Get certified

Let’s start with the basics

Understanding the requirements to become a teacher will ensure you check every box along the way – and that’s what we’re here to help with. To receive a residency teacher certificate, you must have a bachelor’s degree, and complete a preparation program. In your program, you will complete specific assessments, demonstrate and improve your skills through student teaching, and earn at least one endorsement.

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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. 

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. Basic skills assessments measure knowledge in reading, writing, and mathematics. Programs use the results of this assessment to design and provide support to candidates. Programs may use the results of this assessment in a diagnostic and formative way 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: Content knowledge tests ensure you have strong content knowledge in the endorsement area you intend to teach. You must meet the content knowledge assessment requirement to earn an endorsement. Washington content knowledge tests are known as the WEST-E and NES assessments.

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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 certificate

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? Once approved by your program, you will apply for your certificate through the E-certification system.

All first-level teachers in Washington are required to have 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