How to Become a High School Science Teacher in California

May 23, 2018

If you're interested in science and teaching the STEM subject, consider the following article. Below, we look at what it takes to become a science teacher in the state of California.

According to a recent assessment of California's education system, there is an overall teacher shortage in the state, with the need for math and science teachers particularly crucial. If you want to learn how to become a science teacher in California, follow the steps below.

Requirements for High School Science Teachers in California

Average Salary for Secondary School Teachers in California (2017)* $77,390
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Required Field Education or Science
Testing Requirements California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST), California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) in Science

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Education Requirements

No matter the school level you wish to teach, you'll have to complete the same education requirements. While a degree program in education is always good, for a science teacher to really work well with students, they should be specifically trained in teaching science. For this reason, many California colleges make sure that their science programs have a teaching credentials focus. This typically means that the education is broken down into two areas: content and teaching methods. Often, future teachers will find that they will concentrate in a specific science subject, such as physics or biology. These programs typically include foundational courses in all science class, and then area-specific courses such as organic chemistry, biological chemistry, or instrumental analysis. Prospective teachers will then take courses in teaching methods and principles, such as educational psychology and curriculum planning. Typically, there will also be a practicum in the classroom under the role of a mentor. To round out a liberal education, the Commission of Teaching Credentialing (CTC) expects applying teachers to have taken courses in the U.S. Constitution, computer science, reading, and health. Teachers must also be trained in CPR.

Step 2: Pass Required Exams

For teachers to earn preliminary 5-year credentialing, they must satisfy the exam requirements for science teachers. There are two exams that must be taken. The first is the CBEST, or the California Basic Educational Skills Test. The second is the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CEST).

The CBEST is an exam made up of three subtests. Each test checks for the basic knowledge needed to teach: reading, writing, and math. These tests can be completed on the computer or on paper. Paper tests tend to have fewer dates available than the computer-based counterpart. Test takers must earn a total score of 123 in order to pass. However, each section should not grade lower than 37, otherwise it is considered a failing grade, no matter the cumulative score.

The CSET exam you'll want to take as a future high school science teacher is the Science CSET exam. This exam is made up of two subtests. The first subtest is generically science-based, asking 100 multiple-choice questions and four constructed-response questions about all science topics. The second subtest has 50 multiple-choice questions and three constructed-response questions. Here, you'll choose the science subject you'd like to teach: life sciences, chemistry, Earth and space sciences, or physics. The costs for these tests is $133 for subtest I and $134 for subtest II. You must earn a score of 220 on each of the subtests to pass.

California High School Science Teacher Certification Resources

Becoming a teacher can be a tough road, but with the following resources, you'll have the help you need to make it smooth road. These links take you to CBEST and CSET practice guides and test preparation tools.

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