaching they plan to do. In order to obtain an elementary teacher certification in Virginia, candidates must also pass the Virginia Reading Assessment exam.
- Alternative teacher certification options include Career Switcher Alternative Route, which is designed for people with at least five years of professional experience. They may, so long as all testing requirements are satisfied, be certified to teach in classrooms on the condition that they log 180 clock hours of experience and take five seminars dedicated to the teaching of instructional practices.
Similarly, those who hold a bachelor’s degree and have passed the relevant subject tests may earn a teacher certificate in Virginia by passing the Professional Teacher’s assessment, completing a certain number of professional studies hours, and demonstrating one year of full-time teaching experience.
- Certified teachers in other states who are interested in relocating to Virginia will likely find the transition process smooth. Out-of-state applicants must apply for an initial teaching license, proving that they already hold a license. They may also have to retake the Praxis tests, or provide documentation of having taken the test in the past five years. Out-of-state teachers must also show proof of prior employment, and agree to a background test.
- The State of Virginia requires the Praxis exams for all future teachers to demonstrate their knowledge and experience. Therefore, students in teacher training programs or students considering a teaching career in Virginia will have to keep the exams in mind, and prepare for them accordingly. Students must take the Praxis I exam before they can enter a teacher preparation program. Before their applications for teacher certification in Virginia is accepted, candidates must also pass a Praxis II content assessment and the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment.
- The state of Virginia requires only that teachers earn a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in a teaching program, although a degree in a field related to the individual’s chosen subject matter is favored, and may make it easier to obtain a teacher license. Degrees that do not directly correlate to future subjects of instruction include education, child psychology, or human development.
Teaching in Virginia can be an exciting experience today, thanks to the added perks and funding options in the ‘No Child Left Behind’ laws. The state has a few large school systems, taking up 5 spots in the nation’s 100 largest school districts. The largest of these is Fairfax County Public Schools. Other great places to look for a teaching job in Virginia include Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Richmond. There is particular need for qualified teachers in mathematics, the sciences, physics, and in areas related to special education at both ends of the scale, including the extra smart or gifted students. Therefore, a surefire way to market yourself and to make the most of the amazing opportunities early on in your career is to earn a master’s or advanced degree in any of the aforementioned fields of study.
- The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia offers multiple grant and scholarship programs for undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate student aid programs include the Child Care Provider Scholarship, which extends eligibility to Virginia residents attending colleges and universities in the Commonwealth.
- Private and public postsecondary institutions in Virginia often offer grants and scholarships for their students through internal programs. The University of Virginia provides endowment scholarships based on financial need and academic achievement. Certain endowment scholarships can require candidates to meet specific requirements established by the funding source.
- Certain Virginia colleges and universities may rely on federally funded grant programs to assist students with a financial need and recommend federal merit-based programs for students pursuing certain fields of study. The National Smart Grant awards merit-based funding for students enrolled in engineering, mathematics, physical science, foreign language, and computer science programs. The Federal Pell Grant program offers student aid based on financial need and can pay more than $5,000 per academic year, as of March 2011.
Note: You can find the application form and more information on the grant/scholarship you would like to apply for on its website.
- Average Elementary Teacher Salary: The average elementary school teacher in Virginia makes $60,390
- Average Secondary Teacher Salary: The average secondary school teacher in Virginia makes $60,450
- Teacher Salary vs. State Average Salary: The average teacher in Virginia makes 134% of the salary of the average worker in Virginia
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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