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Alternative Teacher Certification Programs in California

Holding onto teachers is a constant challenge in California, but this state may be one of the easiest to find a teaching role. According to the California Teachers Association, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, about 17 percent of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years and 100,000 additional teachers will be needed over the next decade to keep student-to-teacher ratios on par with the national average (2016).


The state is experiencing teacher shortages in both core and extra-curricular subjects, with shortages the most minor in the fields of math, science and special education. This problem is expected to only increase over the coming years.

To combat this issue, California has several; alternative certification options available. This means your likelihood of finding a teaching role in California is quite lucrative, even if you don’t attend a traditional university. While each program has different requirements, each state-approved program requires that candidates already possess a bachelor’s degree. You may also need to:

  • earn passing scores on the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET)
  • meet basic skills requirements
  • complete a computer education class
  • complete a U.S. Constitution course

Two programs you may consider are the California Teacher Corps program or the Peace Corps Teaching Experience. The California Teacher Corps program is designed for individuals who have already established themselves professionally. This is a highly selective program that provides rigorous training both before entering the classroom and during the first year of teaching. The Peace Corps Teaching Experience is designed for individuals who have served in the Peace Corps and who spent at least 18 months teaching resident students of a foreign country. In order to qualify, 50 percent or more of your regular duties must have consisted of classroom teaching. Qualifying individuals may fill out the appropriate forms to waive traditional teacher preparation and receive a preliminary teaching credentials.

Take the Alternative Route to California Teacher Certification

If you already have your bachelor’s degree and want to move into the field of education, consider the California Alternative Teacher Certification program. Most programs are designed to tackle many of the same learning goals and outcomes as any other type of teacher certification program. One of the primary goals of statewide alternative certification programs is to give you the knowledge necessary to pass the California Subject Examinations for Teachers.

As a result, programs address your subject area, your teaching abilities and your writing skills. You may also be expected to become familiar with the teaching field in California and what it is like to work as a teacher in your chosen area. Due to the long-term teacher shortage, programs hope to graduate students that are prepared to stay in the field for years to come.

Whether your classroom is full of gifted students, students with unique needs or a mix of the two, alternative California teaching certification programs hope to embody you with the ability to make subject matter accessible to all students. To know if you are making subjects accessible to your students, you must also be able to assess students’ performance. Programs strive to make sure that teachers are self-aware; it’s important to be able to look at your own techniques and tweak them to suit your students’ needs.

Top Online Schools for Alternative Certification Degrees in California

California is one state that offers a bounty of information and education when it comes to your search for alternative teaching education and certification. There is also a strong network of teaching professionals who will be able to provide guidance in conjunction with state groups to get you on the path to become a teacher.

  • University of Southern California – The online degree programs at the University of Southern California are regarded with high esteem nationwide. The Rossier School also ranked number 10 among best education schools, according to U.S. News in 2018.
  • California Coast University – Located in Santa Ana, California Coast University specializes in distance learning for those both in-state and relocating from other states. In addition, the school offers a rental service for textbooks for those who need them.
  • Grand Canyon University Online – With a solid rate of student acceptance, Grand Canyon University’s online degree programs have become a viable option for those looking to advance their teaching skills.
  • Walden University Online – Walden University’s online program has established courses in teaching education that you may find advantageous to pursue. The Riley College of Education and Leadership also utilizes the latest technological advances in attaining instructional knowledge.