How to Become a Middle or High School Teacher in California

Middle and high school teachers in California have many subject areas of focus from which to choose. We discuss the salary and education for these professionals, as well as the educational process and testing required for these positions.

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public schools in California can expect continued growth through 2023. This means that additional teachers will be needed, including those at the middle and high school levels. Learn about the steps toward becoming an educator in this state.

Requirements for California Middle and High School Teachers

Average Salary for Teachers in California (2016)* $ 70,100 (Middle School); $74,940 (High School)
Required Degree Bachelor's Degree
Degree Field Secondary Education with a focus on a specific subject area
Testing Requirements CBEST and CSET single subject exam

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
  • Teaching, Adults
  • Teaching, Elementary
  • Teaching, High School
  • Teaching, Junior High
  • Teaching, Kindergarten and Preschool
  • Teaching, Waldorf and Steiner Education
  • Teaching, Young Children

Step 1: Earn the Appropriate Degree and Level One Credential

According to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the first step to becoming a teacher in California is to earn a level one credential for teaching a single subject through an approved teacher preparation program. English, geosciences, social sciences, and art are just some of the subjects middle school and high school teachers may choose to study. Additionally, courses in teaching in urban schools, cultural diversity, psychological foundations of education, and presentation tools are examples of training these individuals receive during their teacher preparation programs. There will also be courses relating the individual's chosen subject area with teaching, such as teaching reading for those who wish to teach English. Some universities require a GPA of 3.0 to pass these education classes.

Step 2: Receive Passing Grades on Exams

Teacher applicants are required to pass several exams before earning certification. Future teachers must fulfill the basic skills requirement, and the California Basic Educational Skills Test is one way that may be accomplished. The CBEST includes portions for reading, writing, and math. To pass, future educators must earn 41 on each of these, or at least a 123 total for all three scores. Secondly, they must pass the California Subject Examination for Teachers focusing on the single subject of interest with a score of at least 220.

Helpful Links for California Teacher Certification

The following link is meant to guide those about to take the California Basic Skills Test through a practice exam.

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