Pennsylvania Teaching Certification
Pennsylvania Ed. Statistics
|Avg. Elem. Teacher Salary*||$69,630|
|Avg. Sec. Teacher Salary*||$66,920|
|Avg. Admin. Salary*||$101,710|
|Teacher Retention (?)||95%|
Learn how to become a teacher in Pennsylvania (or administrator). Choose the description of certification you are most interested in or situation that best describes you:
- Initial Teaching Certification…
- I’m a teacher from another state…
- Teacher Certification Renewal…
- Admin./Principal Certification…
- Alternative Teaching Certification…
- Substitute Teaching Permit…
- None of the above are what I’m looking for…
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Initial Pennsylvania Teaching Certification
According to information published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2010 Pennsylvania had the fifth-highest level of employment for secondary school teachers in the country. A total of 53,130 secondary teachers were employed in Pennsylvania, which amounted to 9.69 per every 1000 jobs in the state. Pennsylvania also had the fifth-highest employment level of kindergarten teachers, with a total of 6,530, or 1.19 per every 1000 jobs in the state. Find schools offering teaching certification programs in Pennsylvania.
Do you want to become a certified teacher in Pennsylvania? The Pennsylvania Department of Education Division of Certification Services (717-787-3356) expects that candidates for teacher certification in the state complete a bachelor’s degree program at minimum, with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA, usually from a state-approved teacher certification preparation program.
If you attend a teacher preparation program in another state or country, you must ensure that it includes the following coursework, which is automatically included within all board-approved Pennsylvania certification preparation programs:
- 6 semester hour credits of college-level Mathematics
- 3 semester hour credits in college-level English Composition
- 3 semester hour credits in college-level English/American Literature
A detailed explanation of course requirements in these areas may be found here.
Because Pennsylvania is part of the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement, your out-of-state credits should be accepted as long as:
- You have received a recommendation for certification from the dean/head of your certification program
- You pass the certification examinations required by PA (see below)
- You complete the educational requirements listed above if not already included as part of your certification program
Out-of-state credits may not be accepted if you:
- Completed an out-of-state alternative certification program
- If you have experience and certification in another state but did not complete a state approved certification program
- If you seek certification in PA as an educational specialist, administrator, supervisor or vocational specialist
Likewise, if you completed a certification preparation program in another country, your credits should be accepted if:
- You have at least a bachelor’s degree
- Your program meets PA standards (i.e., coursework requirements, GPA, etc)
- You pass necessary PA certification exams
- You are a US citizen or have filed papers of intent to become a US citizen
You must have your foreign transcript evaluated by one of the NACES member agencies listed here. Mail the evaluation to the PA Department of Education with your application for certification and official college transcripts.
Various types of instructional certificates are issued depending upon your area of specialization. There are also levels of certification in Pennsylvania:
- Level I Certification: the initial/provisional certificate issued to applicants who meet initial educational and examination requirements.
- Level II Certification: the next level of certification, attainable once you hold a Level I certificate and complete certain educational and experience requirements.
Click here for an overview of teacher certification testing requirements in Pennsylvania.
Basic skills testing:
As of now, all candidates for certification in Pennsylvania must pass the Praxis I Basic Skills Exam in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. However, in the spring of 2012, the Pennsylvania Educator Certification Test (PECT) Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics will replace this. All K-6 and K-12 certification areas require passage of the relevant Content Knowledge Test.
Currently, you may pass the Praxis I by taking the Combined Test and scoring 172 on Reading, 173 on Writing, and 173 on Mathematics; or through the Composite method, by taking each test separately with a minimum of 169 in Reading, 170 in Writing, and 170 in Math with a composite score (sum of all three tests) of at least 521.
Content area assessment testing:
In the spring of 2012, the Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests (PECT) will replace some of the Praxis II Content Area examinations for certain certification areas. Until then, you must pass the following Praxis II examinations to become certified to teach in the following areas:
- Early Childhood Education (Birth-Age 3)
- Elementary Education (Grades K-6)
- Middle Level (Grades 7-9):
- Citizenship Education
- Secondary Education (Grades 7-12):
- Citizenship Education
- Cooperative Education
- Earth & Space Science
- General Science
- Safety/Driver Education
- Social Sciences
- Social Studies
- K-12 Areas:
- Business, Computers & Information Technology
- Environmental Education
- Family & Consumer Sciences
- Health & Physical Education
- Library Science
- Marketing/Distributive Education
- Reading Specialist
- Technology Education
- Special Education:
- Birth-Grade 12
- Hearing Impaired – K-12
- Speech & Language Impaired – K-12
- Visually Impaired – K-12
Pennsylvania requires all applicants to have experience gained through their certification preparation program.
First, you will enroll in a practicum as part of your courses in education. The practicum is designed to allow you to observe classroom teachers at work and learn some of their strategies and techniques. You may get the opportunity to lead the class in presenting lessons during the practicum.
Next comes the student teaching portion of your certification preparation program. This is usually done late in the program after the completion of all academic courses, and involves being placed into a classroom specific to the grade level and subject matter you wish to teach. For a minimum of 12 weeks you will be involved in leading instruction, designing lesson plans, and managing the classroom, under the supervision of both a cooperating teacher and college/university supervisor. These officials will observe and grade your student teaching performance. You must pass the PDE-430 Student Teacher Assessment before ending your student teaching.
Document and Application Requirements
When you have completed all of the requirements described above, you are ready to submit your certification application to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This must be done online through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS). If you attended a Pennsylvania college, they will send official transcripts directly to the Department. If you attended college out-of-state, you must mail official copies of college transcripts directly to the Department. (Your Praxis scores will be sent electronically if you took the tests in Pennsylvania). Application fees are payable online.
Mail your documentation to Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality, Pennsylvania Department of Education, 333 Market Street, 3rd Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333. You can check the status of your application online at any time by visiting the TIMS website.
Criminal History Background Check
Prior to beginning student teaching in Pennsylvania, you must apply for a criminal history background check. This checks your federal criminal history through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as well as your state criminal history through the PA State Police. Your college certification preparation program will provide you with the necessary forms and instructions for the fingerprinting process.
Before accepting a paid position in a Pennsylvania school district, you may have to have the check run again if it was done more than one year ago. Additionally, a check must be run through the Department of Public Welfare Child Abuse Report system.
If you have questions about the FBI fingerprinting process, click here. Questions on the criminal history check system may be directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Education at 717-783-3750 or by emailing RA-PDE-SchoolService@pa.gov.
For more information on certification preparation programs, contact schools offering teaching certification programs in Pennsylvania.
If you’re interested in additional information on the teacher certification process in Pennsylvania, call the Pennsylvania Department of Education Division of Certification Services at 717-787-3356.
*2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data – Conditions in your area may vary.
**Teacher Retention Sources – U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education, Statistics Schools and Staffing Survey, 1999–2000 (“Public School Teacher Questionnaire,” “Private School Teacher Questionnaire,” and “Public Charter School Teacher Questionnaire”),
and 2000–01 Teacher Follow-up Survey (“Questionnaire for Current Teachers” and “Questionnaire for Former Teachers,” Table 1.01). Washington, DC.
State estimations based on analysis by Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, from the National Center for Education Statistics Student and Staffing Survey, and therefore include a slight margin of error.