How to Become a Teacher in Pennsylvania


Pennsylvania Teaching Requirements and Certification

Prospective educators attempting to teach within the state of Pennsylvania must first hold a bachelor's degree and attend a Pennsylvania Department of Education approved program for teachers before applying for a teaching certification. Upon completing the program, these future educators will then move on to passing specified Content Area assessments which apply specifically to the subject areas completed. For instance, students that are completing a Reading program would need to take Reading tests, while students within Mathematics programs would complete Mathematics examinations. Once these tests are completed, candidates can then apply for certification through the Teacher Information Management System. There are, of course, alternative paths for candidates that would like to become a teacher in Pennsylvania, but currently hold a bachelor's degree in areas of study outside of education. These potential educators can choose to complete a Pennsylvania approved Intern Program. This program provides professional certification, allowing the prospective teacher to hold a fulltime teaching position. Another route to consider is obtaining a master's degree or post-baccalaureate program. Pennsylvania Temporary Teaching Permits (TTP) are also available (valid for one calendar year) for candidates holding an American Board issued Passport to Teaching credential. This permit will allow a prospective educator to hold a teaching position while under the supervision of a teacher education institution. However, this permit is valid for only one calendar year, whereas teaching certifications are valid for six (6) years.

Certification Programs for Teaching in Pennsylvania

Prospective educators can choose amongst the 100+ Pennsylvania State Board of Education approved colleges or universities that offer certified and accredited teacher education programs. Students should discuss the necessary requirements to enter a Pennsylvania Teaching Certification program directly with the program provider. Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) oversees more than 500 of the accredited institutions that are offering fully accredited teaching education programs. The Commission will not recommend a specific college or university to students, as they recognize this to be a personal decision for the candidate. The Department of Education provides a comprehensive list of State Board approved Pennsylvania Teaching Education programs. Many colleges and universities offer online programs in lieu of the traditional classroom setting. Teaching certification program coursework will vary, and although the state of Pennsylvania does not have a set credit hour requirement, it does require certain subjects to be competed. The Board of Education also requires a set time of student teaching for all aspiring educators.

Testing Requirements For Teaching in Pennsylvania

Before entering any of the approved Pennsylvania Teaching Certification Programs, prospective educators must complete a basic skills assessment along with any of the specific Subject Matter Area Knowledge evaluations that directly correspond to a candidate's desired area of certification. Although post-baccalaureate and advanced degree holders are not required to complete the basic skills assessments, they must pass the necessary subject matter area assessments according to their desired certification areas. Both the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) or the Praxis CORE Academic Skills for Educators Exam qualify as an approved assessment for the Basic Skills evaluations. Pennsylvania educators are also required to successfully complete the Praxis tests, which are designed to allow aspiring teachers to confirm a thorough understanding of the necessary teaching skills used in the classroom. These tests include Pennsylvania Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators and Praxis Subject Assessments. The Praxis Core will assess the educator's comprehension and skills needed prior to entering the approved Pennsylvania Teaching Certification Program.

Additional Requirements for Teaching in Pennsylvania

Prospective educators for the state of Pennsylvania are required by law to undergo various background checks, including the Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance, the Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Records Check, and the Federal Criminal History Record Information. Candidates must also receive a thorough employment history review. There is a $13 fee associated with the Child Abuse History Clearance which can be paid online with a completed application. There is a $22 fee for a standard PA State Police Request for Criminal Records Check. The Federal Criminal History record Information check is an FBI fingerprint-based background check. Prospective educator background reports should not be more than five (5) years old at the time of employment.

Additional Pennsylvania Teaching Certifications to Increase Chances of Placement

It is noteworthy to mention that all previously discussed certifications are base level requirements, yet there are numerous other certifications to consider when desiring a well-rounded resume in order to secure placement. These additional certifications include Private Academic Certification for Licensed Private Academic Schools, Administrator Certifications, Supervisory Certifications, etc.

Steps for Application and Licensure in Pennsylvania

So, what are the steps to becoming a teacher in Pennsylvania from start to finish? First, you must obtain a bachelor's degree. Second, you must complete the required testing needed to enter an approved State Board accredited teaching certification program. Here you will also begin your hands-on experience in student teaching to prepare you for the classroom. Next, you should ensure to complete all required exams and assessments. This will include the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) or the Praxis CORE.

Praxis Tests Passing Score Requirements and Fees

For the Middle School Educators, the Praxis PA Grades 4-8 Core Assessment passing score will vary by Subject Concentrations. Both English and Social Studies assessments require a passing score of 152, Math scores should be 173 or higher, and Science tests require a score of 156.

For High School educators, Pennsylvania requires Specific Content Knowledge Praxis evaluations. The Praxis test score requirements are as follows: (a) Biology score of 147, (b) Chemistry score of 154, (c) Citizenship Education score of 148, (d) Speech Communication score of 145, (e) Earth and Space Sciences score of 157, (f) English Language Arts score of 167, (g) General Science score of 142, (h) Mathematics score of 160, (i) Social Studies score of 157, and (j) Physics score of 140. The Praxis test fees for combined tests and individual tests are $150 and $90, respectively.

Types of Alternative Teaching Licenses in Pennsylvania

There are also Alternative Teaching Licenses available in the state of Pennsylvania, though Praxis CORE and PAPA assessments are still required to receive certification. Prospective educators that currently hold a bachelor's degree or another higher education degree may want to consider applying for a Temporary Teaching Permit (TTP). The TTP is valid for one calendar year and the candidate is responsible for completing the Point Park University alternative certification program.

Upon successful completion of the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) and the necessary subject matter exams, the Pennsylvania Teacher Intern Certification Program allows the prospective student to receive an intern certificate. This certification allows candidates to teach fulltime while within the program. Additional alternative teaching certifications are the Pennsylvania Vocational Instructional Certificates (valid for up to three (3) years) and the Pennsylvania Teacher Emergency Permit is (valid for one school year).

Teaching Certification Reciprocity in Pennsylvania

The City of Pennsylvania by way of the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement will allow current educators outside of the state of Pennsylvania to be given a Pennsylvania Teaching Certification through reciprocity. Prior to certification, candidates are required to have (a) a bachelor's degree, (b) proof of a completed state-approved teaching certification program which would need to include a student teaching assignment while under supervision, (c) a recommendation from the college or university's certification officer, (d) met all supplementary requirements including tests required by the state of Pennsylvania, and (e) successfully complied with all PA requirements related to citizenship, physical/mental fitness, ethics, and morals.

Pennsylvania Teacher Job Forecast and Salary

As of 2020, current educators within the state of Pennsylvania earn an average salary of $55K- $63K each year, though entry-level candidates can expect a median salary of $45K+. The Pennsylvania Department of Education provides updated contact information for PA's public and charter schools along with a direct link to the employment website for all available positions. While working to become a teacher in Pennsylvania, check out job openings frequently to stay abreast of your future career outlook.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in PA?

    Upon completion of all requirements, applications for teaching certificates are typically processed by the state within 6-8 weeks. The time it takes to become certified varies depending on specific subject areas.

  • What is an emergency permit for teaching?

    An emergency permit typically grants a teaching applicant temporary status within an unfilled role and is given in aid of School Districts lacking certified candidates. However, this permit is valid for only one school year.