Become a Teacher in California


California Department of Education

1430 N Street, Suite 630 SACRAMENTO, CA 95814

(916) 322-4974

California highlights

    Become a teacher in California

        California Teacher Shortage areas

            Earn Your California Teaching Credential

            Important Note: Education licensure requirements and salary statistics (for teachers and administrators) are subject to change. makes its best effort to keep content accurate; however, the official sources are the state education departments. Please confirm licensing requirements with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 1/06/2015

            Getting a teaching credential in California will require you to fulfill the designated undergraduate coursework, teacher preparation program and standardized testing.  Teaching at the elementary level requires a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential; teaching at the secondary level requires a Single Subject Teaching Credential; and teaching special education students requires an Education Specialist Instruction Credential. Novice teachers begin with a Preliminary Credential, with which they are allowed to teach for up to five years. At the end of that period, they must meet the criteria for a Clear Credential. The requirements for the Clear Credential can be satisfied in one of three ways: through a General Education Induction Program; by completing a General Education Clear credential program at a California college or university; or via certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. Learn more here about getting your California teaching credential. Learn more about getting your teaching credential. Return to the top

            Prerequisite Coursework in California

            All states require that prospective teachers have at least a Bachelor’s Degree  and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program to receive certification.  Some states also have specific course and credit-hour requirements. Teacher education programs generally consist of two elements—curricula and fieldwork. Curricula generally includes instruction on teaching fundamental skills, pedagogy (the science of teaching) and preparing students to research, design and implement learning experiences in their field of study. Fieldwork often includes field observations, internships, student teaching or a combination of all three. Check with your teacher preparation program or the Department of Education for more information about specific requirements California does not list specific course or credit hour requirements, but every college or university teacher preparation program will have requirements of its own. However, all teachers must take a class on the U.S. Constitution, as well a Developing English Language Skills course. Contact your teacher preparation program or the Department of Education for more information. Return to the top

            Required Tests for California

            In order to become a certified teacher, you must complete the Basic Skills Test requirement and any Subject Area Competence tests needed for your desired area of instruction. The Basic Skills Test requirement can be fulfilled by taking the CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test), the CSET Multiple Subject Plus Writing Skills Examination or the CSU Early Assessment Program. The Subject Area Competence requirement can be fulfilled by the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers). You can learn more about these California certification exams by visiting the CSET, CBEST, and RICA information pages provided by Teachers Test Prep, where you can also access free online practice tests and study guides for each exam, plus a variety of paid test prep options for those who need additional help, including live prep classes, one-on-one tutoring, and on-demand online prep. Return to the top

            California Teacher Certification

            Teacher preparation typically involves the completion of an accredited teacher education program. Teacher education programs consist of a combination of curricula and fieldwork. The curricula includes foundational knowledge and skills, contemporary pedagogy and lesson plan implementation. The fieldwork component can include field observations, student teaching and an internship. A list of accredited teacher preparation programs in California can be found here. Return to the top

            Alternative Teacher Certification in California

            Aspiring teachers with a Bachelor’s degree that was not in education who have not yet earned a traditional teaching certificate can still receive an alternative teaching certificate by satisfying certain requirements (Note: California does not offer undergraduate majors in Education).  Here’s a list and description of some alternate routes to certification in California:
            • College or university internship programs
            • School district internship
            • Get credit for private school teaching experience
            • Get credit for Peace Corps Teaching Experience
            More information about traditional and alternative California teacher certification routes can be found here. Mountain Pacific Region Troops to Teachers program Return to the top

            Certification Reciprocity in California

            California participates in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification’s Interstate Agreement, meaning that California accepts teaching credentials from other states --- but it may not accept teaching credentials from all states. Be sure to contact the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to inquire about your situation further. You can also learn more on the reciprocity page Return to the top

            Benefits of a Master’s in Education in California

            A Master’s in Education gives teachers more field experience and pedagogical knowledge, which leads to increased competence in the classroom. This Los Angeles salary schedule  offers flat $584 salary increase for teacher’s with a Master’s degree, in addition to a slight increase for each semester unit of courses taken. Teacher’s with a Master’s that serve the district for a long time can earn up to $78,182 a year. Learn more about the Benefits of a Master's in Education. Return to the top

            Master’s in Education Financial Aid

            California residents are eligible for the Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship as well as the TEACH Grant, a grant which gives financial aid to students in return for an agreement to teach in a high-need school. Learn more about how to finance your Master's degree. Return to the top

            California Teacher Salary and Incentives

            California is one of the highest paying states for teachers with elementary school teachers making an average of $63,010 per year and secondary school teachers making $64,860 per year. Teacher salaries vary by the area of California. This salary schedule from Los Angeles rewards teachers with a slight increase in salary for each semester unit of undergraduate coursework taken, as well as for years of experience. In addition to receiving increased pay in higher need school districts, teachers in California are eligible for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Incentive Award, which grants $20,000 to the awardee so long as they teach at least half-time in a high need school area. Additionally, teachers are eligible for the Good Neighbor Next Door program, which provides a significant discount on housing in certain areas. Learn more about teacher salaries. Return to the top

            California Teacher Benefits and Retirement

            The California State Teachers Retirement System provides information on health care,  dental , disability support, earnings credit and retirement benefits, as well as retirement plan progress reports to teachers in California. For more information, visit the defined benefit page. Learn more about benefits for teachers. Return to the top

            Professional Development for California Teachers

            California’s Department of Education has a number of professional development initiatives designed to improve the quality of teaching and keep it dynamic. Development opportunities include staff mentoring, peer assistance review (PAR) programs, and state wide workshops. Resources include seminars on iTunes U. The California Department of Education and Commission on Teacher Credentialing also co-sponsor the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) Program. The program aids in the development of newly-credentialed teachers helps teachers fulfill the requirements for the California Clear Multiple and Single Subjects Credentials. The California Department of Education also offers information on internship programs for prospective teachers. Return to the top

            California Teaching Jobs

            The California Department of Education runs a  teaching job site with certification information, career analysis, and a teacher shortage page. On this site, the Department of Education articulates its specific needs from teachers and gives general information about teaching in California. California is committed to boosting the education system and expanding the market for California teacher jobs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Learn more about finding a teaching job. Return to the top

            California Teacher Certification Information & Links

            California Commission on Teacher Credentialing List of Financial Aid and Teaching Incentives