California values cultural and ethnic diversity! As such, the state has created pathways that allow foreign educators to use their previous teacher training to qualify for California credentials. If you taught or completed professional teacher preparation in another country, you may qualify.


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Turn Your International Experience into a California Teaching Credential

People from all over the world can become teachers in California. You will need to earn a credential prior to entering a classroom. Due to the variety of languages and programs, everyone prepared outside the United States must have their transcripts (and any certificates and licenses obtained) evaluated by one of the Commission-approved foreign transcript evaluation agencies. Please note that this must be a detailed, course-by-course evaluation and not a basic summary evaluation.

Image shows the materials needed for a Preliminary credential and the requirements to upgrade it to a Clear credential. If you meet all requirements at the time you apply, you will be issued a Clear instead of a Preliminary.


In order to earn a credential, foreign educators must provide a transcript evaluation that shows a bachelor's degree and a teacher preparation program that includes student teaching. Most foreign educators receive an initial or "Preliminary" credential and will need to complete additional requirements called renewal requirements to obtain their Clear credential. The holder of a Preliminary credential has 5 years to complete the renewal requirements to "clear" the credential. Once a Clear credential has been issued, it can be renewed online every 5 years.

Please note that Preliminary credentials must be cleared within the validity period and cannot be reissued without completing renewal requirements.

Teaching Options

The three types of teaching credentials available are the Multiple Subject, Single Subject, and Education Specialist Instruction. They authorize different subject areas and have different requirements to obtain them.

Types of Teaching Credentials

Elementary School Teacher (Multiple Subject Teaching Credential)

Authorizes the holder to teach in a self-contained classroom such as the classrooms in most elementary schools. However, a teacher authorized for multiple subject instruction may be assigned to teach in any self-contained classroom such as Pre-K or in a core or team teaching setting as in some K-8 and middle schools.

Apply for the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential!

Middle and Secondary School Teacher (Single Subject Teaching Credential)

Authorizes the holder to teach the specific subject(s) named on the credential in departmentalized classes such as those in most middle schools and high schools. However, a teacher authorized for single subject instruction may be assigned to teach any subject in their authorized fields at any grade level: preschool, grades K–12, or in classes organized primarily for adults. For the statutory subjects available for Single Subject teaching credentials, please see below:

  • Agriculture
  • Art
  • Business
  • Dance
  • English
  • Foundational-Level General Science
  • Foundational-Level Mathematics
  • Health Science
  • Home Economics
  • Industrial & Technology Education
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Science: Biological Sciences
  • Science: Chemistry
  • Science: Geosciences
  • Science: Physics
  • Social Science
  • Theater
  • World Language: English Language Development
  • World Language (languages other than English)

Apply for the Single Subject Teaching Credential!

Special Education (Education Specialist Instruction Credential)

Authorizes the holder to teach in the area of specialization listed on the credential. The areas of specialization are Mild to Moderate Support Needs, Extensive Support Needs, Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Visual Impairments, and Early Childhood Special Education.

Apply for the Education Specialist Instruction Teaching Credential!

Serving Multilingual or English Learner Students

What's an English Learner Authorization?

Multilingual students or English Learners are students who have not yet attained full proficiency in English. Students designated in these categories must be taught by teachers that hold an English Learner Authorization. If an educator has even one English Learner in the classroom, they must hold the appropriate authorization to serve them in accordance with California law. There are a few types of English Learner services available depending on students’ needs. This resource describes the types and how to obtain the appropriate authorization depending on how you obtained your California teaching credential.


Serving Multilingual or English Learner Students

Emergency CLAD Permit

After applying for a teaching credential, you may find that an English Learner Authorization is also required for a position. If that’s the case, there’s no need to worry because your employer can help you apply for the type of authorization that’s needed. An English Leaner Authorization allows you to provide specialized instructional services to a student whose home language is not English. English Learner students make up a significant portion of California public school students.

There are a few types of authorizations available depending on students’ needs and the type of credential you have, but usually if you are teaching in a non-bilingual assignment, you will need an Emergency CLAD Permit. With this permit, you can teach English Learner students while you work toward obtaining the full authorization. The permit may only be applied for through your employing local education agency (LEA) and you must have a valid base credential (a California teaching credential or other acceptable credential). It is valid for one year but cannot have a later expiration date than the base credential, and once the Basic Skills Requirement has been met, can be renewed for a total of three permits.

Apply for the Emergency CLAD Permit!

Emergency Bilingual Authorization Permit

According to data collected in 2022 by the California Department of Education (CDE), English Learners make up 19% of the total enrollment in California public schools, and students who speak a language other than English in their homes make up about 40%. As a teacher coming from outside of California, you may be fluent in another language. If so, this will be a great asset to you in finding a teaching position and to the school that hires you! Bilingual teachers are in high demand and may be paid an additional stipend or higher salary depending on the employer.

To be authorized to teach a bilingual assignment, you will need an Emergency Bilingual Authorization Permit. Like the Emergency CLAD Permit, this permit may only be applied for through your local employing agency (LEA) and you must have a valid base credential. It is valid for one year, and once the Basic Skills Requirement has been met, can be renewed for a total of three permits.

Apply for the Emergency Bilingual Authorization Permit!

Renewal Requirements

After you have applied for and been granted a Preliminary credential, you may notice that it is displayed on the CTC website with certain requirements. You will need to fulfill these renewal requirements to qualify to apply for your Clear credential. What is listed for you is determined based on your preparation pathway and what you have already provided when you submitted your application to the CTC. It is important to be aware of your renewal requirements, how to complete them, and when your Preliminary credential expires so that you can come up with a plan to complete everything in time.

Getting Hired

The easiest way to get hired as a teacher is to inquire with the LEA or school where you want to work. Most LEAs hire educators in the spring and summer. Many continue to hire year-round due to staffing changes mid-year and can assist you with the process of applying for the appropriate credentials needed for the job.


Five children are sitting on the ground holding signs each with a greeting in a different language.  In the background is a classroom with posters of Dutch and Spanish vocabulary.


If you’re interested in a bilingual position, there may be more opportunities in areas of the state that are more ethnically diverse or have a higher concentration of English Learner students.

The CDE’s California School Directory may help you identify LEAs in the county where you want to work, or you can contact the county office of education directly to inquire which LEAs might have openings for bilingual teaching positions. You can find a link to each county office of education’s website on the California County Superintendents regional map.

If you’re currently teaching in another country, talk to your local Department of Education about participating in the Exchange Visitor Program!

Last but not least, visit our teaching employment opportunities page below to find information about teacher recruitment and hiring fairs, job postings you can apply for, and contact information for hiring districts and charter schools. Local education agencies across the state are eager to connect with you about employment opportunities at their schools. Your classroom is out there and your students can't wait to meet their favorite teacher!


Updated August 22, 2023