Washington State Certification - Frequently Asked Questions
This page displays frequently asked questions for specific Certificate Types.
- How do I obtain the official copy of my certificate?
Official certificates are now available online through your E-Certification profile.
Once you log into E-Certification please select "My Credentials". Under the certificate list you will see a "View" button on the left. Selecting this will give you the official copy of your current certificate.
- How can I obtain a fingerprint card?
You can contact us at Professional Certification with your mailing address and we will be happy to send you the fingerprint card package or for additional information please visit our fingerprint website.
- I have questions about my certificate, but I don't know my certificate number. How can I find out information about my certificate?
Contact Professional Certification by email or phone (360-725-6400) with your complete legal name and date of birth, and any other names under which you may have been certified. We will be able to provide you with information on your certificate.
- What does 'accredited' mean?
For your degree and/or coursework to be accepted for certification requirements, it must be taken from an accredited college or university.
See the list of accreditation bodies approved by the Washington State Achievement Council.
- My continuing certificate will expire this June. How do I renew it?
Prior to the lapse date of your certificate, you may log your completed 100 clock hours (or credit equivalent) and/or up to four annual Professional Growth Plans into your E-Certification profile (in Professional Development) and submit the electronic renewal application. You may apply through E-Certification
- My continuing certificate has expired. How can I reinstate it?
Completion of 100 clock hours (or credit equivalent) and/or up to four annual Professional Growth Plans within the five years preceding your application for reinstatement is required. You may apply through E-Certification
- What is the application fee?
Application and processing fees vary based on certificate type. Download the Application Fee Schedule.
- I have a bachelor's degree in another area, but I'm really interested in teaching. What would I have to do to obtain a teaching certificate?
Washington requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree and a state-approved teacher preparation program. Since you already have a bachelor's degree, you could enroll in a 'cert only' or master's program. Information on programs located in Washington. Alternative Routes to Certification are also available.
- I'm a certified teacher from another state. How can I obtain a Washington certificate?
You will need your transcripts verifying your degree(s) and teacher preparation program. You will also need your university or state-approved agency to complete the program verification form (4020E or 4020E-1, attached). If you have three years or more of certified, out-of-state teaching experience, please also send a copy of your out-of-state certificate(s) and provide verification of experience (form 4020F-1, attached). With the appropriate degree, program completion and/or certified, out-of-state experience, you can apply and be issued a one-year temporary permit pending verification of successful completion of the required testing. Review testing information.
You can access the electronic application by logging onto the Education Data System (EDS). You will need to set up a username and password. Begin at E-Certification instructions login page and choose "Create an Account." Once logged into EDS, you'll want to go to the My Applications tab and choose E-Certification from the available list. Sometimes the E-Certification option won't appear for 10-15 minutes, or up to a few hours, so you may need to log out and try again later that day.
- Where can I find information about registering for the West-B and West-E/NES tests?
Visit the Washington Educator Skills Tests website.
- Do you accept any tests other than the West-B or West-E/NES?
There are multiple tests that are accepted in lieu of the West-B and West-E/NES. See Teacher Assessments for more information.
- I have an expired initial certificate. What do I need to do to update my certification?
If your initial certificate expired prior to September 1, 2000, your next step is to convert to the residency certificate. That certificate will carry the same endorsements as your initial certificate. You may apply through E-Certification
- I'm applying for my first Washington certificate. Should I apply for the residency or professional certificate?
You should apply for the residency certificate. The professional certificate requires completion of a Washington professional certificate assessment (ProTeach), national board certification (issued by National Boards), Wisconsin's Master Educator, or Ohio's Five-Year Professional License. (The Wisconsin Master Educator License and Ohio's Five-Year Professional License both require verification of five years of teaching experience in a P-12 setting.)
- My residency certificate says 'Residency FI' or 'Residency PS' and has no expiration date. What do I need to do to keep my certificate current?
Individuals will not have a defined expiration date until they have employment. Individuals employed in a Washington state school district will have the validity calculated based on the experience information submitted by the school district on their annual personnel report (S275 report) to OSPI.
- Individuals employed by a Washington school district must have their residency certificate reissued with a defined expiration date
- Individuals employed in nonpublic school settings may participate in completing professional teacher certificate requirements and have their certificate reissued with a defined expiration date. It is up to the individual or their employer to determine if they wish to have their certificate reissued with a defined expiration date
When a certificate is reissued, it will be valid for five years.
- I have a renewed initial teaching certificate that will expire in June and want to apply for the continuing certificate. What do I need to do?
You will need to meet requirements for the continuing certificate and submit your application prior to the expiration of your renewed initial certificate. Further information regarding the continuing certificate requirements.
- I'm going to retire after many years of teaching in Washington, but I would still like to substitute teach. Where would I find an application for a substitute certificate?
You may apply through E-Certification
- I have a residency certificate due to expire in June. I didn't teach for the first few years I had it. How can I renew it?
- How can I find out information about CTE (vocational) certification?
Please visit how to become CTE certified in Washington.
- How can I add an endorsement to my certificate?
There are several ways to add an endorsement. However, it might be best to contact our office, either at Professional Certification or by telephone at 360-725-6400 so we can provide you with information appropriate for your situation.
- I'm interested in substitute teaching, but I don't have an education background. Is there any way I can substitute teach?
A regular substitute teaching certificate requires the same preparation as a regular teaching certificate: a bachelor's degree and a state-approved training program. However, we do offer an emergency substitute certificate, which does not require a teacher training program. That certificate must be requested by an employing school district. Review further information regarding the emergency substitute.
- I'm certified administrator from another state. How can I obtain a Washington certificate?
- You may apply through E-Certification.
- Is testing required for the administrative certificate?
- I have an expired initial principal's certificate. What do I need to do to update my certification?
Since your initial principal's certificate has expired, you will need to convert to the residency certificate. You may apply through E-Certification
- My residency principal's certificate says 'Residency FI' and has no expiration date. What do I need to do to keep my certificate current?
You don't need to do anything with your certificate until after you have been a principal, assistant principal, or vice principal for two years in Washington. Then you shall apply for reissuance of your certificate. You may apply through E-Certification, and we will issue you a new certificate that will expire five years from the end of your second year of service in the role.
- I'm certified in another state. How can I obtain a Washington certificate?
You may apply through E-Certification
- I'm a nurse who wants to work in the schools. How do I get certified?
If you hold a bachelor's degree or higher in nursing and hold a valid registered nurse license from the Washington State Department of Health, you may complete the application for an Initial Educational Staff Associate (ESA) school nurse certificate. There may be additional requirements but a temporary permit may be issued based on appropriate degree and license until additional requirements are met. View the requirements and access the application.
- I'm a nurse who has a valid license but I do not have a bachelor's degree in nursing. How do I get certified?
Nurses who hold a valid registered nurse license issued by the Washington State Department of Health but do not have a bachelor's degree in nursing may be eligible for a conditional school nurse certificate with a school district request. Candidates must submit a complete Conditional Certificate application.
- I'm a nurse, occupational therapist, or physical therapist with a Limited Permit from the Washington State Department of Health. Must I wait for my actual license before I can apply for certification?
A valid license is required for issuance of an Educational Staff Associate (ESA) certificate. However, a temporary ESA permit may be issued pending the valid license if appropriate degree requirements are met. View the requirements and access the application.
- I applied for an Initial Educational Staff Associate (ESA) certificate as a school nurse, school occupational therapist, school physical therapist, school social worker, or school speech language pathologist or audiologist and have been issued a temporary permit pending completion of the required ESA course. My permit will expire before I can complete the course. What should I do?
Additional permits are not generally issued. However, under extenuating circumstances, it is possible to have a permit extended slightly to accommodate time to complete a course you are signed up for. You must contact the Professional Certification Office to request a permit extension. Such request must be in writing (by e-mail, fax, or mail) and must include verification you are registered for the next available ESA course, and a district rush request to verify employment and need.
- How do I know if my program is state-approved for Washington Educational Staff Associate (ESA) certification?
If you completed a program through an institution outside of Washington State, you must check with the institution to be sure their program is/was state-approved at the time you completed the program. Washington accepts all other states' programs having state approval for purposes of educational certification or licensure for serving in the role in K-12 schools.
- I hold an ESA Certificate. Am I required to complete a suicide prevention course to earn, renew, or upgrade my ESA Certificate?
Only specific ESA Certificates are required to complete a suicide prevention course to earn, renew, or upgrade the certificate. For more information visit Suicide Prevention Information.
- I'm applying for a certificate as a school speech language pathologist or audiologist. Is a valid license from the Department of Health required for Educational Staff Associate (ESA) certification?
No, a license is not required for school speech language pathologist or audiologist certification. It may be a requirement for employment, however, so we encourage candidates to check with their employer.
- I hold a Residency Educational Staff Associate (ESA) school counselor, school psychologist, or school social worker certificate that does not show an expiration date. What should I do?
If you are a school counselor or school psychologist and have completed two years of service in the role in Washington, you must submit the Residency ESA Reissuance application to have an expiration date issued to your certificate. If you are a school social worker, you may apply for reissuance or convert to the initial ESA certificate.
- I hold a Residency Educational Staff Associate (ESA) school counselor or school psychologist certificate and am wondering if I should apply for reissuance. Do the two years in the role need to be full-time employment?
No, to meet residency ESA reissuance criteria, the experience can be full- or part-time employment.
- My Residency Educational Staff Associate (ESA) school counselor or school psychologist certificate has already been reissued. What is my next step?
- I'm a school counselor and earned my National Board for Professional Teaching Standards school counselor certificate. How do I obtain the Professional Educational Staff Associate (ESA) certificate?
You may apply for the Professional ESA certificate by submitting a complete application. Be sure to include a copy of your valid National Boards school counselor certificate.
- I'm a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. How do I obtain the Professional Educational Staff Associate (ESA) school psychologist certificate?
You may apply for the Professional ESA certificate by submitting a complete application. Be sure to include a copy of your valid NCSP certificate.
- What is the STEM professional development requirement for certificate renewal?
STEM is the authentic combination of at least two of the STEM components(science, technology, engineering, mathematics).
As of September 1, 2019, renewal applications for Initial, Residency, Professional, and Continuing teacher and Initial/Continuing CTE certificates require completion of at least 15 clock hours, or at least one goal from an annual professional growth plan (PGP), with an emphasis on STEM integration.
- How do I know if I need to complete STEM clock hours?
The Professional Educator Standards Board has a complete list of endorsement areas that require the completion of STEM clock hours. Professional Educator Standards Board STEM Renewal Requirement
- How do I know if I'm completing STEM clock hours?
To find out if you're completing STEM clock hours, you will need to contact the Washington approved clock hour provider, ESD, college/university, and/or state, local, federal agency.