Teaching Degrees in California

Many people move to California for the great weather and the proximity to the ocean, including teachers. California is one of the most popular states for teachers; California teachers earn salaries above the national average, and demand for qualified teachers is increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the creation of 1.9 million new preschool through secondary school teaching jobs in the U.S. from 2014 to 2024.

Earning a teaching degree online offers students the flexibility to balance their education with a full-time job and personal responsibilities. Online students generally take many of the same courses as their on-campus counterparts, and many schools offer a variety of online resources.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the creation of 1.9 million new preschool through secondary school teaching jobs in the U.S. from 2014 to 2024.

The route to teaching licensure in California is simplest for candidates with a bachelor's degree from a California institution. After completing one of the approved CA teaching credential programs, graduates apply for a certificate and become licensed. However, students who earn their teaching degree outside the state can complete a teacher credential program in California and earn certification. Because requirements for teaching licensure vary by state, candidates may need to fulfill additional requirements to earn certification to a new state.

Each state has different requirements for becoming a public school teacher. For example, some states mandate that teachers obtain a master's degree within the first few years of teaching. States also require candidates for licensure to have completed different courses and examinations.

Candidates for a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, which qualifies professionals to teach elementary school in California, must pass a Reading Instruction Competence Assessment. Candidates for a Multiple or Single Subject Teaching Credential must complete courses in the U.S. Constitution and foundational computer technology. These types of specific requirements prohibit teaching licensure from transferring directly across state lines. Professionals with a California teaching certification typically need to complete additional requirements to teach outside the state.

Educational Requirements

Although requirements to earn teaching licensure vary by state, all U.S. teachers must hold at least a bachelor's degree. Many aspiring teachers earn an education degree from one of California's colleges for teaching; others, especially those who plan to pursue a Single Subject Teaching Credential, earn a degree in the area in which they plan to teach.

most aspiring teachers complete all requirements to earn teaching licensure in California in fewer than five years.

In addition to earning a bachelor's degree, candidates for licensure must complete a California teaching credential program approved by the state's Commission on Teacher Credentialing. These teacher preparation programs are available at 250 institutions across California. Many institutions allow students to complete their CA teaching credential online, but the credential program does require in-person student teaching.

Including the time required to earn a bachelor's degree, most aspiring teachers complete all requirements to earn teaching licensure in California in fewer than five years.

Reciprocity agreements simplify the process of transferring a teaching license between states. These agreements allow teachers to transfer specific qualifications obtained while earning California teaching certification, which reduces the amount of time necessary to earn licensure in the new state. Oftentimes, reciprocity agreements also help professionals obtain a provisional license.

Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in California

Associate Degree in Teaching

The Home, the School, the Community This course introduces students to the effects home and school relationships on childhood development and learning. Learners explore the influence of parents, educators, and peers on young children.
Principles and Practices of Teaching Young Children Students learn about methods and philosophies for teaching young children. They review strategies for creating a supportive and constructive school environment.
Introduction to Curriculum This course focuses on essential skills and best practices for creating lesson plans and curricula. Students learn to create varied and engaging curricula.

Bachelors Degree in Teaching

Teaching as a Profession Students explore the complications and issues associated with teaching in culturally diverse schools. Fieldwork helps students understand typical career paths for teachers.
Introduction to Liberal Studies This course exposes students to a variety of disciplines and explores how different fields of study fit into classroom settings and curricula.
United States History for Teachers This course provides skills and knowledge necessary to teach U.S. history at the secondary school level.

Masters Degree in Teaching

Identifying and Teaching to Student Differences Students learn to identify differences in student behavior, ability, and understanding and to create varying lesson plans based on target student groups.
Introduction to Curriculum and Pedagogy This course is an overview of curriculum and instruction theory. Students learn to vary their teaching approach and strategy in various disciplines and settings.
Literacy Development and Instruction in Elementary Education Students master strategies used to teach reading and language arts. This course prepares learners to instruct young children and adolescents.

Certification and Licensing Needed to Become a Teacher in California

To obtain a CA teaching credential, candidates must complete exams, preparation programs, and student teaching experiences. Candidates can apply for a preliminary credential, which lasts five years. To qualify for a preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential, candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, complete a teacher preparation program with a student teaching component, and pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test.

Candidates must also have verified subject competency through an exam or an approved subject-matter program, completed a comprehensive reading instruction course, and passed courses in the U.S. Constitution and basic computer skills. To teach elementary school, candidates must pass the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment and apply for the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.

Teachers can renew their credentials up to one year before they expire.

After earning a five-year preliminary credential, teachers must earn a clear credential by either completing a teacher induction program or obtaining certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. Teachers can renew their credentials up to one year before they expire. The cost to apply for or renew is $100, plus a fingerprinting fee.

Visit the California Education Department's TEACH California website and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing website for information about every step of the certification process.

When choosing a teaching program, first establish a budget. Tuition costs vary widely, depending on factors such as whether the school is public or private.

Also consider each prospective school's location. If you are interested in on-campus programs, consider whether the commute is reasonable. When researching online programs, ensure you'll have access to student resources and teaching opportunities. Since the requirements for teaching licensure vary by state, research the requirements for the state in which you plan to teach before enrolling in a program elsewhere.

Program specifics include length, availability of specializations, and online options. Students eager to enter the workforce should consider accelerated programs. Those who plan to teach a specific age group should ensure each prospective program offers the necessary specialization.

Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in California?

Online teaching programs are ideal for students who need flexibility, including working professionals and parents. Many institutions offer online teaching programs in California to prepare students to earn teaching credentials. Earning a teaching degree online may limit student teaching options. However, most online programs allow students to arrange student teaching in local schools.

When considering an online teaching program in California, ensure the school holds proper accreditation. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges awards regional accreditation in California. Accreditation ensures a program meets academic standards, but not all accredited programs hold approval from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. All schools offering CA teaching credential programs should maintain approval from both organizations.

Directory of Teaching Schools in California

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Although undergraduate tuition rates are increasing, education students have a variety of options for financing their degree. Scholarships help students pay for school and reduce student debt. Look for scholarships from your university and private organizations. Also, be sure to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out whether you qualify for federal assistance.

After applying for scholarships and grants, consider taking out loans. Begin with low-interest options, such as federal loans, before pursuing assistance from lending organizations. Some public school teachers are eligible for loan forgiveness programs. Keep reading to learn about loan forgiveness programs and scholarships available to teaching students in California.

Loan Forgiveness for California Teachers

Some California teachers are eligible for full or partial loan forgiveness through the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. The program incentivizes people to enter the teaching profession and to teach in low-income areas. Professionals who teach in a low-income school for five consecutive years can apply for the program. Eligible teachers receive forgiveness for up to $17,500 of their student loans.

The California Department of Education determines which public schools qualify as low-income based on the number of students who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program. The criteria for identifying low-income charter and private schools is slightly different. The federal government provides a list of low-income schools through the Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory.

Scholarships for California Teaching Students

Though some prestigious scholarships require lengthy application processes that include essays and interviews, scholarships are an ideal form of financial assistance because they do not need to be repaid. Below are some of the many scholarships available to students pursuing CA teaching credentials.

California Mathematics Council-South Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: To advance mathematics teaching in Southern California, CMC-South offers annual grants and scholarships to students enrolled in elementary and secondary education credential programs. View Scholarship

Laura E. Settle Scholarship $500-$3,000

Who Can Apply: The California Retired Teachers Association offers this scholarship to juniors and seniors in teaching programs at 30 participating University of California and California State University locations. The scholarship is also available to graduate students. View Scholarship

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship $4,000

Who Can Apply: The California Teachers Association offers this scholarship to children of CTA members and to student CTA members. Applicants must be a member of an ethnic minority; the scholarship encourages minority students to become teachers. View Scholarship

L. Gordon Bittle Memorial Scholarship for Student CTA $5,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports student members of the California Teachers Association. The organization awards up to three scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate academic achievement. View Scholarship

Federal TEACH Grant $4,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants for the TEACH Grant must agree to teach at a low-income school in a high-need field after graduation. The federal and state governments have identified dozens of high-need fields, including foreign language, mathematics, science, and special education. View Scholarship

Phi Delta Kappa Prospective Educator Scholarships $500-$2,000

Who Can Apply: Each year, the PDK Educational Foundation offers more than 30 scholarships for future teachers. Applicants must be a high school senior or college undergraduate student and a member of Phi Delta Kappa International, Educators Rising, or Pi Lambda Theta.
Location Employment Annual Mean Wage
California 990,420 $61,890
United States 8,636,430 $54,520

Source: BLS

According to the BLS, California teachers earn annual salaries more than $6,000 higher than the national average. Although California teachers earn more than teachers in other parts of the country, individual salaries depend on factors including grade level and teaching experience. For example, secondary and elementary school teachers in California earn about $75,000 per year, while preschool teachers typically earn about $35,000 per year.

As one of the most populous states in the country, California has consistently high demand for teachers. California is home to nearly 40 million residents, so there is never a shortage of children to teach. Nearly one million teachers -- a tenth of all U.S. teachers -- currently work in California.

Average Annual Salary by Teaching Level in California
Preschool Teachers $35,740
Kindergarten Teachers $63,590
Elementary School Teachers $74,270
Middle School Teachers $70,100
Secondary School Teachers $74,940

Source: BLS

  • California Department of Education The California Department of Education provides information for students and current teachers, including resources related to standard curricula, available funding, and teaching-specific subjects.
  • California Commission on Teacher Credentialing This website provides information necessary to obtain a teaching certificate in California. Candidates complete an application and submit required documents through the website. The commission also provides information on credentialing for out-of-state applicants and teachers with private school experience.
  • CTC Approved Educator Preparation Institutions The CTC provides a list of commission-approved institutions that offer teacher preparation programs. Visitors can sort the list by accreditation status, type of institution, and location.
  • Student California Teachers Association The Student CTA is a valuable resource for aspiring teachers in California. The group posts about credentialing, steps to becoming a teacher, and issues facing California teachers. The association also serves as a professional development resource and hosts teaching workshops and conferences.
  • TEACH California TEACH California addresses the shortage of special education, mathematics, and science teachers in California. The organization's website provides resources to help students decide whether teaching is right for them, apply for financial aid, and find teaching positions.
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