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 include 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.
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 California teachers must take a class on the U.S. Constitution, as well as a Developing English Language Skills course the program they complete must also cover use of computers in a school setting and health education. Contact your teacher preparation program or the Commission on Teacher Credentialing for more information.
California Teacher Certification Programs
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 include 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 through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing’s Approved Program dashboard.
Required Tests for California
In order to become a certified teacher in California, you must complete a basic skills requirement and any subject area competence tests needed for your desired area of instruction. The basic skills 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 competency 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 and CBEST 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.
You can learn more about the Praxis exams by visiting Teach.coms’ Ultimate Guide to the Praxis Exams and read more about teacher certification tests on Teach.com.
Initial Teaching Certifications
Getting a teaching credential in California will require you to fulfill the designated undergraduate coursework, a 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 two ways:
- General Education Induction Program
- Certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.
Learn more about getting your California teaching credential through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing or on Teach’s credential page.
You may also reach out to the California Department of Education for more detailed questions.