What Do I Need to Become a Substitute Teacher in Pennsylvania?

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While individual school districts throughout Pennsylvania are in charge of hiring substitute teachers for their schools, the state Board of Education sets certain qualification guidelines that apply to all substitutes in the state. Many school districts contract with the Substitute Teacher Service through the Pennsylvania Regional Education Applicant Placement Program (PA REAP). Individual schools may have additional requirements for any potential substitute teacher.

Pennsylvania Teaching Certification

Pennsylvania has two teaching certification tracks: one for people who completed a teacher training program at a Pennsylvania college or university, and another for those who completed their training out of state. For the in-state certification program, you must complete an application and submit it to your school's certification department along with your PRAXIS test scores. New substitute teachers only require a "Level 1" teaching certificate. (You must obtain a "Level 1" certificate before becoming eligible for a "Level 2" certificate, which is permanent and does not need renewal.) Applicants trained out-of-state must complete the same application but submit it to the state of Pennsylvania along with additional information about the training courses they completed.

Negative TB Test

You must have a negative tuberculosis test or chest X-ray in order to substitute-teach. While the state requires this test be less than two years old, some individual schools require that your test be within the last 12 months.

Clean Criminal History

You must submit to a Pennsylvania criminal records check, a Pennsylvania child abuse clearance history check and an FBI criminal history check (see Resources) as part of your substitute teaching application. All of these background checks have to be no more than a year old.

Resume and Recommendations

You are required to submit an updated resume and at least three professional letters of recommendation with your substitute teacher application.

Valid Work Authorization

You must be eligible to legally work in the United States. You will need at least two forms of identification from the approved list on federal form I-9, such as a driver's license or passport (see Resources).

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