Principal Certification

Principals and assistant principals can anticipate two levels of certification during their career: Residency and Professional.

Pro Cert Update (4/5/2017)

The Professional Educators Standards Board voted unanimously on Friday, March 24 to no longer require that principals must complete the second-tier licensure system knows as “Professional Certification” (ProCert). AWSP, PESB and other stakeholders are continuing to collaborate and look at new possibilities for what second-tier licensure might look like, while at the same time, the Legislature debates what they think it should be. Read our Q&A.

Residency Certificate

The Residency Certificate is for all first-time applicants, new to the profession or from out of state. The Residency Certificate is issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. If you have a residency certificate with an expiration date, the PESB will soon create a system to apply for a three-year extension. Stay tuned for updates.


  • Earn a master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Complete any state’s approved administrator preparation program.
  • Provide verification of three years successful school based instructional experience in an educational setting.
  • Hold or have held a regular teaching or ESA certificate.

Approved Programs in Washington

The Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) approves administrator preparation programs in Washington State.

Additional Details

Information on application processing may be found on the OSPI Residency Certificate page.

Certificat Renewal

This section applies to those with a Professional Certificate.

  • The Professional Certificate is renewed through the completion of four annual Professional Growth Plans (PGPs) during the five-year validity dates of the certificate. The PGP Template (Form 1697) is used for development of the annual PGP, documentation of evidence, and reflection and analysis. When the principal moves to renew the certificate through the eCert system after five years, a signature from the superintendent supervisor or designee will be required; at that time it will be necessary to show the supervisor the four PGPs completed during the five-year validity of the certificate.
    • Through the year 2020, principals and assistant principals renewing a Professional Certificate have a one-time option of renewing using a combination of PGPs and clock hours where 30 clock hours are equivalent to one PGP. When this option is used, the combination of PGPs and clock hours must total the equivalent of 150 clock hours (e.g. 3 PGPs + 60 clock hours = 150 clock hours).
  • Administrators with a Continuing Certificate may continue to renew their certificates using clock hours, PGPs, or the combination option illustrated above.

All principals and assistant principals, regardless of certification type:

  • Must include continuing education on the revised teacher and principal evaluation systems in their renewal clock hours/PGPs;
  • Beginning 2019, must include 15 clock hours or 1 PGP goal with an emphasis on STEM if they are also renewing their teaching credential with their renewal submission.

Comprehensive information on certificate renewal may be found on the PESB website.

New Renewal Option for Residency Admin Certs!

The PESB has approved a third renewal option for residency administrator (principal and/or program administrator) certificate holders. Educators who hold or have held a residency administrator certificate that expires on or before 6/30/19 may apply for a one-time three-year renewal. This renewal provides these administrators an option for keeping their certificate current while the PESB works with stakeholders to determine a replacement for the Admin ProCert Programs. The 3-year renewal application is posted at along with information regarding the 2-year (Admin ProCert Program enrollment) and 5-year (not serving in the role) renewal options. Questions may be directed to or 360–725–6400.

NOTE: The application for a 3-year extension to residency certificates is a paper-only document and the fee is $54.00 paid to OSPI.

Helpful Links

Continuing Renewal and Additional Certificates
Professional Growth Plans
Professional Renewal Requirements
Timeline for Moving from a Residency to a Professional Certificate
Program Options for Moving from a Residency to a Professional Certificate
Certificate Renewal and Professional Growth Plans
Pathways to Leadership

For More Information

Kurt Hatch | Director of Principal Support, Middle Level Programs, and Diversity & Equity | 800.562.6100