How to Become a Music Teacher in California

Jan 02, 2019

According to the United States Census Bureau, California had 38.8 million residents in 2014, making it the most populated state. The California Department of Education reported 6,056,381 students were enrolled for the 2016-2017 school year. Music teachers provide a valuable, creative learning outlet for K-12 students in this state, and you can find out about the education and certification requirements to get started in your career.

California Music Teacher Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in California (2016)* $74,270 (Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education); $70,100 (Middle School Teachers, Except Special & Career/Technical Education); $74,940 (Secondary School Teachers, Except Special & Career/Technical Education)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Music education
Testing Requirements CBEST and CSET Music

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Step 1: Complete Education Requirements

Students who wish to teach music in the California school system generally complete a bachelor's degree in music or music education from an accredited college or university that includes a teacher preparation program. This degree prepares students to teach music from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Students will take courses to prepare them for general music, choral, and instrumental instruction. They can gain relevant work experience by volunteering with area arts organizations or school districts. As part of their undergraduate degree, individuals will complete a student teaching assignment that usually lasts one school semester.

Step 2: Fulfill Certification Requirements

Once students complete the educational requirements, they will need to become certified to teach in the state of California. Individuals will need to pass several certification exams that test their proficiency to become a teacher:

  • California Basic Assessment Educational Skills Test (CBEST): Teachers must fulfill a basic skills requirement, which is often done through passing the CBEST. This exam consists of three sections: mathematics, reading, and writing. Individuals can take one section at a time or all at once. They will need to earn a scaled score of 41 for each section, culminating with a combined passing score of 123. However, a score of 37 can be earned on one or two of the sections, just so long as the individual's total combined score is 123.
  • CSET Single Subject Teaching Credential: Music teachers will need to complete the music examination. Students will need to take three sections, which can be taken individually or simultaneously. A passing score of 220 must be achieved on each section. The preliminary credential is valid for up to five years. Individuals can then apply for the clear credential, which has several qualifying options. Instead of taking the examinations, teachers may also qualify for this credential if they complete an approved music education training program.

Individuals must also obtain a fingerprint clearance from the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Certification Resources for California Music Teachers

The course highlighted below may help students prepare for certification.

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