How to Become a Teacher In California

Learning how to become a teacher in California can seem like a daunting process, especially if you’ve done any sort of research on the various certification processes for specific types of teaching. You may have even been perplexed by the various budget cuts affecting teachers throughout the state in recent years.

Becoming a teacher in California really just comes down to how you’ll focus your teaching expertise. Will you teach high school? What subjects do you want to teach? Will you teach elementary school children? Or will you focus your efforts teaching children with special needs? Each career track comes with its own set of challenges and required certifications. Let’s take a closer look at the teaching certification and preparation process in the state of California.

California’s Teaching Climate

Contrary to what you may have heard, there is actually a shortage of teachers within the California school system. According to a September 2012 article on, there is a shortage in the mathematics and special education fields of education that needs to be filled by willing and passionate educators. In other words, it’s a great time to pursue an education degree in California.

Types of Teaching Certifications in California

Whether you want to teach high school, elementary or special needs students, you need to obtain the correct certification for each career path. In the state of California to become an elementary school teacher you must obtain a certification called the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. High school teachers, on the other hand, must obtain a Single Subject Teaching Credential. Finally, special education teachers must earn the Education Specialist Instruction Credential.

According to California’s Department of Education, there are six ways to qualify for these credentials:

  • Graduating from an accredited college or university.
  • Completing a college or university internship program.
  • Completing a district internship program
  • Teaching at a private school
  • Completing an internship program early
  • Working in the Peace Corps.

California also has a broad series of exams that must be passed to receive a teaching license.

Getting Your Teaching Degree Online

For many aspiring teachers, heading off to a university to study education full-time is not an option. Those who are tied down by jobs to make ends meet need flexible learning options that don’t require them to sit in a classroom for several hours a week. This is why more and more aspiring teachers are opting for online degree programs.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, online degrees have seen massive growth over the past decade or so. For instance, in 2001 the amount of awarded degrees through the University of Phoenix was just 72. In 2011, the same online university awarded almost 6,000 degrees. In short, pursuing your teaching certification online is a great way to pursue your dream career without sacrificing your current livelihood.