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What Is the Average Teacher Salary in Washington?

Effective teachers can make a long-lasting impact on the lives of students. If you live in Washington state and are interested in becoming a teacher, you’re probably wondering about which specific requirements need to be fulfilled and what’s the average teacher salary in Washington.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the profession. We’ll go over the necessary requirements to become a teacher in Washington, the different types of career options available, and details about the average teacher salary in Washington.

What Is the Average Teacher Salary in Washington?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the estimated average teacher salary in Washington was $79,529 during the 2020-21 school year for teachers in public school districts. These competitive salaries vary depending on years of experience and whether you’re teaching in a public or private school.

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The majority of teacher salaries start small and grow as you gain more experience and certificates. Your wage will also depend on the cost of living where you teach. For example, you may be paid more if you teach in a private school in Seattle than if you teach in a public school in a less affluent area. 

What Is the Average Salary of a Teacher in the United States? 

The average base salary of a teacher in the United States is $62,140, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This estimate refers to education instruction and library occupations, which includes all teachers from kindergarten to high school.

Average Teacher Salary in Washington: K—12

Level Number Employed in Washington Average Salary in Washington Average Salary in the United States
Kindergarten Teachers 4,810 $77,860 $57,860
Elementary School Teachers 28,560 $83,010 $61,400
Middle School Teachers 10,230 $83,460 $61,320
High School Teachers 13,670 $85,260 $61,820

Basic Requirements to Become a Teacher in Washington: K—12

  • Get a bachelor’s degree. Washington state teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree as a minimum degree requirement. Those who don’t have a degree in education but still want to become teachers in Washington can follow an alternative certification path.
  • Get a certification. After you get a degree, you must take the additional time to complete a teacher preparation program to become certified and be able to apply to teaching jobs. These programs combine courses on teaching and pedagogy fundamentals to give you a better handle of the job responsibilities that come with this role.
  • Take an alternative route if necessary. You can become a teacher without a degree in education. Washington offers four alternative routes to become a teacher, which include additional education post-associate degree, a post-graduate teacher prep program, or earning a master’s degree.
  • Apply to job offers. As soon as you get your license and certification, you can look for teacher job openings and apply for positions available in the job market. Depending on your experience, you can choose between working in a public or private school.

How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher in Washington

To become a kindergarten teacher in Washington via the traditional route, you’ll need to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Next, you must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program as well as passing the Washington Educators Skills exams consisting of two main tests, the WEST-B and the NES. Candidates that scored highly on their ACT or SAT tests may be able to have the exam waived. 

How to Become an Elementary School Teacher in Washington

Becoming an elementary school teacher in Washington requires a degree in elementary education or general education with a focus on the elementary level. After your degree you must pass the certification exams, and dedicate a part of your program to supervised student teaching.

How to Become a Middle School Teacher in Washington

Middle school teachers in Washington state need a degree in education followed by the two required Washington Educator Skills certification exams. Some college degrees already offer state-approved teacher preparation programs. Finally, you’ll have to submit to a complete background check.

How to Become a High School Teacher in Washington

To become a high school teacher in Washington, you must get a Bachelor’s Degree in Education or a related field, complete a teacher preparation program, pass the Washington Educator Skills exams, and submit to and pass a full background check. You will also be expected to renew your certificate every five years.

Average Teacher Salary in Washington: Other Types of Teachers

Type Number Employed in Washington Average Salary in Washington Average Salary in the United States
Preschool Teachers 10,310 $37,040 $30,210
Career and Technical Education Teachers 3,380 $88,305 $61,160
Adult Basic Education Teachers 1,540 $61,700 $59,720
Substitute Teachers 9,890 $44,230 $38,410

Requirements to Become a Teacher in Washington: Preschool

  • Obtain a degree. Washington requires preschool teachers and certified staff to have a minimum of an associate degree with thirty degree credit hours of early childhood education.
  • Complete STARS training. If you only have, for example, an associate degree, you can still become a lead preschool teacher by completing at least six months of state training and registry systems (STARS) training.
  • Get basic first aid training. Most preschools require teachers to be certified in first aid and CPR before hiring them as teachers. This type of knowledge is useful in numerous situations, so make sure you get your certification beforehand.

Requirements to Become a Teacher in Washington: Career and Technical Education

  • Get a bachelor’s degree. Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers typically need to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.
  • Complete a CTE program. You’ll need to complete a state approved CTE program in one of the four main endorsement areas: Agriculture Education, Business and Marketing Education, Family and Consumer Sciences Education or Technology Education.
  • Pass the WEST-E exam. The next step is to pass a Washington Educator Skills Test – Endorsement exam in the specific subject area you’ll be teaching in.
  • Gain one year of experience. CTE teachers are required to have at least one year of occupational experience in industry jobs, which is around 2,000 hours of work. These can also be volunteer hours in the chosen CTE subject area.
  • Get a Residency Teacher Certificate. The final step in becoming a CTE teacher is obtaining a Residency Teacher Certificate. This will allow you to apply to CTE teaching jobs in Washington.

Requirements to Become a Teacher in Washington: Adult Basic Education

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree. Adult basic education teachers are required to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.
  • Get a master’s degree. Some employers will ask that their adult basic education teachers complete or have completed a master’s degree or graduate coursework in adult education or English as a Second Language (ESL).
  • Complete the certification program. Finally, you need to earn your certification by completing a teacher preparation program. While some states require special adult education certification, Washington accepts certificates in elementary or secondary education.

Requirements to Become a Substitute Teacher in Washington

  • Get a college degree. Substitute teachers, just like regular teachers, need to have a bachelor’s degree. You can get a degree in the field of education, or choose a more specific subject that you’d like to teach.
  • Pass a teacher training program. The certifications for substitute teachers are obtained through the same teacher training programs available for regular teachers. The same level of preparation is required, but substitute teachers do not have to take the Washington Educator Skills exams. 
  • Submit to a background check. The final step to becoming a substitute teacher in Washington is to submit your fingerprints and undergo a complete background check, where you’ll be screened for past offenses and criminal records.

Average Teacher Salary in Washington: Special Education

Special Education Level Number Employed in Washington Average Salary in Washington Average Salary in the United States
Preschool 930 $69,990 $71,970
Kindergarten and Elementary 3,060 $80,510 $67,090
Middle School 1,360 $81,520 $68,860
High School 2,210 $83,990 $70,100

Requirements to Become a Teacher in Washington: Special Education

  • Get a degree. To become a special education teacher in Washington you must have a degree in special education or a degree in general education with a heavy focus on special education. Choosing to get a Master’s Degree in Special Education will likely lead to a sufficient increase in base salary, and better qualify you for teacher jobs in this role. 
  • Become certified. Much like other teachers, special education teachers need to pass a teacher training program. This includes the WEST-B and NES test plus a WEST-E test, which contains a specific special education assessment.
  • Undergo a background check. Finally, you need to submit your fingerprints and have your criminal history checked by the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). After you clear the background check, you’ll receive your teaching license and can now apply for jobs. 

Is a Teacher’s Salary in Washington Worth My Time and Money? 

Yes, a teacher’s salary in Washington is worth your time and money. In Washington, the fee for becoming a certified teacher costs an average of $86, depending on the type of certification. This is very affordable, considering that the annual wage for teachers in Washington is higher than the national average wage. Many school districts in Washington also provide employees with great benefits.  

Regardless of your specialization and the type of teacher you want to become, Washington state makes it easy for you to achieve your teaching goals. The job requirements are standard and achievable, the certifications are cheap, and the average annual salary range is $2,000 to $10,000 above the national pay. Experienced teachers make a difference in the lives of learners, and they are highly valued in the state of Washington. 

Teacher Salary in Washington FAQ

What kind of questions are asked during teacher interviews?

During teacher interviews candidates are asked a mix of general behavior questions and school/teaching-related questions. Some typical teacher interview questions might include “Why did you decide to become a teacher?” or “What makes you a good fit for this school?”.

Are there any good scholarships for Master’s in Special Education?

There are plenty of good scholarships for master’s degree programs in special education. They typically don’t cover the total tuition cost, but they’re a great financial help to get through your studies. 

Can I get a teaching degree online?

Yes, you can get a teaching degree online. Online programs have become very popular in recent years, and teaching degrees are no exception. Florida International University, Regis University, and the University of Alabama are a few of the colleges with great online teaching degrees.

Which are the most important teaching skills?

Some of the most important teaching skills include time management skills for creating lesson plans and schedules, creativity to enhance the learning experience, patience, conflict resolution, communication, and leadership skills. These are critical skills to have regardless of your teaching path.

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