How much does a beginning teacher make?

Typically, Washington state teachers are placed on the state teacher salary schedule that considers years of teaching service and highest degree awarded to determine salary.  In addition, each school district has the ability to establish agreements with teachers that include pay and benefits.   

I want to become a teacher, what do I have to do?

Depending on your educational and professional  background, requirements to becoming certified to teach in Washington State may differ. Please click on this checklist to answer common questions related to teaching in more detail. Minimum requirements for admission to an approved teacher preparation program is a passing score on the WEST-B (Basic Skills Test). In order to receive a teaching certificate you must also hold a Bachelors Degree or higher from a regionally accredited college/university  and have completed the requirements of an approved teaching certificate  from an approved teaching program in Washington or a state that has reciprocity with Washington.  

Do I have to go back to school to become a teacher?

You need to complete an approved program to receive a Washington Teaching Certificate.  Currently, all programs that are recognized by the Professional Educator Standards Board are located within colleges or universities. Passage of the education reform bill in 2010 allows non-higher education entities to become approved to offer certification programs in Washington State. 

Do I have to pass a test to enter a teacher preparation program?

Yes. Prospective teachers must pass the WEST-B (Washington Educator Skills Test--Basic) prior to admission into an approved program. The PESB has established extensions and exemptions to the WEST-B requirement (WEST-B Exemptions).

In addition, all prospective teachers are required to pass a content knowledge test for each endorsement earned. Some colleges and universities require the WEST-E as part of their admission requirements. Check with the individual college or university to discuss their admission policy.

What are the Alternative Routes to Certification?

What is an endorsement?

An endorsement defines the content area on the Washington Teaching Certificate.  In the example below, the teacher holds a teaching certificate; and his/her endorsements in Biology, Chemistry and Middle Level Science allow him/her to teach in those subject areas.  

What's the difference between the Residency and Professional Teaching Certificates?

Washington State has a two-tier teacher licensure system. The Residency Teaching Certificate is the first certificate a teacher is given upon completion of the requirements to become certified in Washington State. Teachers must earn the Professional Certificate by passing the Pro-Teach Portfolio Assessment. Information related to earning the Professional Certificate can be found in the length of residency certificate chart

From old checklist

Have you passed Washington's assessment for basic skills?

The WEST-B is a requirement for certification. With exceptions for only a few candidates, Washington teacher preparation programs require passing this basic skills assessment prior to admittance. Additionally, all individuals must pass the WEST-B to receive a teaching certificate. For more information visit

Is your program approved to offer a WA Teaching Certificate?

Currently there are 21 approved programs in Washington. To find a list of Washington's approved programs, click here. For information about programs offered online and / or by institutions outside of Washington, click here.

Have you passed Washington's content assessment?

The WEST-E tests content knowledge in an endorsement area (subject). Each new certificate must include at least one endorsement. All in state prepared teachers must have this completed prior to applying for a certificate. Out-of-state prepared teachers must pass the WEST-E within a year. For more information about the WEST-E visit

Have you completed at least a Bachelor's Degree from a regionally accredited institution?

All Washington teachers must have completed a Bachelor's Degree from a regionally accredited institution prior to certification. The Bachelors degree can be completed while attending a preparation program or prior to entering the program. The Certification Only programs are intended for those who have finished a Bachelor's Degree. A Masters In Teaching program is designed to grant a Master's Degree while completing the Certification Only courses.

Do you hold a teaching certificate from any other state?

Those who hold a certificate from another state should begin with Certification Department of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Have you completed your fingerprint background check?

Before you begin teaching in Washington you are required to undergo a fingerprinting and background check. For more information click here.

Are you interested in an Alternative Route to Certification?

Career changers, teachers with conditional certification, or paraprofessionals with three years experience may be eligible for Alternative Routes to Certification Programs.