California authorizes special education teaching in elementary, middle, and high schools via the Education Specialist Teaching Credential. This credential is issued in specific specialty areas that align with Federal Disability Categories. If your out-of-state credential was issued in only "Special Education," or in a specialty area that does not align with a California specialty area, the Commission may issue you a Level I credential in one of these specialty areas: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Moderate/Severe Disabilities, or Early Childhood Special Education. 

Minimum Requirements

To qualify for this credential based on out-of-state preparation, you must submit the following minimum requirements:

  1. Application Form (41-4) and processing fee.
  2.         See the application instructions to be sure the form is properly filled out.
  3. Official transcripts verifying your Bachelor's degree (and any additional higher degrees).
    The transcripts must be the original college issued documents, not photocopies, but they do not have to be sealed in the original envelope.
  4. A copy of your professional-level out-of-state teaching license authorizing special education teaching.
    Be sure to include a copy of the back of the document if the back has any licensing information or authorizations printed on it. If your out-of-state special education authorization/endorsement is only in special education or in a specialty area that does not align with a California specialty area then it is considered "generic" and you will only be eligible for Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Moderate/Severe Disabilities, or Early Childhood Special Education specialty areas. Providing a letter verifying student teaching or two years of full-time teaching experience in the requested specialty area will allow you to clear specific requirements. Submitting such a letter (if possible) with your application is advised but not required.
  5. Evidence of fingerprint processing.
    See Credential Leaflet CL-271 regarding fingerprint requirements. 

Suggested for Submission

The following documentation is suggested, but not required, for initial certification. If you have any of the following additional information please include it with your application packet so that the Commission can clear you of future renewal requirements:

  1. A copy of an out-of-state examination that meets the requirements for the California Basic Skills Examination.
    See Credential Leaflet CL-667 for additional information, including examples of out-of-state examinations that meet this requirement.
    Note: An applicant who does not meet this requirement with their initial application will have one year to complete the Basic Skills Requirement. Failure to do so after one year will make them ineligible for California public school employment.
  2. If applicable, verification of two or more years of successful full-time out-of-state teaching experience in special education.
    Experience verification must include an original letter from your out-of-state employer(s) AND two years of satisfactory performance evaluations. See the definitions for "Full-Time Teaching Experience" and "Satisfactory Performance Evaluations" on page 6 of Commission Leaflet CL-808 for detailed for detailed information on what your experience letters and evaluations MUST include.


California has a two-tier credential structure. A Level I credential is the first document issued after an individual meets basic credential requirements. The Level I credential is issued for a maximum of five years. A clear credential is issued when all credential requirements have been completed. If requirements for the clear credential are not completed before the expiration of the Level I, the holder will be unable to teach in California's public schools with that credential until those requirements are met and the document is renewed.    

Updated August 09, 2022