Earning Your Certificate


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Pennsylvania has high standards for admission into the teaching profession and every candidate for certification must meet those standards whether trained in Pennsylvania or at an out-of-state college or university. Pennsylvania offers a wide variety of certifications from a wide range of college and universities.

Once you decide what certification you want to earn and from which college or university, the following questions and answers will give you the basics on earning your certificate.

The Types of and Qualifications for Certificates Issued

Who is responsible to identify the types, categories (endorsement areas), and standards of preparation for Pennsylvania certification?
The State Board of Education identifies the types of certificates required in Pennsylvania (instructional, educational specialist, supervisory, administrative, etc.). The Department of Education with the concurrence of the State Board of Education and the input of the Pennsylvania Standards and Practices Commission (PSPC) will determine the categories or specific content areas and the standards of preparation leading to certification in these areas.

Are certificate content areas the same from one state to another?
No. Certificates may differ in endorsement area and/or in the range of grades applicable to those areas. For example, some states issue one comprehensive science certificate; Pennsylvania issues five different ones. In Pennsylvania, a certificate in music covers grades K-12 and includes both instrumental and choral. Some jurisdictions have K-6 choral music certificates and separate K-6 instrumental music certificates. When such differences occur, states cannot agree to reciprocal arrangements since the preparation standards for the certificates differ significantly.

Can a non-U.S. citizen be certified to teach in Pennsylvania?
With conditions, yes. By law (School Code §1202), all standard certificate holders must be U.S. citizens. However, a foreign national may apply and be granted an Alien Provisional certificate good for six calendar years. The Alien Provisional is issued to a foreign national who is legally authorized to reside permanently and seek employment in the U.S. and has filed a declaration to become a U.S. citizen. This certificate is converted to a standard certificate upon receiving official citizenship status. Failure to acquire such status within the six-year life span of the Alien Provisional certificate will result in the candidate’s inability to legally continue employment. There are no exceptions.
CSPG 6 – Alien Provisional Certification

What are the types of standard certificates issued for professional educators in Pennsylvania?
Type refers to the nature of the job the certificate qualifies the holder to do: 

  • Instructional Certificates are issued to persons whose primary responsibility shall be direct contact with learners in teaching-learning situations.
  • Educational Specialist Certificates are issued to persons whose primary responsibility shall be to render professional service other than classroom teaching.
  • Supervisory Certificates are issued to persons whose primary responsibility shall be to supervise educational programs and direct the activities of professional and nonprofessional employees in such programs.
  • Administrative Certificates are issued to persons whose primary responsibility shall be to direct, operate, supervise and administer the organizational and general activities of a school.
  • Vocational Instruction or Vocational Intern Certificates are issued to persons whose primary responsibility is vocational instruction within occupational/technical curricula.

How do I qualify for an Instructional or Educational Specialist certificate?
Regular Education Instructional I or Educational Specialist

  • Complete an approved preparation program at the bachelor or graduate level.
  • Receive the recommendation of the preparing institution.
  • Take and pass all required tests.
  • Meet all other non-educational requirements established by law and/or regulation.

Regular Education Instructional II or Educational Specialist

  • Complete a minimum of three (3) years successful teaching/service (but no more than six (6) years of service) on a Pennsylvania Instructional I or Educational Specialist I in a position appropriate to your certification.
  • “Successful” as determined by a state-approved evaluation form.
  • Accrue 24 post-baccalaureate credits.
  • Complete a Department-approved induction program.
  • PDE form 427 and 427A must be used for evaluation.

Vocational Education Instructional I

  • Have a minimum of two (2) years wage-earning experience.
  • Take and pass the occupational competency examination.
  • Complete 18 credit hours in an approved program in the appropriate vocational teacher education program.
  • Take and pass the required basic skills test.
  • Meet all other requirements established by law.

Vocational Education Instructional II

  • Complete three (3) years of satisfactory teaching on a Pennsylvania Vocational Instructional I in a position appropriate to the certificate.
  • Complete a total of 60 credit hours in an approved program in the appropriate field of vocational education.
  • Take and pass a test of professional knowledge and vocational general knowledge.
  • Complete a Department-approved induction program.

Regular Education Intern Certification
Candidates must have at minimum a baccalaureate degree related to the area of certification sought and a minimum 3.0 GPA in their baccalaureate degree. They must also have 6 credits of college level Mathematics, 6 credits of college level English Literature and Composition, and nine credits in accommodations and adaptations for students with disabilities in an inclusive setting and three credits in ESL. Candidates who have taken and passed the Praxis I – Pre-Professional Skills Tests--Reading, Writing, and Math, may enter with a 2.8 GPA.

  • Apply and be accepted into a state-approved intern program at an institution of higher education or be hired by a school entity.
  • Take and pass all required certification assessments.
  • Meet all training requirements.
  • Maintain continuous enrollment in a teacher-intern program or continued employment in a school entity.
  • Seek and procure a teaching position or complete a year’s teaching under the guidance of an institution of higher education working with the school to oversee your development.

Candidates must exit the Intern Program with at least the same GPA required for entrance.

Vocational Education Intern Certificate

  • Apply and be accepted into a state-approved, vocational-teacher preparation program.
  • Take and pass the appropriate occupational competency examination.
  • Procure the preparing institution’s recommendation for Vocational Intern certification.
  • Meet all other requirements provided by law.

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