How to Become a Teacher in California

As the most populous state in the nation, California contains a growing student population that reached more than 6.7 million K-12 students in the 2011-2012 school year. Within that increasing population lies a budding Hispanic community that accounts for more than 52% of the state, along with numerous students from other backgrounds. Despite these statistics, California only employed 286,969 teachers in the 2010-2011 school year, highlighting the need for educated and certified teachers from various walks of life. For those who seek to respond to this increasing demand for qualified educators, here are some tips on how to become a California certified teacher.

Education Requirements

For those interested in becoming a teacher in California, it is important to know how to obtain a California teaching license. It is imperative that candidates hold bachelor’s degrees from accredited colleges or universities. However, as educational degrees are not available at the undergraduate level, students must first complete their bachelor’s degrees in the academic field that they hope to teach, such as math or English. Students must then complete a teacher training program approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC). Teaching programs can be found through colleges, universities, community colleges, online schools, K-12 school districts, and certain community or regional service centers. Lastly, prospective teachers must pass certification tests, as determined by the CCTC.

After attaining a bachelor’s degree, completing a teaching program from on-campus or online teaching schools in California, and passing the certification tests, prospective educators may apply for additional certification based on previous experience or course work. As the state of California has a strong Hispanic population, bilingual certification is actively encouraged for teachers of all grade levels in order to improve their job prospects. Furthermore, the California Department of Education recommends procuring national board certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, as this certification demonstrates a high level of competency as an educator.

California Teaching Certification

To teach elementary school in California, you must have the multiple subject teaching credential which authorizes teaching in preschool, kindergarten, grades 1-12, and classes for adults.

To teach middle or secondary school in California, you must have the single subject teaching credential.

Required Tests

For either a multiple subject (elementary) and single subject (middle-school and secondary) preliminary teaching credential, a candidate must pass:

Candidates for a clear teaching credential must complete a professional teacher induction program and obtain National Board certification.

State Certification Reciprocity

If you hold a teaching credential from another state, you can apply for a preliminary teaching credential in the same subject area. Requirements for obtaining a clear credential will be determined by the number of years of satisfactory, full-time teaching experience you have.

If you have National Board Certification, you can obtain a California clear credential in the subject area in which you have received certification. More information for out-of-state teachers who wish to teach in California is available on the Teach California website.

Helpful Resources