Guide: What You Need To Know To Become A Teacher In California (2022)

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IN THIS ARTICLE

  • To earn a preliminary teaching credential a teacher must have...
  • Required tests and their alternatives
  • Basic skills requirement
  • Subject-matter competence
  • Reading Instruction Competence Assessment
  • Performance assessment
  • Special education credentials
  • Out-of-state teachers
  • Where to apply

Gov. Gavin Newsom and California legislators have poured billions of dollars of state money into special grants and programs to recruit, train and retain educators in order to ease the state’s persistent teacher shortage. Lawmakers also have made temporary and permanent changes to teacher credentialing requirements since the pandemic, including waiving fees, to make it easier to become a teacher in California.

Teacher candidates have many choices. They can take the traditional route — attend a teacher preparation program and complete student teaching — or they can take part in a teacher residency or internship program that allows them to complete required coursework while teaching.

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Teacher candidates can apply for residency programs through a university teacher preparation program that operates in partnership with one or more school districts. During their residency, teacher candidates are paired with experienced teachers for a year of clinical training. Residents are usually paid a stipend.

Prospective teachers also can enroll in a commission-approved district intern program or a university internship program. Both allow candidates who have bachelor’s degrees to teach while they complete their teacher preparation coursework. Most interns are the primary teacher in the classroom. These teachers hold intern credentials until they complete the requirements for a preliminary credential.

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The state also has a California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program, which offers financial assistance and academic guidance to school staff who want to complete an undergraduate degree and earn a teaching credential. The staff members must work in districts that have been awarded a grant for the program through the state.

Most California teachers hold one of three basic teaching credentials — multiple-subject, single-subject and education specialist. Multiple-subject credentials are for elementary school teachers, single-subject credentials are generally for middle and high school teachers who teach one subject, and an education specialist credential is for special education teachers.

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They must first earn a preliminary teaching credential and, after additional training and mentorship during their first two years of teaching, they can earn a clear credential.

To earn a preliminary teaching credential a teacher must have...

  • A bachelor’s degree.
  • Completed an accredited teacher preparation program.
  • Completed 600 hours of student teaching.
  • Been fingerprinted and passed a background check.
  • Taken required tests or completed university-approved coursework.
  • Completed a course or passed a test on the provisions and principles of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Earned a recommendation from their teacher preparation program.

A preliminary credential is good for five years.

Required tests and their alternatives

Teachers must prove they have the skills needed to educate students. Before the pandemic, tests were traditionally used to determine if a teacher candidate was ready for a teacher preparation program or the classroom, but new legislation gives them the option to use university-approved coursework instead in some cases. Teacher candidates can check with their teacher preparation program administrator to determine which courses to take or have their transcript evaluated by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Current flexibility: California has waived test fees through June 30, 2023.

Basic skills requirement

Teachers must prove they have the basic skills to teach. Generally, this is done before a teacher preparation program. Here are the options:

  • Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test.
  • Pass the California SET: Multiple Subjects plus Writing Skills Examination.
  • Pass the CSU Early Assessment Program or the CSU Placement examinations.
  • Earn a qualifying score on SAT, ACT test or College Board Advanced Placement Examinations.
  • Pass a basic skills test from another state.
  • Submit a transcript that shows a grade of B or better in one course in critical thinking, literature, philosophy, reading, rhetoric or textual analysis to show reading proficiency; a course in composition, English, rhetoric, written communication or writing to demonstrate writing proficiency; and a course in algebra, mathematics, quantitative reasoning or statistics to show math proficiency;
  • Complete a combination of courses and exams to meet the requirement.

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Current flexibility: The Commission on Teacher Credentialing has extended the pandemic waiver that allows teacher candidates to student teach without completing their basic skills requirement. The flexibility ends May 1, 2023. Teacher candidates must complete the requirement before being recommended for a preliminary credential.

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Subject-matter competence

Teacher candidates are required to demonstrate proficiency in the subject they will teach before they can earn a credential. This has traditionally been done by passing the appropriate tests in the California Subject Examinations for Teachers, or CSET, but teachers can now also take coursework or a combination of tests in the CSET and coursework to satisfy this requirement.

Teacher candidates also can complete a bachelor’s degree in the subject area of the credential they are seeking. A teacher preparation program will evaluate the major to see if it is acceptable, but the Commission on Teacher Credentialing will make the call for candidates who are applying to the commission directly for credentials, such as those seeking emergency-style permits.

Current flexibility: The test can be waived until the end of a teacher candidate’s preparation program if they applied for an intern credential to teach in a school by June 30, 2022.

Reading Instruction Competence Assessment

The RICA measures how well candidates for multiple-subject credentials and education specialists teach reading. The test is expected to be eliminated in 2025 when it will be incorporated into the Teacher Performance Assessment, which requires teachers to demonstrate their ability to teach.

Current flexibility: A teacher candidate enrolled in a teacher preparation program by June 30, 2022, isn’t required to take the RICA before earning a preliminary credential, but they must pass it before earning a clear credential.

Performance assessment

Once a teacher is in the classroom, they are required to complete a performance assessment that demonstrates how well they assess students, design instruction, organize subject matter and perform other skills. The three assessment models — the California Teaching Performance Assessment, edTPA and Fresno Assessment of Student Teachers — require that teachers make a video of themselves teaching at the school where they work.

Special education credentials

Special education candidates must complete all the basic requirements of other teachers, as well as instruction in one of four areas — mild to moderate support needs; extensive support needs; deaf and hard of hearing, visual impairments; and early childhood special education — to earn a credential in that specialty.

Out-of-state teachers

Teachers moving to California must submit to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing their college transcripts and a copy of their out-of-state teaching license, as well as proof they have been fingerprinted.

To avoid taking unnecessary tests and training, the commission recommends that applicants submit their score on out-of-state basic skills tests and proof of two years or more of teaching experience.

Where to apply

Most applications are submitted to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing online. It generally takes about 50 days for the commission to process applications, which are available on the commission’s website. Application fees vary depending on the document but generally are under $100 each.

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FAQs

What do you need to be a teacher in CA? ›

At minimum, you will need a bachelor's degree to teach most grade levels and school subjects in California, including elementary school. You can obtain a bachelor's degree in various subjects, but must also complete a master's degree program or a teaching credential program to fulfill the state's requirements.

How long does it take to become a teacher in CA? ›

In most cases, it takes four years to earn your bachelor's degree and an additional fifth year to earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential.

What tests do you need to take to become a teacher in California? ›

Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). Pass the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET). Pass the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP) or the CSU Placement Examinations. Achieve a qualifying score on the SAT or ACT.

What to study before becoming a teacher? ›

Answer: The courses required will vary depending on the program and subject to be taught, but most teacher preparation programs include courses in child development, child psychology, and curriculum design and instruction, as well as the subject for which the prospective teacher plans to seek endorsement.

What type of teacher is most in demand? ›

Types of teachers in highest demand by 2030.
  • English as a Second Language (ESL). ESL educators are some of the most in demand teachers. ...
  • Math Teaching. Another teacher subject in demand is mathematics. ...
  • Science Teaching. What about science teachers? ...
  • Social Studies Teaching. ...
  • Special Education Teaching.
18 Dec 2020

Is it hard to be a teacher in California? ›

Your first step in becoming a teacher in California is to determine whether the role is a good fit for your personal and professional goals. Teaching is a challenging job that requires patience and commitment. Though highly rewarding, it is not for everyone.

How much do teachers get paid in California? ›

How much does a Public School Teacher make in California? The average Public School Teacher salary in California is $61,932 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $51,724 and $75,513.

Is there a teacher shortage in California? ›

Districts throughout the state have struggled to fill teacher vacancies. The teacher shortage has struck most districts in California, but an EdSource survey shows that the impacts are nuanced, uneven — and sometimes inequitable.

How much does it cost to become a teacher in California? ›

Paying for Your Teaching Degree
CaliforniaNational
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$29,173$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$33,483$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$1,268$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$7,504$7,971
1 more row
14 Oct 2020

How much do elementary teachers get paid in California? ›

How much does a Teacher Elementary School make in California? The average Teacher Elementary School salary in California is $68,913 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $56,551 and $83,229.

How much do California high school teachers make? ›

How much does a High School Teacher make in California? The average High School Teacher salary in California is $69,600 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $56,400 and $86,600.

Are teachers well paid in California? ›

The average California teacher salary was $82,746 for the 2019-2020 school year. This is over $20,000 higher than the national average.
...
3. Location of your School.
DistrictSan Francisco Unified
Teachers3,660
Average salary$75,872
Median home price*$1.3 million
9 more columns
20 Aug 2020

Which degree is best for teacher? ›

While a bachelor's degree in education is the minimum level of education you'll need to become a teacher, you have many options as to what and where you'll teach. You can specialize in special education, secondary education, middle-level education, or early childhood education.

How do I know if teaching is right for me? ›

Signs You Should Become a Teacher
  • You care about our future. ...
  • You want to make a difference. ...
  • You're a great organizer. ...
  • You are good at giving directions and getting others to follow. ...
  • You are patient. ...
  • You have a good sense of humor. ...
  • You're optimistic. ...
  • You're a good storyteller.
10 Jun 2021

What month do most new teachers get hired? ›

April/May:

This is one of the best times to apply for teaching jobs, as many openings are posted during the spring. Job fairs are often held during this time, which are a great opportunity to network and learn more about schools you might like to teach at.

Why are teachers quitting? ›

The tension and responsibility that educators like Gillum faced during the pandemic — combined with long-standing issues plaguing the profession, plus the coarsening of debates about classroom control, teacher pay and respect — have caused many to make the tough choice to leave the classroom.

What subject teacher gets paid the most? ›

If you're a chemistry buff, you're in luck — chemistry is one of the highest-paid subjects to teach in high schools. Chemistry teachers typically major in chemistry or a related field during their undergraduate education.

How much do teachers make an hour? ›

The average hourly wage for a Public School Teacher in the United States is $27 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $22 and $33.

Which state has the largest teacher shortage? ›

Mississippi saw the highest teacher-to-student vacancy rate in the 2021-22 school year. The state reported having nearly 69 missing teachers per 10,000 students. In comparison, Utah had less than one missing teacher per 10,000 students.

Why does California have a teacher shortage? ›

Experts say low pay, increasing cost of living, retirement and the pandemic are all reasons for the shortage of teachers across the country. As a result, some districts have had to hire underprepared or under-qualified teachers to fill the need.

Do California teachers get paid during summer? ›

No, technically, teachers do not get paid in the summer if they are not actively teaching. However, most teachers have the option to spread their pay for ten months of work over an entire 12 month period.

How much do beginning teachers make in California? ›

How much does an Entry Level Teacher make in California? The average Entry Level Teacher salary in California is $46,739 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $39,035 and $56,988.

What school district pays the most in California? ›

Looking at the five largest districts in the region, Modesto tops the list with an average salary of $93,071.

Where do teachers make the most money? ›

Highest-Paid Teachers By State
RankStateAverage Teacher Salary
1Maryland$61,254
2Hawaii$59,222
3New York$57,919
4California$57,193
46 more rows
2 Aug 2022

How long is the Cal State Teach program? ›

Term 1 is two days per week, Term 2 is Initial Student Teaching, 5 half days per week, and term 3 is full time for a minimum of 10 weeks with four weeks of solo teaching.

Is California best for education? ›

Academic Opportunities

Many of the country's top colleges are in California. The UC System features some of the best public colleges in the United States, such as Berkeley and UCLA.

What teachers are most in demand in California? ›

Science, math, bilingual and special education teachers were in particularly high demand and the study projected that statewide, districts would need to hire about 300,000 teachers a year starting in 2018.

What teachers are in demand in California? ›

Despite an overall need for teachers, the greatest demand still was for teachers credentialed to teach in the hard-to-staff areas of mathematics, science and special education, according to the report.

Is California a good state to be a teacher? ›

In our study, the lower the score, the better the state is for teachers.
...
Overall ranking of best and worst states for teachers in 2022.
StateCalifornia
Overall score6.98
Overall cost of living rank48
Student/teacher ratio rank49
Average annual wage rank2
49 more columns
31 May 2022

Can I teach in California without a credential? ›

Can I Teach in California Without a Credential? While it's not possible to teach in a California public school without a credential, you could still work in the following positions: Private school teacher: According to California state regulations, teacher certification is optional for private schools.

How much do teachers get paid in California? ›

How much does a Public School Teacher make in California? The average Public School Teacher salary in California is $61,932 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $51,724 and $75,513.

How much does it cost to become a teacher in California? ›

Paying for Your Teaching Degree
CaliforniaNational
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$29,173$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$33,483$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$1,268$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$7,504$7,971
1 more row
14 Oct 2020

How much do California high school teachers make? ›

How much does a High School Teacher make in California? The average High School Teacher salary in California is $69,600 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $56,400 and $86,600.

Is the CBEST still required in California? ›

Individuals only need to pass The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) once; CBEST passing scores remain valid indefinitely for all credential and employment purposes.
...
Table 1.
CSU Placement TestsMathEnglish
English Placement Test (EPT)N/A151
2 more rows

How difficult is the Rica exam? ›

The RICA is difficult and will demand some serious study time. You should plan on spending an hour or two every day for about eight weeks to fully prepare. Taking a diagnostic test before you begin will help you know how much time you should spend studying.

Do California teachers get paid during summer? ›

No, technically, teachers do not get paid in the summer if they are not actively teaching. However, most teachers have the option to spread their pay for ten months of work over an entire 12 month period.

How much do beginning teachers make in California? ›

How much does an Entry Level Teacher make in California? The average Entry Level Teacher salary in California is $46,739 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $39,035 and $56,988.

What teachers get paid the most? ›

Some move into more specialized teaching roles; some of the best-paid teaching jobs include special education and gifted education.
...
  1. Superintendent. ...
  2. School Principal/Assistant Principal. ...
  3. University/College Administrator. ...
  4. Professor. ...
  5. Instructional Coordinator. ...
  6. High School Teachers.

Do California teachers make good money? ›

The average California teacher salary was $82,746 for the 2019-2020 school year. This is over $20,000 higher than the national average.
...
3. Location of your School.
DistrictSan Francisco Unified
Teachers3,660
Average salary$75,872
Median home price*$1.3 million
9 more columns
20 Aug 2020

Are student teachers paid in California? ›

California requires 600 hours of student teaching, nearly double the requirement of other states. Student teachers are not paid and student teaching typically lasts for an entire academic year. Thus, most teacher candidates cannot work and student teach at the same time (or it is very difficult to do so).

What are the pros and cons of being a teacher? ›

The Pros and Cons of Teaching
Pros of TeachingCons of Teaching
Summer vacations and holidaysSalary
Connecting with other teachers and staffLack of support from administration
Always learning and continuing to growContinuous professional development requirements
1 more row
12 Jun 2022

What age do most teachers retire? ›

This means that someone who enters teaching before age 25 with a bachelor's and accumulates 30 or more years of service can usually retire sometime between age 55 and 60. In most states teachers are eligible for retirement without penalty once they turn 60 even with less than 30 years of service.

What school district pays the most in California? ›

Looking at the five largest districts in the region, Modesto tops the list with an average salary of $93,071.

Which states pay teachers the most? ›

Pennsylvania, California and New York have the highest average teacher salaries in the country, compared to all other occupations.

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