California Substitute Teacher Requirements

Dec 11, 2019

If you want the flexibility to set your own schedule but want to teach, becoming a substitute teacher is your best bet.The following article will look at the four types of substitute teacher permits in California and their requirements.

There are stages that can allow you to work as a substitute no matter your education level in California. Below, we'll look at some salary statistics, and education and testing requirements, to earn credentials as a substitute teacher.

Requirements for Substitute Teachers in California

Average Salary for Substitute Teachers in California* $39,450
Required Degree Bachelor's degree (or current enrollment in a bachelor's degree program)
Degree Field No specific requirement
Testing Requirements California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST)

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016)

Substitute Permits

There are four types of substitute teacher permits: the 30-day permit, the teaching permit for prospective teachers, the career permit, and the CTE 30-day permit. All four are valid for a year and are renewable. The teaching permit for prospective teachers is only issued to those still working on credentialing requirements, so it can only be renewed once.

For first-time permits, the most common permit to seek out is either the 30-day permit or the CTE 30-day permit, depending on your education level. The 30-day permit is a bit confusing because of its name. While it sounds like the permit would be valid for only 30 days, as we mentioned before, it is valid for a year. The reason it is called the 30-day permit is because substitute teachers cannot fill in for any one teacher for more than 30 days in a school year. The CTE 30-day permit is for those who want to teach one of the CTE, or trade, classes.

The emergency career substitute teaching permit allows you to teach for a teacher for no more than 60 days in a school year. The exception is special education teachers can only be substituted for 20 days a year. You can apply for this permit only after you have completed three years of substituting with a 30-day permit.

Education Requirements

In order to become a substitute teacher, you must have a bachelor's degree. This will allow you to get a 30-day permit or a career permit. You'll likely want to focus that program in education so that you have a breadth of knowledge on teaching various grades.

For the prospective teacher permit, you must have at least 90 credits of college courses completed before applying. You must also be enrolled in a 4-year program to complete your bachelor's degree.

For CTE 30-day permits, substitutes only need to have a high school diploma or GED. The important education for these classes is really learned through hands-on experience. Subs must have at least 3,000 working hours in the industry they wish to substitute.

Testing Requirements

All permits except the CTE 30-day require you to complete and pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). This test has three sections: reading, writing, and mathematics. The reading and math sections each have 50 multiple-choice questions, while the writing section asks you to complete two essays. You'll be given four hours to complete all three sections, and you must earn a minimum cumulative score of 123. Each section is scored individually, and you cannot score less than 37 on any subtest, or else you cannot pass no matter how high the cumulative grade.


The final task that must be completed before filling out the application for the substitute permit is to be fingerprinted. All prospective teachers must be fingerprinted and cleared by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. It takes approximately 3-7 days for clearance for California residents. This is also called a Live Scan for those applying with the Commission on Teaching Credentials. This Live Scan receipt must be included with your application and processing fee.

California Certification Sources for Substitute Teachers

When applying for one of the substitute teacher permits, you'll typically need to pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). Below find study guide links that can help you study and prepare for the exam.

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