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Most people would agree that having good teachers for our children is important, hence why teaching career requirements were established in the first place. Setting standards for our teachers helps to ensure they have adequate training and skills to effectively tackle the challenges of education. In collaboration with the California Department of Education, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) contributes significantly to aligning the accreditation process by providing support to schools for increasing student learning, establishing student-oriented goals and purposes, and engaging in internal and external evaluations that continuously enhance student learning.

Though every state has unique and often cumbersome regulations for teachers, putting these requirements in place does have its benefits. It protects teachers from teaching subjects in which they hold no expertise, so that it does not result in inferior and less-qualified instruction. Not only do certifications benefit students, but teachers also receive some perks obtained through more stringent requirements, such as the increase in pay that often accompanies a more educated teacher. As such, the state of California has its own unique set of requirements that teachers must complete in order to ensure better education among students across the state.

Requirements for Becoming a Teacher in California

In the state of California, teaching certificates/bachelor's degrees are mandatory before you can obtain elementary-, middle-, or high-school teaching positions. Students wishing to become special education teachers must also earn a bachelor's degree and successfully complete the Education Specialist Instruction Credential1. Be aware that, in California, universities and colleges do not offer education majors.

Elementary teachers: Need a bachelor's degree, completion of a teaching certification program composed of multiple subjects, and apply for the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.

Middle/High school teachers: A bachelor's degree, completion of an accredited teacher prep program, applying for a Single Subject Teaching Credential, and proving competency in one or more subject areas is necessary to teach in California secondary schools.

Special education teachers: Prospective special education teachers must obtain an Education Specialist Instruction Credential, earn a bachelor's degree, and complete a teaching prep program focusing primarily on principles of special education.

In addition to making sure a teaching certificate is given by a WASC-accredited school, teachers are encouraged to seek bilingual certification due to California’s increasing Hispanic population as a means of improving job prospects. In addition, the California Department of Education urges teachers to consider obtaining national board certification provided by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This certification demonstrates a teacher possesses a higher level of competency as a teacher in California.

Alternative Teaching Certificates in California

Graduates of accredited higher learning institutions earning non-teaching degrees may still receive an alternative teaching certificate by meeting or exceeding certain requirements. These requirements include satisfying performance-based assessments, passing an examination given by regionally accredited schools, OR completing a course on principles and provisions of the U.S. Constitution, and being trained by a certified teacher.

Interested in learning more about California’s teacher credentialing programs? Alliant’s California School of Education offers a variety of degrees, certificates, and credentials. For more information contact an Alliant admissions counselor today.


  1. Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Education Specialist Instruction Credential (CL-808CA),…-(cl-808ca), Nov. 29, 2021

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