Pennsylvania offers prospective teachers significant opportunities for career placement and advancement. Teaching positions in Pennsylvania pay slightly higher than the national average, with an annual mean wage of $55,760.
Teaching positions in Pennsylvania pay slightly higher than the national average, with an annual mean wage of $55,760
Numerous benefits await those who earn their teaching degree, including program variety, affordability, and an asynchronous learning format that allows you to tackle your coursework at a time most convenient to you. You can keep your job, pick your kids up from school, and complete coursework afterward rather than ask your boss to accommodate your schedule or arrange for a sitter.
You can earn your Pennsylvania teaching degree either in-state or out-of-state. If you live in Pennsylvania but complete an online teaching program in another state, you should apply for your PA teaching certification as an out-of-state applicant. Ensure that a regional accreditor accredits the college or university that offers your online teaching program. You can find approved teacher education program guidelines at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. After completing your teaching degree, you will go through Pennsylvania’s out-of-state teacher certification process. If you choose to teach elsewhere, you will need to apply for a new license in that state; teaching requirements vary by state.
How Do I Become a Teacher in Pennsylvania?
Prospective teachers need to meet Pennsylvania’s teacher certification requirements. Education, experience, and licensing requirements vary, sometimes considerably, from state to state.
Additionally, if you receive your teaching license in one state and decide to teach in a different state, you cannot simply transfer your license. Instead, you need to reapply for your certificate in the new state. Thankfully, most states participate in a reciprocity program (the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement) to simplify the process. Some states may require out-of-state applicants to complete supplemental coursework before recognizing their license.
Each state lists its own educational requirements for teachers. Pennsylvania, for example, requires prospective teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree. Although not required, prospective teachers with a master’s degree typically receive higher salaries and better job opportunities. Earning a master’s degree serves as one way to complete the educational requirements needed to move from a Level I to a Level II license in Pennsylvania. In some cases, individuals with an associate degree may teach at community colleges and vocational schools.
Your bachelor’s degree can come from a major other than education. However, prospective teachers who hold a bachelor’s in a subject other than teaching need to obtain alternative certification by completing a state-approved, teacher preparation program.
It typically takes two years to complete an associate or master’s program and four years to finish a bachelor’s degree.
All Pennsylvania teachers must also complete student teaching hours to earn certification. Generally speaking, if you complete a bachelor’s degree in teaching or education you meet this requirement en route.
The amount of time it takes to complete your education to become a teacher depends on what degree you pursue. It typically takes two years to complete an associate or master’s program and four years to finish a bachelor’s degree. If you hold a bachelor’s in a non-teaching field, it takes about a year to complete the teacher preparation program.
Individuals with a Pennsylvania teaching license may apply for certification in the 45 other states that participate in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement. Out-of-state applicants must still meet other state-specific requirements.
Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Pennsylvania
Associate Degree in Teaching
|Observation and Assessment in Early Childhood||Students in this class learn to document, observe, and assess learning in children. Topics covered include universal design for learning, arts as a way of learning, and ethical practice in assessment.|
|Society and the School Age Child||This course examines the ways that families and communities affect child development. Topics covered include cultural competence, inclusive teaching practices, and developmentally appropriate responses.|
|Arts in Early Childhood||Learners explore the ways that art impacts child development. Students create learning experiences using art and evidence-based practice. The class requires a 20-hour field experience that involves working with school age children.|
Bachelor's Degree in Teaching
|Foundations of Special Education||Students receive an introduction to special education, including its history, legal, and ethical issues. Students explore the process of working with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and Multi Disciplinary Evaluation (MDE).|
|Family and Community Partnerships||Students learn about family intervention and assessment and how to collaborate effectively with families. The course also explores socio-cultural and political perspectives on the family and society.|
|Teaching in Urban Contexts||Students learn to analyze the historical, cultural, and political issues that impact urban education. Topics include recent restructuring of the education system, the impact of racism, and the student-teacher relationship.|
Master's Degree in Teaching
|Curriculum Trends and Issues||This course explores contemporary issues in curriculum development and curriculum history. Topics include learning theory, inclusion practices, and conflicting educational philosophies.|
|Introduction to Educational Research||Students receive a graduate-level introduction to research in a variety of educational contexts. Students get hands-on experience conducting qualitative and quantitative educational research.|
|Advanced Educational Psychology||This class gives students an overview of the practice and theory of educational psychology. Topics include cognitive development, behaviorism, and social cognition. Students explore the way that individual differences impact instruction.|
How to Get a Teaching Certificate in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) establishes the teaching requirements for the state and handles all aspects of teacher certification. There are two basic Pennsylvania teaching credentials: the Level I and Level II license. Individuals pursuing certification through the alternative licensure process apply for a one-year, temporary teaching permit through the PDE before qualifying for the Level I license.
New teachers receive a non-renewable, six year Level I license. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete an approved teacher preparation program that includes student teaching hours, pass the state basic skills and subject-area competence tests, and possess good moral character. For more information about the tests see the PDE’s testing requirements.
Forty-five states participate in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement reciprocity program that recognizes the validity of teaching licenses from one state to another.
Pennsylvania teachers earn eligibility for the Level II license after three years of teaching. They earn the Level II license after six years of teaching. To qualify for the Level II license, teachers complete a new teacher induction program administered by their district. Teachers also complete at least 24 post-baccalaureate credits to qualify for the Level II license. Level II license holders keep the license permanently. However, for the license to remain active, holders must complete six post-baccalaureate credits, 180 continuing education hours, six PDE-approved in-service credits, or a combination of the above.
If you earn your Pennsylvania teaching license, you can apply for your teaching certification in most other states. Forty-five states participate in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement reciprocity program that recognizes the validity of teaching licenses from one state to another. Out-of-state teaching applicants generally need to meet some additional licensing requirements.
Choosing a Degree Program in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania harbors more than 100 colleges, universities, and alternative programs offering Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved teacher education programs. Choosing the right program can prove difficult. Factors to consider include cost, location, specializations, and program length.
Make sure to compare tuition rates at a variety of different schools and think about what you can afford. Most students receive some type of financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, or student loans. If you plan to specialize in a particular area, such as special education, middle school, or English as a Second Language (ESL), find out which programs offer your specialization. Program length varies, and some schools only offer full-time enrollment; ensure that you pay careful attention to program specifics.
Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania offers a variety of programs through regionally accredited colleges and universities, including alternative programs for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-teaching field. Many schools offer these programs both full-time and part-time. Either way, students need to complete in-person teaching hours at a school local to them. See the state Department of Education’s list of approved teacher education programs.
Employers treat teaching degrees earned through an online program no differently than ones earned through an on-campus program. After you earn your degree you need to apply for your teaching license. For online programs based in Pennsylvania, the same process applies to individuals earning any other teaching degree in the state. If you earn your degree through an online program in a different state, follow the license requirements for out-of-state applicants. Make sure that the online teaching program you enroll in is regionally accredited. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education handles the accreditation of online teaching programs in Pennsylvania.
Directory of Teaching Schools in Pennsylvania
Paying for Your Teaching Degree in Pennsylvania
The cost of higher education poses a major challenge for many students, leading most to take advantage of some form of financial aid like scholarships, grants, and student loans. Tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness programs also serve as good options for education students.
Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Department of Education uses the FAFSA to determine each student’s eligibility for federal student aid. Private foundations, corporations, and other non-governmental groups also sometimes require FAFSA information in order to demonstrate financial need for scholarships. Because most college students need to take out loans, determine whether you qualify for any loan forgiveness programs upon graduation.
Loan Forgiveness for Pennsylvania Teachers
Pennsylvania teachers often qualify for loan forgiveness programs. Loan forgiveness programs cancel some or all student loan debt in exchange for a student’s services in a specific field for a specified amount of time. Loan forgiveness programs incentivize individuals to work in hard-to-fill, in-demand positions. Loan forgiveness programs for teachers often require them to work in low-income schools.
One of the best loan forgiveness programs available to Pennsylvania teachers is the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. Under the program, participants who teach for five years at a low-income school may cancel up to $17,500 of their student loan debt. Teachers who fail to qualify for this program may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which cancels student loan debt for those who complete 120 loan payments while working for a qualifying employer. Most schools count as qualifying employers. See the PA Department of Education’s FAQ on Loan Cancellation for more information.
Scholarships for Pennsylvania Teaching Students
Corporations, private foundations, non-profit groups, and government agencies all offer scholarships. The list below provides six scholarship options for education students in Pennsylvania.
T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Pennsylvania Scholarship Varies
Terry Schwalm Memorial Future Technology Teacher Scholarship $1,500
Lucy Valero Scholarship Fund Varies
Prospective Middle School Mathematics Teacher Coursework Scholarships $3,000
Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Full Tuition
Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation Scholarships Varies
Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in Pennsylvania
|Location||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Location affects the potential salary and job outlook for teachers across the U.S. Average wages vary considerably depending on which state and locality you teach in. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers in Pennsylvania make about $1,000 more per year than teachers throughout the country. Salaries can vary in Pennsylvania based on geographic region. In general, you will make more money if you teach in a big city than in a rural area. Because school funding often comes from property taxes, wealthy school districts tend to pay educators better than low-income districts.
The grade you teach also impacts your salary. Generally speaking, teachers who provide instruction to higher grade levels make more money. Preschool teachers in Pennsylvania make just $28,060 each year, and high school teachers make $64,320 on average. Kindergarten teachers make $54,070 on average. Prospective teachers should carefully consider these variations when they select their specialty area.
|Elementary School Teachers||$62,250|
|Middle School Teachers||$62,620|
|Secondary School Teachers||$64,320|
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Pennsylvania
How do I get a teaching license in Pennsylvania?
How much does a teacher make a year in Pennsylvania?
How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in Pennsylvania?
What states is a PA teaching certificate accepted in?
Resources for Teachers in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Department of Education The PDE oversees 500 public school districts statewide, as well as vocational schools, career centers, community colleges, and public preschools. It provides students and teachers access to a world-class educational system, and it provides teachers and prospective teachers with information about job openings, PA schools, and licensing requirements.
- Pennsylvania State Education Association The PSEA promotes and advocates for schools, students, and educators. Member benefits include email updates, financial education workshops, discounts, a magazine subscription, and a variety of professional development and networking opportunities.
- Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association PSTA advocates for science teachers in Pennsylvania and helps them connect with each other and stay informed about developments in science education. Members receive benefits like networking opportunities with other science educators, discounted registration for PSTA’s conference, and access to the PSTA Listserv.
- Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of Mathematics PCTM members receive the organization’s magazine, access to the members-only area of the group’s website, and discounted conference registration. The group advocates for mathematics education and the professional interests of math teachers in Pennsylvania. Students receive a discounted membership price.
- National Education Association The NEA consists of 3 million members who work at every level of the education system. The group performs advocacy work and provides access to resources like lesson plans, teaching strategies, and tools for classroom management.