Become a Teacher in Pennsylvania

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Teaching in Pennsylvania Snapshot

$66,920Secondary School Teacher Salary
$69,630Elementary School Teacher Salary
$15,798Public School Spending Per Student

All career and salary information pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 pupil expenditure information was provided by Governing

PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

333 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
717-783-6788

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University Name Type of Program Learn More Program Description
University of Southern California Master of Arts in Teaching Learn more about USC Rossier The online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education prepares you to become a transformative K–12 teacher. Through live online classes and enriching field experiences in your community, you can earn your MAT in less than 18 months without relocating.
Fordham University Master of Science in Teaching Learn more from Fordham University Fordham University’s online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.

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Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Pennsylvania

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. Teach.com makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. (Last update: 04/27/2020)

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Prerequisite Coursework in Pennsylvania

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 requirements to complete the program. Pennsylvania requires a period of student teaching.

Read more about teacher certification tests.

 

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Pennsylvania Teacher Certification Programs

Many different accredited teacher preparation programs are available in Pennsylvania. Students may also qualify for a teaching credential through completion of online programs and programs from universities outside of Pennsylvania. A list of approved teacher preparation programs can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

 

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Required Tests for Pennsylvania

To become certified in Pennsylvania, teachers must earn qualifying scores on a basic skill test as well as on assessments on Professional Knowledge, General Knowledge, and Subject Area Knowledge. Please see Praxis for specific state testing requirements and the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Testing Requirements web page for additional information.

You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting Teach.com's Ultimate Guide to the Praxis Exams and read more about teacher certification tests on Teach.com.

Initial Teaching Certifications

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 most other states that can make it easier for you to begin teaching in Pennsylvania. 

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Earn recognition of your ability to develop and deliver a memorable teaching experience when you receive a premier certificate from Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, in association with HarvardX, upon successful course completion.

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Alternative Certification in Pennsylvania

Obtaining 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 2002, 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.

Pennsylvania Teacher Certification Information & Links

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Transferring Your Certification

Certification Reciprocity in Pennsylvania

If you are certified to teach in another state, Pennsylvania has interstate reciprocity agreements with most other states that can make it easier for you to begin teaching in Pennsylvania. In order to qualify for reciprocity under the interstate agreement, candidates must satisfy a set of specific requirements. Teaching candidates should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education for details about credential reciprocity, or visit the Teach.com reciprocity page.

To find out what other state teaching licenses can be used in Pennsylvania, check out our Teacher Certification Reciprocity page on Teach.com.

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Jobs, Benefits, and Opportunities for Teachers in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Teaching Jobs

One job search service for Pennsylvania teachers is Pennsylvania School Applications Network - (PAREAP) which was developed in partnership with state school districts and PAREAP. PAREAP provides daily job listings for teaching, administrative and school support positions as well as publishing information on education job fairs in Pennsylvania.

Learn more about finding a teaching job on Teach.com.

Pennsylvania Teacher Salary and Incentives

According to 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania teachers earn an average of around $69,630 per year, depending on grade level being taught. The state does offer incentives, such as loan forgiveness, for teaching in shortage areas.

Learn more about teacher salaries on Teach.com.

Pennsylvania Teacher Benefits and Retirement

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. PSERS online services include detailed retirement information, counseling services, application forms and retirement calculators. Learn more about benefits for teachers.

Learn more about benefits for teachers on Teach.com.

Pennsylvania Teacher Shortage Areas

A teacher shortage occurs when there are not enough teachers in key subject areas, which has been partly caused by years of teacher layoffs during the Great Recession, a growing student population and fewer people entering teacher preparation programs, according to the Learning Policy Institute.

The following is a list of teacher shortage areas in Pennsylvania for the 2020-21 school year as reported by the U.S. Department of Education

  • Gifted Education
  • Art and Music
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Elementary Education
  • English as a Second Language
  • Health and Physical Fitness
  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics 
  • Science
  • Special Education
  • Library Media
  • World Languages

Financial Aid in Pennsylvania

In addition to financial aid offered by colleges and universities, there are several financial aid programs to help Pennsylvania teachers complete their educational goals.

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.

Learn more about how to finance your Master's degree on Teach.com.

Career Advancement

Professional Development for Pennsylvania Teachers

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  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.

Benefits of a Master's Degree in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania teachers who complete a master’s degree in the field of education may earn a higher salary. In Philadelphia, teachers holding a master’s degree can earn from $1,000 to $8,000 per year more than teachers lacking an advanced degree depending on years of experience, according to a School District of Philadelphia salary schedule. They can also use their graduate course credits towards Level II certification. A master's degree that is earned while a Pennsylvania teacher's Level I certification is active will satisfy the education requirements for Level II.

Learn more about the benefits of a Master of Arts in Teaching vs. Master of Education on Teach.com.

Explore Sponsored Program Options in Education

Featured Online programs
University Name Type of Program Program Description
University of Southern California Master of Arts in Teaching The online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) from the USC Rossier School of Education prepares you to become a transformative K–12 teacher. Through live online classes and enriching field experiences in your community, you can earn your MAT in less than 18 months without relocating.
Fordham University Master of Science in Teaching The online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1-6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.
Harvard University's Bok Center Advanced Certification in Teaching The 8-week Teaching and Learning Strategies for Higher Education online short course is delivered by Harvard’s Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, in association with HarvardX. Students in this course will engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective teaching methods in the higher education context, while refining their own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy.

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Last Updated May 2020