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How to Get a Teaching Certificate in California

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Teaching is a rewarding occupation that can impact the life of each student for a lifetime. As a result, teachers are required to obtain licensing, which entails the successful completion of a bachelor's degree and additional approved course work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The State of California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing regulates teaching certification for elementary, high school and special education teachers, each of which you can obtain through various routes. California issues a five-year preliminary teaching credential, which must be replaced by a professional clear credential prior to the end of five years. Candidates have three options to obtain the professional clear credential once the preliminary credential is earned.

Obtain the Preliminary Credential

Select the type of credential you would like to pursue. In California, you can teach at the elementary, high-school or special-education levels in the public school system. Each level requires the completion of a multi-subject credential with the exception of special education, which requires a Level I and Level II certificate.

Obtain, at minimum, a baccalaureate degree. While the Commission on Teacher Credentialing offers several methods to obtain a credential, five out of six routes require the completion of a degree from a regionally-accredited college or university, according to the State of California. Research bachelor degree programs that offer a quality education, fall within your budget and are accredited and acceptable by the State of California. Tuition costs vary widely, but the Walden University reports a master's degree in education can cost as much as $31,540 as of October 2010.

Contact the CBEST Program (see Resource) or another acceptable basic skills testing facility to register to take the examination. The exam tests your basic skills in reading, mathematics and writing. A passing score of 41 is required in each section and you only need to pass once. You can also take the CSET, CSU Early Assessment Program or provide proof of a passing score in basic skills from another state.

Enroll in an approved multiple-subject teacher preparation program (see Resource). The programs are available at California State University, University of California and several private institutions. The program should include successful student teaching and you should request a formal letter of recommendation from the institution.

Complete the required examinations or course work to verify your subject matter competence (see Resource). You can take examinations or complete additional course work (in subjects like technology, the U.S. Constitution or developing English language skills, for example) to prove your expertise. Complete the required paperwork to obtain your five-year preliminary credential.

Obtain the Clear Credential

Enroll and successfully complete a Professional Teacher Induction Program (see Resource). This program introduces you to "health education, special populations, computer technology, and teaching English learners," according to the State of California website.

Obtain certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). California issues a Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential for those with an NBPTS Early Childhood Generalist or Middle Childhood Generalist certification obtained before or after the preliminary credential.

Complete the application for the Professional Clear Credential (see Resource). Submit the application along with the processing fee and your supporting documentation.

About the Author

Peyton Brookes is a workforce development expert and has written professionally about technology, education and science since 2009. She spent several years developing technology and finance courses for social programs in the Washington, D.C. area. She studied computer and information science at the University of Maryland College Park.

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