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Certification Start to Finish

Pennsylvania teachers, administrators and pupil personnel service providers are required to hold a Pennsylvania certificate in order to be employed in the Commonwealth's public schools. The certificates are issued by the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality, Division of Certification Services, and certify that an individual has met the required degree, coursework, assessment and experience requirements. Certificates are issued in a number of titles in three major categories: classroom teaching (Instructional), administrative (Administrative) and supervisory (Supervisor), and pupil personnel service (e.g. Educational Specialist certificates for School Counselor, School Psychologist, School Nurse as examples).

A brief summary of each of these 10 steps is provided below. Scroll down to read the expanded information.

  1. Choose the certification type/subject area in which you are interested
  2. Find the requirements for certification
  3. Apply for a certificate
  4. Send us your supporting documentation
  5. Complete unmet requirements
  6. Check the status of your application
  7. Print your issued certificate(s)
  8. Professional development for certificate holders - Act 48 of 1999
  9. Apply for an additional Instructional certificate via the test only option
  10. Verification of your Pennsylvania certification

Expanded Summary of Steps Above:

  1. Choose the certification type/subject area in which you are interested

You must select the appropriate certificate by certificate type and subject area.

Area of Interest: Certificates are divided in to major groups or categories. Examples are Administrative, Pupil Personnel Services (Educational Specialists), Classroom Teacher (Instructional) and Career and Technical (Vocational) teacher. For a complete list, go to the Types of Certificates page.

Subject Area: This represents general categories of certificate titles such as math, biology, or students with disabilities (all math titles would be in the math subject area; all biology titles would be in the biology subject area; and all students with disabilities titles would be in the special education subject area, etc.).

Grade Level: All Pennsylvania certificates are issued for work in specific grade levels. These include Grades PreK-4 (pre-kindergarten to grade 4), Grades 4-8, Secondary certificates (grades 7-12) and all grades (pre-kindergarten to grade 12).

Title: The certificate title denotes the subject and grade level that you are authorized to teach. Examples includes Grades PreK-4 (pre-kindergarten to grade 4) Biology (grades 7-12) and Principal (grades K-12). To find the requirements for the certificate you want, see Requirements for Certification.

Level: Depending on the certificate requested, you will either be issued an initial Level I, provisional certificate, or a permanent certificate valid for 99 years. In most cases, if this is your initial Pennsylvania credential, you will be applying for a Level I. Level I Instructional, Educational Specialist and Administrative certificates are valid for years of service, not calendar years. Refer to Level I to Level II web page for specific information related to each credential and the credential's specific requirements.

  1. Find the requirements for the certificate you want

To determine what is needed for certification, you can view the requirements for certification. Specific qualification items will be identified when you apply for certification in the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) as well as proof items that would be acceptable to demonstrate that the qualifications have been met.

  1. Apply for a certificate

Applying online is easy and fast, and allows you the option of paying by credit card or mailing a money order. An Applicant's User Guide is available to assist you in the process of accessing and applying for a credential through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).

If you are enrolled in a Pennsylvania approved teacher preparation program, you need to apply online and indicate "yes" to the question "Will a PDE-approved teacher education or other certification program in Pennsylvania verify that you meet requirements for the certification for which you are applying?" Your college certification officer will submit your institutional affirmation of program completion and recommendation for certification online as well.

Submit Online: After you have entered your payment, the "Payment Confirmation" screen will appear. It will have the date you submitted your application and the amount of the fee paid. You should print the "Payment Confirmation" screen and retain it for your records. On the payment screen you will see a link to print the cover sheet for the application. The cover sheet will summarize the requirements that need to be completed in order to receive the certificate(s) as well as proof items that would be accepted to meet the requirements. The cover sheet also includes the address to which you should send the supporting documents for your application. You may login to TIMS at any time to see the status of your application.

  1. Send us your supporting documentation

One you have applied for a certificate, you must send us any supporting documentation necessary in order to conduct a complete evaluation of your credentials. Required information is listed on the cover sheet or may be requested in correspondence from a Pennsylvania certification evaluator. Supporting documentation may include, but is not limited to:

  1. ORIGINAL OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTS OF COLLEGE STUDY;

  2. exam score reports (ETS Praxis, ES Pearson PECT, or Language Testing International ACTFL) sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Education from the testing company;

  3. any documentation of paid teaching experience that we have requested;

  4. documentation of experience in lieu of student teaching;

  5. copy of teaching certificates from other states;

  6. copy of certification or a professional license such as for an RN or Dental Hygenist, etc.; and/or

  7. any other information that we may have previously requested that will enable us to complete an evaluation.
Transcripts are not required for all pathways to certification. Specifically, we do not require transcripts for applications submitted through the Pennsylvania approved teacher preparation programs.

You may send all paper documentation or correspondence, accompanied by the cover sheet from the TIMS application to which the documentation applies, to us at:

Pennsylvania Department of Education
Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality
333 Market Street, 12th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333

  1. Complete unmet requirements

Once an application for certification is reviewed and a deficiency is noted, you will receive an email indicating the unmet needs and your application will be placed in "Pending Additional Documentation" status. Once you have met the requirement, send the proof of successful completion to the Pennsylvania Department of Education address above, along with a cover sheet from the application. When the additional information has been received, the status of your application will change to "Received Additional Documentation" which will place the application back in the evaluator's work queue to re-evaluate the newly submitted proof items.

Your application will remain open for one year from the "Ready for Review" status. During that year, you can complete the unmet needs and submit the proof documents with no additional fee. After one year, the application will close if the proof of the unmet needs has not been received. After the application closes, you will be required to submit a new application and another fee to complete the process. You can check to see if we received the documents you sent to us at any time by logging in to your TIMS account. Select the application from your dashboard and check the status of the application.

  1. Check the status of your application

Login to TIMS to check the status of your application. For more information, see section 6.2 of the Applicant's User Guide.

  1. Print your issued certificate(s)

You will not receive a printed copy of your certificate(s) in the mail. Instead, you can verify that your certificate has been issued by logging in to your TIMS account and viewing or printing the certificate(s) issued. Credentials held appear in the lower right hand corner of your dashboard. Please note, if the CE Status of your certificate is "inactive" or "voluntary inactive," the print button will not be enabled until the professional development requirements have been met. If the Validity Status is invalid or expired, the print button will not be enabled. Emergency permit print buttons are enabled only for the school requesting the permit; an individual is unable to print the credential.

  1. Professional development for certificate holders

Beginning July 1, 2000, Act 48 of 1999 required persons holding Pennsylvania professional educator certification to complete continuing education requirements every five years in order to maintain their certificates as active. Professional development requirements for certificate holders can be found at Act 48 of 1999 - Continuing Professional Education.

  1. Apply for an additional Instructional certificate via the test only option

Holders of Pennsylvania Instructional certificates may qualify for an additional Instructional subject area by successfully completing the subject area test. See Instructional Add-Ons for additional information including a list of subject areas that may be added by testing. Applications for add-ons must be submitted through TIMS.

  1. Verification of your Pennsylvania certification

All Pennsylvania public school districts and most non-public schools have direct access to the TIMS online system and can verify your certification status online. We also offer direct access to the TIMS records to other states' and jurisdictions' certifying bodies through the public access website so that they may verify Pennsylvania certification for individual's seeking to become certified in another state or jurisdiction.  We do not provide official written verification of your certification for any purpose.  All official verifications must be obtained through the TIMS online system.