Get certified

Let’s start with the basics

There are several requirements to consider prior to receiving your teaching certificate, and understanding them will ensure you check every box along the way. To receive a residency teacher certificate, you must have a bachelor’s degree, and complete a preparation program which includes assessments, student teaching, and earning at least one endorsement. Below you will find the components of becoming certified to teach.

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From kindergarten instruction to high school chemistry, from vocal music to teaching students who are blind: P-12 education is a broad field. Before enrolling in a program, it’s important to know what area you’ll want to teach in that field. 

An endorsement is the subject matter or content area listed on your teaching certificate. For example, you could pursue an endorsement in elementary education. You could also choose an additional endorsement, like English Language Learner or middle level mathematics.

For questions or details on adding an endorsement, please see the OSPI website.

View a current list of endorsements

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All Washington teachers are expected to take a combination of assessments.

Basic skills assessment: You must take a basic skills assessment for admission to a teacher preparation program. There is no minimum passing score. Basic skills assessments measure knowledge in reading, writing, and mathematics. Programs use the results of this assessment to design and provide support to candidates. You have many options to meet the basic skills requirement, including the WEST-B, SAT, ACT, or a number of equivalent assessments.

Content knowledge assessment: Prior to student teaching, you must attempt at least one content knowledge assessment, and you must pass the content knowledge assessment(s) for your endorsement(s) prior to teacher certification. Washington content knowledge tests are known as the WEST-E and NES assessments.

Performance assessment: The edTPA is a portfolio-based performance assessment required to complete a teacher preparation program. The edTPA is designed to assess how teacher candidates plan and teach lessons, exhibit culturally responsive instruction, and demonstrate approaches to differentiate student needs. The edTPA provides an opportunity for prospective teachers to demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to help all students learn in real classrooms. Find out more about the edTPA.

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Student teaching

The education and certification process culminates in a real-world teaching experience. Most preparation programs refer to this step as “student teaching.” This means that you work side-by-side with a classroom teacher to hone your skills, learn from a mentor, and you get to practice being a real teacher before you move forward with your own position at a school. Student teaching is often completed during the final year of study. 

Background checks and fingerprinting

A thorough background check and fingerprinting is required to teach in Washington. Learn more about this process.

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Apply for your residency certification

You made it to the finish line, congratulations! We like to think we had something to do with it, but it was really all you. Your hard work, dedication, and commitment to student success has brought you to this point. So, how do you receive your long awaited residency teaching certificate?

All first-level teachers in Washington require a Residency Teacher Certificate. 

Learn more about the many other certificates for Washington educators. For individual information on your certificate application or next steps, contact the OSPI certification office at