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How to Become a Preschool or Kindergarten Teacher in California

If you are seeking an opportunity to work closely with preschool or kindergarten-age children in the state of California, you can learn more about the salaries of these teachers, as well as their education programs and testing requirements.

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The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing requires prospective preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers to earn a California Teaching Credential (CTC) in the form of a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and/or a Child Development Permit. The two-tier credential program includes a Preliminary Credential and a Clear Credential.

Preschool or Kindergarten Teacher Requirements for California

Average Salary for Teachers in California (2016)* $35,740 (Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education);
$63,590 (Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education)
Required Degree Bachelor's Degree
Degree Field Early Childhood Education
Testing Requirements CBEST; RICA; CSET: Multiple Subjects

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete an Early Childhood Education Program

As preschool and kindergarten teachers in California teach many subjects, those seeking a teaching career there should begin by earning a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, which includes courses on teaching multiple subjects. An early childhood development education may include classes such as: child development and learning, family and community engagement, and guiding early learning. Importantly, those seeking their Preliminary Credential have to also complete a class on using technology in a classroom, as well as a course or exam regarding the U.S. Constitution.

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 2: Pass Certification Exams for Elementary Teachers

There are a series of exams a preschool or kindergarten teacher in California may gave to complete. These include:

  • The California Basic Education Skills Test (or CBEST), which costs $102, includes 100 multiple-choice questions and two essays. With reading, math, and writing sections, applicants have to pass with a total score of 123.
  • The Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) has both a written and video performance option. The written option, which costs $171, consists of 70 multiple-choice questions, four instructional tasks, and a case study; the written RICA requires a 220 to pass. The video option offers applicants a chance to film themselves as they teach a reading lesson, and this can cost $191. A 220 is also required to pass the video assessment.
  • The California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET): Multiple Subjects is required for those who did not complete an early childhood education program. Teachers in this situation who also pass the CSET: Writing Skills exam do not need to take the RICA. This exam has three subtests that each cost $99; when taken as a package, the price is $247. Each subtest must be passed with a score of 220. The subtests include multiple-choice and constructed-response questions and cover several subjects, such as reading, science, math, physical education, and human development.

Step 3: Obtain Fingerprint Clearance

During the application process, future teachers undergo a fingerprint clearance by the California Department of Justice and the FBI. There is an associated fee of $49.

Step 4: Apply for a Child Development Permit (Preschool Teachers Only)

After completing six to 12 credit hours in early childhood development, those who wish to teach preschoolers should gain the required 50 to 175 days of teaching in a childcare program. This allows future preschool teachers to apply for their Child Development Permit.

Step 5: Upgrade to a Clear Credential

California's Preliminary Credential is only valid for five years. After that, a teacher has to take part in a general education induction program, full of mentoring advice and reviews of the district's policies. Alternatively, a teacher can become certified to teach by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Because passing the CBEST and CSET exams can be a daunting task, here are a few links that may help by providing an opportunity to practice and study up before taking the real deal.

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