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Getting and Staying Certified to Teach

This is a tool to track CTE teacher certification progress and requirements.

Congratulations! You were hired to teach an occupational program at your local school. Now you have to meet the state legal requirements to earn the Pennsylvania vocational instructional certificates.

Although Penn State University faculty and staff will help you through the process, it is your responsibility to learn what the requirements are, keep track of what certificate you have and when it will expire, and do what is necessary to keep your teaching certificate active.

Good luck with your new career!

The links below are presented in the order one most likely would follow. However, individual circumstances vary and one may find their situation indicates a different order.

Occupational Competency Assessment

Pennsylvania law requires that you demonstrate your competence in the area you plan to teach. You must have at least 8,000 hours of paid work experience in the subject you will teach and take the Occupational Competency Assessment (OCA). Once you have completed the OCA you should apply for an Intern Certificate at the TIMS website at this address: 

New Teacher Workshop - WF ED 100 Orientation to Teaching

Are you ready for the first day of school? What are you going to teach? What are your responsibilities? How do you handle a classroom of adolescents? How will you teach students who learn differently than you do? You need a starter course about the basics of teaching.

Vocational Emergency Permit

Sometimes new instructors must begin teaching before the OCA is scheduled. The Commonwealth allows people to do so if they apply for and receive a Vocational Emergency Permit. Please note that the Vocational Emergency Permit expires after only one year.

Vocational Intern Certification

You must successfully complete the Occupational Competency Assessment before you can apply for the Vocational Intern Certificate. The Commonwealth makes this certificate available to allow you to teach while you are learning how to teach. Accordingly, this certificate is good for only three years, which means you must make consistent progress toward completing the requirements for the next certificate, the Vocational Instructional I certificate.

Vocational Instructional 1 Certification

Teaching requires different skills than the skills that make you an effective teacher. You will learn fundamental teaching skills when you take 18 credits of required university courses (including the two credits for the New Teacher Workshop). Much of the courses will be a student teaching experience, in which you learn how to teach under the guidance of a Penn State instructor. You must complete these courses and two national teacher competency exams (called CORE PRAXIS) successfully to earn the Vocational Instructional I certificate. Then you can apply for the Vocational Instructional I Certificate. The temporary Vocational Instructional I certificate will expire in six years.

Vocational Instructional 2 Certification

You must complete 60 more required credits to earn the final certificate you need to teach a technical program in a Pennsylvania public school – the Vocational Instructional II certificate. Some of those credits are in your major   (WF ED) and other courses are in subjects outside WF ED. Your advisor will tell you what courses you need to take. Penn State offers the WF ED courses at six locations in Central Pennsylvania: Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Mechanicsburg, and University Park. You can take the other required courses at Penn State or their approved equivalents at any accredited university, college, or community college.

Many US states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plant to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosure by State interactive map.