Do You Need to Have a Teaching Degree to Teach in California? | NU (2024)

The state of California has established some of the nation’s strictest eligibility requirements for teachers, helping ensure that educators are thoroughly qualified for their work. If you’re thinking about becoming a teacher in California, you’ll need to meet state standards for education and credentialing, which may be different from the rules that apply in your home state.

In this article, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how to become a teacher in California, including how to become a teacher without an education degree, how a credential differs from a degree, whether you need to have a background in education when applying to a master’s program in teaching, whether a teaching license is necessary in California, and other key information about the qualifications you’ll need.

Can You Become a Teacher without a Teaching Degree in California?

Unlike most other U.S. states, California requires all teachers to complete at least five years of higher education. Most teachers fulfill this requirement by earning a bachelor’s degree through a four-year program, then completing a graduate program and earning their master’s degree, such as a Master of Early Childhood Education. As an alternative, it may also be possible to enroll in a blended undergraduate teacher preparation program, which offers the opportunity to simultaneously earn your degree and your teaching credential.

Credentials are different from degrees, as we’ll discuss in a few minutes. But first, let’s recap what we just covered:

  • Uniquely, California regulations require five years of higher education to become a teacher.
  • You can meet this requirement either by:
    • Traditional Path — Earning your bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
    • Nontraditional Path — Participating in a blended credentialing program that has been approved by the state.

Can I Get a Teaching Job without a Teaching Certificate?

If you want to become certified to teach in California, you must generally complete a credential program that has been approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). For example, if you want to teach elementary school in California, you will need to earn a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. This can be accomplished through a university program, through an internship program, or even based on past experience in the Peace Corps or as a private school teacher, with the full list of options available here.

If you want to teach high school students, you will need a Single Subject Teaching Credential, since you will be focused on a specific discipline like English, mathematics, or history. Unique qualifications are needed to teach special education, which requires an Education Specialist Instruction Credential per CTC regulations.

If you are interested in furthering your education career by earning your teaching credential, National University offers a wide range of accredited credential programs in multiple and single subjects, preparing you to teach in a self-contained preK-12 classroom while meeting vigorous state credentialing requirements.

How do you know whether a program or institution has been approved by the CTC? Simple: just browse this list.

Can You Be a Teacher without a Degree in Education?

In short, yes: a wide variety of degree types may fulfill the state’s education requirements, such as degrees in mathematics or science. However, if you’re still in the process of deciding on an undergraduate program to apply to, you may want to consider an education-related program, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (BAECE).

If you already have your bachelor’s degree — even in a subject other than teaching or education — you may be able to enter a variety of graduate programs that can help steer you toward a career in education, such as a Master of Arts in Education (MAE) or Master of Science in Educational and Instructional Technology. Be advised, however, that some master’s degree programs are designed for students with experience in education.

As yet another alternative, you can apply to enter a credentialing program, being sure to double-check that it has already earned CTC approval.

Can You Teach High School without an Education Degree?

If your goal is to teach high school in California, you should focus on obtaining your bachelor’s and master’s degrees or completing a CTC-approved blended program as an alternative. Whether you take the traditional or nontraditional path, California educators must possess a Single Subject Teaching Credential in order to teach high school. As the CTC explains, “There are a variety of routes an individual can take to earn the Single Subject Teaching Credential,” like completing school district internship programs, having prior private school teaching experience, or completing college programs like those offered at National University.

As the previous section discussed, you can enter a credential program or master’s program with many types of bachelor’s degrees — not necessarily just a degree in education. However, an undergraduate degree in or related to teaching will help strengthen your eligibility for graduate teaching programs.

Can You Teach with Any Degree?

At minimum, you will need a bachelor’s degree to teach most grade levels and school subjects in California, including elementary school. You can obtain a bachelor’s degree in various subjects, but must also complete a master’s degree program or a teaching credential program to fulfill the state’s requirements.

Many graduate programs are designed for students with classroom experience or undergraduate degrees in education. For example, the MAE at National University is intended for current early childhood educators.

While universities’ admission requirements vary, it will be easier to transition into a graduate teaching program if you have a bachelor’s degree that is related to teaching or education. However, even if your undergraduate degree is not directly related to education, you may still be a suitable candidate. You should compare programs carefully and speak with an admissions counselor to determine whether a master’s degree program or a teaching credential program might be a better match considering your background and professional goals.

Do I Need a Teaching License to Teach in California?

You must meet the state’s licensing requirements, which we have described throughout this article, in order to teach in California. However, there is one final requirement that we haven’t discussed yet: the state’s requirement that you demonstrate basic proficiency by passing one of several official exams. These exams include the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) Multiple Subject Plus Writing Skills Examination, and the CSU Placement Examinations or CSU Early Assessment Program (for California State University students). You may retake your exams if necessary, but will need to pay the exam fee again for successive attempts.

One final note regarding schools outside of California’s public school system, such as private or parochial schools: these institutions are regulated differently, providing unique teaching opportunities for educators. However, most schools will want to review applicants’ degrees and credentials, making it prudent to focus on earning your degree, obtaining your credential, and passing the CBEST or equivalent exam.

Earn Your Teaching Degree or Credential Through an NCATE-Accredited Education Program at National University

At the Sanford College of Education at National University, our teaching programs are focused on preparing you to sit for the CBEST or other professional exams. Our unique, accelerated program structure allows you to receive your certification faster, so that you can hit the ground running and explore the teaching career you’ve always dreamed of.

Help relieve California’s teacher shortage while making a positive impact on your students and challenging yourself to achieve new and fulfilling professional goals. Earn your teaching credential or degree through an NCATE-accredited education program at National University. With financial aid and scholarships, unique benefits for military students, and 100% online options available for many of our programs, National University provides the tools and support you need to take the first step toward a career in K-12 education. Contact our admissions office to learn more, or start your application today.

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Do You Need to Have a Teaching Degree to Teach in California? | NU (2024)


Can I teach something I don't have a degree in? ›

If you're looking for a fresh challenge, it's never too late to switch to a career in education. So, can you become a teacher without a degree in education? Yes. Good news – you don't have to go back to school and get another bachelor's degree in education to teach thanks to alternative teacher certification programs.

Can you be a teacher without a degree in education? ›

The Professional Teaching Certification (PTC) program is a non-degree program designed for individuals who have completed a Bachelor's degree in any field and who intend to teach at the secondary education level.

What do you need to teach in the state of California? ›

In California, the minimum education requirement for teacher certification is a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. You must also complete a teacher preparation program approved by the CTC. An approved program provides both educational curriculum and fieldwork.

Can you teach without a qualification? ›

So yes you can become a teacher without a degree and hold QTLS, which the government states has parity with QTS in maintained primary and secondary schools. There is however no guarantee that the schools you apply for will consider the QTLS qualification as equal to applicants holding QTS.

How can I become a teacher in California without a credential? ›

Can I Teach in California Without a Credential? While it's not possible to teach in a California public school without a credential, you could still work in the following positions: Private school teacher: According to California state regulations, teacher certification is optional for private schools.

How can I teach without teaching? ›

Here are some careers that could bring you into an education-focused position, but keep you out of the teaching role.
  1. Academic Advising. ...
  2. School Counseling. ...
  3. Student Affairs. ...
  4. School Administration. ...
  5. Educational Research. ...
  6. Education-Based Non-Profit Organizations.
5 Feb 2020

What is a teacher without a degree called? ›

Paraprofessionals can usually get started in the field without a four-year college degree, but it helps to have completed some college courses or an associate degree. Substitute teacher: Substitute teachers are typically required to have a bachelor's degree.

How long does it take to get a teaching certificate? ›

How many years do you have to study to be a teacher? The minimum number of years to become a qualified school teacher is four years.

How do I get teacher certification? ›

Traditional Teaching Certification
  1. Choose a bachelor's degree and teacher preparation program. ...
  2. Complete a student teaching experience. ...
  3. Take your state's required exam(s) for educators. ...
  4. Apply for teacher certification. ...
  5. Choose an alternative route teacher preparation program. ...
  6. Apply for a provisional teaching certificate.

Is it hard to be a teacher in California? ›

Your first step in becoming a teacher in California is to determine whether the role is a good fit for your personal and professional goals. Teaching is a challenging job that requires patience and commitment. Though highly rewarding, it is not for everyone.

How long does it take to get a California teaching credential? ›

The first part, the preliminary credential, takes about 2 years to complete. The second part, the clear credential, takes about another 2 years to complete. A clear teaching credential is granted when all the requirements, set by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, are met.

Which Cal State has the best teaching program? ›

5 Best Colleges in California for Teaching Degrees
  • 1. California State University – Fullerton. 4 Year; Fullerton, CA. ...
  • 2. California State University – Long Beach. 4 Year; Long Beach, CA. ...
  • San Diego State University. 4 Year; San Diego, CA. ...
  • San Jose State University. ...
  • 5. California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo.

Can you be an unqualified teacher without a degree? ›

To become a teacher without a degree is certainly possible, although you're going to have to acquire some training, experience or qualifications. In this article, we discuss the possibilities of becoming a teacher without a degree, the teaching qualifications you can acquire and the different schools you might work at.

How do I become a primary teacher without a degree? ›

You must have level 4 or grade C or above in GCSE Maths and English, and GCSE Science for primary teaching. To get on to a course with QTS you'll also need school experience, which means you've spent time observing and helping with lessons in a school, and a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Do you need a degree to be a primary teacher? ›

You'll usually need: 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science. 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree. a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course.

Can I teach in California without a degree? ›

At minimum, you will need a bachelor's degree to teach most grade levels and school subjects in California, including elementary school. You can obtain a bachelor's degree in various subjects, but must also complete a master's degree program or a teaching credential program to fulfill the state's requirements.

Can you teach in California without a Bachelor's degree? ›

There are several ways to become a teacher in California, but all public school teachers are required to hold a bachelor's degree. Those who do not already hold a bachelor's degree may complete a “blended” program that permits applicants to pursue an undergraduate degree and teaching credential simultaneously.

Is the CBEST waived in California? ›

In response to the shortage, most initial teacher credential fees are being waived between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. Unfortunately, California has not waived fees for variable term waivers, which include CBEST waivers.

Can I get a California teaching credential online? ›

Students in the Online California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential program can get their teaching credential online and learn how to create inclusive learning environments for classrooms from kindergarten through grade 12.

How much do teachers get paid in California? ›

The average California teacher salary was $82,746 for the 2019-2020 school year. This is over $20,000 higher than the national average.
3. Location of your School.
DistrictSan Francisco Unified
Average salary$75,872
Median home price*$1.3 million
9 more columns
20 Aug 2020

How much does a teaching credential cost in California? ›

2021-22 Standard Costs for California Residents
Living with parentsLiving off campus
Basic tuition and fees*$9,054$9,054
Books, supplies$1,091$1,091
Food, housing$9,914$15,375
2 more rows
24 Jun 2022

What is the maximum age to become a teacher? ›

KPSC Age Limit and Age Relaxation

To apply for the teacher recruitment exam, a candidate must be between 21-42 years.

How many years does the average teacher teach? ›

Years of teaching experience and grade level taughtTotalSuburban
Average number of years14.314.0
Years of teaching experience
34 more rows

Can I become a teacher with a diploma? ›

A diploma in teaching will often allow you to specialize in a certain field of teaching. For example a Diploma in Grade R Teaching will allow you to teach Grade R children only. This means that if you do not have the time or funds to take a full degree in teaching, a diploma might be the right path for you.

Can I get a teaching license online? ›

TSC Teacher Service Commission published the teaching license vacancy online application. is the website portal to apply online TSC License application for the all level.

What is a teacher preparation program for California? ›

Teacher Induction

California has a two-tiered credentialing system for teachers. Preliminary programs prepare candidates to obtain an initial teaching credential through successful completion of required coursework, fieldwork, and a performance demonstration of their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Are private school teachers required of a license? ›

The Department of Education-National Capital Region (NCR) issued Regional Memo 78, s. 2018 that requires all private schools in the region to strictly comply with the prescribed license for all its teaching personnel, subject to exceptions provided by law.

Why is there a teacher shortage in California? ›

Experts say low pay, increasing cost of living, retirement and the pandemic are all reasons for the shortage of teachers across the country. As a result, some districts have had to hire underprepared or under-qualified teachers to fill the need.

How many teachers quit in California? ›

The survey found that 1 in 5 teachers say they will likely leave the profession in the next three years, including 1 in 7 who say they will definitely leave. An additional 22% say there is a 50-50 chance they will leave.

Why are so many teachers quitting? ›

The tension and responsibility that educators like Gillum faced during the pandemic — combined with long-standing issues plaguing the profession, plus the coarsening of debates about classroom control, teacher pay and respect — have caused many to make the tough choice to leave the classroom.

What type of teacher is most in demand? ›

Which teaching subject is most in demand? While specific needs vary by institution, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are subjects that are always in high demand.

How much do elementary teachers get paid in California? ›

How much does a Teacher Elementary School make in California? The average Teacher Elementary School salary in California is $69,134 as of October 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $56,728 and $83,494.

How much do California high school teachers make? ›

How much does a High School Teacher make in California? The average High School Teacher salary in California is $69,600 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $56,400 and $86,600.

Where do teachers make the most money? ›

Pennsylvania, California and New York have the highest average teacher salaries in the country, compared to all other occupations.

What school has the best teaching program in California? ›

Here are the Best Education Schools in California
  • University of California--Los Angeles.
  • Stanford University.
  • University of California--Irvine.
  • University of California--Berkeley.
  • University of California--Davis.
  • University of California--San Diego.
  • San Diego State University.
  • Loyola Marymount University.

What is the best college to become a teacher in California? ›

University of California - Los Angeles

#1 Best Colleges for Education in California.

How long can you teach as an unqualified teacher? ›

There's no limit on how long unqualified teachers can work for, apart from the following exceptions: Trainee teachers - if they don't pass their course, they'll either leave teaching or retake their course until they become qualified. Overseas trained teachers (OTTs) - there's a limit of 4 calendar years.

Can a non qualified teacher teach? ›

Unqualified teachers can demonstrate that they meet recognised standards in the schools in which they are employed. They can do so by learning how to teach with the support of skilled colleagues and by becoming a fully qualified professional through a school-based portfolio development and assessment process.

Can schools employ unqualified teachers? ›

Since their inception in 2010, free schools have always been able to employ unqualified teachers. Until 2012, academies were bound by the same rules as maintained schools in their funding agreements, but after a change in 2012 academies can now employ anyone they deem suitable.

Can a teaching assistant become a teacher? ›

If you have been working in a classroom for a significant amount of time, as a teaching assistant or in a similar role, you may be able to get qualified teacher status (QTS) through a 12-week 'assessment only' programme. You must also have a degree. You'll need to show that you already meet the standards for QTS.

What is equivalent to a degree? ›

An associate degree is roughly equivalent to 18 months to four years of work experience in a related field. A bachelor's degree is roughly equivalent to four to eight years of work experience in a related field. A master's degree is roughly equivalent to 10 or more years of work experience in a related field.

What is a Level 5 teaching qualification? ›

Level 5. The Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training is a teaching qualification which has a teaching/training practice requirement. It is an 'in service' qualification designed for those working or wishing to work as teachers/trainers in England.

What qualifications do you need for primary teaching? ›

An undergraduate degree. Initial teacher education training (as described above) Passes in the professional skills tests. Previous experience in schools or working with young children.

How much do primary teachers get paid? ›

A Primary School Teacher in Ireland earns an average of €53,004 gross per year, which is about €4,420 gross per month.

How much do teachers get paid? ›

Average Salary by Years Experience
Years ExperiencePublicPrivate
Years Experience 1Public $40,540Private $29,940
Years Experience 2-4Public $41,480Private $33,540
Years Experience 5-9Public $47,300Private $37,220
Years Experience 10-14Public $54,860Private $40,440
4 more rows
1 Sept 2017

› watch ›

How To Become A Teacher. Check out how I became a teacher without a teaching degree. Becoming a teacher is not as easy as it seems there are certain requirem...
Many universities and colleges offer bachelor's degrees in education, including more specific programs such as early childhood education, if you want to bec...
If you have a goal of becoming a K-12 teacher, there are a number of ways to become licensed. Depending on where and what you want to teach, you can pursue a de...

Can you teach in Arizona without a teaching certificate? ›

All public schools and many private schools in Arizona require educators to be appropriately certified by the state board of education in order to lead a classroom.

What are the requirements to be a teacher in Pennsylvania? ›

Teachers need a bachelor's degree, student-teaching experience, and passing scores on several exams to obtain teaching certification in Pennsylvania. Most teachers receive training through a PDE-approved teacher training program, though PDE offers alternative pathways to certification.

How do I become a teacher in Illinois without education? ›

Illinois teaching candidates who have completed at least 20 semester hours of coursework at a regionally accredited school and 8,000 hours of work experience within the last ten years, both relating to the subject to be taught, may apply for a Provisional Career and Technical Education license.

How do I become a teacher in Mississippi without a teaching degree? ›

Candidates for Mississippi alternative teacher licensure must have a bachelor's degree and either a passing score on the Praxis Core Skills for Educators exam or a cumulative score of at least 21 on the ACT or its equivalent.

Can you teach in Florida without a degree? ›

THE FACTS: DeSantis signed several bills on June 9 that were meant to help veterans find jobs. One was Florida Senate Bill 896, which allows veterans to apply for a five-year temporary teaching certificate without first earning a bachelor's degree, as is otherwise required to teach in the state.

Why is there a teacher shortage in Arizona? ›

Shortage leads to widespread vacancies

Many teachers in Arizona are leaving because of inadequate school funding from the state, said Beth Lewis, director of Save Our Schools Arizona. Teachers are also faced with underwhelming pay and tough working conditions, she said, resulting in mental and physical burnout.

Is Arizona hiring teachers without a degree? ›

But Arizona and Florida have gone one step further by lifting the requirement that teachers hold bachelor's degrees in certain instances. In Arizona, people can now start training to become a teacher without a bachelor's degree , as long as they are enrolled in college and are supervised by a licensed teacher.

How much does a PA teacher make? ›

The average Public School Teacher salary in Pennsylvania is $55,334 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $46,214 and $67,468.

Do you need a degree to be a substitute teacher in PA? ›

Requirements for day-to-day substitutes: Valid Pennsylvania educator certificate or out of state certificate. Bachelor's degree (or foreign equivalency) if not certified. Background clearances.

Do I need a masters to teach in PA? ›

Like most states, becoming a teacher in PA requires candidates to possess at least a Bachelor's degree. The most direct route is with Undergraduate Education Degrees, which can help you complete various requirements, like requirements for student teaching.

What exam do teachers take? ›

Most states and school districts require teachers have passed the teacher certification exam, called the Praxis, before beginning employment. Once you land your dream job in the classroom, you may choose to continue your education and earn an advanced degree.

What is provisional teacher? ›

Provisional appointments are issued to an appointee who meets all the requirements of the position except for the eligibility but only in the absence of a qualified, eligible candidate who is available and willing to accept the appointment, as certified by the Schools Division Superintendents.

What education do you need to become a teacher? ›

Entry requirements

You'll usually need: 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science. 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree. a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course.

What is Certificate level of education? ›

A Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) is equivalent to the first year of a bachelor's degree which is any Level 4 qualification. A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is equivalent to the second year of a bachelor's degree or any Level 5 qualification.

What is a MS teacher? ›

In general, the MS has a research component, hence the “science” part, and the MA focuses on practical experience and skills, hence the “art” part. The Master of Science in Education is different than the MAT because it's designed for teachers with a license seeking continuing education and advancement.

What states accept Mississippi teaching license? ›

Mississippi Teacher Reciprocity Agreements
AlabamaIndianaNew Jersey
ArkansasLouisianaNew York
CaliforniaMaineNorth Carolina
ColoradoMarylandNorth Dakota
7 more rows

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