How to Become a Teacher in California
The Golden State is at a tipping point when it comes to education. Its high school graduation rates are near an all-time high, it’s home to some of the nation’s best universities, and it’s considered a pioneer among states for its pre-kindergarten standards. Despite California’s commitment to education, however, the state is experiencing a teacher shortage. According to an April 2019 report from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, demand for teachers far exceeds supply.
With plentiful opportunities for qualified teachers and increased funding and programs to improve education, now is a great time to explore teaching credential programs in California. Read on to discover valuable information about how to become a teacher in California, as well as salary and career outlook.
California Teaching Credentials
In order to teach in California, you need to earn a California teaching credential. The type of credential you need to earn, and the process for earning it, depend on which grade level or subject matter you want to teach as well as your current level of education or training.
For details about what’s involved in earning your chosen credential, see the Earning Your California Teaching Credential section on this page.
California requirements call for teachers to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Further training could be required for certain positions. Depending on your chosen degree program, here is a breakdown of what you can expect:
Salary and Job Outlook for Teachers in California
Salary Outlook for California Teachers
Each school district sets its own salary scale and benefits for teachers, with experience level also playing a role in determining salary. Some districts offer higher salaries for advanced degrees or additional job responsibilities.
Career Outlook for California Teachers
The California Center on Teaching Careers reports more than 65,000 teaching jobs are advertised for the state each year. The ten teaching positions projected to experience the greatest demand in California, according to CEDD data, are listed below, along with their projected growth rates between 2016 and 2016 and the level of education they typically require:
|Position||Growth Rate (%)||Education Required|
|Postsecondary teachers (all specialties)||14.5||doctoral or professional degree|
|Special education teachers, preschool||11.8||bachelor’s degree|
|Preschool teachers, except special education||9.7||associate degree|
|Kindergarten teachers, except special education||7.7||bachelor’s degree|
|Secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education||7.1||bachelor’s degree|
|Special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary school||7.1||bachelor’s degree|
|Special education teachers, middle school||7.1||bachelor’s degree |
|Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers, secondary school||7||bachelor’s degree|
|Middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education||7||bachelor’s degree|
|Elementary school teachers, except special education||6.9||bachelor’s degree|
Teaching Credential Programs in California
A college degree and completion of a teacher-preparation program are required for employment as a teacher. Preparation programs vary depending on how much education or experience you already have.
Before choosing a program, you’ll need to decide what subject, student type, or grade level you would like to teach. This determines the requirements for your California teaching credential. See the Earning Your California Teaching Credential section on this page.
There are a variety of program paths toward a teaching credential to suit a range of teaching career interests and career and education goals, including:
Here are some factors to consider when choosing where to earn an education degree in California:
California Teaching Credential Programs Online
An online program can be a great choice if cost or your schedule is an issue. Online programs can allow you the flexibility to complete coursework when it fits your schedule. Additionally, online programs can be completed from anywhere, and can potentially offer a less expensive and faster timeline for earning your credential.
There is no entirely online teacher credentialing program in the state, as you will be required to complete your student teaching in a classroom. However, some programs may allow you to complete your coursework completely online, while others offer hybrid versions, blending online and classroom work.
Finding Teaching Credential Programs by City
How to Earn Your California Teaching Credential
All California teaching credentials are earned through a two-level process:
The CTC issues credentials in the following four categories:
The requirements to earn these credentials vary by type. Note that regardless of which credential you seek, you’ll have to be fingerprinted and cleared by the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
General Education Teaching Credentials
To teach general education, you’ll need to earn either a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential for elementary school or a Single Subject Teaching Credential (23 subjects available) to teach middle or high school. Though the requirements vary based on whether you want to teach all subjects, as you would in elementary school, or individual subjects, as you would in later grades, certain basic steps are required for any general education credential:
Additionally, if you wish to earn a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential to teach elementary school, you’ll also have to pass the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA).
If you have a bachelor’s degree and want to teach but haven’t earned your teaching credential, California offers an alternative pathway. With your degree and successful completion of your Basic Skills Requirement, subject-matter competence requirement, United States Constitution requirement, and character/identification clearance, you can complete an intern program. This would allow you to complete your teacher preparation coursework while working in a paid teaching position.
Special Education Teaching Credential
In order to teach special education in California, you’ll need to obtain an Education Specialist Instruction Credential, which allows you to teach in areas of specialization such as autism spectrum disorders, English learners, or certain disabilities. You will work in a variety of settings, from schools to correctional facilities, hospitals, or alternative instructional settings.
The steps for earning this credential are similar to those for general education, with some important differences. They are:
You can also complete an alternative pathway/intern program to earn this credential.
Designated Subjects Teaching Credentials and Other Teaching Credentials
If you want to teach outside of the standard general or special education settings, you will need to acquire one of the designated subjects or other teaching credentials.
Other teaching credentials include:
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