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Washington State University
College of Education

Teacher Education – Certification

You have the desire to teach. And, you’re almost there!

The State of Washington requires prospective teachers to go through a certification and endorsement process.

Certification specifics depend on a number of factors, mostly whether the prospective teacher is either going into elementary or secondary education, as well as whether they are a first-time applicant or experienced professional.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) outlines all types of certificates for different situations, but here are the main two we see:

Residency certificate

This is the certificate that the majority of first-time applicants receive. Initial teacher certification is available at our Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses.

To qualify for a Washington state residency teaching certificate, the candidate must:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree (or higher) from a regionally-accredited college, such as ours.
  • Qualify for, and complete, a state’s approved teacher preparation program, such as ours.

The residency certificate (first issue) is valid until the holder is reported as employed by a Washington school district as a teacher with 1.5 FTE or more experience. This certificate must then be reissued with a three year expiration date.

More Residency Certificate info

Professional certificate

The Professional Certificate is the advanced level certificate. Teachers who complete National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) qualify for the Professional Certificate.

Emergency teacher certificate

Due to the virus and the abrupt halt to the operations of public schools and testing centers nationwide, the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) adopted an emergency rule to assist preservice teachers who were not able to meet requirements for the residency certificate because of COVID-19. The state’s teacher ed programs can temporarily recommend preservice teachers for the Emergency Certificate if ALL requirements are completed with the exception of edTPA and/or content testing (WEST-E or NES). REQUEST EMERGENCY TEACHER CERTIFICATE.


In addition to being certified, teachers must hold an endorsement in a teaching area approved by Washington state.

For our students who plan to teach K-8, they will pursue an endorsement in elementary education. These students must also choose one of the following add-on endorsements: English Language Learners Middle Level Mathematics, Middle Level Science, or Special Education.

For WSU students who plan to teach specific subjects (such as high school history or music), the student will complete a major in that area of expertise, and will choose the teacher preparation option.

More endorsement information