Become a Teacher in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Highlights

Avg. Elementary School Teacher Salary$61,730
Avg. Secondary School Teacher Salary $64,380
Vacation Weeks per Year 15
Pupil/Teacher Ratio 1:22
Expenditure per Pupil $13,961


Teacher salaries were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics report.

333 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333

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 2016-17 school year as reported by the U.S. Department of Education (see page 133).

  • ESL
  • Foreign Language and Literature
  • Life and Physical Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Special Education
  • Hearing Impaired
  • Speech and Language Impaired
  • Building Maintenance
  • Business Related
  • Carpentry
  • Electronic
  • Health/Dental
  • Masonry
  • ROTC

Lists of subject area shortages are determined by individual school districts which consider factors such as the number of teacher vacancies and applicant-to-vacancy ratios in assessing whether there is a shortage. Shortage determinations are then sent to the U.S. Department of Education, which compiles an annual nationwide listing.

Steps to Becoming a Teacher in Pennsylvania

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: 11/1/2016

To earn an initial teaching certification in the state of Pennsylvania teaching candidates must meet the following 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.

Continue below for more information.

Earn Your Pennsylvania Teaching Credential

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. 

Step One: 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 requirement to complete the program. Pennsylvania requires a period of student teaching.

Read more about teacher certification tests.

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Step Two: Pennsylvania Teacher Certification Programs

More than 90 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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Step Three: Required Tests for Pennsylvania

To become certified in Pennsylvania, teachers must earn qualifying scores on a  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

  • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators

Subject Area Competence

  • Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge
  • Praxis II Subject Assessments

Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests (PECT) replaced the Praxis I PPST tests and the Praxis II tests for elementary and early childhood in the spring of 2012. 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 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.

Learn more about getting your teaching credential

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Featured Online Programs

Explore your career options in education:

Boost your credentials: in this 8-week online course, you'll engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective and engaging teaching methods in the higher education context. Refine your own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy and set yourself apart as effective educator.

BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons is the highly respected Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program delivered online from Simmons College. The program prepares students for leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.

Counseling@NYU offers an online master of arts in Counseling and Guidance program, with concentrations in school and bilingual school counseling to prepare students to become collaborative leaders elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. Part-time and full-time options are available to fit student schedules.

Vanderbilt University's Peabody College offers an online Master of Education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling for students interested in becoming school counselors and making a meaningful difference in K–12 settings.

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree (MAT) is for aspiring teachers who want to gain the skills and knowledge they need to become great educators.

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.

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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 2004, 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.

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Benefits of a Master's Degree in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania teachers who complete a master’s degree in the field of education may expect to 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

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Certification Reciprocity in Pennsylvania

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. In order to qualify for reciprocity under the interstate agreement, candidates must satisfy a set of specific requirements. Teaching candidates should contact Pennsylvania Department of Education for details about credential reciprocity, or visit the reciprocity page. 

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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

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Pennsylvania Teacher Salary and Incentives

In Pennsylvania, the average starting teacher salary was $41,901 in 2012-13, according to the National Education Association. 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. 

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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.

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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.

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Pennsylvania Teaching Jobs

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has an online teacher application as well as other links and resources for teachers looking for employment. Another 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.

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