All teachers in California are required to earn a bachelor’s degree. They then must pass an exam and earn certification in the area in which they decide to teach: elementary, high school or special education.
It’s a rigorous process to become a teacher in California, the nation’s largest state, but it has its rewards. The state has the second highest mean annual wage for secondary school teachers in the country at $80,510, according to numbers from May 2018 provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS also reports that California has one of the highest mean annual salaries for kindergarten teachers, at $69,690, and elementary school teachers, at $80,100. Those are impressive numbers but they can be improved upon for teachers who expand their knowledge base by earning continuing education credits.
Becoming a teacher in California involves the following steps according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Education students who want to teach in California at the elementary school level must earn a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Prospective teachers can accomplish this goal through:
- A college or university
- A college or university internship program
- A school district internship program
- Experience teaching at a private school
- The Early Completion Intern Option
- Peace Corps experience
The Early Completion Intern Option essentially allows prospective teachers in a state-approved internship program “an opportunity to challenge the course work portion of a Multiple or Single Subject Intern Program and demonstrate pedagogical skills through a performance assessment while in a commission-approved intern program,” according to the state.
If teaching in high school is your goal, then you will need to earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential. The same options exist for earning this credential as with the multiple subject credential. However, the Peace Corps option is not included.
Educators who want to work with children in a special education setting must earn the Education Specialist Instruction Credential. The three pathways to earn this credential are through a college or university, through a college or university internship program or through a public school district internship program.
Many school districts in California also require teachers to earn education credits beyond their college degree program through professional development courses. These courses better position teachers to earn a higher salary and promotion to the best teaching jobs.
Becoming a teacher in California is a worthwhile pursuit. With better pay, a high-quality education system and opportunities for advancement, the Golden State is one of the best states for teachers to work.