Teaching the English Language Arts in Virginia means that you will take part in one of the most important skills needed for your student’s future. A strong ability to read and write will become increasingly important as more jobs require a higher level skill-set.
Having the ability to read and write well are both listed as top job skills employers look for, according to Forbes. Whether you plan on teaching young children in elementary school or older students in high school, each grade acts as a building block. Doing your job well, will contribute to your students’ future success. If you are ready to begin your training so that you can impact tomorrow’s generation, follow these steps to become an English teacher in Virginia.
|Select a Degree|
|Take the Virginia Teaching Exams|
|Apply for Virginia Teaching License|
|Continue Your Education|
Step 1. Select a Degree
If you’re a student who wants to be an English teacher in Virginia, the first thing to do is apply for a teacher preparation program. Virginia colleges have created the minimum required undergraduate degree programs (including the teacher preparation) designed to give you a complete education. These programs teach you all the necessary things you will need to know in order to be an effective teacher.
Start by looking at the Virginia Department of Education approved list of schools. Every school will offer undergraduate programs for high school, middle school, and elementary school. There will be a certain number of units you will need to take for your general education and another set for your English courses. There will also be a set amount of hours spent on learning what it takes to teach.
The teaching part of your education will help you understand how to create lessons so that students can learn how to read, appreciate literature, write well, understand the nature of language, and other necessary language arts skills. Depending on the grade you teach, you may spend all day just teaching core classes, or you may be required to teach other courses as well.
You will also learn other types of skills in the program. You will need to know how to communicate effectively with parents. You will need to learn how to keep your classroom under control. You will also learn how to help students who may not have English as their first language and students in special educational programs. The undergraduate degree and teacher preparation will offer all these skills so that you are fully ready to teach when you graduate.
The Career Switcher Program
Schools are seeing an increase in teaching candidates who have already been in a career in another field and want to switch to teaching. Virginia created the Career Switcher program to allow a teaching candidate to receive the Provisional License once they fulfill all the requirements of the program. These requirements will take into account that you have already earned a degree. If this describes you, here is the basic process for the Career Switcher Program:
- Complete the application
- Prove at least five years or more of experience in English related subjects in previous jobs
- Complete Virginia’s professional teacher’s assessment
- Pass the state exams
- Complete the state licensing application
Step 2. Take the Virginia Teaching Exams
The state exam portion of the teaching requirement offered through Praxis is a culmination of proof that you are ready to teach. The State Board of Education wants to know that you have obtained college-level skills in writing, reading, math, and English, as well as skills that will be necessary for teaching at your grade level.
Each grade has different requirements on a day-to-day basis for teaching classes. For early education through elementary education, there will be exams that test you on multiple subjects because you will teach more than English. For middle school through high school, you will have to take a core proficiency exam in English because you will spend your day teaching in a single subject.
Applying for the Exams
You can apply online, which for many is most convenient. You will create your Praxis account, and from there login to your information. You will have access to all the things needed to not only apply for the exams, but you can also download study materials and request test scores from the Praxis site. If you choose to apply for the exams through the mail or by phone, those options are available.
Start by going to the exam center site when you are ready to apply and flowing the.
Step 3. Apply for Virginia Teaching License
Virginia offers different levels for their licensing. Each level has its own requirements that show you have completed the necessary education and/or training. They also have a number of types of licensing that is offered within these levels. The following licenses are what you will likely encounter during your English teaching career.
The Provisional License is awarded when you complete the Level I requirements and completed the alternative Career Switcher path designed for professionals in other careers. This license is nonrenewable. It is valid for three years. When the three years is over, you will have to meet the requirements for the next license.
The Collegiate Professional
A Collegiate Professional is a level I license that will be valid for five years. It’s available after completing all the requirements of education (bachelor or master’s degree) from an approved college or university. The Collegiate Professional License can be renewed.
The Postgraduate Professional
The next license you can apply for is the Postgraduate Professional License. It is also valid for five years. It is the highest license you can earn. To be qualified for this level you will need to earn a doctorate degree.
To apply for your teaching license after you have graduated from your degree and teaching program follow these basic steps:
- Pass the Praxis exams
- Submit a complete license application
- Pay $50 to process your application
- When you send in your application include the following items for proof:
Send all information to:
Virginia Department of Education
Division of Teacher
Education and Licensure
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218-2120
Step 4. Continue Your Education
Your first license is valid for five years. After that you will be expected to complete professional development points. Every point is the same as taking six semester hours of a college level course. You will need accumalate180 hours in courses that are created for your grade level of teaching. There are options for completing your points including seeking another degree.
Because Virginia requires a doctorate degree in order to maximize pay benefits, seeking to continue on with your education could be the best route. If you consider how much additional income you receive for having a higher education you might find it worth your while to go this route.
Once you have a doctorate in education or English, you will also have options for other career paths in education. You may go on to teach at a college or university at some point. Having the doctorate will fulfill the educational requirements for professional development and open doors for the future.
Virginia English Teacher Salaries
According to the NEA, teachers in Virginia earn an average annual salary of $36,737. This is not necessarily going to be what all districts pay their teachers, however. Each district will negotiate contracts on a regular basis and determine at that time what their salaries will be.
Every school district will take into account the cost of living in an area, the amount of funds they have in their budget, and the historical amount that teachers have been paid. The salaries of teachers around the state can vary widely.
As an example an English teacher in Fairfax County schools will start off with a salary of $55,432. Once the teacher completes a master’s plus an additional thirty units that salary will increase to $64,043. If she earns a Ph.D it will increase to $66,586.
Alexandria would pay that same teacher $47,241 a year. Once the teacher earned a master’s that increases her salary to $54,188.12 and if she earned a Master’s plus 30 units (the highest salary) she would earn $56,500.
Chesterfield County is a little different. They only offer two varying levels for educational steps. They will allow an increase for teachers who have earned a bachelor’s and master’s only. The bachelor’s is the base salary of $42,311. If they start with a master’s degree, they can earn $44,427 base salary.
There are no further increases for other levels however. Instead, they offer a onetime supplement for teachers who earn a National Board Certification of $5000 and then pay $2,500 from then on for the life of the certificate.
Wise County schools are also different. They have a starting salary of $34,000 with only small incremental steps for each year that a teacher is employed. There is a master’s stipend of $3,000 added to the base salary.
As you can see, there are many ways that schools have chosen to compensate teachers in Virginia. To see how other schools pay teacher salaries from other cities around Virginia see the chart below: