Science Teacher Requirements in California

Science teachers provide students with knowledge in areas like evolution, biology, chemistry, or physics. California science teachers will need to obtain an undergraduate degree and their state certifications.

The National Science Foundation reported that students in the United States fall behind in science literacy when compared to students in other countries. In 2017, California announced it expects to need 33,000 new teachers in science and math over the coming decade. We'll explore the education, testing, and additional requirements you'll need to secure a position teaching science in California.

California Science 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 Education, with a specialization in science
Testing Requirements CBEST and CSET: Science

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

Step 1: Fulfill Educational Requirements

For those interested in teaching science, you will first need to obtain a bachelor's degree, including an approved teacher preparation program, from an approved college or university. You can pursue a bachelor's degree in natural science, which focuses on the connection between fields like geoscience and chemistry. A degree like this provides students with training in several scientific fields; however, you will need to choose a specific area of focus from geoscience, chemistry, physics, or biology.

All teaching candidates must complete a student teaching assignment during their undergraduate degree training program. The duration of student teaching assignments varies by educational institution.

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Step 2: Complete State Certifications

After receiving your bachelor's degree, you will need to successfully pass the certification exams to teach in the state of California. This includes a general examinations and a subject-specific examination for science.

California requires that all teaching candidates fulfill a basic skills requirement. This is often done through passing the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). This assessment will test your proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics. You will have the option to take one section at a time or simultaneously. You must earn a score of 41 on each section, which equals a combined passing score of 123.

Science teachers must pass the CSET Single Subject Teaching Credential: Science. This assessment is comprised of two sections. The first section will test your general science knowledge, with 100 multiple-choice questions and four constructed-response questions. For the second section, you will choose your area of focus from the following four areas: life sciences, earth and space science, physics, and chemistry. This section consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and three constructed-response questions. You will need a passing score of 220 on each section to receive this credential. Once received, you will be certified to teach general/integrated science, as well as your area of focus, in the California school system.

The final step in the certification process is to undergo a fingerprint check through the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

California Teaching Credentials

Once teachers obtain their state certifications, they will receive a preliminary teaching credential. This credential is valid for up to five years. Teachers will then need to obtain the clear credential, which has several options for qualification. It should be noted that teachers may be eligible for this credential if they completed an accredited training program.

Certification Resources for California Science Teachers

Science teachers may find these study aids on the CBEST and CEST: Science examinations helpful.


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