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California is famous for its pleasant weather and laidback lifestyle. Many fantasize about moving to the Golden State and plan for years to make their dreams a reality.

If you’re a qualified teacher from another state, however, finding a job and moving to California may be quicker and easier than you think. For many teachers, it may be possible to transfer your license with minimal extra work.

Before packing up to move west, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of California teacher reciprocity. This guide will unpack the process of transferring your teacher’s license to California and how to overcome any potential hurdles you may encounter along the way.

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What is Teacher Reciprocity?

Teacher reciprocity refers to legal agreements that allow teachers from one state to teach in another—assuming you meet the state’s specific standards. Different states have varying requirements for reciprocity. While some states allow teachers to transfer their license without any additional requirements, others may need you to:1

  • Prove past teaching experience
  • Complete coursework and teacher certification
  • Attend training for professional development
  • Pass additional assessments

California is an enticing option for teachers looking to relocate due to its robust pension plan, disability benefits, and affordable access to healthcare.2 However, the state does have some specific requirements for transferring licenses, including:3

  • Coursework – Out-of-state teachers must meet the full subject matter requirements for their field—meaning you need to complete any coursework their degree didn’t cover. Additionally, all California teachers must meet the minimum coursework standards for teaching English speakers, which includes credits in a second language and human relations. 
  • Assessments – Teachers who haven’t completed a basic skills assessment in another state must pass one before working in California. Furthermore, meeting the state’s standards for teaching English speakers may require further testing. 
  • Proving experience – California requires two years of teaching experience, complete with records of your performance reviews. Those with less experience can take an induction program to bridge this gap.

Depending on your qualifications, many teachers may have already fulfilled most requirements to transfer their license to California quickly and seamlessly.

The Process of Transferring a Teaching Credential to California

California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) handles out-of-state teacher transfers into California. They offer a two-tiered credential system where teachers first obtain a preliminary credential (valid for five years) before being required to apply for a full (clear) credential.4

To apply to the CTC and obtain your preliminary credential, the general steps to take are:5

  1. Compile your official transcripts, letters of experience, basic skills requirement certification, photocopies of out-of-state credentials, and performance evaluations.
  2. Get a Live Scan and keep hold of the receipt (form 41-LS), or get two sets of fingerprint cards done.
  3. Complete the application form 41-4.
  4. Pay the CTC’s transfer processing fee.
  5. Mail all your documentation to the CTC and wait for them to contact you.

Currently, there’s about a two-month wait time for processing license transfers.6 If you’re a military spouse, however, the state may expedite your application at your request.7

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California's Teaching Credential Reciprocity Policies

As mentioned, educators must meet the subject degree and coursework requirements for the field you teach in, as well as the state’s prerequisites for teaching English speakers.8 Learn how to get a teaching credential in California if you’re ineligible for the reciprocity program. Additionally, you should aim to understand and uphold California’s six established standards for teaching:9

  • Engaging and supporting all students in learning
  • Creating and maintaining effective environments for student learning
  • Understanding and organizing subject matter for student learning
  • Planning instruction and designing learning experiences for all students
  • Assessing students for learning
  • Developing as a professional educator

Furthermore, teachers hoping to secure specialized roles might need additional qualifications. Special Education positions, for example, require teachers to obtain an Education Specialist Instruction Credential before stepping into the classroom.10 Learn how to become a special education teacher and start your fulfilling career at Alliant.

To stay current on California’s teaching trends and the latest education news, consult the California Department of Education’s public outreach site, TEACH California.

Challenges and Considerations

While transferring a teaching license to California can be simple for some, it may be more difficult for others, depending on their educational and experiential background. If your degree didn’t include specific courses required to teach your subject, for instance, you may need to complete them before being granted licensure. 

Furthermore, if you have less than two years of classroom experience, you’ll likely be required to take an induction program before you can begin leading classes. Everyone’s transfer process will be slightly different depending on their qualifications. To make the procedure as smooth as possible, read the specific requirements for your field, subject, and age group. 

The CTC is a trustworthy source for finding up-to-date information on California’s teaching requirements. Similarly, TEACH California has resources dedicated to helping out-of-state teachers successfully transfer their licenses. 

Get Qualified to Teach in California with Alliant International University.

If you have dreams of teaching in California but don’t meet all the educational requirements, Alliant International University can help you get ready for the classroom. Whether you’re after a Single Subject Teaching Credential or a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, Alliant offers both via convenient online programs. Explore our guide comparing the Single Subject vs. Multiple Subject Teaching Credential to learn which specialty matches your interests.

Any knowledgeable teacher knows we all learn differently, and that’s why Alliant offers three different paths to both of our teaching certifications:

  • Student Teaching, a 16-week teaching placement in at least two different grade levels
  • Standard Intern Teaching, which helps prepare you for success while interning in a teaching environment
  • Early Completion Intern Teaching, a quicker version of the Intern Teaching path for teachers with previous classroom experience

Learn more about our California teaching credentials and get started on your path to working in the Golden State today.


  1. Wilkins, JoAnne. “50-State Comparison: Teacher License Reciprocity.” Education Commission of the States, September 2, 2023. Accessed October 20, 2023
  2. “CalSTRS.” TEACH California. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  3. “State Profile - California.” Education Commission of the States, June 2020. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  4. “Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (CL-561).” Commission on Teacher Counseling.…-(cl-561). Accessed October 20, 2023.
  5. “Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (CL-561).” Commission on Teacher Counseling.…-(cl-561). Accessed October 20, 2023
  6. “Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (CL-561).” Commission on Teacher Counseling.…-(cl-561). Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  7.  “State Profile - California.” Education Commission of the States, June 2020. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  8. “State Profile - California.” Education Commission of the States, June 2020. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  9. “California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP) (2009).” Commission on Teacher Credentialing.…. Accessed October 20, 2023.
  10. “Prepare to Be a Special Educator in California.” TEACH California. Accessed October 20, 2023.  

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