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Frequently Asked Questions – Becoming a California Teacher

A California credential is required to teach in California public schools. The California Commission on Teacher CredentialingIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site (CTC) sets teacher preparation standards, approves teacher preparation programs, and grants three types of teaching credentials as well as other credentials and related documents.

Major categories are listed with the common questions and answers.

While a mathematics degree is not required, you must be able to demonstrate subject-matter competency, or in-depth knowledge of what you will be teaching. This generally requires advanced coursework in a subject area. However, you may also show competency by passing the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) in Foundational-Level Mathematics or Mathematics.
A credential is a state license required for teaching in K-12 public schools, issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). There are two mathematics credentials: Foundational-Level Mathematics which allows you to teach general math, algebra, geometry, consumer math, and probability and statistics, but not Advanced Placement courses, and Single Subject Mathematics which allows you to teach any mathematics course. Additionally, there are a number of authorizations for the teaching of mathematics one can add to an existing California teaching credential designed to broaden the teaching pool. Credentials are issued to applicants upon the completion of an approved teacher preparation program. See our Find the Right Preparation Program web page for assistance. Individuals with out-of-state credentials, teaching experience at regionally accredited private schools, or National Board Certification may apply directly to the CTC.
While a science degree is not required, you must be able to demonstrate subject-matter competency, or in-depth knowledge of what you will be teaching. This generally requires advanced coursework in a subject area. However, you may also show competency by passing the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) in Foundational-Level General Science or Science. Read what is needed to prepare to Teach Science in California.
Credentials are issued to applicants upon completion of a Commission on Teacher Credentialing approved teacher preparation program. See our Find the Right Preparation Program for specific California tips and help.
Individuals with out-of-state credentials, teaching experience at regionally accredited private schools, or National Board Certification may apply directly to the CTC.
Learn more about the requirements to Teach Science in California
A credential is a state license required for teaching in K-12 public schools, issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).
There are two science credentials: 1) Foundational-Level General Science which allows you to teach introductory (General, Life, or Physical) or integrated science (K-8) courses; and 2) Single Subject Science which allows for advanced courses in the designated subject area (Biological Science, Chemistry, Physics, Geosciences), and introductory or integrated science (K-12) courses.
Credentials are issued to applicants upon completion of an approved teacher preparation program. See many helpful tips at Find the Right Preparation Program. Individuals with out-of-state credentials, teaching experience at regionally accredited private schools, or National Board Certification may apply directly to the CTC.
Read about special education and the credential requirements for teaching children with mild/moderate, moderate/severe, and others at our Teach Students with Disabilities in California web page.
This Teach Special Education (Brochure) will answer many of your questions.
School districts hire sign language interpreters to work with deaf and hard-of-hearing students in California public schools. No credential or permit from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is required in order to be a sign language interpreter, but one must meet the employment requirements of the school district. A high school diploma, background check, and other items are typically required. Check with the school district's Personnel Office for details. Find school district contact information at the California School DirectoryIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site provided by the California Department of Education.
A professional licenseIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site from the California Department of Consumer Affairs is required to work in public schools as a physical therapist.
School psychologists are trained in psychology and education with work dutiesIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site with students, teachers, and parents to focus on creating the best learning environments.
Those who want to be a California school psychologist must hold a credential or a license:
* a Pupil Personnel Services CredentialIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site granted by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing,
or
* a California professional licenseIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site from the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Related information is at our Prepare to be a Special Educator web page,
There are two kinds of Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) approved professional preparation programsIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site:
a) traditional preparation programs that must be completed prior to employment; and
b) internship preparation programs allowing employment while completing all the program requirements.
The most common credential that a special education administrator has is the Administrative Services CredentialIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site granted by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
There are routes available for out-of-state and out-of-country prepared administrators to establish eligibility for a Preliminary or Clear Administrative Services Credential. See this September 2015 documentIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site for more information.
There are SLP Assistant programsIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site degree programs leading to a license as a SLP assistant.
The SLP assistant licenseIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site obtains a license from the California Department of Consumer Affairs. SLP assistants work under the supervision of a licensed or credentialed speech-language pathologist.
California public schools typically utilize individuals with an SLP credential granted from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) but public schools are also allowed to use state licensed SLPs. Both the license and credential require a masters degree and a national written exam with a nine-month monitored first year experience.
One of the following is needed for employment:
a) Speech-Language Pathology Services CredentialIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site granted by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing; OR
b) Speech-Language Pathology LicenseIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site approved by the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is the state agency that grants California services credential. The requirements including academic and examination requirementsIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site are explained at the CTC Web site.
In order to teach, you must obtain a teaching credential; a master's degree is not sufficient. Successful completion of a teacher preparation program is required. You can easily locate teacher preparation programs by visiting our Find the Right Preparation Program. In most cases, the applicant for a credential, certificate, or permit to serve in the public schools of California must verify basic skills proficiency before the credential, certificate, or permit will be issued. See the other CBEST FAQ for more information.
The CBEST stands for the California Basic Educational Skills Test. As required by law, this test is used to assess and verify proficiency in mathematics, reading, and writing skills. It does not have an expiration date. Please note that passing the CBEST is just one way to satisfy the basic skills requirement. Other options are explained in the Commission on Teacher Credentialing’s leaflet on the basic skills requirementsIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site.
Child Development PermitsIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site are available at various levels. Each level has one or more ways to qualify. Individuals must meet all of the requirements listed in one of the available options.
The Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the state agency with the authority to grant these permits, answers this and many more questionsIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site on their Web site.
Unlike adding Multiple Subject or Single Subject Credentials to an existing credential, special education is more complicated and requires that you speak with an academic advisor based at the college or university you wish to attend. Visit our Find the Right Preparation Program page for helpful information as you choose the teacher preparation program that meets your needs.
California's credentialing requirements for out-of-state teachers have become much easier. If you: 1) hold a teaching license in a subject that corresponds with a California-issued subject area based on completion of a baccalaureate degree and a teacher preparation program or alternative program; 2) have completed a basic skills requirement; and 3) completed California's requirements for fingerprint and character and identification clearance, you are eligible for a preliminary credential. Our Out-of-State Teacher page has more details.
If you are able to demonstrate subject matter competency (by completing an approved subject matter program or by obtaining the necessary score on the California Subjects Examination for Teachers (CSET), you may be eligible for an intern program. Intern programs are designed so that you teach during the day and attend classes in the evening or on weekends. You can easily locate intern programs by using our Web site to Find the Right Preparation Program.
If you are licensed to teach in another country, you will need to provide foreign transcript evaluations of both your college and teaching programs, and proof of a comparable teaching credential. If you have teaching experience in another state or country, you may be able to apply for a preliminary credential in California. To find out, you must answer some questions about yourself in the My Career Plan section of the TEACH California Web site.
If you do not have a teaching license from another country, you will need to obtain one, either from another country or California. If you decide to obtain a license once you are in California and have completed some college coursework, you will need to have your undergraduate degree evaluated by an approved agency. Then you can apply to a teacher preparation program. The process for obtaining a California teaching credential is described on our Out-of-Country Teacher page.
Recent legislation has made it easier for you to teach in California if you: 1) hold a teaching credential in a subject that corresponds with a California-issued subject area (based on completing a baccalaureate degree and teacher preparation/alternative program); 2) can show passage of the basic skills requirements; and 3) pass California's requirements for fingerprint, character and identification clearance. The full description of steps you need to take can be found on our Out-of-State Teacher page.
The process for obtaining a California teaching credential is streamlined by providing more relevant information online. Teachers prepared to teach outside of the United States, must: 1) prove eligibility, 2) provide certain documentation, and 3) apply in writing to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the state agency that grants teaching credentials.
Find out more by visiting our Out-of-Country teacher web page.
School districts hire instructional aides or paraeducators to assist credentialed teachers. There is no credential or permit needed from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to become a paraeducator but one must meet the employment requirements of that school district. A high school diploma and a background check are typically required, as well as other items. Check with the school district's Personnel Office for details. All California school districts are listed in the California Department of Education’s California School DirectoryIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site.
Some school districts provide paraeducator career ladder programs that help paraeducators obtain their credential. Check out the California School Employees AssociationIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site Website. They can provide support to paraeducators.
Read our Paraeducator brochure, for information on how to become a special educator, including how to find financial aid. Browse our Web site for credential requirements, starting a Career Plan, and more.
There are three main types of substitute teaching permits: the 30-day substitute teaching permit, the emergency substitute teaching permit for prospective teachers, and the emergency career substitute teaching permit. Full descriptions of the differences among these permits can be found on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing'sIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site website.
Blended programs are designed for individuals without a baccalaureate degree. These programs, which typically begin in the junior year, include a five-semester curriculum sequence of subject matter content courses, education courses, and student teaching experiences.
Find out more at the Find the Right Preparation Program web page.
Approved teaching preparation programs are programs that have been approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), the state agency responsible for accrediting teacher preparation programs and grants credentials.
To find out helpful California specific tips and teacher preparation program information, see the Find the Right Preparation Program.
Along with in-depth content knowledge, successful teaching requires an understanding of curriculum development, instructional methods, assessment techniques, and classroom management. Teacher preparation programs provide a carefully designed sequence of courses and experiences that will teach you how to teach.
To find out more, see the Find the Right Preparation Program web page.
Yes, in California, TK teachers need to have a teaching credential, just like kindergarten teachers. More information can be found at the California Department of EducationIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site web site.

No. If you are from another state in the United States of America, you could research all the federal scholarships, grants, or loans. We have compiled a list of What's Available If You Are from Another State.
Yes, Troops to TeachersIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site is a U.S. Department of Defense program that helps eligible military personnel begin a new career as teachers in public schools where their skills, knowledge and experience are most needed.
See our Find Financial AidIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site web page for more valuable information.
If you are able to do Internet searches, you are able to do what many of these companies will do for you. Often, there is no guarantee that they will find any scholarships for you. We suggest you save your money and do the searching yourself. You can start by letting us help you Find Financial Aid.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification Incentive Program provides a $20,000 incentive award for California National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) who teach in high-priority schools. More information about this program can be found by viewing our Sources of Financial Aid resource matrix.
You are in luck. The federal government has funded programs throughout the state that provide financial and academic support for future special educators. Many Commission on Teacher Credentialing approved teacher preparation programs have obtained federal tuition stipends for their students. Check with your desired teacher preparation program for that information. See our Find the Right Preparation Program for special California tips and links to approved teacher preparation programs.
March 2nd is the priority filing date for certain California financial aid programs. Missing this date means that you will not be considered for all sources of financial aid. However, you still may be eligible for federal aid or a community college award. March 2nd is the annual deadline for priority filing, so plan to file by this date next year.
Hundreds of scholarships go unclaimed each year because students have not applied for them. Often, the scholarships are created for a specific type of person; someone majoring in a particular field, or someone from a specific town. The company where your parents work might offer scholarships for children of their employees. Do you have any hobbies, play any instruments, or do any volunteer work? It is very likely that there is a scholarship for someone with your interests. You just need to search the groups and organizations that reflect your interests.
See our Find Financial AidIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site web page for more valuable information.
The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student AidIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site.
(The priority deadline is March 2nd.)
The FAFSA looks at your income, your parents' income, and family assets. The form also takes into account the age of your parents, their retirement planning needs, and the number of children in the household and in college. Information on the FAFSA form is used to determine your family's financial contribution to your school costs. Your school's financial aid office will use this figure to determine your eligibility for aid.
There is one program that may help you: The Housing Urban Development (HUD), Good Neighbor Next Door. More information can be found about these programs by viewing the Sources of Financial Aid matrix.
A recent scholarship program might help you become a teacher. Read the California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Scholarship ProgramIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site for details. See the other "Paraeducator" FAQs for more information.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the application required of students seeking federal and most other financial aid. It asks for information about your income, your parents' income, and family assets. The form also takes into account the age of your parents, their retirement planning needs, and the number of children in the household and in college. Information on the FAFSA form is used to determine your family's financial contribution to your school costs. Filing the form is free. The form can be downloaded at the Free Application for Federal Student AidIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site web site.

No. Prospective teachers can take the California Subject Examination for Teacher (CSET) before entering a teaching preparation program. For detailed information, please seek advice from the academic advisor at the Commission on Teacher Credentialing approved teacher preparation program of your choice. Register for the CSETIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site at this web page.
Looking for teaching positions in California is easy. Just log on to the EdJoin Web site, which can be found in our Find a Teaching Job section, and conduct your own search of jobs, using any combination of variables.
Volunteering in various grade levels at a school is one way to determine your level of comfort with different age groups. If you have a baccalaureate degree you can substitute teach, or if you are still in school, you can do a service learning project with different grade levels. Ask your high school counselor for help in finding an opportunity.
Browse the following web pages for more information:
Needs vary greatly across California school districts, but generally, special education teachers are needed everywhere, and most districts are looking for science and mathematics teachers. Bilingual teachers and career technical education (CTE) teachers are also in demand in some regions. This does not mean that you cannot get a job teaching other subjects. Teacher retirements are affecting most school districts, so hiring is occurring throughout the state. You can get a sense of available jobs by viewing our Find a Teaching Job section.
Check out our High-Need Subject Areas web page.
Alternative certification programs prepare individuals who already have work experience and coursework in the subject area, or wish to stay employed while pursuing a career change. Participants work as paid teachers during the day and attend classes at night, on weekends, and during school breaks.
CTC-approved intern programs are one type of alternative certification option. This pathway to teaching can be stressful, but rewarding: The Exhausting Life of a First Year Science Teacher: What It’s Like to Teach While Learning to TeachIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site, The Atlantic.
See Find the Right Preparation Program for more details and helpful tips.