Professional Development for Teachers: A Guide
Everything you need to know about improving your instruction with professional development, including national and state requirements, practical courses, and online PD courses for credit.
Use Study.com for Teacher Professional Development
Professional development (PD) allows teachers to enhance their classroom practice, stay updated on research and trends in education, and strengthen their content knowledge. Teacher PD can take many forms, with varying degrees of significance and impact on a teacher's career. With teachers' schedules as demanding as ever, they need a more manageable method to gain professional development. That is where alternative professional development sources come in.
Teachers can save time and money by understanding which professional development options work best for their needs. Quality professional development resources will in turn increase the quality of classroom instruction, boosting students' learning and achievement. Study.com offers teachers a flexible and comprehensive solution to their professional development needs with the following three paths.
College CreditTake college credit-recommended courses, across any subject or level, for transferable credit
Professional Development CoursesTake courses specifically designed for teachers to earn professional development hours
Prepare for a CLEP TestChoose from 30+ CLEP-specific preparation courses and study guides
Why Do Teachers Need Professional Development?
Professional development helps teachers who are passionate about their craft stay up-to-date with teaching trends while also improving their skills. PD is also one of the methods administrators use to make sure teachers have an opportunity to strengthen their expertise and advance their career. Professional development is valuable for teachers who want to excel at what they do and progress in the field. In many states and school districts, earning professional development credits or hours also allows teachers to progress on the salary schedule.
Professional development can take many forms, with varying degrees of significance and impact on a teacher's career. College and university programs are necessary to become a teacher in the first place, but they can only develop a new teacher's skills to a certain extent. That is where alternative professional development sources come into place.
Teachers can save time and money by understanding which professional development options work best for their needs. Quality professional development resources will in turn increase the quality of classroom instruction, boosting students' learning and achievement.
What Activities Count as Professional Development?
Traditional modes of professional development can include:
- Professional events like conferences, symposiums, and workshops
- Coursework from state or district approved higher education courses
- State or district prepared workshops and seminars
Other states allow teachers to use additional types of resources for their professional development needs. Depending on local mandates, the following activities may also fulfill professional development requirements:
- Online courses and webinars
- Networking events
- Action research in the classroom
- Independent research
Professional development also happens naturally when teachers talk to their colleagues, observe peers in their classrooms, or even read a book. Higher education coursework is the most prevalent type of PD for teacher certification renewal or for salary advancement goals, but many teachers live far from colleges and universities.
Online courses for credit and non-credit coursework could be a good option for teachers with limited access to colleges or with tight schedules. Some states offer a list of approved topics for this type of professional development coursework, for example, differentiated instruction or computer literacy.
In general, states agree that some flexibility is necessary to fulfill the needs of an individual teacher working with a specific grade, subject, or type of student in the classroom.
State Requirements for Teacher Professional Development
Ongoing education is a requirement for every public school teacher in the United States. Requirements for teacher professional development differ by state and school district, and sometimes even by individual school.
- 3 complete years of full-time professional educational work experience and 50 clock hours of allowable professional development
- 3 complete years of full-time professional educational work experience and 3 semester hours of allowable credit
- 3 semester hours of allowable credit and 50 clock hours of allowable professional development
- 6 semester hours of allowable credit
- 6 semester hours of renewal credit; and
- 4 Mandatory Trainings
- The certificated person's employment at the time of renewal, if the employment requires a certificate;
- The certificated person's endorsements, or
- A state-approved preparation program that will lead to an endorsement that the certificated person seeks to acquire.
Option A: Performance evaluation. Teachers must submit performance evaluations along with FBI criminal history report and required documents. Requirements:
- Teachers must have been employed by an appropriate DC Local Education Agency (LEA)
- Teachers must have achieved at least an effective performance rating for at least three school years of the four-year validity of the credential
- The performance evaluation review must match assignment area of credential
- Complete 6 semester hours of college course work from accredited Georgia colleges/universities; or
- 10 credits of Georgia Professional Learning Units; or
- 10 credits of U.S. Department of Education Teacher-to-Teacher Workshops; or
- 10 credits of continuing education units under the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)
- Earn 120 professional development points awarded by a Kansas local professional development council under an approved individual development plan.
- If retired and participating in an educational retirement system, earn 60 professional development points.
- Verify three years of accredited experience during the current professional. This type of experience renewal may be used only twice.
- Earn 160 professional development points awarded by a Kansas local professional development council under an approved individual development plan, including at least 80 points for college credit.
- If retired and participating in an educational retirement system, earn 80 professional development points, including at least 40 points for college credit.
- First renewal: completion of 15 graduate hours or half of the Continuing Education Option (CEO) requirements.
- Second renewal: completion of an approved Master's degree or an approved Fifth Year program (32 graduate hours) or completion of the CEO requirements.
- Subsequent renewals: completion of 3 years of classroom teaching during the last 5-year period of the certificate or 6 semester hours of additional graduate credit.
- The signature of the superintendent verifying 3 years of teaching experience or an official transcript of courses completed for renewal and the recommendation from the college of education official (if applicable) is required for every renewal application.
- 150 hours of education-related professional learning
- An education-related masters or higher degree earned at any time from a regionally accredited college or university (may be used one time to renew the Standard Teaching Certificate)
- Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies
- Accommodation, Modification, and Adaptation of Curriculum, Materials, and Instruction
- Key Warning Signs for Early-Onset Mental Illness in Children and Adolescents
- Reading Preparation
- College courses count towards these hours, with 1 semester credit equaling 24 clock hour credits.
- 10 continuing education units (CEUs) in content or job/skill related area; or
- 3 semester hours in content or job/skill related area and 5 continuing education units (CEUs) in content or job/skill related area; or
- 6 semester hours in content or job/skill related area; or
- Completion of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards process
- 3 semester hours in content or job/skill related area; or
- 5 continuing education units (CEUs) in content or job/skill related area; or
- Completion of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards process
- Complete 30 contact hours of professional development
- Complete two years of mentoring, determined by school district
- Develop and implement a professional development plan
- Participate in school district's yearly performance-based assessment program
- Have ten years of experience as a certified teacher; or
- Earn the next highest college degree; or
- Become nationally certified to teach
- Directly relate to a person's current license or an area that will enhance the effectiveness of that person's teaching; or
- Pertain to a subject for which shortages of personnel exist; or
- Be part of an approved program leading to an advanced degree
- 6 semester hours of coursework related to classroom teaching and/or the area of licensure; or
- 18 continuing education units (CEUs) (180 contact hours); or
- other equivalent activities related to classroom teaching and/or the area of licensure as approved by the Local Professional Development Committee of the employing school, district, or agency since the issuance of the license to be renewed.
- Complete 125 continuing professional development units (PDUs) every 5 years; and
- Verify their continuing PDUs through their employing school district or Education Service District.
- 6 post-baccalaureate college credits
- 6 Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved in-service credits
- 180 continuing education hours
- A combination of the above; each college credit equals 30 continuing education hours
- Complete a Level 1 License Renewal Form itemizing a minimum of 100 points
- Complete a Level 2/3 License Renewal Form itemizing a minimum of 200 points
- Complete 2 hours of Youth Suicide Prevention Training within the License Cycle through an educator's employing Local Education Agency (LEA).
- 3-year Level I License = 3 credits (45 hours)
- 7-year Level II License = 9 credits (135 hours)
- 5-year Level II License = 6 credits (90 hours)
- College Credit (One semester hour = 30 points, One quarter hour = 20 points)
- Professional Conference
- Curriculum Development
- Publication of Article
- Publication of Book
- Educational Project
- Professional Development Activities
- Must have 6 hours of college credit (degree or non-degree) in education-related courses; or
- Must have a master's and a 30 salary classification; or
- Must be age 60 and present a birth certificate; and
- Must have recommendation from county superintendent or RESA director
Local Requirements for Teacher Professional Development
Some states have moved away from mandating professional development requirements and put power in the hands of the school districts, partially for budgetary reasons and partly because state officials recognize that educational issues vary significantly by school district. This means that the professional development needed to renew a teaching license is decided at a local level. It is essential for teachers to check with officials from their school district about professional development requirements and opportunities.
List of Questions to Ask Your School About Teacher Professional Development
- What budget is available for each teacher's professional development?
- What in-house staff can provide coaching and professional learning communities?
- What external resources qualify for professional development?
- Is using in-house resources more budget-wise and effective for the goals of professional development, or is it better to have a combination of in-house and external resources?
- What are the requirements for online courses teachers take? Should those courses be pertinent to the subject they teach? How do teachers know which courses qualify for PD hours?
How to Save Time and Money Choosing Professional Development Resources
Choosing the right options for your professional development can be confusing and time-consuming. The resources and courses below provide options for improving your teaching practice and progressing in your career.
Explore Teacher Resources, organized by category, to save time and money with self-study.
Browse Most Popular Courses for Teachers to satisfy professional development coursework requirements, from topics like classroom management and instructional strategy to literacy instruction. Study.com also offers a selection of courses on Teaching Students with Special Needs, helping you differentiate instruction for your students.
Most Popular Courses for Teachers
Teaching Students with Special Needs
How Do Study.com Courses Work for Teacher PD?
Flexible and Self-Paced
Study.com professional development courses for teachers are flexible and self-paced. Watch video lessons and complete quizzes from your computer, tablet, or phone. Study.com also has a mobile app that allows you to download lessons so you can work on professional development wherever you are.
Study.com Account Type
You can use your Teacher's account to take non-credit Study.com professional development courses. The courses cover every major subject area, such as reading, computer science, psychology, science, math, history, foreign languages, music, and business. Each course is self-paced and includes quizzes for lessons and practice exams throughout. If you want to get transferrable credit from our college credit-granting courses, and/or you want the official transcript to be sent from one of the partner universities, simply change your account to College Accelerator.
Right Type of Credit
All college credit-recommending courses on Study.com let you know the number of college credits you would receive upon completion. All eligible courses grant 1, 2, 3 or 4 credit hours. Information about eligible credit hours is available on each course page. You can request a transcript for the courses you take on Study.com through ACE or NCCRS, through one of our partner schools, or transfer credit to one of the 1,500 colleges or universities around the U.S. All other courses can provide professional development hours, depending on your district or state's requirements.
You don't need to pay extra for professional development courses on Study.com if you already have a Teacher's account. If you need to take courses for college credit, you only need to upgrade to a College Accelerator account to complete the course.
Once you've completed a course, you can request a Certificate of Completion, which shows your professional development credit hours. You can use it on LinkedIn, in your portfolio, or as proof of professional development for your employer.
You may cancel your Study.com subscription at any time, which will discontinue future billing. Refunds are not automatically issued. You will have access to your Study.com account through the date you've paid for.
There are no prerequisites for Study.com non-credit professional development courses or for-credit college courses. Anyone can enroll to take these courses.
Registering for Class
Find the course that satisfies your needs in the library of professional development for teachers courses or among college credit-granting courses and click "Start This Course".
Are professional development hours earned in one state good for another?Each state has different requirements. Please check with the department that grants teacher licenses if you plan to move to a different state before committing to professional development coursework.
How do I know if my district would count the course I want to take for professional development?Most districts offer pre-approval. We recommend seeking pre-approval for your professional development plan before committing to it.
Can I apply college credit that I earned to get a degree to my license's professional development renewal requirement?Usually, you can use earned college credit to satisfy professional development requirements for teachers. However, double check with your state and school district requirements.
Teachers Love Study.com
"I choose to use it as a tool because I do find that it's really great."
If I hadn't had [Study.com], I probably would have been challenged to go out and find videos on Youtube that were less polished, perhaps less consistent, that illustrated points. There's lots out there, but that would take much more effort for me. I choose to use it as a tool because I do find that it's really great. Every time I go on Study.com I randomly discover a video I didn't even know about...and then I show it in class.
"Study.com makes it easy..."
Study.com makes it easy to create custom courses that provide lessons to build on what my students already know, and wish to know for their chosen career pathways. Study.com also provides quizzes and chapter exams that work perfectly as pre-test and post-test assessments I can use to guide what I teach my students, how well they are understanding the material, and the effectiveness of my teaching methods.
"You are a lifesaver! :)"
I found Study.com as a means to study for my TExES state boards. I was thrilled that you have all the relevant content... It's an amazing resource that many students and teachers in our small Catholic school will benefit from for years to come! Thank you so much! If it were not for Study.com I do not believe that I would pass the Texas state boards! You are a lifesaver! :)