Virginia Art Teacher Certification and Job Requirements

As a new art teacher in Virginia you will soon discover that you have stepped into a world of artistic support. In the 1970s the state government began a program that recognized gifted art students known as the Virginia Governor’s Schools. It was designed to provide some of the state’s most talented students — both in art and academics — to a challenging program outside of their regular public school. The program was originally intended to last only a short time.

It was such a success, however, that funding continued. It was also expanded to include other subjects as well. Today there are eighteen of these schools around the state. Some of them are considered to be the best in the nation. As you think about teaching, one of theses schools may be for you. While you consider where you may want to teach, here are the steps to help you prepare for a new career teaching art in Virginia schools:

Choose Your Degree
Take and Pass Virginia Teacher Exams
Apply for Licensure
Continue Your Education



Step 1. Choose Your Degree

Bachelor Degree Teacher Preparation Program

Most students who graduate from high school and want to become an art teacher in Virginia will often elect to earn a bachelor’s degree with a teaching program. These degrees are typically about four years in length and allow students who wish to teach art a direct path to teacher preparation that ready them for state exams and licensing.

When choosing a school in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education has listed the approved schools that have teacher programs available to choose from. Each school’s program will have different courses for you to take, but for the most part, the courses will all be similar. You will find that all schools have a number of general education requirements. You will also be required to take many core classes in art. For the teacher preparation portion your courses will focus on topics such as:

  • Curriculum Development
  • Leadership
  • Classroom Management
  • Instruction
  • Student Teaching
  • Cross Cultural Teaching
  • Ethics
  • Program Development

When the time comes for you to look at your educational options, consider which program will meet your goals. Each grade level may have different degree requirements and coursework demands. These are important things to discuss with your counselor when you enroll in your classes.

In order to receive the proper endorsement on your Virginia teaching license you will need to have at least the following:

Complete your major in art or take 36 hrs. in the following:

  • Art with coursework in:
    • Two-D media: 12-semester hrs.
    • Three-D media: 12-semester hrs.
    • Culture and art history, art criticism, art aesthetics: 9 semester hours; and
    • Related fine art areas: 3-semester hrs.

Career Switcher

Another option if you’ve already been to college and have decided to change careers, you may want to consider the Career Switcher program. This program allows you to earn a Provisional License if you meet the prerequisite requirements. The Provisional License will be given to you once you have completed all of the following:

  • Go through the program application process.
  • Receive a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college.
  • Have a minimum of five years of art experience at your job or business.
  • Receive qualifying scores on the Virginia professional teacher’s assessments.
  • Complete your exams and license application.



Step 2. Take and Pass Virginia Teacher Exams

In order to teach in Virginia you will first have to take a series of exams. Even though you have now completed your degree program, you will be tested on several areas of general knowledge to prove that you are indeed ready to teach in the classroom.

Each grade level has certain tests that are designed to prove that you have the basic skills needed to teach. You will be tested in areas of writing, reading, and math, as well as in your core subject of art. If you are teaching elementary school, you will also need to take a few additional exams that are specific to that grade level. Each exam is about an hour long typically and has an individual fee.

You have the option of applying for the exam by mail, phone, or online. Some of the exams are given only a few times during the year, while others are available by appointment anytime.

To get you started on the exam process, the first step is to check out the Virginia exam center site where you will find all the necessary information you will need.



Step 3. Apply for Licensure

The state of Virginia has several levels of licensing that denote a certain number of hours of training and education. Within these levels are several titles for the kinds of licenses available. Here are the most common ones you will be exposed to in your career as an art teacher:

Provisional License

This Provisional License is given when a candidate has completed the Level I preparation and chosen the career switcher alternate route for career professionals. The Provisional License will not be allowed for renewal and is only good for three years.

Collegiate Professional License

The Collegiate Professional License is a full 5-year license at level I that will be available to you when you have completed all licensing requirements including earning your bachelor’s or master’s degree that was approved by Virginia’s State Board of Education. The Collegiate Professional License is a renewable license.

Postgraduate Professional License

The Postgraduate Professional License is also a 5-year license and will be the top license you can earn as a teacher. You will be awarded this license if you decide to seek a PhD.

In order to apply for your first art teaching license in Virginia here are the steps to take:

  • Complete a state approved teacher preparation program.
  • Complete your exams.
  • Fill out all the questions on the application form.
  • Submit the $50 processing fee.
  • Include:
    • Proof of all teaching experience
    • Praxis exam scores
    • All official transcripts
    • Child Abuse Training Certification
    • First Aid and CPR certification
    • All forms and documentation of proof of education an employment

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

The state of Virginia requires that all teachers continue to seek professional development throughout their career. Your initial license is good for five years. At the end of five years, you will be required to have completed 180 professional development points. Each point is the equivalent of 6 semester hours of college coursework. Your work must be specific to your level of education as well as your content endorsement.

Virginia has eight areas that are acceptable for accumulation of points including publication in magazines, books, trade journals, attending approved conferences, and other professional development training. Another possibility is continuing your formal education by extending your degree.

The highest license available in Virginia requires a PhD and this will offer you the ability to reach the top of the pay scale. The sooner you are able to attain that goal, the quicker you will be able to maximize that benefit over the course of your career. This will also afford you the authority should you choose to publish, lecture, or make a lateral move later on to seek a professorship at a university or college. When you decide to continue your education, keep in mind these benefits.

< h2>Virginia Art Teacher Salaries

According to the National Education Association, the average starting salary for teachers in $37,848 (as of the 2012-2013 school year) is $33,386, slightly lower than the national average of $36,141.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data on art teacher salaries as a separate unit, but tracks salaries for elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers as larger categories. The department reports the following annual mean wages and employment numbers as of May 2013:

Occupation Title EmploymentMean Annual Salary
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education35,99058,750
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education17,03058,140
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education23,23061,180


However, teacher salaries can vary significantly by location. A sample of the median salaries and employment figures as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for some major cities appears below (note that not all areas track salaries for all locations):

Occupation Title EmploymentMean Annual Salary
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education53061,260
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education27062,410
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education35066,060


Charlottesville, VA
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education98060,460
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education48058,740
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education67063,170


Danville, VA
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education71037,660
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education29049,790
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education43046,320


Harrisonburg, VA
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education62039,290
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education30045,270


Lynchburg, VA
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education86044,870
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education37041,320
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education71043,840


Salary schedules vary by district and are developed after negotiation with the union. The Virginia Department of Education collects averages of these salaries and publishes them each year here. The salary schedule for Richmond public schools appears here.

Information on postsecondary art teacher salaries throughout Virginia and related areas can be found in the following table provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area Name
Annual Median Salary
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford VA
Harrisonburg VA
Lynchburg VA
Richmond VA
Roanoke VA
Southwestern Virginia nonmetropolitan area
Northwestern Virginia nonmetropolitan area

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