How to become a K-12 public school teacher in Pennsylvania

How to become a K-12 public school teacher in Pennsylvania

7 Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) requirements

Teaching is a rewarding career that provides the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students. If you are considering becoming a teacher in K-12 public schools in Pennsylvania, it is important to understand the requirements and the process for obtaining PDE level I teacher certification.

  1. Education: You must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

  2. Teacher preparation program: You must complete an approved teacher preparation program, which includes coursework and field experiences. For instance, Messiah University offers teacher preparation in elementary, middle (grades 4-8), secondary (grades 7-12) and K-12 areas. All of the teacher certification programs are approved by the PDE.
  3. Clearances: You must obtain the following clearances: Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check, Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance and FBI Criminal Background Check.
  4. Basic skills test: Typically, you would need to pass the basic skills test, which assesses your proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics; however, the requirement has been waived through July 8, 2025. Post-baccalaureate students seeking level 1 certification do not have to take the basic skills test.
  5. Content knowledge test: You must pass the content knowledge test in the subject area you wish to teach.
  6. Student teaching: You must complete a student teaching experience, which provides hands-on classroom experience under the guidance of a certified teacher.
  7. Application: You must apply for certification through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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Messiah University’s Teacher Education Program (TEP) manages the requirements for students in all teacher certification programs across the university. TEP also arranges and manages the required field experiences that students participate in as part of their coursework toward earning a degree with teacher certification. TEP is responsible for assuring that students in these majors meet Pennsylvania certification requirements.

Switching careers to become a teacher in PA

If you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree and are seeking PDE level I teacher certification, Messiah University offers programs leading to Pennsylvania teacher certification through our graduate program in education.

If you already have earned a Bachelor’s Degree through an accredited college or university, you do not need to complete another degree to pursue teacher certification at Messiah University. As a “post-baccalaureate" certification student, you will complete courses that are necessary to meet Pennsylvania certification requirements. Upon successful completion of all required courses, field experiences and Teacher Education Program requirements, Messiah University will recommend you to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for certification.

In addition to Messiah’s undergraduate teacher certification programs, post-baccalaureate students can also pursue PA teaching certification in French and German.