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Transition to Teaching as a Second Career

Drexel University School of Education

There are few careers that are as rewarding and in demand as the field of teaching. In Pennsylvania, approximately 1.8 million students attending schools in 500 public school districts. According to the US Department of Education, Pennsylvania is facing a shortage of credentialed teachers in high need subject areas such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), special education, and English as a second language. In regard to STEM, Pennsylvania has set a goal to increase enrollment in STEM subjects by 10,000 by 2020 by expanding STEM offerings in public schools. Drexel is a proud partner in this effort and is working with the School District of Philadelphia to create a pipeline of STEM teachers in city schools through our Philadelphia Teacher Residency Program.

Whether you are interested in teaching STEM, ABA careers, or any other subject, Drexel has several educational programs to help you complete the courses needed to earn teacher certification.

If you are changing careers or if you’ve come to the realization that the field you earned a degree in is not for you, Drexel University can help you make a smooth transition into a career in teaching.

How to Make a Career Change to Teaching

When starting your career in teaching, you need to decide which subject area is the right fit for you and your strengths. For example, if you are interested in helping children develop their skills in an elementary school setting in PA, then an elementary education level (Pre-Kindergarten - 4 or Grades 4-8 in a single or dual subject areas e.g. math/English, science/English or Math/Science) is the credential you will need. Likewise, if you have a strong interest in biology, and wish to teach in a high school in PA, then you will need a secondary teaching certification in Biology (Grades 7-12).

Drexel students can choose from multiple paths to earning teacher certification. You can choose to earn a teaching credential through a bachelor’s or master’s degree program that embeds teacher certification requirements, or by enrolling in post-bachelor’s teaching certification only program.

Do you Need a Master’s Degree to Teach?

No, you do not need a master’s degree in order to become a K-12 teacher. There are many alternative pathways to become a licensed educator. Students who have a bachelor’s degree may enroll in a teacher certification program. At Drexel, students in the teacher certification program take only the courses required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for teacher certification.

Students without a bachelor’s degree can enroll in our BS in Education program. Drexel is happy to ease the transition to teaching by offering courses online or on-campus to fit the student’s schedule and learning preferences.

Drexel’s Field Placement Office works with teacher education students to place them in a school that is convenient for them so they can earn the required number of hours of student teaching.

Students may choose to enroll in Drexel’s MS in Teaching Learning and Curriculum: Teacher Certification Track to obtain additional knowledge about teaching and learning. The benefits of a master’s degree in education include a higher salary as a teacher, and the ability to enroll in a principal certification program in the future.

I want to be a Teacher in Pennsylvania, but don’t have a Bachelor’s degree

In order to teach in a classroom in Pennsylvania, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree. Drexel offers our Bachelor of Science (BS) in Education program both on-campus and online, giving you flexibility to choose the program that best fits your needs. Within the BS in Education program, you can choose which teaching certification area you would like to pursue. Upon successful completion of the program, you will be recommended to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for an initial teaching credential and be on your way to transition to a teaching career.

I want to be a Teacher in Pennsylvania and have a Bachelor’s degree (but not in Education)

Students with a bachelor’s degree have 2 options to earn teacher certification. You can choose to enroll in the Master of Science in Teaching Learning and Curriculum: Teacher Certification Track, or enroll in one of Drexel’s post-baccalaureate, state-approved teacher certification only programs. The biggest difference between the Master’s program and the certification program is the number of credits. Students enrolled in a teacher certification program take only the state-required courses for a specific teaching credential and usually complete the program faster than students in the Master’s program. The core of the Master’s program are the courses required by the State for certification. The additional courses required to round out the degree provide a more robust education preparation experience, possible additional teaching credentials and, in most cases, a higher salary upon completion. Most school districts pay higher salaries to teachers with a master’s degree in education than teachers with a bachelor’s degree.

Types of Teaching Certifications

Drexel University offers a wide range of teacher certification options for those looking to get into teaching, including:

  • Early Childhood/Elementary Education (grades PreK-4)
  • Elementary Education/Middle Grades (grades 4-8)
    • Math & Science
    • Math & English
    • Science & English
  • Secondary Education (grades 7-12)
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Earth and Space Science
    • English
    • General Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Social Studies

Drexel also offers additional certifications and endorsements for previously certified teachers to ‘add-on’ to their initial teaching certificate including:

  • Advanced Teaching and Curriculum Certificate
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement
  • Instructional Technology Specialist Certification
  • Mathematics Learning and Teaching Certificate
  • Reading Specialist Certification
  • School Principal Certification
  • School Superintendent (offered within the EdD program)
  • Social, Emotional and Behavior Wellness Endorsement
  • Special Education Certification
  • Special Education Leadership Certification
  • STEM Education Endorsement
  • Teaching English as a Second Language Certification

Obtaining another state’s equivalent teaching credential is fairly straightforward if you are interested in teaching outside of Pennsylvania and earn your initial teaching license through Drexel University. Requirements vary slightly from state to state, but most require a Program Verification form or letter from the PA teacher certification program you completed and appropriate scores on any state-required content area exam. You should check with your state’s department of education to determine what is required to obtain the non-PA’s equivalent credential once recommended for PA teacher certification by Drexel. Drexel University Online has created a Teaching Certificate Interstate Reciprocity and Transfer Guide with links to transfer policies from every state.

Teacher Certification Programs at Drexel University

Drexel University School of Education offers a wide variety of bachelor’s and graduate online teaching certification programs to prepare students for successful careers in the classroom.

Current Teacher Certification Programs

BS in Education (online or on-campus)

The BS in Education is ideal for those who do not have a bachelor’s degree but would like to earn teacher certification. The program is offered as an on-campus program at Drexel University or entirely online. Students complete coursework required for teacher certification by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, as well as a variety of field experiences, co-ops, and student teaching. The online program prepares students for the PA Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 4 (PreK-4) teaching credential at the conclusion of the BS degree program or PreK-4 with special education certification. The on-campus program prepares students for all teacher certification tracks including pre-school, elementary, middle, and secondary grades, as well as special education. The on-campus program typically takes 4-5 years to complete while the part-time online, degree completion program generally takes anywhere from 2.5 to 5 years to complete depending on how many credits the candidate has taken elsewhere transfers into Drexel’s program.

Post Baccalaureate Teacher Certification (elementary, middle, or secondary grades)

Drexel’s post-baccalaureate teacher certification programs are ideal for students who already have a bachelor’s degree and want to earn PA teaching certification in early childhood/elementary (prek-4), elementary/middle grades (4-8), or secondary (7-12) grades. Students take courses part-time online and are required to complete student teaching experiences. The elementary certification program (42 credits) typically takes up to 2.5 years to complete, while the secondary certification program (30 credits) takes 2 years to complete.

MS in Teaching Learning and Curriculum: Teacher Certification track (elementary or secondary grades)

Students looking to earn teaching certification online and a master’s degree should choose Drexel’s MS in Teaching Learning and Curriculum- Teacher Certification track program. Students complete the same courses offered in the post-baccalaureate teacher certification program, as well as additional master’s level courses. Students typically choose this track to better develop their teaching skills, as well as potentially earn a higher salary as a teacher with a master’s degree in education. Students can choose to take courses required for elementary (prek-4) or secondary (7-12) teacher certification. The program ranges from 45-47.5 credits and typically takes 2.5 – 3 years to complete.

Graduate Intern Teaching program

Drexel University’s Graduate Intern Teaching program is ideal for those who currently work in a classroom in Pennsylvania, but are not yet certified. To be considered for the program, students must have a bachelor’s degree in an area related to the subject they want to teach, i.e. a bachelor’s degree in biology for someone who is seeking to become a biology teacher, as well as pass the appropriate Praxis content area exam required for PA teacher certification. Students in the program take graduate courses required to PA teaching certification and can be completed in 9-16 months.

Philadelphia Teacher Residency program (Grades 4-8 and secondary grades 7-12) math and science subjects)

The Philadelphia Teacher Residency Program is a full-time, 12-month accelerated teaching program that prepares students to teach STEM subjects Philadelphia schools. Students work side-by-side with a mentor teacher in their chosen certification area for a full year while completing courses required for PA teacher certification. Students can choose to earn teacher certification or take additional classes to earn a master’s degree after they are certified in the areas of teaching, learning and curriculum.

In some cases, grant funded opportunities become available to help provide highly qualified candidates with financial support to the candidate while they complete their full-time, teacher residency under the guidance of a Mentor Teacher.

Learn more about a mid-career switch to teaching by requesting more information about our programs.

Early Career Practitioner Institute

Students who complete a Drexel University teacher certification program are offered 2-years of free post-program support from faculty in the School of Education who can assist in areas such as lesson planning, classroom management, best practices for reaching unique students, and more.

If you have questions about any of Drexel’s teacher certification programs, or if you would like to start an application, please visit our Admissions page.

Learn more about a mid-career switch to teaching by requesting more information about our programs.

Teaching Salaries in PA: What to Expect

Teaching salaries in Pennsylvania vary widely between school districts. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average teaching salary in Pennsylvania was $61,730 for an elementary school teacher and $64,380 for a secondary school teacher. Several factors impact how much a teacher is paid including years of service in their district, level of education, additional certifications and endorsements. Teachers can earn higher salaries by earning a higher education degree like a master’s degree, and/or earning additional certifications in a field that will make themselves more desirable to a school i.e. special education, ESL, reading specialist, etc.

Why I Teach

Here are a few testimonials from Drexel University School of Education alumni on why they choose to become a teacher:

To be a teacher means to be a positive influence on every on every student, every single individual. You have to know their strengths, and weaknesses and their personality styles. To be a teacher is to be a motivator, to be a lover of knowledge and to implement that on other students.

-Angelique Giannascoli
BS in Elementary Education ‘16

The unique community of young educators, mentor teachers, site directors, facilitators, and professors created by the Philadelphia Teacher Residency Program has been invaluable to my first year teaching and I believe it is the most important asset to the program

-Ethan Rioux
Philadelphia Teacher Residency Program Graduate

If you have questions about any of Drexel’s teacher certification programs, or if you would like to start an application, please visit our Admissions page.