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Becoming a Teacher in California: Information and Requirements

Teachers in California require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about training programs and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Teacher training in California involves completing a bachelor's degree and state-approved teacher program. All teachers must be state certified.

Essential Information

Two different groups of individuals might be interested in the requirements for becoming a teacher in California. Both brand-new teachers and teachers who have already been credentialed in other states will need to follow credentialing guidelines to become certified to teach in California. The requirements include a bachelor's degree, training and state teacher licensure or certification.

Required Education Complete a bachelor's degree program and a state-approved teacher training program
Licensure and Certification State teacher credential is required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for kindergarten, elementary school, middle and high school teachers
Mean Annual Salary (May 2015)* $72,360 for elementary school teachers in CA; $69,020 for middle school teachers in CA; $74,770 for high school teachers in CA

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Teacher training in California falls into four distinct categories. They are: elementary teachers (multiple subject teachers), secondary teachers (single subject teachers), special education teachers and vocational teachers.

Salary Information

According to the California Department of Education, the midrange teacher salary in California for elementary school teachers was $68,910, while the midrange teacher salary for high school teachers was $72,281 during the 2014-2015 academic year. Because of the method of data collection, this number may not reflect all increases paid for continuing education.

Education Requirements

Elementary, secondary and special education teachers are required to have a bachelor's degree and have completed a state-approved teacher training curriculum of the appropriate type. Vocational and career teachers must have at least a high school diploma and five years of experience in the field.

Certification Requirements

All teachers who teach in public elementary and secondary schools in California must be certified by the state. Certifications for single-subject, multiple-subject and special education are divided into Preliminary and Clear certification. After Preliminary credentialing, the teacher is allowed five years to complete the requirements for Clear credentialing. The requirements for this credential include both university classes and experience-related activities. Requirements may be met by equivalent experience outside the state.

Exam Information

State licensing for teaching may require licensing tests. In California, these tests are required for all elementary and secondary teachers, as well as for special education teachers. These tests include the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET), the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP) and the CSU Placement Examinations.

Teachers in California can opt to be certified to teach a single subject, multiple subjects, or special education. The certification is a two-step process. After preliminary credentialing teachers are allowed up to five years to complete Clear credentialing, which involves completing classes and practical experience.


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