You do not have to attend university nor hold a degree in order to obtain a position as a vocational teacher in Pennsylvania. Even with sufficient work experience in the particular trade, you can obtain an initial teaching certificate without any college training. However, you do have to demonstrate that you are competent and proficient in the trade by taking and passing the Occupational Competency Assessment (OCA). This credential will qualify you for an Interim Vocational Teaching Certificate. At times, an opening for a position will occur for which there are no certified teachers available. If you possess the experience needed for this position, but do not have the testing complete, you cam receive an Emergency Permit for the position.
An Emergency permit allows you to work as a Vocational teacher if you have been offered such a position at a vocational school. You do have to submit documentation that can verify you have at least two years of experience working in the trade and you must apply to take the OCA. The permit will only be valid for a period of one school year. If you are hired during the school year, it is only valid for the remainder of that school year.
Upon successful completion of the OCA in your area of expertise, you will be eligible for an Intern Teaching Certificate as a vocational teacher. The only way you can apply for this certificate, though, is if you meet the requirements and are already teaching in a vocational college or have been offered a full time position. This certificate is valid for a three-year period, during which time you must complete eighteen college credits. At least eight of these eighteen courses must be in the area of student teaching in which you observe a certified teacher in the classroom and gain practical teaching experience of your own.
The next step in maintaining your job as a vocational teacher is to meet the requirements of the Vocational Instructional Certificate. After successfully completing the required eighteen courses for the Intern certificate, you must pass the Praxis 1 Pre-Professional skills tests in Reading and Writing. The certificate is valid for three years, and you must have three years of teaching experience before you can apply for the next level of certification – the Vocational Instructional 11 Certificate.
To qualify for the advanced certificate of Vocational Instructional 11, a vocational teacher must complete a further 43 academic courses. The total of 61 courses throughout the certification process is enough to enable you to obtain an undergraduate degree or advanced status in your trade. In addition, you must be successful in the Praxis Vocational General Knowledge Test and either the Special Education exam or the Vocational Needs for Special Needs Learners. This is necessary to be able to teach special needs students in vocational college settings and help them achieve the outcomes of the course. The advanced certificate must be renewed every five years upon completion of successful continuing education courses or professional development activities.