Pennsylvania Teacher Certification: How to Become a Licensed Teacher in Pennsylvania

Teaching License Updated July 23, 2015

Becoming licensed as a teacher in Pennsylvania is a slightly different process than it is in other states. It’s important to fully understand Pennsylvania’s specific requirements if you hope to teach in this state.

Requirements for certified teachers in Pennsylvania

If you want to become an educator in Pennsylvania, you will need to get an appropriate education. Anyone wishing to become a Pennsylvania certified teacher must earn a bachelor’s degree. The state does not require that you earn a bachelor’s degree in a specific discipline. In fact, pretty nearly any major is fine as long as you maintain a 3.0 GPA and also complete the required teacher training course. The teacher training program must take place at an accredited, state-approved institution.

Three background checks are also required to receive a teaching certification in Pennsylvania. The first of these is the State Police Request for Criminal Records Check. Second, the Department of Public Welfare conducts a Child Abuse History Clearance. Last, the Department of Education will order a Federal Criminal History Record.

With a complete education and clear background checks, you are ready to take the certification exams. In Pennsylvania, all teaching candidates must sit for PRAXIS content exams as well as a basic skills exam. The specific PRAXIS tests that you are required to take will vary depending upon the age of the students you hope to teach and the subject matter on which you would like to focus. For example, if you hope to teach a middle school English class, then you would need to take the Middle School Language Arts PRAXIS II test. You would also be required to pass a basic skills test that measures your general abilities with reading, writing, and mathematics.

Pennsylvania jobs for licensed teachers

A teaching certification in Pennsylvania is directly related to the subject matter the individual wishes to teach. If you are teaching one subject at a particular grade level and would like to begin teaching another subject, then you must pass the PRAXIS II exam that is appropriate for that subject.

All new teachers are initially issued a Level I certificate that lasts for a period of six service years. Before the expiration of the Level I certificate, it must be converted to a Level II certificate, which is essentially a permanent license that is valid for 99 years. The conversion process requires the teacher to acquire three years of service, complete an induction program approved by the Department of Education, take 24 post-baccalaureate credits, and meet other standards. All teachers are required to complete continuing professional education credits throughout their career.

If you plan to teach a subject designated as a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) by the U.S. Department of Education, you might be eligible for student loan deferment or cancellation. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania stated that there are no significant Teacher Shortage Areas for the 2015-2016 school year. A full and current list of TSAs for each state is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

Teaching license reciprocity in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania participates in a teaching license reciprocity agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). When you apply for a teaching certificate in one state using an existing license from another, the “destination state” is actually recognizing your credentials as verification that you are qualified to teach. You must still meet all requirements before you can teach there.

Fortunately, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure streamlines this application process and expedites the goal of teaching in your new state. For more information, see Teaching License Reciprocity Explained.

Disclaimer: Licensing requirements are subject to change. Please visit your state board of education to check for recent revisions to teaching license requirements.

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