Pennsylvania Alternative Teacher Certification

Oct 20, 2021

Pennsylvania has three alternative methods for teacher certification from the traditional path. We'll discuss the three alternative methods below.

Requirements for Teachers in Pennsylvania

Average Salary for Teachers in Pennsylvania (2019)* $31,380 (Preschool)
$69,630 (Elementary School)
$69,330 (Middle School)
$66,920 (High School)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Required Field Any
Testing Requirements Varies depending on route

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Alternative 1: Intern Certification

Perhaps the most common alternative route would be through an intern certification program. This program relies on the fact that you have already received a bachelor's degree, it just may not be in a subject area that included an education background. This allows you to build on your current education without the need to complete an additional degree program. You'll need to select one of the PDE-approved intern certification programs and apply through the college that sponsors it. You should then sign up with the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) for a 3-year intern certification. The intern program provider (your college), must verify your program enrollment through TIMS. You can then teach in the classroom, using the internship to gain experience.

On top of this, you must complete all the testing requirements. This means proving your basic math, reading, and writing knowledge through the 3-part Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA). Each section includes 36 multiple-choice questions, and the writing section asks you to also complete an essay and correct some grammar in sentences. To pass, you must score a minimum of 220 in the reading subtest, 193 in the math, and 220 on the writing portion. Next, sit for the content knowledge exam offered by Praxis in the subject you wish to teach.

Alternative 2: Alternative Program

There are a number of alternate programs that can be used for teacher certification outside of the traditional teacher programs. These are offered through different institutions and corporations to provide those who do not have a teaching education to become certified as teachers. You'll find that the majority of the programs offered are in special or high need areas, such as Autism endorsement, ESL program specialist, or STEM teachers. While there are a few that offer more common programs, such as English or Grades 4-8, this is not common. Each of these program providers have different requirements for the completion of their programs. However, it is important to note that these are PDE-approved.

Alternative 3: The American Board

Pennsylvania also offers teachers the opportunity to become certified through the American Board. It is one of the 13 states that use this process as an alternative. This is an online certification program that you can do at your own speed. You can sign up for one of the certification program subjects for a fee to complete the program. You'll take two American Board exams offered by Pearson VUE. The first is a professional teaching knowledge exam that includes 150 questions. The second exam is a content-area exam in your subject.

After you've completed the exams and received the certificate, you'll apply for a Temporary Teaching Permit (TTP) through PDE. Once this has been given, you will have one year to fulfill the other requirements. This includes a year working full-time as a teacher in your subject under a mentor, and completing two graduate courses with Park Point University (Pittsburgh's only downtown college) as well as two CE workshops.


You must also be fingerprinted, no matter the route you take. This is because three background checks will verify that you are of good moral standing. The three background checks will be through the state police, the FBI, and the Department of Human Services (for a child abuse report). Depending on the route you take, this step may fall in a different position.

Pennsylvania Teacher Certification Resources

Though you'll spend time taking exams through a number of outlets, we've provided you with resources to help you prepare for whatever may come your way.

  • Prepare for the Praxis Exam
  • PECT PAPA: Practice & Study Guide
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