Become a Teacher in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Highlights

Avg. Elementary Teacher Salary: $65,370
Avg. Secondary Teacher Salary: $66,020
Vacation Weeks Per Year: 15

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics report

Important Note: Education licensure requirements, statistics and other information are subject to change. 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 updated: 08/11/2018

This page is sponsored by our partner Rossier Online, a master level teaching degree program delivered online that enables you to earn a Master’s degree and teaching credential. Learn more about how the University of Southern California can help you become a transformative teacher in Pennsylvania.

To become a certified teacher in Pennsylvania, you will need to fulfill these requirements:

  • Step One: Complete a bachelor’s degree and other prerequisite coursework required.
  • Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program
  • Step Three: Pass required exams.
  • Step Four: Submit a Pennsylvania teaching credential application.

Our goal is to make this process as easy as possible, and we are dedicated to updating with new information on a regular basis.


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Step One: Prerequisite Coursework

The first step in becoming a certified teacher in Pennsylvania is choosing a specialization and/or grade level preference and earning your bachelor’s degree. Pennsylvania requires that certified teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree, have earned a 3.0 GPA and have completed an approved teacher education program. Keep in mind that Pennsylvania currently has a two-tier certification system. Level I is the first tier of certification and is valid for six years of teaching service. By the end of these six years, you must complete at least 24 credits of post-baccalaureate coursework to obtain your Level II certification or second tier certification.

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.

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Master’s Requirements

Many schools of education now offer online MAT programs that provide increased flexibility by allowing aspiring or working teachers to attend class and complete coursework from any location that has an Internet connection. Online MAT programs are a practical option for students who have professional and personal commitments that make it difficult to obtain teaching certification through a full-time program.

The best online programs offer the same curriculum as the school’s on-campus program and apply the same admission requirements. Providing students with the ability to communicate with instructors and classmates in a face-to-face online environment is another hallmark of a good online program. In addition, candidates in online MAT programs should be provided with the opportunity to complete student teaching fieldwork in the local community.

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Step Two: Teacher Preparation

Next, you’ll need to complete an approved teacher preparation program. Visit Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Certification Preparation Programs page to find a state-approved teacher preparation program. Upon completion of the program, make sure to notify your school’s certification officer who will work with PDE through its online Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) to verify successful completion of the preparation program. For more information about TIMS go to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Typically teacher education programs consist of a combination of curricula and fieldwork. The curricula often include instruction on foundational knowledge and skills, pedagogy (or the art and science of teaching) and preparing students to research, design, and implement learning techniques in their particular field of study. The fieldwork component can include onsite observations, student teaching, and internships

Alternative Certification

Graduates of accredited colleges or universities whose bachelor’s degree was not in education, and who have not yet earned a traditional teaching certificate, can still receive an alternative teaching certificate by satisfying certain requirements. Pennsylvania officially recognizes ABCTE certification as a route to earning your Pennsylvania teacher certification. Find out more about Pennsylvania Alternative Certification programs.

While beginning an education program may seem financially daunting, there are a number of financial resources available specifically for teachers that exist around the country. For more information on financial aid options, visit our Pennsylvania Teacher Scholarships page.

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Step Three: Required Tests

Next, you’ll need to complete assessments of basic skills, professional knowledge and practice and subject matter knowledge. To satisfy your basic skills requirement, complete the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) modules in reading, writing and mathematics.

Visit the Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests site to register for test code PA701. Scores must be electronically submitted to PDE’s Bureau of School Leadership Quality from the test vendor. A minimum score of 220 is required on each module. A composite scoring option is available.

The Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests website will also have more information on state testing requirements and registration dates.

Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests
Required Tests Certification

PAPA: Reading, Writing, Mathematics
PECT: Certification Tests

Special Education PreK-8
Special Education 7-12

PAPA: Reading, Writing, Mathematics
Praxis CORE Assessment (Grades 4-8)
Praxis Concentration Tests (Grades 4-8)

Grades 4-8

PAPA: Reading, Writing, Mathematics
Praxis Content Area tests for appropriate subject areas

Secondary Certificates 7-12


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Step Four: Application Requirements

Finally, submit a completed licensure application to start your teaching career. You can create an account with TIMS to begin your licensing application.

Make sure you have all of your supporting documents. Here’s a complete checklist of what first-time applicants will need to submit with their license application:

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Pennsylvania Certification Reciprocity

Pennsylvania will accept certain teaching credentials from other states. Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education to inquire about your specific situation. Please see our interstate reciprocity disclaimer for more information.

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Pennsylvania Teacher Salary

  • Incentives to teach in high-needs schools or shortage subject areas: Pennsylvania provides loan forgiveness support for teachers teaching in high needs schools and loan forgiveness and differential pay for teachers teaching in shortage subject areas.
  • Policies in place that articulate elements of effective induction: Pennsylvania has strong induction policies in place which include professional support, a strong training program for mentors, feedback to new teachers and professional development opportunities.
  • Average Elementary Teacher Salary: $65,370
  • Average Secondary Teacher Salary: $66,020
  • Average Number of Vacation Weeks Per Year: 15

Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

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Certification Resources & Links

School of Leadership and Teacher Quality
333 Market Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17126
717-783-6788 – Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education

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