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How to Get ESL Teacher Certification in Pennsylvania

If you're thinking about adding to your existing teaching credentials, you could become an ESL teacher in Pennsylvania. Discover what you need to do to earn this extra certification, including courses you'll take and how long a graduate program can last.

Overview of ESL Teacher Certification in Pennsylvania

As an existing teacher in Pennsylvania, you can earn English as a Second Language (ESL) certification as an additional credential once you earn your initial state teaching certificate. You can find this through graduate programs at universities throughout the state. You won't have to take any extra exams to earn ESL certification.

Education/Experience RequiredAdd-on certification for existing teachers
Exams RequiredN/A
Certification ValiditySix years for Level I Certification
Certification ExtensionN/A; Level I must be upgraded to Level II before lapsing after six years of teaching
Average Pennsylvania Salary* (2018)$66,860 for elementary school, $67,950 for middle school, and $64,830 for high school
National Job Growth* (2016-2026)7% for elementary school, and 8% for middle and high school teachers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Teaching English to non-native speakers may give you the chance to work in various grade levels. You could help first grade students during one week, and work with adults at a night class for a set amount of time. You'll work on in-class speaking exercises with each student and assign homework that includes pronunciation, reading, and writing in English. Feedback and progress reports are an essential part of your job, and you can speak with the parents of your younger students to keep them informed of their children's grasp of the new language.

Education and Training Requirements

ESL specialists can begin their path to certification through a graduate program. After earning an undergraduate degree in education, you can pursue a graduate ESL Program Specialist Certificate. You may be able to earn this degree online, and you could finish the graduate certificate program in as few as five semesters if you take your courses during the summer. Some of the topics you can cover in the program may include sociolinguistics, language acquisition, and ESL instruction.

Exam Requirements

There are no additional exam requirements for earning your ESL certification, provided you have already obtained a Level I or Level II Certificate in Pennsylvania.

Certification Requirements

Once you finish a graduate program for ESL teaching, you can apply for the ESL Program Specialist Certificate in Pennsylvania. You can only obtain this credential with an active Level I or Level II Pennsylvania Instructional Certificate. Once you obtain the ESL Program Specialist Certificate, you will need to remain an active teacher to retain your credentials. If you earn the ESL certification before you earn a Level II Certificate, your continuing education courses do not have to be at the graduate level to upgrade your status.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

At the national level, the job market for teachers is on par with the national average. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported elementary school teachers can expect a 7% growth of positions through 2026, while middle and high school teachers should see a rise of 8% in open positions during the same time frame. In Pennsylvania, elementary school teachers averaged a salary of $66,860 in May 2018, middle school teachers earned $67,950, and high school educators took home $64,830.