Become a Teacher in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Department of Educationhttp://www.education.state.pa.us
333 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Become a teacher in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Teacher Shortage areas
Pennsylvania currently has a two-tier certification system. New teachers begin at Level I, which is valid for six years of teaching service. At the end of six years, every teacher must complete at least 24 credits of post-baccalaureate coursework and have gone through an induction program set up by their school in order to obtain Level II certification. In order to keep a Level II License Active, teachers must complete a required number of continuing education credit units.
If you are certified to teach in another state, Pennsylvania has interstate reciprocity agreements with 45 other states that can make it easier for you to begin teaching in Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more about earning your Pennsylvania teaching credential.
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To become certified in Pennsylvania, teachers must earn qualifying scores on the Basic Skill Test and on all Subject Area tests for specific instruction areas. These are the required tests for Instructional I certification:
Basic Skills Test
For additional information, see the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Testing Requirements website.
Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests (PECT) will replace the Praxis I PPST tests and the Praxis II tests for Elementary and Early Childhood in the spring of 2012.
You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting the Praxis information page provided by Teachers Test Prep, where you can also access free online Praxis Practice Tests and Praxis Study Guides, plus a variety of paid Praxis Test Prep options for those who need additional help, including live prep classes, one-on-one tutoring, and on-demand online prep.
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Teacher preparation programs typically include a combination of coursework and fieldwork. The coursework usually covers core knowledge, skills and pedagogy (the theory behind the teaching process). Program curriculum should prepare students to research, design and implement challenging learning experiences in their field of study. Fieldwork may include an internship, student teaching or field observations.
Like other states, Pennsylvania stipulates that all certified teachers must have a bachelor's degree at minimum. In addition, prospective teachers must complete an approved teacher education program that includes student teaching or an internship. Pennsylvania does not have credit hour requirements, but does have subject requirements. Each teacher education program will have its own set of coursework requirement to complete the program. Pennsylvania requires a period of student teaching.
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More than 90 different teacher preparation programs that prepare students for certification are available in Pennsylvania. Students may also qualify for a credential through completion of online programs and programs from universities outside of Pennsylvania. A list of approved teacher preparation programs can be found here.Return to the top
Alternative certification is an option for graduates of accredited universities and colleges who do not have a degree in education or who have not earned a teaching certification. Since at least 2004, the State of Pennsylvania has recognized ABCTE(the American Boards of Certification for Teacher Excellence) for alternative certification. Most students complete the ABCTE online self-paced program in under a year. The Philadelphia Teaching Fellows program offers another alternative route to career changers and recent graduates who have not gone through a teacher preparation program.Pennsylvania and New York Troops to Teachers Return to the top
Pennsylvania participates in an Interstate Agreement defined by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification that pertains to acceptance of teaching credentials from other states. In order to qualify for reciprocity under the Interstate Agreement, candidates must satisfy a set of requirements defined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Teaching candidates should contact the Department of Education for details about credential reciprocity, or visit the Teach.com reciprocity page. Return to the top
Pennsylvania teachers who complete a Master in Education degree can expect to earn a higher salary. In Philadelphia, teachers holding a Master’s degree can earn from $1,210 to $7,936 per year more than teachers lacking an advanced degree, depending on years of experience.
They can also use their graduate course credits towards Level II certification. Pennsylvania currently has a two-tier certification system. New teachers begin at Level I, which is valid for six years of teaching service. At the end of six years, every teacher must complete a required amount of additional graduate or undergraduate coursework in order to obtain Level II certification. A Master in Education that is earned while a Pennsylvania teacher's Level I certification is active will satisfy the education requirements for Level II.
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In addition to financial aid offered by colleges and universities, there are several financial aid programs to help Pennsylvania teachers complete their educational goals.
- The PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) is one of the nation's leading student aid organizations. In addition to providing student financial aid, PHEAA provides financial support services in the form of financial advice, loan servicing and student outreach.
- The Pennsylvania State Grant Program awards education financing that doesn't need to be repaid to eligible candidates.
- Academic Competitiveness and SMART Grants are available through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Pennsylvania residents are eligible for the Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship as well as the TEACH Grant, a grant which gives financial aid to students in return for an agreement to teach in a high-need school.
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According to the National Education Association (NEA), Pennsylvania ranked 12th in the nation for teacher pay in 2009 with an average teacher salary of $58,124. The state offers differential pay and loan forgiveness as incentives for teaching in high-needs schools or in subject areas with shortages. Learn more about teacher salaries.Return to the top
Pennsylvania's Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) provides full retirement benefits for teachers with 35 years of credited service. Teachers aged 60 with 30 years of service or aged 62 with at least 1 year of service are also eligible for normal retirement benefits. Early retirement and disability benefits are provided and group health insurance and premium assistance are available for retirees and their dependents. The PSERS website offers detailed retirement information, counseling services, application forms and retirement calculators.
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Pennsylvania's Act 48 of 1999 stipulates that teachers must complete continuing education requirements every five years in order to remain actively certified. The PERMS system (Professional Education Record Management System) allows Pennsylvania teachers to find out about available Act 48 courses, research approved course providers and track completed coursework. Prior to December of 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education offered free online Act 48 professional education courses through Learning Sciences International. Those courses are no longer funded by the State of Pennsylvania but are still available for a small fee. Additionally, individual school districts in Pennsylvania are required to have state-approved induction policies for teachers.
Teachers must complete six collegiate credits or six PDE-approved in-service credits or 180 continuing education hours or any combination of the above every five calendar years to keep their Level II teaching certificate active.Return to the top
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has established a job search system called TIPS (Teaching in Pennsylvania Schools) that provides an online database of teaching positions that are available in the state. The TIPS system allows individuals to search by academic specialty and geographic region and to upload resumes and applications to school recruiters. Another job search service for Pennsylvania teachers is PAREAP (Pennsylvania School Applications Network) which was developed in partnership with state school districts and the National School Applications Network. PAREAP provides daily job listings for teaching, administrative and school support positions as well as publishing information on education job fairs in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Education also maintains a list of other education job vacancy services on its website. Learn more about finding a teaching job.Return to the top
If you need help preparing for your Pennsylvania credential exams, we recommend Teachers Test Prep. This online testing resource provides preparation programs for Praxis I and Praxis II tests. Teachers Test Prep provides free online Praxis study guides and practice tests as well as a variety of preparation options to meet your individual needs, including online study, live prep classes and one-on-one private tutoring.