Alternative Teaching Certification in Washington



Some teachers don’t discover their calling until later in their lives, missing the chance to receive their certifications the traditional way. For these individuals, their current careers may seem less attractive, causing them to investigate ways of transitioning to a career in teaching.

Interested in learning about the traditional approach? Contact schools offering teaching certification programs in Washington.

Luckily, Washington offers many opportunities for individuals seeking certification through alternate routes. The Washington Professional Educator Standards Board Pathways to Teaching offers 46 different alternative teaching programs for those looking to get into the career.

Alternative Certification Requirements

Education Requirements

In Washington, all teachers must complete at least bachelor’s degrees in order to receive certification. There are four different alternative routes to certification offered in Washington.

The first route requires candidates to hold associate’s degrees and be currently employed as classified instructional employees (paraprofessionals). This route helps degree seekers earn their bachelor’s degrees and initial certification requirements within two years.

The second route to certification is available to candidates who hold bachelor’s degrees, but have not completed teacher preparation programs. They must also be currently employed by a school district in subject matter shortage areas.

The third route to certification is offered to candidates who hold bachelor’s degrees, but are not currently employed by a school district. These individuals must have degrees in specific subject areas, such as a bachelor’s in math or science.

The fourth and final route to certification is for those who hold conditional teaching certificates, such as emergency substitute teaching degrees, in addition to bachelor’s degrees. These individuals have an expertise in a subject area, but did not complete a teacher education program.


In order to enter an alternative teacher education program, all candidates are required to pass the WEST-B skills test. The WEST-B is a basic skills test meant to give candidates a chance to demonstrate their knowledge of reading, writing, and mathematics.

The WEST-B is meant to ensure that all candidates have the problem-solving skills and competency levels necessary to teach effectively and approach learning dynamically. While all candidates in every certification route are required to take the WEST-B prior to enrolling in a program, candidates in Route Three and Four also must take the WEST-E.

The WEST-E Endorsement Test is an endorsement area exam meant to test candidates on their subject knowledge and focus. The WEST-E is required for the following endorsement areas:

  • Agriculture Education
  • Bilingual Education
  • Biology
  • Business and Marketing Education
  • Chemistry
  • Dance
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Elementary Education
  • English Language Arts
  • English Language Learner
  • Family Consumer Special Education
  • Health/Fitness
  • History
  • Latin Language
  • Library Media
  • Mathematics
  • Middle Level Humanities
  • Middle Level Math
  • Middle Level Science
  • Music: Choral
  • Music: General (Neither Choral nor Instrumental)
  • Music: Instrumental
  • Physics
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Special Education
  • Technology Education
  • Theatre Arts
  • Traffic Safety Education
  • Visual Arts
  • World Languages
  • World Languages – Latin


During your alternative teacher preparation program, candidates are given many opportunities to gain real-life experience in the classroom through student teaching and mentoring programs.

Alternative Routes One, Three, and Four require candidates demonstrate successful experience with students before entering their programs. During their alternative programs, candidates are also enrolled in a summer teaching academy, in addition to a full year in a mentored internship.

Route Two candidates enter a mentored internship program, gaining valuable experience in the classroom. Mentored programs allow candidates to monitor successful teachers, mimicking their positive qualities and exploring teaching techniques.

Criminal History Background Check

All teacher certification candidates are required to submit to fingerprinting and background checks from the Washington State Patrol and the FBI. Background checking ensures that all candidates are safe to work with children.

The easiest way to ensuring you meet all requirements and standards of fingerprinting is to schedule an appointment at your local Educational Service District (ESD).

Employees at the ESD will take your background and demographic information, fingerprint you, and send the information to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Fingerprinting holds a $46.25 application fee, plus processing fees.

Contact Information

More information about alternative routes to teacher certification in Washington can be found on the Professional Educator Standards Board’s website or by contacting them at 360-725-6275.