How Do I Get A Teaching Credential?

"I want to go into teaching when I get older, probably at the high-school level, but I might be interested in teaching college. I don’t really know yet. What I am wondering is, how do I go about getting a teaching credential? Is it a state-based thing, or a nationwide requirement? Do I need a degree in education? Should I get a degree in the subject I plan to teach instead?"

asked by Jose from Los Angeles, CA

Let’s say that you plan to teach high school. The requirements to obtain a teaching credential differ depending on the state you’re in, so you’ll want to check with your state commission. In California, that would be the State of California Commission On Teacher Credentialing. If you were in another state, it’d have another name.

There you’ll find documentation relating to teaching credentials, how to apply, and other information related to becoming a high-school teacher in the state of California.

You would want to obtain a Single Subject Teaching Credential, which allows you to teach a specific subject, like English, Mathematics, a particular Science, Art, or so on. There are a number of steps you need to complete, starting with the completion of a higher degree program.

A bachelor’s degree in either education or the subject you plan to teach should be sufficient, but is not optimum (for reasons I’ll explain below).

Keep in mind that if you get a degree in chemistry only to decide you want to teach art, that might damage your chances. So if you’re not sure on your focus, best to get an education degree. Note that if you keep going and get a master’s degree or doctoral degree, you might be able to teach in university instead.

After you get your degree, you will have to pass an exam called the CBEST, which certifies you have a basic level of intelligence and skill in several subjects. This is a California requirement only.

Next you’ll need to enroll in a teacher preparation program which has been approved by the state commission and receive a formal recommendation from the school where you took the course.

From there – you’ll have to prove you are competent in the subject you wish to teach. There are several different ways you can do this.
You can either:

Then you’ll need to satisfy a requirement for Developing English Language Skills by completing another course, and then you’ll have to take a class in the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, followed by a computer course.

As you can tell—this is a lot. The best way to do it as thus to get a degree in teaching from an approved university program. A university program in teaching should allow you to complete all requirements, including your bachelor’s degree, within five years.

If you major in your subject matter and then proceed from there, you may have a more difficult time getting everything done within a reasonable timeframe.

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