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A Guide to Become a Teacher in California

To become a teacher in California, one must complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school emphasizing education and pass the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST). Afterward, they must register with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and obtain their credentials. 

In addition to completing the above-mentioned requirements, people interested in becoming a teacher in California must also meet specific qualifications. These qualifications include having a 3.0 GPA in their major, two years of college and/or postgraduate study, and two years of relevant work experience. Additionally, a criminal background check is required by the CTC. Once the background check is complete, a candidate must successfully complete a subject matter exam and a classroom performance assessment.

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: To become a teacher in California, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

It is no secret that a teaching career requires a high-quality education. One of the best degrees to obtain when it comes to teaching is a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. A Bachelor’s Degree in Education prepares students for their future teaching careers by introducing them to the essential concepts and theories used in the classroom. Students learn how to design and implement lesson plans, how to foster an inclusive learning environment, and how to effectively assess student performance.

The best Bachelor’s degrees for teachers typically include internships and field experience, allowing students to gain real-world experience before taking on a teaching job. A Bachelor’s degree in Education also gives students access to current teaching methods, which they can apply in their classrooms.

Check out my post about: Qualifications and experience needed to become a successful virtual teacher.

2. Pass the Basic Skills Requirement: You must pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) or the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

​​To pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), teaching candidates must demonstrate a mastery of reading, writing, and math skills. The test consists of multiple-choice questions and can be taken online or in a traditional classroom setting. The test assesses basic English and math skills and one’s understanding of pedagogical principles. The CBEST is essential in obtaining a California teaching credential, and applicants should ensure they are well-prepared before taking the exam.

For more information, check out the California Department of Education.

3. Complete a Teacher Preparation Program: You must complete a teacher preparation program approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

There are four ways to complete this requirement:

  1. Community colleges in California 

Ten California Community Colleges (CCC) have established a Teacher Preparation Pipeline to offer future teachers preparation in various high-demand Career Technical Education (CTE) areas; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); K-12 education; early childhood education and other areas of teaching in California public schools. Complete lower-division, pre-requisite courses at your local CCC and transfer them to the baccalaureate institution that offers a Commission-approved teacher preparation program for the credential you desire.

  1. Collages Progam 

Some colleges and universities have programs that combine coursework for the baccalaureate degree and credential. Designed for individuals who know early on that they want to teach, these options are generally more intense than traditional programs but enable you to become a teacher faster. Some community colleges have become part of the blended or integrated program package. Check it out. Talk to the academic advisor of the college or university of your choice.

  1. Intern Program 

Once you have your bachelor’s degree and have met subject matter competency requirements, you may choose to work while you learn how to teach through a district or university alternative certification or intern program. These specially designed programs put you in the classroom as a teacher (under supervision) while you complete coursework on teaching theory and techniques.

  1. Post Degree Program

After your B.A. or B.S. degree, your next step to becoming a teacher is to obtain your preliminary teaching credential. Commission-approved teacher preparation programs focus on teaching you how to teach. Programs include at least one year of full-time study and student teaching.

4. Pass a Subject Matter Competency Exam: You must pass a subject matter competency exam in the subject area you plan to teach.

To pass the teacher subject matter competency exam in California, you must have a broad and deep understanding of the content you plan to teach. Consequently, it’s important to study the topics thoroughly and practice answering questions that could appear on the test. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions; some questions require short written explanations. Additionally, it is essential to be aware of the specific details of the exam, such as the testing date, location, and fee requirements.

For more information, check out the California Teaching Credentials

5. Submit an Application for a Credential: You must apply for a credential to the CTC.

Applying for a credential from the California Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is a process that can be daunting to those who have never done it before. Fortunately, there are resources available to help guide one through the process. The CTC website outlines the different requirements to meet eligibility and the procedures that need to be followed to gain the credential. Additionally, all credentials must be earned through an accredited college or university.

For more information, check out the California Teaching Credentials

6. Pass a Fingerprint and Background Check: You must pass a fingerprint and background check.

California employs a rigorous process to ensure that all its teachers are of the highest quality. This process includes a comprehensive background check and fingerprinting of all teachers. These measures are necessary to help ensure students’ safety, maintain the educational system’s integrity, and comply with state and federal legislation. The background check and the fingerprinting process is performed by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and is a requirement for all current and prospective teachers in California.

7. Receive Your Credential: Once you have completed all the steps, you will receive your credential from the CTC.

You have done it!! And now can start Teaching.


There are many requirements to become a teacher in California; I hope I have helped you navigate your journey to become a teacher. Please Check out the California Teacher Salaries