How to Become a High School English Teacher in California

Whether you're from California or planning to move there, you can learn more about the educational requirements for high school English teachers, steps to earning teaching credentials, and all necessary exams.

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California offers the chance to work with high school students from various cultural backgrounds. As a high school English teacher, you could reinforce existing knowledge or introduce students to new realms of literature.

California Teacher Certification Requirements

Average Salary for High School Teachers in California (2016)* $74,940 (Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education)
Required Degree Bachelor's Degree
Degree Field Education with a focus on English
Testing Requirements CBEST; CSET: English;

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn an Appropriate Degree

Many future high school English teachers in California complete an approved teacher preparatory bachelor's program. Some choose to gain a bachelor's degree in English and then earn a master's in education. English courses may include British and American literature, Shakespeare, slave narratives, and even writing poetry. Methods courses might emphasize teaching in urban settings, presentation tools, cultural diversity, teaching reading, and language/culture. Some universities require at least a C grade for passing courses in a major. Prospective teachers must complete a student teaching placement to gain valuable classroom experience.

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Step 2: Fulfill Certification Requirements

California requires all educators to pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). There are three sections to this exam, including:

  • Reading, which is a 50-question, multiple choice exam
  • Math, which also consists of 50 multiple-choice questions
  • Writing, which includes two essays

Test takers are given four hours to complete one, two, or even all three sections. Those seeking their teaching credentials must pass this exam with an overall score of 123.

To prove their knowledge, future high school English teachers also take the CSET: English exam. This test has four subtests built in, and each can take anywhere from one to two hours to complete. They include two subtests that are 50 multiple-choice questions, one subtest made up of 2 constructed-response questions, and a final subtest that consists of four constructed-response questions. They require a 220 per subtest to pass.

Completing the above steps will provide California teachers with a Preliminary Credential, which is valid for five years. To obtain a Clear Credential, these now experienced educators should complete a teacher induction program or become certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. As a type of ongoing professional development, induction programs ensure a new teacher understands the standards for English learning within their district by providing them with a mentor.

Links for Future California English Teachers

The links provided here may help those about to sit for their CBEST and/or CSET English exams.

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