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Become a Preschool or Kindergarten Teacher in Pennsylvania

If you're considering a career in early childhood education, you'll need to know the steps involved in the process. Find out what you can study to become a preschool or kindergarten teacher in Pennsylvania, including student teaching requirements and how to get certified.

Overview of Preschool and Kindergarten Teacher Certification in Pennsylvania

Kindergarten and preschool teachers in Pennsylvania instruct some of the youngest students in the education system. The state requires passing scores on a few specific exams, depending on which grade level you plan to teach, as well as a full background check prior to earning your certification.

Education/Experience RequiredBachelor's degree, teacher education program
Exams RequiredBasic skills assessment: SAT/ACT, Praxis Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA), or Praxis Core Academic Skills; NES PreK-4
Certificate ValidityMaximum six years for a Level I certificate
Certificate ExtensionN/A; certificates must be converted into Level II or the certificate will lapse
Average Pennsylvania Salary (2018)$29,250 for preschool teachers, $62,510 for kindergarten teachers*
Job Growth (2016-2026)10% for preschool teachers, 8% for kindergarten teachers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Although the ages vary slightly between preschool and kindergarten students, preschool teachers share much of the same responsibilities as their kindergarten colleagues. You'll pay close attention to each student's progress in developing the social and mental skills necessary to move forward in their education. Individual students will require your attention, and you'll also instruct them in group settings throughout the school year. At these early ages, it will be important to provide the parents of your students with feedback and any problems you notice during class time. You'll likely instruct your students in multiple subjects, as young students typically have all of their classes in one room.

Education and Training Requirements

You can become a kindergarten or preschool school teacher in Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. This includes a certification program to teach pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. Your general education courses will happen during the first part of your degree program, while the latter portion of your studies will focus on field experiences. You'll get to work with an advisor to prepare you for your student teaching experience, which takes up one whole semester.

Exam Requirements

Pennsylvania requires preschool and kindergarten teachers to take exams from two different educational companies. You'll need to pass a basic skills assessment from Praxis, and you have two options for this: the Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA), or the Core Academic Skills for Educators. The latter option has three sections -- one each in writing, reading, and math -- and you can choose to make separate appointments for each section or take it all in one sitting. Preschool and kindergarten teachers also need to take the NES PreK-4 block of exams, which contains a total of three modules.

Certification Requirements

You can apply for a Level I Certificate from Pennsylvania after you earn your bachelor's degree and complete all of your exams with passing grades. Before you start teaching, the state will perform a full background check, including child abuse and criminal activity history. You'll be able to use this certificate for six years, and these years only count when you're actively teaching. However, this credential will lapse if you don't upgrade to a Level II before the six years are up. You can do this after three years of teaching and 24 credits of continuing education, six of which must be centered around early childhood or elementary education.