Find an Education Path For Teaching in Pennsylvania, PA
If you want to become an educator in Pennsylvania, the steps that must be taken to reach that goal will depend on what level of education you have completed.
Choose Your Highest Level of Education
- I have graduated from High School or Earned a GED…
- Have some college or an Associate’s Degree
- Earned a Bachelor’s Degree…
- Earned a Master’s Degree…
The information below offers guidelines for progressing through major educational steps, as you move toward becoming a certified teacher in Pennsylvania.
If You Have a High School Diploma or a GED
Bachelor’s degree programs at most colleges and universities require high school graduates to provide both proof of graduation and an official transcript from their high school. Students who do not have a high school diploma must submit an official GED transcript to be considered for admission into a degree program. Some colleges also ask for SAT or ACT scores. University and college education programs look for students who have been involved in extra-curricular teaching activities and organizations, such as the Future Educators Association (FEA). Education-related work in the community that demonstrates your interest and competence in teaching children will help you stand out during the admission process. The following steps will start you on the correct path on your journey toward becoming a teacher.
- Learn about accredited schools that offer Bachelor’s degrees focusing on education, child development, specific academic content areas or student populations.
- Aspiring teachers can enroll at a community college and earn an Associate degree. Some two-year colleges offer programs that lead to certification in the field of Early Childhood Education.
- Decide what grade level and subject area you are interested in teaching.
- Contact colleges that fit your needs, and request information to help you make a decision about what school to attend and what degree program to pursue.
If You Have Completed Some College or Earned an Associate’s Degree
Pennsylvania has statewide guidelines that instruct community colleges and state colleges to adopt equivalency standards that provide students with the opportunity to make a smooth transfer between participating post-secondary institutions. Students who successfully complete approved coursework will be able to transfer those credit hours to participating colleges and have the units count towards graduation. If you have questions about what comes next after completing your community college degree or certificate, consult with advisors at both the current two-year school and the four-year colleges you are interested in attending.
- Two-year colleges offer courses and majors that may culminate in an Associate degree. Majoring in Early Childhood Education at a two-year college provides students with an introduction to theoretical and practical aspects of childcare and preschool education. Earning a degree, such as an Associate Of Applied Science Degree (A.A.S.) in Early Childhood Education: Infant to Grade 4 provides an understanding of factors that influence the development of children in various cultural environments. Some programs offer fieldwork, giving students an opportunity to work directly with young children.
- Investigate various state-approved Bachelor’s degree programs to find out which ones will accept transfer credits from two-year college you have been attending. Contact the four-year colleges you are considering, to find out more about their transfer requirements and to request more information about their programs.
- Consult with your advisor to ask if your community college credits and degree are transferable to Bachelor’s degree programs at independent and public four-year colleges. Students who transfer from a two-year college to certain four-year institutions can continue their education as Juniors. This gives students a head start on their journey toward earning a Bachelor’s degree. Courses, certificates and degrees offered by accredited two-year college programs—either classroom or online—are significant steps to take as you progress toward reaching your career goal of becoming a certified teacher in Pennsylvania.
- Some aspiring teachers, who have earned Associate degrees or credentials in Early Childhood Education, choose to seek employment directly after graduating from a two-year or community college. An Early Childhood Education certificate may qualify you to begin working with infants, toddlers, and pre-school children. You can begin working as a teaching assistant, a para-educator, or a teacher in early child education programs, such childcare centers, preschools or Head Start classrooms.
If You Have a Bachelor’s Degree
Becoming a licensed educator in Pennsylvania requires that prospective teachers earn a Bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution, fulfill all state requirements and receive a recommendation from your college or university. Some Pennsylvania Bachelor’s degree programs offer students the option of completing academic courses for their bachelor’s degree and fulfilling teacher preparation requirements in a combined four-year program. For students who already have a Bachelor’s degree and hope to teach in Pennsylvania, your undergraduate major will determine the next steps you take toward teacher certification.
- If you have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts with an Education Licensing focus, including an accredited Teacher Preparation Program, you have already fulfilled essential academic and teacher preparation requirements. Student teaching is an important aspect of any Bachelor’s in Education program, and successful completion of all degree and teacher preparation requirements, including student teaching, will qualify you to apply for a teaching certificate or license.
- Prospective teachers must pass mandatory exams before applying for Initial teacher certification in the state of Pennsylvania. The required tests include the Praxis I and Praxis II assessments. The Praxis I exam is the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), a basic test of reading, writing and mathematical skills. Also required are the appropriate Praxis II tests for each area of certification you plan to teach. These tests measure subject-specific content knowledge, as well as general and subject-specific teaching skills.
- Receiving a Bachelor’s degree with a major in liberal studies can be an important step toward certification as an Elementary level teacher. Some certification programs recommend the Liberal Arts major, because it prepares educators to teach in the many different subject areas taught in Elementary school classrooms.
- If you earned a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in a specific subject, you may have already satisfied many academic requirements recommended by credential programs. Majoring in a specific subject taught at the secondary school level prepares individuals to become endorsed or qualified to teach high school and middle school classes in that content area.
- Undergraduate students who fulfill Pennsylvania Department of Education’s entrance and exit criteria are eligible to be issued an initial Pennsylvania Instructional I teaching certificate. In addition to successfully completing all academic coursework and an approved teacher preparation program, certification candidates are required to pass mandatory exams and earn at least a 3.0 GPA. If you have completed an approved teacher certification program in another state, you may be eligible for a temporary teaching permit while completing any minor deficiencies in your application.
- If you have completed all academic courses and earned a Bachelor’s degree, the next step is to enroll in a Teacher Preparation Program at an accredited institution. Some preparation programs for teachers are Post-Baccalaureate stand-alone programs and some are offered at the university where you received your Bachelor’s degree. Some students choose to continue their academic pursuits by entering a Master’s of Education degree program that graduate schools may combine with an Educator Preparation Program.
- After completing academic coursework, passing mandated knowledge and skills assessments, finishing an approved preparation program for educators, and fulfilling fieldwork and student teaching requirements, you are eligible to apply for a six-year Initial Instructional Level I teaching certificate, which will qualify you to teach in the state of Pennsylvania.
If You Have a Master’s Degree or Are in a Master’s Degree Program
Pennsylvania-approved graduate schools offer a variety of Master’s degrees in Education. For example, an aspiring teacher who chooses to attend graduate school may pursue a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction, Literacy or Science Education; or a Master’s of Science in Special Education. The Pennsylvania Department of Education also issues certificates to graduate students, such as a Reading Specialist Certificate, a Teacher Certification in Special Education and an Instructional I Teacher Certificate in conjunction with a Master of Education degree. Pennsylvania does not specify what courses a teaching candidate must take. The Pennsylvania Department of Education does require the following: completion of a teacher education program that combines the equivalent content of academic majors for areas to be taught; teacher education courses that meet the state’s standards; field experiences and a minimum of 12 weeks of student teaching; and a course of study that is aligned with Pennsylvania’s K-12 academic standards.
- Accredited universities with graduate programs in education offer a range of Master’s degrees that can lead you to a teaching license. The criteria for admission into a College of Education graduate program include: a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university; transcripts for all coursework; a minimum grade point average; and a passing GRE score. Most graduate schools require students to satisfy both the admission requirements of the Graduate school and the prerequisites of the specific Education program. You can earn a Master’s degree with a focus on Elementary Education or Secondary Education.
- When you are ready to begin your teaching career, you must demonstrate that you have successfully completed all requirements for certification or licensure. These requirements include finishing required academic coursework, completing an approved Teacher Preparation Program, passing mandated tests, and fulfilling student teaching hours. The next step is to apply for your Initial Educator License and to begin searching for a job in the education field. Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education to request information and an application.
- Some people who have earned a Master’s degree in Education may decide to continue their education and pursue a doctorate degree. Pennsylvania offers Doctoral Programs in University Departments or Colleges of Education. Talk to your graduate advisor and gather information to determine which will be the best school and program for you.