Did you know in California there are 6,186,278 K-12 students attending public schools and 54.6% of those students are Latina/o/x?
Middle School/High School Students
Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs out there. Everyday you get to help your community and make a difference in students lives! The following steps are suggestions to help you reach for and better prepare for your goals:
Attain Experience Working With Kids and Decide What you Want to Teach
If you want to become a teacher you’ll need to have some experience during high school working with kids. You can be a counselor at a summer camp, volunteer at your past elementary or high school, at an after school program or help with child care at your church. The important point is to get experience so you can see that you enjoy working with youth and meet professionals in the field so you can ask about their experience.
Get an Education
The college application is due the fall semester of senior year. You can talk with your counselor at school for guidance on how to best complete it. It is important to enroll in college, sign up for general education classes, and pick a major by the end of your sophomore year, if not sooner. To become a teacher you can major in liberal studies if you want to become an elementary school teacher. If you want to teach middle school or high school major in the specific subject you want to teach. For example science, history, or math. While you take the classes needed to graduate from college, learn about yourself, join extracurricular activities and get experience working with kids.
Get your Teacher Certification and Complete Requirements
After you complete your bachelor’s degree, it is necessary to complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. Most programs offer a Master’s degree in Teaching (MAT) or Master’s of Arts (MA) in Education with certification/credential requirements. Once enrolled additional information is provided in terms of exams needed to teach in the state of California. Additional information on the application for subject matter equivalency can be found here.
In order to become a certified teacher (commonly known as a credential) in a public school you will need to follow these steps:
Step One: Complete a bachelor's degree and other prerequisite coursework
The first step to getting certified as a teacher is choosing a specialization and/or grade level you want to teach and earning your bachelor's degree. All states require that certified teachers at a minimum have a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, some states have undergraduate credit hour requirements for certification in specialty areas. For example, if you want to become an elementary school teacher, a common major is liberal education. If your goal is to teach in high school and middle school you will major in the area of study you want to teach. For example, this can include: math, English, Spanish, or science.
Step Two: Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program
After your bachelor’s degree, you'll need to complete an approved teacher preparation program.
Teacher education programs consist of a combination of academic work and fieldwork. The required classes include instruction on foundational knowledge and skills, pedagogy (the art and science of teaching), and preparing students to research, design, and implement learning experiences in their field of study. The fieldwork component can include school observations, student teaching at schools, and an internship.
While getting your master’s degree and certification may seem financially overwhelming, there are a number of financial resources specifically for teachers that exist around the country. For more information, visit the scholarships for teachers or look for more financial aid links on our resource page.
Graduates of accredited colleges or universities whose bachelor’s degree was not in education, and who have not yet earned a traditional teaching certificate, can still receive an alternative teaching certificate, sometimes known as an emergency credential, by satisfying certain requirements.
Information about alternative programs are available on your state’s website. For example, for California teacher certification can be found on the Certification Map California Alternative Certification Programs page.
Step Three: Pass all state-mandated requirements and exams
Basic Skills: California requires the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) or the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) is required. The California Commission on Teacher Credentials External link requires everyone who wants to become a teacher to meet the state’s basic skills requirement, which can be achieved by passing these tests.
Verify Subject Matter Competence: If you want to get a Single Subject Teaching Credential to teach in middle school or high school. You also need to pass one competence exam in the area you want to teach, for example art, biology, math, social science known as the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) or complete an approved subject preparation program. Below is a list of the many subjects that CSET exams are offered. You only need to take one exam in the subject you want to teach.
- American Sign Language
- Chemistry, specialized
- English Language Development
- Foreign Languages
- Foundational-Level General Science
- Foundational-Level Mathematics
- Health Science
- Home Economics
- Industrial and Technological Education
- Physical Education
- Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Geosciences, Physics
- Social Science
Meet U.S. Constitution course/exam by a regionally-accredited college or university.
Complete the California Teaching Commission's fingerprint character and identification process, whose moral and professional fitness has been shown to meet the standards as established by law.
Step Four: Attain Recommendation to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing
Finally, you need to attain a formal recommendation to obtain your credential to the state governing board by the university/institution you are attending. Your institution will let you know what the governing board for your specific state entails.
The supporting documentation may include official transcripts, letters verifying experience, examination score, and other information needed to determine your eligibility for the current issuance of the credential. Make sure you have all your supporting documents!
Where do you want to teach?
Elementary School Teachers
Elementary school teaching includes many grade levels. In some places, it includes kindergarten through eighth grade. In other areas, it goes through the fifth grade, and sixth, seventh and eighth grades are considered middle school. However, most elementary school teachers focus on a specific grade level, teaching one class of students who are around the same age. Elementary school teachers usually have one class and they teach their students several different subjects. These subjects include mathematics, science, social studies, language arts, music, art and reading. Elementary school teachers are expected to be creative, very hands-on, creating fun and enthusiastic environments within their classrooms and adapting to meet the needs of all of their students.
I want to teach in elementary school.
There are many different paths to becoming an elementary school teacher. Individuals who want to teach in elementary must earn a multiple subject teaching credential. California’s statistics indicate there’s a need for elementary school teachers prepared to teach culturally diverse students.
Middle School Teachers
Teachers in middle school work with a variety of students in grades six, seven and eight. A middle school teacher needs to be flexible with lesson plans, they need to be creative and capture students’ attention and understand the life transitions of middle school students. Teaching middle school can be a rewarding experience. Middle school is the time to start teaching students more challenging material and preparing them for high school. This is also a very important social stage for students, so, as their teacher, you mentor them and help them in their social and identity development.They are trained to understand the psychological, social, and intellectual development of children aged 10-14 and to increase their motivation to learn. In California alone there were 1,435,870 middle school students in the school year 2018-2019. So there’s a high need for middle school teachers.
I want to teach in middle school.
Like high school teachers, middle school teachers specialize in teaching specific subjects and must earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential.
High School Teachers
As a high school teacher you will prepare and deliver lessons on specific subject areas to students in grades 9 through 12. Unlike elementary school teachers who typically teach many subjects, a high school teacher is usually responsible for teaching only one subject, such as math or English, to different classes of students throughout the day. A high school teacher develops lesson plans, assesses student performance and progress, meets with administrators and parents as needed, and might tutor students who need extra attention in a given subject area. As a high school teacher you must master knowledge of specific subject areas in which you are teaching, adapt lesson plans to address different learning levels and prepare class activities to supplement the material and engage all students.
I want to teach in high school.
If you would like to teach in a high school, you will need to explore the requirements for a Single Subject Teaching Credential.
Special Education Teachers
As a special education teacher you will provide instruction and support to facilitate the participation of students with disabilities in the general classroom. As a special education teacher you are responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of students’ Individualized education plans (IEPs). IEP’s are specific plans for students who need special accommodations to learn successfully. You also provide information to the general classroom teacher prior to the student entering the general education classroom regarding the student’s disability, and what accommodations they need to be successful. You will also collaborate with the general education teacher by providing appropriate modifications and ensuring the implementation of modifications, and assessing overall progress of the student. You may also teach lessons in small class groups, the class as a whole, or individually. As a special education teacher the ability to collaborate in teams, specifically, other teachers, administrations, students and their families, is vital to succeeding.
I want to teach special education students.
Individuals who want to teach special education students must earn an Education Specialist Instruction Credential.
Bilingual education is the process of teaching students using two languages. Bilingual teachers usually teach students in their native language, for example Spanish, in conjunction with a second language, for example English. They utilize their first and second language depending on the requirements specified in lesson plans and teaching models bilingual teachers are much needed in schools. Especially those schools that offer bilingual education or dual language immersion programs. Being bilingual and earning a bilingual teaching credential, allows teachers to work with student populations whose first language may not be English, and to teach in settings where the first language can be used to support students' English language development and access to curriculum.
I want to teach special bilingual students.
In order to become a bilingual teacher in California, you need to complete the bilingual authorization which is called the Bilingual Authorization (BLA) certification. Teachers must pass relevant sections of the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET): Languages Other Than English (LOTE) test, which evaluates test-takers’ ability to read, write, listen and speak in a language other than English, as well as proficiency in teaching bilingual students and an understanding of the culture and history of the language. Various Bilingual Authorization programs exist today and completing a program at an approved institution leads to completion of the necessary state exams. These programs may be referred to as Bilingual Authorization certificate programs or BLA certificate programs. Additional information can be found directly on the California Teaching Commission Website.