Roadmap to Teaching in California

Need a map?

If you’re considering teaching as a career, we’re here to help. The roadmap below shows each step of becoming a teacher here in California. You will see every step from deciding what you want to teach to the final steps of earning your Clear credential.

A road with the words "you are here" at the beginning, showing the steps to obtaining a credential. At the end of the road, the words "you have arrived at your destination!"

What do you want to teach?

The first decision you need to make is what or who do you want to teach? The three types of teaching credentials available are the Multiple Subject, Single Subject, and Education Specialist Instruction. If you're great with younger kids, you might want the Multiple Subject credential. Or if you prefer working with older students and teaching one subject exclusively, you might decide to go for the Single Subject credential. And if your heart lies with students with disabilities, the Education Specialist Instruction credential is meant for you. Try the Find Your Career Path tool below to learn more!

Which program pathway will you choose?

To teach in California, you will need to earn a credential by completing a Commission-approved teacher preparation program. There are several pathways to choose from. While each has benefits, certain pathways provide particularly strong clinical practice (field experience) to prospective teachers. Research indicates that with such practice, new teachers feel more prepared and supported,1 and they stay with the profession longer.2 Depending on the program, the format may be in-person, virtual, or hybrid and you may have the option to earn your bachelor's or master's degree along with your Preliminary credential (a professional-level license valid for 5 years). Programs may offer distinct opportunities to access financial resources, including the ability to start earning income and serving as the teacher sooner in some cases. Explore the program pathways to find the one that's right for you.

 

How do I find the right teacher preparation program?

This dashboard shows the Commission-approved institutions offering California educator preparation programs, separated out by program pathway. Navigate to each pathway using the tabs at the top, and filter to narrow down the list and find the program that's best for you.

Complete Program Requirements to Earn Your Preliminary

Once you're enrolled, your program will guide you in completing all your requirements. Your program sponsor can answer any questions you have about exactly what you need to do in order for you to be recommended for your Preliminary credential, a professional-level license that is valid for 5 years. You may now begin teaching based on this credential.

 

Complete Induction to Earn Your Clear Credential

After you've obtained your Preliminary credential, the final step is to clear it through an induction program. Induction is a two-year job-embedded individualized program focused on extensive support and mentoring for new teachers in their first and second year of teaching and is commonly offered in cooperation with your employing school district. Upon completing induction, you will be recommended for your Clear credential! The Clear credential is the last level of credential and can be renewed every 5 years. 

 

Questions?

If you have questions at any stage in the credentialing process, please reach out to careerguidance@ctc.ca.gov so that you can be connected directly to an Education Career Counselor.

 

References

  1. Silva et al (2014). Teaching residency programs: A multisite look at a new model to prepare teachers for high-need schools (NCEE 2015-4002). Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.; Sloan et al (2018). A Different, More Durable Model: Hunter College Urban Teacher Residency Project. New Visions for Public Schools.

  2. Ong et al (2021). CTERIN Policy Brief: Diversifying California's Teaching Force: How Teachers Enter the Classroom, Who They Serve, & If They Stay. California Teacher Education Research & Improvement Network.; Goldhaber et al (2022). Room for improvement? Mentor teachers and the evolution of teacher preservice clinical evaluations, American Educational Research Journal 59(5), pp. 1011-1048.; Papay et al (2012). Does an urban teacher residency increase student achievement? Early evidence from Boston, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 34(4), pp. 413–434.; Sloan et al (2018). A Different, More Durable Model: Hunter College Urban Teacher Residency Project. New Visions for Public Schools.; Valente et al (2023). Establishing partnerships in the Central Valley to expand the teacher residency model, Issues in Teacher Education 32(1), pp. 8-23.

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Updated February 01, 2024