Early Childhood Teacher Certification in Pennsylvania
The State of Early Childhood Education in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, an industrial state known for its large cities and farming regions, earns stellar rankings for its educational system as well. It earned a top-ten national ranking in Education Week’s “Quality Counts” report for 2011 (Pittsburg Post-Gazette). It was also ranked seventh, nationally, for K-12 achievement.
The state continues to improve in early learning, ranking 14th in the national report of child-care programs, requirements and benchmarks (Pennsylvania Early Learning). In addition, teachers in Pennsylvania earn higher salaries than teachers in most other states. There are many opportunities for teachers pursuing a career in early childhood education in this state.
Getting Your Pennsylvania Teaching Certification or License
The Pennsylvania Department of Education includes extensive information about the ways to obtain certification/licensure. You will need to familiarize yourself with this site, as it contains many resources valuable to both aspiring teachers and current teachers.
Career seekers must satisfy five broad requirements to be considered for certification:
- a bachelor’s degree
- completion of an approved teacher preparation program or expertise in a subject
- a 3.0 GPA
- passing required tests
- and evidence of good moral character and physical/mental fitness.
In addition, individuals must have the appropriate degree, coursework, assessment and experience to earn. Teacher candidates have ten steps to take before they can be issued a certificate. The first step is to decide which type of certificate to apply for. An Instructional Certificate is issued to teachers, more particularly those whose primary responsibility is working directly with kids in teaching and learning situations.
To apply for certification, create an online profile through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS), a central site for processing and collecting data for educators. This includes certifications, designations, disciplinary actions and teacher qualifications.
Check out the Frequently-Asked Questions page or contact the Division of Certification Services, should you have any further questions about the certification/licensure process.
Pennsylvania Degree Programs in Early Childhood Education
There are approximately 50 accredited early childhood education colleges in Pennsylvania.
has 24 campuses across the state and offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in childhood and early adolescent education (pre-K through four) and elementary and kindergarten education (K through six). It regularly receives high rankings on the national scale for its academic reputation.
has more than 35,000 students and offers a bachelor’s degree in early childhood-elementary education (pre-K through four). It also has master’s and doctoral programs in education, with a variety of concentrations. The education program at Temple focuses on promoting quality education, especially in urban settings.
offers a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (pre-K through four) as well as several master’s programs in education. It also offers a doctorate in educational leadership development and learning technologies. Drexel’s School of Education was ranked among America’s Best Graduate Schools by U.S. News & World Report in 2013.
Getting a Job as an Early Childhood Teacher
There are several different avenues you can take to pursue a career in this dynamic field.
Public schools employ the vast majority of individuals seeking careers in early childhood education. To apply, complete an application and submit it directly to your school district of choice. Job vacancies can also be found through these services. A comprehensive list of licensed/registered schools by district can be found here.
Other employers to become familiar with are private schools, Head Start and Montessori schools. Be sure to research the child care centers in your local area as well, as many of these centers are in constant need of highly qualified teachers and assistant teachers. GreatSchools.org can also help you find top-rated preschools and elementary schools in your community.
Professional Groups for Pennsylvania Teachers
There are many professional organizations for teachers in the state of Pennsylvania that share similar goals.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) is comprised of over 183,000 public school teachers and education support professionals. The association serves as the voice for labor, policy and professional interests for its members. Joining your local association also grants membership to the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest professional employee organization.
The Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC) increases public awareness of the importance of early childhood education and provides professional development for educators. It has 5,300 members and three local affiliates. It is also an affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), an organization consisting of 80,000 members.
The Pennsylvania Early Childhood Education Association (PECEA) promotes better early childhood development. Enrolling in the association automatically grants membership in the National Child Care Association (NCCA), an organization consisting of 7,000 licensed private child care centers, more than 70,000 child development staff, and 26 state affiliated associations.
The Keystone Teachers Association (KEYTA) provides members with liability insurance, legal assistance and state lobbyists, but no union representation. The cost to join is $32 per month, which is considerably lower than union dues. The organization was formed in 1993 by a group of teachers who wanted to go a different way from the teacher unions.
Pennsylvania ECE Bloggers
The Penn Live education blog provides insightful articles about the current issues in Pennsylvania’s school systems.
The Keystone State Education Coalition blog discusses legislative issues and public education advocacy within the state. Quite a few dedicated educators also share their resources through their personal blogs.
The Penn Trafford Report is written by a superintendent who shares useful information about a variety of educational topics.
The Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher is authored by a veteran National Board Certified Teacher who strives to promote literacy instruction.
Land of Once Upon a Time is run by a mother with a doctorate in educational psychology who promotes learning, literacy and a love of books in children three and under.
The Eclectic Reading Teacher is written by the owner of Reading Innovations Center, LLC, a Pennsylvania company that helps struggling readers, non-readers and dyslexic learners.