How to Become a Licensed Teacher in Virginia

Thinking about becoming a teacher, but not sure where to begin? Here are three simple steps to get you started.

1. Explore the Profession
Why Become a Pre-K Teacher? 

Teachers make a difference.

It is that simple and that profound: education changes lives. Teachers have the unique privilege of seeing the impact of their work on a daily basis, while never truly knowing how deep that impact may reach. Leading a classroom every day isn’t easy – but it is an engaging, fun, and deeply fulfilling career.

Virginia needs teachers.

Right now, the state of Virginia is experiencing a teacher shortage, meaning there aren’t enough licensed teachers to meet student needs. If you’re looking for a fulfilling career that also offers long-term job security and addresses a critical need in your community, you’re on the right track.

What is it Like to Be a Pre-K Teacher?

How do you know if teaching is a good fit for your individual personality and skills?

Good teachers are knowledgeable about their subject matter, skilled in classroom management, and trained in the theory and practice of learning. Great teachers go beyond the basics to connect with their students and make learning engaging and fun. Educators are highly skilled in a number of areas, including (but not limited to):

  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Enthusiasm
  • Time management
  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
  • Empathy

If you’re passionate about education, enjoy building relationships with youth, and interested in the challenge of leading a classroom, teaching could be the right path for you.

2. Choose a Pathway to Licensure

Requirements for becoming a licensed teacher vary from state to state. In Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) issues teaching licenses. Endorsements, or focus areas, certify you to teach particular subjects (like Mathematics, English, or Special Education) or grade levels (including elementary, middle school, and high school). 

There are several routes to earning your license and becoming a certified teacher in Virginia. Whether you’re thinking about pursuing a degree, moving from another state, or considering a second career, there’s a route for you. Here’s a quick overview of five main pathways to the classroom:   

  • Undergraduate Degree Program

    As of 2019, undergraduate students can complete a major in teacher education and earn a teaching license through a state-approved undergraduate teacher preparation program. 

    The UVA School of Education and Human Development offers four-year undergraduate degrees in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education, all approved by the state to fulfill Virginia’s requirements for licensure and endorsement. 

    You can find a list of all state-approved Teacher Education programs on the VDOE website.

  • Graduate Degree Program

    If you already have an undergraduate degree, you can earn your teaching license through a state-approved graduate program. 

    The School offers eight full-time Master of Teaching degrees in a range of endorsement areas that can get you into the classroom in as little as one year – plus part-time and online degree programs if you need more flexibility. 

    You can find a list of all state-approved Teacher Education programs on the VDOE website.

  • Reciprocity

    If you’re already a licensed teacher in a state other than Virginia, you may be able to transfer your license through a process called reciprocity. To quality for reciprocity, you must have completed a state-approved teacher preparation program through a regionally accredited four-year college or university OR hold a valid and current out-of-state teaching license. Depending on how much teaching experience you have, you may need to take assessments as well. 

    The School offers one-on-one advising for current teachers navigating the licensure and reciprocity process.

    Review the details and how to submit an application for reciprocity on the VDOE website.

  • Career-switcher Program

    Many teachers pursue education later in life as a second career. The state of Virginia has several licensure programs designed for career-switchers that recognize your skills and experience – and get you on the path to licensure as quickly as possible. 

    While UVA doesn't offer a career-switcher program, we do offer one-on-one advising to help you navigate your options, which include the alternate routes discussed below.

    Visit the VDOE career-switching page for more details on making a career switch to teaching.

  • Alternate Routes

    Maybe you’ve banked classroom hours as a teaching assistant or substitute teacher, and you’re ready to become a full-time teacher. Maybe you’ve already completed some credits, or a full-time degree program isn’t right for you. If none of the above pathways fit your situation, alternative routes to licensure, such as online courses, are available for you. The School offers one-on-one advising to help you navigate your options.

    The VDOE’s “Routes to Licensure” webpage provides an overview of the different paths to licensure. 

3. Make a Plan

Navigating licensure requirements can be complicated, but don’t worry – individual guidance from experts is just a quick call or email away.  

Now that you know the basics, let us help you figure out the right pathway to the classroom. Simply contact us and we’ll help create a personalized plan just for you. 

News Information

Media Contact

Courtney Sullivan