Certification & Salary Upgrades

The Pennsylvania Department of Education issues all certificates to teach in Pennsylvania. All information provided on these pages is subject to change, and all users should consult the Pennsylvania Department of Education regularly for updates.

Who needs to be certified?

Classroom teachers, administrative and supervisory personnel, school librarians,  and other school professionals (including guidance counselors, school nurses, school psychologists, and school social workers) are required to hold a Pennsylvania certificate.

Applying for Certification and Creating a New Credential

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) requires all applications for credentials be completed and submitted through the new Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).

TIMS Instructions for Creating a New Credential

Note: You will need to submit the transcripts and any other requested documentation to the Pennsylvania Department of Education with a  coversheet that you can print out after you have submitted and paid for your application. The system will prompt you to pay by credit card or money order.

Certified in Another State?

Out-of-state certified applicants must obtain Pennsylvania certification to qualify for employment.  If you have an out-of state certification/license, please apply for a PA Certificate through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  You may contact them at (717) 787-3356 to speak with an evaluator.   It may take up to two months to receive a formal reply.

Requesting an emergency permit?

If you have spoken with a recruiter about the district requesting an emergency permit to begin teaching, counseling, nursing, or otherwise,  you should review the Emergency Certification for Teachers Overview or Emergency Certification for School Nurses Overview for specific instructions regarding what you must do to enroll in a certification program.

Please then follow these  Instructions for Emergency Permit Application to apply for your emergency permit. During your processing session, you will work with our Certification Team to complete the remainder of the emergency permit application process. You will need to obtain a $100 money order made out to the Commonwealth of PA and an official, sealed copy of your bachelor’s degree transcripts.

Please note that you will not be eligible to teach with an emergency permit in the same position for more than one year without pursuing appropriate education and/or testing. If you are not currently otherwise certified in a teaching content area, the district strongly encourages you to pursue appropriate certification to remain a District employee in the years ahead.

The Level II booklet is for applicants converting Level I to Level II.

Note:  Forms may be used for reference purposes only.  All applications for certification must be submitted online through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).

The fee for Level II applications is $200.

TIMS Electronic Application Instructions

For Teachers, Counselors, Librarians, School Nurses and School Psychologists

Teachers, counselors, librarians, school nurses and school psychologists who have worked after the issuance of a Level I certificate for a minimum of three (3) to a maximum of six (6) years in a public school, have completed 24 post baccalaureate credits,  and New Teacher Induction,  must convert their certificate to Level II status.

*Important Instructions:

Upon receipt you must submit a copy of your new certificate either in person, by mail or fax so that we can update your personnel file.
Time served on an emergency permit leading towards certification does not count towards Level II.
This procedure cannot be used for applying for Act 48 credits.  YOU MUST OBTAIN A SEPARATE TRANSCRIPT AND COMPLETE THE REQUIRED PDE FORM.
For Assistant Principals, Principals and Supervisors

Assistant principals, principals and supervisors who have worked for five (5) years in a public school, including acting time, after the issuance of an Administrative I certificate must convert their certificate to Level II status.

*Important instructions:

Upon receipt you must submit a copy of your new certificate either in person, by mail or fax so that we can update your personnel file.
Time served on an emergency permit leading towards certification does not count towards Level II.

If you are a new teacher, counselor, nurse, or clinical staff (occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists),  you are eligible to have your initial salary offer to the District adjusted to a higher step on the salary scale to recognize your education. For further information on this process, visit the Salary Info page of our website.

If you are a current teacher, counselor, nurse, or clinical staff (occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists) and have continued your education while in your role, you are eligible to have your salary adjusted to a higher step on the salary scale to recognize your education.

The Office of Certification accepts official, sealed transcripts showing conferred or awarded degrees, along with the documentation requested below for salary upgrades, in the following ways:

  1. Mailed to The School District of Philadelphia
    Educational Center
    Certification Office
    440 North Broad Street, Suite 222
    Philadelphia, PA 19130
  2. Hand delivered to the Certification Office, Suite 222 (2nd floor, Portal D, HR Service Window) between 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday through Friday.

The following notes pertain to all salary upgrades:

  • Credits must be from a 4-year accredited college or university; credits from junior college and/or community college are not accepted. The only exception to this is for vocational teachers, where credits from community colleges are acceptable.
  • Degrees from other countries must be evaluated by a National Association of Credentials Evaluation Services member; WES is one that is frequently used but any member can be used by the applicant. A list of members can be found at http://www.naces.org/.
  • We do not accept courses in real estate, law, medicine or religion because they cannot be used in the classroom.  We will, however, accept medical courses for nurses and “school” law courses.

Master’s Equivalency Salary Upgrade

  • Master’s Equivalency requires 36 graduate credits from an accredited college/university with a grade of “C” or better.  A minimum of 18 credits in any certified content area and a maximum of 18 PA approved in-service credits.  In-service is considered “professional development” before year 2000.
  • Applicants should obtain a Letter of Equivalency from the state, he/she must complete a Salary Upgrade Request Form and attach a copy of the Letter of Equivalency.

Master’s Degree Salary Upgrade

  • Applicant must complete a Salary Upgrade Request Form and submit official Master’s transcript, sealed in official college envelope, which shows conferred Master’s Degree with date awarded.
  • Vocational Education Teachers with a Vocational I certificate or a Bachelor’s degree with 6 years of trade experience or a Master’s Degree should be paid at a Masters Level.

Master’s Plus 30 Salary Upgrade

  • Applicant must complete a Salary Upgrade Request Form and submit official Master’s transcript, sealed in official college envelope, which shows conferred Master’s Degree with date awarded, along with the other official, sealed transcripts which make up the additional credits.
  • Master’s Plus 30 requires 60 credits beyond the Bachelor’s Degree.
  • Some colleges/universities use quarter hours.  The School District of Philadelphia considers quarter hour credits to be 2/3 of a semester hour and will use the following calculation to convert those credits to semester hours:  total number of quarter hours multiplied by 2 and divided by 3 = number of semester hours.  A few of the universities that use a quarter hour system are Antioch, California State – East Bay, and Drexel.

Doctorate’s Salary Upgrade 

  • Applicant must complete a Salary Upgrade Request Form and submit official Doctorate’s transcript, sealed in official college envelope, which shows conferred Doctorate’s Degree with date awarded.
  • Any degree from a graduate degree granting institution, awarded or conferred on or after January 1, 2012 will be accepted for salary upgrade.

Senior Career Teacher (SCT) Salary Upgrade 

  • Applicant must complete an SCT Salary Upgrade Form and submit official Master’s transcript, sealed in official college envelope, which shows conferred Master’s Degree with date awarded, along with the other official, sealed transcripts which make up the additional credits.
  • SCT requires 90 credits beyond the Bachelor’s Degree or a PhD.
  • SCT requires 2 professional certifications or 1 K-12 certification area; applicant should submit a copy of professional certifications.
  • SCT requires that applicant completed 10 years of teaching experience as a teacher in SDP.  We do not count long-term sub work.
  • School Nurses, Occupational/Physical Therapist and Psychologist cannot attain Senior Career Teacher salary status.
  • Some colleges/universities use quarter hours.  The School District of Philadelphia considers quarter hour credits to be 2/3 of a semester hour and will use the following calculation to convert those credits to semester hours: total number of quarter hours multiplied by 2 and divided by 3 = number of semester hours.  A few of the universities that use a quarter hour system are Antioch, California State – East Bay, and Drexel.  Contact the institution’s Registrar’s Office to inquire.

Vocational Education Teacher Salary Upgrade- Additional Information

Master’s Equivalency

  • Credits earned at a community college ARE acceptable for Vocational Education Teachers.
  • Applicant for Master’s’ Equivalency certificate in the Vocational Trade area must submit a complete set of sealed, official transcripts showing a total of 90 semester credit hours.
  • Up to (12) In-Service credits may be used.  A completion rating of satisfactory is required.

Master’s Plus 30

  • Applicants for Master’s’ Plus 30 in the Vocational Trade area must submit a copy of their Vocational II Certificate and a sealed, official transcript showing a total of 120 semester credit hours.

Senior Career Teacher

  • Applicants for Senior Career Teacher in the Vocational Trade area must have completed TEN (10) years satisfactory teaching service with the School District for Philadelphia, this service must be in school year increments.
  • Applicants must submit a copy of a valid Pennsylvania Vocational II certificate and a sealed, official transcript showing 45 approved college credits.

Salary adjustments for all of the above will be effective* on the first day of the pay period in which the last credential is received by the Certification Office. Educators are encouraged to retain a personal complete set of official transcripts on hand.  The compliance department does not maintain an ongoing file of coursework for each employee.

If you are a newly hired teacher, counselor or clinical staff (nurse, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech language pathologist), you are eligible to have your initial salary offer to the District adjusted to a higher step on the salary scale to recognize your prior experience.

Important things to note:

  • The salary quoted in your offer letter is based on the information you provided to the recruitment team and is subject to change.  In order for you to receive the salary quoted, your educational institution(s) and previous employer(s) must verify your credentials and experience.
  • It is candidates’ responsibility to ensure that your education and prior experience are verified in order to receive this salary.
  • Once your past employers have return the forms to the School District of Philadelphia, you will receive a completed verification notice via email.  Please allow two weeks for processing your salary adjustment. You can be paid retroactively for 60 days past your start date for any salary adjustments made during this time frame.

For further information on this process, visit the Salary Info page of our website. If you have any questions about the education or prior experience verification process, please email salary@philasd.org.

Salary adjustments for all of the above will be effective* on the first day of the pay period in which the last credential is received by the Certification Office.

How can I request the District to submit Act 48 hours for external professional development activities when the external organization is not able to submit? 

Please complete the Act 48 Google Form  to request that Act 48 hours are submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for external professional development activities.  Please note you must use your School District of Philadelphia email to log onto the Google Form.

I have questions about my Act 48 credits, who can I contact within the School District of Philadelphia and/or PA Department of Education about them?

First, please review our Act 48 Frequently Asked Questions page.  If your question is not answered in the FAQ, please contact the Office of Compliance at (215) 400-4670 or the PA Department of Education at (717) 783-6646, or email Act48@philasd.org.

How can I receive a copy of my Teacher Induction?

Please email Act48@philasd.org to request a copy.

How can I check my Act 48 credits online?

You can view your credits through the on-line Act 48 Professional Education Management System on The Pennsylvania Department of Education website.  Additionally, for more information regarding Act 48 and the steps for on-line registration, you may refer to our Teaching & Learning page.

What is Certification? 

Certification is a process to verify the qualifications and proper training of each professional educator to execute his/her professional responsibilities.  The requirements for certification are:  completion of an approved education preparation program at the bachelor’s or graduate level and meet all testing (Praxis exam) requirements established by the PA Department of Education.  Learn more about Education Programs available with the PA Teacher Intern Certification.

What are the certification application processing fees?

View our certification application fees.

What are the testing requirements? What are the Praxis exams?

Individuals applying for an initial certificate (Instructional I or Education Specialist I) are required to take the Praxis I Pre-Professional skills tests in reading, writing and mathematics.  Candidates for all instructional areas must take the Praxis II in addition to the designated subject test(s).  All individuals seeking dual certification will be required to be examined in both areas of specialization.  In Pennsylvania, Praxis test scores are valid for 5 calendar years from the original test date.  For more information regarding test dates, locations and registration procedures, please contact Education Testing Services (ETS) at (800) 772-9476. View this link for Pennsylvania testing requirements.

Am I required to complete an Induction Program?

Yes, if your initial Instructional I certificate was issued on or after June 1, 1987; you must present evidence of having successfully completed a Pennsylvania Department Education approved induction program in order to qualify for an Instructional II or Vocational Instructional II certificate.  The School District of Philadelphia offers a flexible and comprehensive Induction Program.  For more information please contact The Office of Leadership and Professional Development at (215) 400-4613.

How can I check an institution’s accreditation?

You can click the link to view the Postsecondary Education Institutions and Programs accredited by Accrediting Agencies and State Approval Agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education.

How do I keep my certification active?

Beginning July 1, 2000, Act 48 of 1999 requires educators holding a PA professional certification to  complete continuing education requirements every five years in order to maintain their certifications as active. For more information please visit the Act 48 FAQ’s from the PDE website.

Who do I contact regarding my Level II application verification?

Verification of Employment and Years of Service: Please call Personnel Records at (215) 400-4780

Verification of Time Taught on Level I:  Verification is done electronically via the TIMS system. Once you submit and pay for your application, it will come to us for verification. Please be sure to affiliate with “Philadelphia City SD” on your application.