- California Alternative Teacher Certification
Teaching Schools in CA
Teaching Reciprocity Guide
For anyone interested in learning how to become a teacher in California, there are several requirements that must be met for each different pathway to certification. Requirements for teachers in the state are set by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), which provides both traditional and alternative paths to becoming a certified teacher in the state. Below we outline the traditional pathway to teaching in California. To learn more about the alternative pathways, visit our guide to alternative teacher certification in California.
How to Become a Teacher in California
There are several ways to become a teacher in California, but all public school teachers are required to hold a bachelor’s degree. Those who do not already hold a bachelor’s degree may complete a “blended” program that permits applicants to pursue an undergraduate degree and teaching credential simultaneously. There are also several alternative routes to teacher certification in California for those who do have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a formal teacher preparation program.
Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in California
Projected Job Growth
Growth in Teaching Jobs in CA through 20262
Perhaps the most important step towards obtaining California teacher certification is completing a teacher preparation program on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing’s approved programs list. You can compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs in California by using the sortable table on our California schools page.
Bachelor’s degree programs at institutions that have been accredited by one of the regional accreditation agencies are generally acceptable as a starting point for earning teacher certification in California. Accreditation is overseen by the US Department of Education but works on a regional scale. California colleges and universities are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The WASC is composed of three accreditation commissions that evaluate senior colleges and universities, community and junior colleges, and various interdisciplinary schools systems within the state. However, even if the institution a certification candidate attended holds regional accreditation, the teacher certification program completed must be on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing’s approved programs list to be eligible for certification.
California teacher certification requires that individuals complete a program approved by the Commission and accredited by the WASC, but there is another organization that denotes a highly distinguished standard in the field of teacher preparedness, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation or CAEP. Although accreditation by CAEP is not required for a teacher preparation program in California, most quality schools apply for this accreditation as it is a marker of the program’s ability to meet CAEP’s rigorous standards.
- I want to be a teacher in California, but don’t have a degree: Earn an Education Degree
- I want to be a teacher and have a degree, but not in education: Learn about California’s Alternative Certification Process and Programs
- I have a teaching degree and am interested in more education: Learn about Master’s Degree Education Programs or Doctorate Education Programs and Information
- I want to explore substitute teaching: Learn about Substitute Teacher Opportunities
- I am already certified and want to teach in another state: Learn about Teacher Certification Reciprocity
California Teacher Education Requirements
In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree, applicants hoping to become certified teachers in California must decide which grade level they would like to teach and whether they want to work in general or special education. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing has different pathways and guidelines for elementary, secondary, and special education:
Applicants who want to teach in elementary school must apply for a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. This includes earning a bachelor’s degree as well as completing a teacher certification program in multiple subjects.
Applicants who want to teach in middle school or high school must apply for a Single Subject Teaching Credential. Secondary teachers must earn a bachelor’s degree, complete a teacher preparation program, and prove competency in at least one teachable subject area.
Special Education Teachers
Applicants who want to teach special education students must apply for a Education Specialist Instruction Credential. In addition to a bachelor’s degree special education teachers must complete a teacher preparation program that focuses on special education.
The traditional route to receiving teaching certification in California is to complete a state-approved teacher education program from a regionally accredited university and follow through on these specific credentials. Prospective educators must also complete a two-semester hour course in the US Constitution as part of their teacher education program.
California Teacher Testing Requirements
California uses its own system of examinations for certifying teachers in the state. All applicants for a preliminary California teaching certification must meet basic skills testing requirements. This may be done through completion of the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) including the basic writing test.
All of these exams test basic skills in reading, math, and writing. Specific subject matter competence is tested through the content tests of the CSET. California previously used the Praxis series of exams, but will no longer accept Praxis II scores as a basis for initial educator credentialing. For more information on testing, see the CTC’s page on testing requirements and options.
Additional California Teacher Certification Requirements
California law states that every teacher in the public school system must complete a 41-LS (Live Scan) fingerprinting application. The 41-LS form can be downloaded and printed from the CTC’s website. Applicants must also use the Live Scan to apply for and obtain a certificate of clearance, which shows potential employers that the applicant does not have a criminal background. For more information on the process, see the CTC’s page on fingerprinting.
California Teachers Licensing Application Process
Once all the requirements have been met, applicants for teacher certification must send all appropriate documents to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The required documents include:
- Transcripts from all schools attended
- Verified completion of an approved teacher preparation program
- Passing scores on all required examinations
- Live Scan fingerprints and certificate of clearance
- A completed application for teacher credentialing
The required documents must be sent to:
California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
1900 Capitol Ave
Sacramento, CA 95811-4213
Visit the California State Department of Education for more details on earning California teacher certification.
California Teacher Outlook, Salary, and Jobs
As of the 2016-2017 school year, there were just over 6.3 million students enrolled in California’s 10,291 K-12 public schools.3 With an estimated 271,287 public school teachers, this gives California a student-teacher ratio of 23:1.3
Estimates project 12,130 average annual job openings for elementary school teachers, 3,850 average annual job openings for middle school teachers, and 8,260 average annual job openings for secondary school teachers through 2026.2 Elementary school teachers in the state earn an average annual salary of $80,100, while middle school teachers average $75,660 per year and secondary school teachers average $80,510 per year.4 For more information visit the California Teachers Association, which publishes relevant news and resources for education professionals in California.
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Preschool Teachers, Special Education||1,470||$47,870|
|Elementary School Teachers||162,440||$80,100|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||15,230||$80,370|
|Middle School Teachers||46,500||$75,660|
|Middle School Teachers, Special Education||4,710||$76,860|
|Secondary School Teachers||112,960||$80,510|
|Secondary School Teachers, Special Education||10,520||$82,380|
|Secondary School Teachers, Career/Technical Education||4,620||$77,580|
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.4
Teacher Shortages in California
According to the US Department of Education Teacher Shortage Area report for 2021-2022, California broadly has the following shortages5:
- Special Education, Pre-K-12
- Language Arts, Pre-K-12
- Mathematics, Pre-K-12
- Science, Pre-K-12
- Core Subjects (Elementary Education), Pre-K-6
Teacher retirements have had a significant impact in California due to the pandemic. During the 2020-21 school year, 13,558 of California’s teachers retired, which is about 1,000 more teachers than retired during the previous year, according to data from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.6 This nearly 8% increase in retirements was unexpected and, as a result, most of the open positions were not filled by new teachers.6
According to Mary Sandy at the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), in order to keep up with the staffing needs of all districts in the state, the agency needs to credential around 20,000 new teachers each year.6 In 2020, the CTC only credentialed around 14,000 new teachers, which is a shortage of 6,000 teachers.6
What about substitute teachers? California has a shortage here too. The opposing forces at work during the pandemic–more teachers leaving and fewer new teachers being hired–have stressed the substitute teaching pool, so more subs are needed to fill these gaps. However, the number of subs in the state has trended down. The state only issued 47,000 substitute teaching permits in 2020-21, compared to 64,000 permits issued in the 2018-19 school year.7 The substitute teaching pool usually includes a large number of retired teachers, but with the pandemic, older people have likely shied away from in-person teaching. As a result, school districts are getting creative in order to attract more substitute teachers by lowering their minimum requirements (e.g., no bachelor’s degree required, increased pay, etc.).
Somewhat offsetting the teacher shortage, student enrollment in California has been dropping due to declining birth rates; in the 2020-2021 year, 6,004,000 students are projected to be enrolled, down from 6,163,000 the prior year.8 This is a deficit of 155,000 students, or a 2.5% drop, a record one-year employment drop.8 The main drop was from pre-K and kindergarten.8
According to the BLS, the number of Californians employed in the fields of elementary and secondary education at the start of the pandemic (January 2020) was around 100,000.9 As of September 2021, the number of people employed in education had partially rebounded from pandemic lows but was still only reported at 93,900, a 7% decrease.10
California Teacher Interviews
- Kindergarten Teacher, Vanessa Escobar
- Kindergarten Teacher, Michelle Griffo
- San Jose State University Math Professor, Dr. Joanne Becker
- Professor and Director, San Jose State University School of Information, Dr. Sandra Hirsh
- Lecturer, San Jose State University School of Information, Dr. Mary Ann Harlan
California School District Requirements
If you would like to learn more about the specific requirements for becoming a teacher in the following California cities, check out our city pages below. On these pages, you will find a step-by-step description of how to become a teacher in the city’s public school district as well as information on how to become a substitute teacher, school contact information, and private and charter school information.
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Jose
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How much do teachers make in California?
Answer: Average California teaching salaries vary by grade level and other factors, but excluding special education and career/technical education, at the elementary level, the average annual teacher salary is $80,100; at the middle school level it is $75,660; and at the high school level it is $80,510.4
Question: How do I become a substitute teacher in California?
Answer: Each district has its own requirements for hiring substitute teachers, so contact the human resources department of the districts to which you want to apply. California offers an emergency substitute teaching permit through the state. To get this permit you must have at least 90 college credits from an accredited university, be enrolled in college, and have met the basic skills requirements for teaching in California.
Question: Is there a teacher shortage in California?
Answer: According to the US Department of Education, California reports teacher shortages for the 2021-22 school year in the following areas: language arts, special education, mathematics, science, and elementary education.5
Question: What are the California preschool teacher requirements?
Answer: To work as a preschool teacher in California, you must hold a child development teacher permit. To be qualified for the permit, you must complete a minimum of an associate’s degree in early childhood education or in child development or 24 credit hours of related coursework as well as 16 general education credit hours. In addition to coursework, you must also complete field experience to be eligible for the permit.
Question: How do I become a high school teacher in California and how much do California high school teachers make?
Answer: To become a high school teacher in California, you need to earn a college degree and complete a teacher preparation program. After completing your education, you must pass a subject area test to show competency in the subject you hope to teach. You must also complete courses in reading, technology, and the US Constitution. When these requirements are met, you can apply to the state for certification and then interview for jobs. High school teachers in California earn an average annual salary of $80,510.4
1. California Commission on Teacher Credentialing: https://www.ctc.ca.gov/commission/default
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. National Center for Education Statistics, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data, 2016-2017: https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, California: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ca.htm
5. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports
6. CalMatters, K-12 Education, “Can California withstand a teacher retirement boom?”: https://calmatters.org/education/k-12-education/2021/06/california-teacher-retirement/
7. CalMatters, K-12 Education, “Not enough subs: California schools face severe teacher shortage”: https://calmatters.org/education/k-12-education/2021/09/california-teacher-schools/
8. CalMatters, K-12 Education, “California public schools suffer record enrollment drop”: https://calmatters.org/education/2021/01/california-schools-record-enrollment-drop/
9. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Data Tools, State and Metro Area Employment, Hours, & Earnings: https://www.bls.gov/sae/data/
10. Data Quest, California Department of Education, 2020-21 Enrollment Multi-Year Summary for Charter and Non-Charter Schools: https://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/dqcensus/EnrCharterYears.aspx?cds=00&agglevel=state&year=2020-21&ro=y&ro=y&ro=y&ro=y
Teacher candidates no longer have to take the California Basic Skills Test, or CBEST, or the California Subject Matter Exams for Teachers, referred to as CSET to earn a credential. The CBEST tests reading, math and writing skills and is usually taken before a student is accepted into a teacher preparation program.How long does it take for CTC to process application? ›
Online recommendations submitted through credential program sponsors are usually completed within 10 working days. Typically, all other applications are processed within 50 working days from the date we receive the application. Login to your CTC Online Educator Account to monitor your application status.How many hours needed to complete teaching credential in California? ›
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.How to get teaching credential California fast? ›
After completing an approved program, the fastest and easiest way to apply for a California teaching credential is online. The program sponsor must formally recommend you for the appropriate certification via the CTC's online system.How to bypass CBEST? ›
How can I get a CBEST waiver? There are alternative options to the CBEST, including coursework, a qualifying score on SAT or ACT, a score of at least 3 on some AP courses, or a passing score on CSU examinations.Is the CBEST still waived? ›
This means that California Educator Exam and Performance Assessment fees for the CBEST, CSET, RICA, edTPA and CalAPA will be waived for candidates as of 7/1/2022 through 6/30/2023, or until funds are used.What disqualifies you from being a teacher in California? ›
According to California Education Code 44830.1, the CTC can refuse to issue teaching credentials for applicants that were convicted of: certain sex offenses, a narcotics offense (except for drug possession convictions more than five years old), or. a serious or violent felony.Can I clear my credential without a teaching job? ›
Can I clear my credential if I am unemployed or a substitute teacher? No. Per recent CTC changes to the induction standards, only employed teachers are eligible for induction.What happens if your California teaching credential expires? ›
If you are a former California teacher, you may be able to get back into the classroom even if your credential has expired. Requirements for renewing your credential depend on your status when the credential expired and the type of credential you possess.How much is a teachers salary in California? ›
His analysis of 2021-22 compensation determined the median California teacher salary was $96,323 – $8,000 more than a comparably educated worker outside of education.
The candidate for a 30-day permit must have earned a Bachelor's degree or higher and must pass a Basic Skills Test with minimum scores. The testing requirement may be met through a variety of options including the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement (AP), and others.How much do elementary teachers make a year in California? ›
How much does a Teacher Elementary School make in California? The average Teacher Elementary School salary in California is $69,514 as of May 01, 2023, but the range typically falls between $57,040 and $83,950.Can I teach without a credential in California? ›
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.What is the easiest path to become a teacher? ›
The easiest way to become a teacher is by holding your bachelor's degree in any subject. If you do that, you are able to enroll in an alternative teacher certification program that will allow you to become a licensed teacher.What is the fastest degree to become a teacher? ›
An accelerated bachelor's in education, like a traditional four-year education degree, is a great first step toward a career as an educator. Depending on your state's requirements and whether you're interested in teaching at a public or private school, you may be ready to begin teaching at the K-12 level.Is California getting rid of the CBEST? ›
California is not eliminating the CSET, but rather has created alternative options, other than the CSET, for prospective teachers to earn credentials.What happens if I can't pass the CBEST? ›
If you score lower than a 220 and fail a CSET subtest, you have the option to retake it, and there is no limit to the number of attempts you can make to pass the CSET. If you need to pass multiple subtests for your CSET, you only need to retake the subtest(s) that you failed.Is a 39 on CBEST passing? ›
The passing score for each section of the CBEST is a scaled score of 41. A total CBEST score of 123 is required for passing status.How many people fail the CBEST? ›
Less than 66% of students pass the CBEST on their first try. Only 81% of test-takers pass after multiple attempts.How many times can you fail the CBEST? ›
You can take the assessment as many times as necessary to achieve a passing score, but may need to enroll in another program to do so. A passing score on each cycle must be achieved through a single submission.
To pass the CBEST, one must obtain a minimum scaled score of 41 in each of the three sections—reading, writing, and mathematics. However, a score as low as 37 on an individual section is acceptable if the total scaled score is at least 123.What are teachers that can't get fired? ›
Teacher tenure is a policy that restricts the ability to fire teachers, requiring a "just cause" rationale for firing. The individual states each have established their own tenure systems. Tenure provides teachers with protections by making it difficult to fire teachers who earn tenure.Can teachers touch students California? ›
Some states permit corporal punishment in public schools -- including Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina -- but California and the majority of states do not. In fact, public school teachers in California may be charged with child abuse or assault and battery for spanking students.What can get you fired from teaching? ›
- Immoral conduct.
- Neglect of duty.
- Substantial noncompliance with school laws.
- Conviction of a crime.
- Fraud or misrepresentation.
Initial Application or Renewal/Reissuance - $100.00. Certificate of Clearance (COC) - $50.00. Certificate of Completion of Staff Development - $45.00.
If you're passionate about becoming a teacher but lack a degree in education, a teaching certification program is your best option. A teaching certificate will provide the necessary coursework and student teaching experience to prepare you for state certification.How much does the teacher induction program cost in California? ›
The total cost of the Traditional program is $5,850 (excluding fees) for 9 units. (Costs are divided over four semesters.) The total cost of the Early Completion Option program is $3,250 (excluding fees) for 5 units. (Costs are divided over three semesters.)Which states will accept a California teaching credential? ›
The Emergency Substitute Permit for Prospective Teachers allows students who are enrolled in a teacher preparation program to substitute before earning a bachelor's degree. The applicant must have completed 90 or more units of coursework, fulfilled the basic skills requirement, paid fees and had a background check.How long do I have to clear my teaching credential? ›
It is the responsibility of the new teacher to earn a clear teaching credential within a five-year period from the issuance of the preliminary teaching credential.
Teacher pay was highest in Silicon Valley's Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, where teachers earned, on average, about $152,500. A quick way to adjust pay for cost of living is to calculate the difference between average teacher salary and the cost of the typically priced home.What district in California pays teachers the most? ›
- Los Angeles, CA. $40.85 per hour. 434 salaries reported.
- Sacramento, CA. $40.27 per hour. 66 salaries reported.
- Fremont, CA. $32.13 per hour. 40 salaries reported.
- Long Beach, CA. $28.32 per hour. 36 salaries reported.
- San Jose, CA. $28.28 per hour. ...
- Show more nearby cities.
New York leads the nation in teacher pay with an average salary of $80,286, according to WalletHub.How fast can you become a teacher in California? ›
Uniquely, California regulations require five years of higher education to become a teacher. You can meet this requirement either by: Traditional Path — Earning your bachelor's and master's degrees. Nontraditional Path — Participating in a blended credentialing program that has been approved by the state.How many days can a substitute teacher work in California? ›
The Prospective Substitute Permit holder may not serve for more than a total of 90 days in a school year.How many days do teachers work in CA? ›
Most teachers are signing contracts for 180 days of work every year, so at first glance, it might look like it's a sweet summers-off gig. But nearly all teachers (including me) will confirm that they work a lot, LOT more—and we are not paid for that work.What is the lowest teacher salary in California? ›
|10th Percentile Public School Teacher Salary||$42,674||CA|
|25th Percentile Public School Teacher Salary||$52,027||CA|
|50th Percentile Public School Teacher Salary||$62,301||CA|
|75th Percentile Public School Teacher Salary||$75,979||CA|
Most teachers do not get paid over summer break, but teachers can usually choose to receive their paychecks over 10 months or 12 months. Many teachers take a prorated salary to keep a steady income throughout the calendar year.How much does a 1st year teacher earn in California? ›
How much does an Entry Level Teacher make in California? The average Entry Level Teacher salary in California is $47,017 as of May 01, 2023, but the range typically falls between $39,264 and $57,340.What cities need teachers the most? ›
- 1. California. Even before the pandemic, the state of California began experiencing mass teacher shortages. ...
- Nevada. ...
- Washington. ...
- Arizona. ...
- Hawaii. ...
- Indiana. ...
- District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) ...
Individuals who hold a standard certificate to teach in another state or territory, seeking certification in Texas, must first apply for a review of credentials. A standard certificate is defined in TAC §230.111(c). Texas does not have reciprocity with any state.How much do intern teachers get paid in California? ›
As of May 16, 2023, the average annual pay for a Teacher Internship in California is $37,472 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $18.02 an hour. This is the equivalent of $720/week or $3,122/month.Which teachers are most in demand? ›
Which teaching subject is most in demand? While specific needs vary by institution, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are subjects that are always in high demand.What is the hardest teaching job to get? ›
- foreign languages.
- bilingual education.
- English language acquisition.
- special education.
How Fast Can You Become a Teacher? Becoming a teacher usually takes between four and five years. It is possible, however, to become certified to teach in only four years. This is accomplished by completing an accelerated program which completes the credentialing process within the four-year bachelor's degree.What teaching degree pays the most? ›
|Job||Median Annual Salary (May 2021)||Job Growth Rate (2021-2031)|
|1. School Superintendents||$127,310*||N/A|
|2. Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals||$98,420||5%|
|3. Postsecondary Education Administrators||$96,910||7%|
|4. Postsecondary Teachers||$79,640||12%|
Apply for certification
After completing an approved program, the fastest and easiest way to apply for a California teaching credential is online. The program sponsor must formally recommend you for the appropriate certification via the CTC's online system.
Teacher candidates no longer have to take the California Basic Skills Test (CBEST) or California Subject Matter Exams (CSET) to earn a credential. However, this doesn't mean that just anyone can become a teacher. These tests can be bypassed only if candidates take approved coursework.Is the CBEST good for life? ›
Once the CBEST examination has been passed, it need not be taken again since it indefinitely satisfies the basic skills requirement necessary for certification and program enrollment.Is the CSET free right now? ›
The California State Budget included the approval of the California Educator Exam and Performance Assessment fee waivers. This means that most California Educator Exam and Performance Assessment fees are now waived for eligible candidates as of July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 or until funds are used.
Who Should Take the CBEST? If you're looking to start substitute teaching in California, the CBEST is a great way to complete the basic skills requirement needed to obtain the emergency 30-day substitute teaching permit.What can replace the CBEST? ›
- CBEST Alternatives. The available alternatives to the CBEST exam include: ...
- CSET Alternatives. ...
- California Teacher Corps. ...
- Peace Corps. ...
- Sojourn Certificates. ...
- STEM and CTE Credentials. ...
- Intern Credentials. ...
- Private School Experience.
In order to work in a California public school, you must verify basic skills proficiency before getting a credential, certificate or permit. There are several ways to meet this requirement: Pass the CBEST.Can you teach without passing CSET? ›
All subtests indicated below, for your subject area, must be passed to be eligible for admission to a 2-semester program. Non-passing scores may be considered for eligibility for the 3-semester program. All CSET subtests must be passed prior to starting student teaching.How long do people study for CBEST? ›
Whether or not you recently completed your undergraduate education, you'll want to brush up on your content knowledge. If you're farther out of school, expect to spend 1-2 hours a day for a few weeks refreshing your content knowledge for your specific CBEST or CSET.How hard is the CBEST math test? ›
Many of the questions found in this test are only related to the concepts you learned in high school. So we can conclude the math section of the CBEST test is not a difficult test, and you can succeed in this test with enough study and practice regularly.Is the CSET hard to pass? ›
It is a comprehensive and challenging exam, but by no means is it impossible to pass the exam. The difficulty level is entirely reliant on a candidate's willingness to properly train beforehand.How much does the CBEST test cost? ›
The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) tests basic reading, mathematics, and writing skills of prospective educators. How much does it cost to take the CBEST exam? The paper-based exam costs $41, while the computer based test costs $102.Can you take a CSET test at home? ›
Online proctoring is available for Subtest I and Subtest III of this test. You may test remotely, including from home.