California is the most populous state in the nation, and according to the Public Policy Institute of California, it's expected to surge to a record 50 million residents by 2050. With population growth, there comes a need for new schools, and thus, new teachers. For that reason, California teaching credentials will likely be in higher demand in the future than they are now. In fact, data from Projections Central shows that most teacher positions in California have a higher growth rate than the nationwide growth for those positions, from 2014 to 2024.
Students who learn how to become a teacher in California now will be in good shape to take advantage of all of the opportunities that are yet to come. This career comes with a lot of responsibility and impacts many lives, so there are a number of requirements that must be met before entering the field.
Prerequisites and Tests for California Teachers
According to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the process can vary based on what level of the teaching profession one wants to join. There are also varying requirements for public versus private schools.
One of the common paths is to become an elementary school teacher, which has the following basic educational requirements in most states:
- Earn a multiple subject teaching credential
- Earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited school
Those who want to teach in California need to satisfy some basic requirements in order to earn their state credentials, which includes the following prerequisites:
- Completing a multiple-subject teacher preparation program
- Completing a commission-approved elementary subject matter program
- Passing the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA)
- Satisfying the Developing English Language Skills, including a reading requirement, passing an exam or taking courses on provisions and principles of the U.S. constitution, and completing foundational computer technology coursework
The very last step is either a General Education Induction Program or a General Education Clear Credential Program.
The process for earning California teaching credentials to teach high school is strikingly similar to the above requirements, with the exception that high school teachers must earn a single subject teaching credential. This helps them learn to focus their instruction on one major discipline or form of subject matter, which is most often what secondary school teachers do.
Students who want to teach special education will take a slightly different route and earn an education specialist instruction credential. All other requirements are the same with the exception that they must also pass the appropriate subject matter examination(s) as specified in Verifying Subject Matter Competence by Examination, complete a commission- approved single subject matter program of course work, or pass the appropriate subject matter examinations for certain, specialized Science subjects.
Teaching Degrees, Certifications and Credentials
While elementary teachers focus on earning a multiple subject teaching credential and high school teachers must earn a single subject teaching credential, there are other, distinct credentials available to those who want to teach adult or vocational programs, including:
- Designated Subjects Adult Education Teaching Credential
- Designated Subjects Career Technical Education Teaching Credential
- Designated Subjects Vocational Education Teaching Credential
- Special Subjects Teaching Credential
- Designated Subjects Supervision and Coordination Credential
All teaching careers in California must start with a bachelor's degree, although there is some flexibility in the subject matter or major chosen. A Bachelor of Science in Education is a popular option, as is a bachelor degree in elementary education. Many teachers in the state also go on to earn advanced degrees in order to increase their job prospects and earn higher pay.
Career Outlook for Teachers in California
Because of the expected population growth in the state, the career outlook for those with California teaching credentials looks bright. Data from Projections Central and U.S. Department of Labor shows that the following teaching professions expect plenty of growth during the decade leading up to 2024:
- Kindergarten and Elementary Special Education Teachers: 9.8%
- Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Vocational: 9.6%
- Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education: 9.5%
- Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Vocational: 9.5%
- Preschool Special Education Teachers: 9.5%
- Middle School Special Education Teachers: 9.4%
- Secondary School Special Education Teachers: 9%
- Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education: 7.6%
Since California already has so many teachers to begin with, this anticipated growth should be very encouraging. And along with excellent job prospects, many of these careers feature relatively high pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following teaching careers in California featured the highest annual mean wages as of May 2015:
- Secondary School Teachers: $74,770
- Secondary Special Education Teachers: $74,360
- Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education: $72,360
- Secondary School Career/Technical Education Teachers: $69,930
Learning how to become a teacher in California is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to make your dream career a reality, you need to explore the educational opportunities that are available and choose a school and program that will meet your needs.
- California's Population, Public Policy Institute of California, http://www.ppic.org/main/publication_show.asp?i=259
- How to Become a Teacher in California, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/teach.html
- Long-Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
- May 2015, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, California, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ca.htm#25-0000