Obtaining Your Teaching Certificate

teacher observing student solve a math problemLet’s say that, John, a California native, has always wanted to become a teacher. Having always been an organized individual with a passion for working with children and a drive to make a difference, he knows that teaching would be the perfect career from him. The time has now come for him to complete his Bachelor’s degree in education and he feels a bit anxious, unsure of how exactly the process to earn a teaching certificate works.

John’s story is hardly unusual, with many prospective teachers unsure of where to start when it comes to obtaining a teaching certification. Having said this, let’s take some time to discuss the steps any individual must take in attempt to obtain his or her teaching certificate.

Now, when it comes to getting a teaching certificate, there are a number of requirements an individual must consider. A factor many seem to overlook, however, is that different states require different teaching certification methods. To keep it simple, let’s go ahead and take a look at California’s specific requirements and the process John must undergo when attempting to obtain a teacher certification.

  1. The first step is to consider an individual’s prerequisite coursework. Like all other states in the country, California requires that an applicant has at least completed a Bachelor’s degree. While some programs require specific undergraduate credit hour requirements, the majority do not. Thus, a Bachelor’s degree alone is typically all an individual needs to get started. So far, John seems to be at a good start.

  2. Moving on, prospective teachers must be sure to have undergone some sort of teaching preparation, perhaps during their undergraduate studies. Further, an individual must have completed an accredited teacher education program in order to be considered for a teaching certification. This process involves a combination of rigorous curricula and designated fieldwork. In the course of teacher preparation, students spend time in the classroom learning the foundations of education, and go on to apply their acquired knowledge and skills in the fieldwork component. Fieldwork typically includes on-site observations within schools, student teaching and internship opportunities. Those who obtained a Bachelor’s degree in education during their undergraduate years, as in John’s scenario, will have undergone the teacher preparation process. Those, however, who did not major in education as college students and earned a bachelor’s degree in a different area of focus, can fulfill substituted requirements and receive a teacher certification.
  3. The last factor an individual must consider when securing a teaching certificate is the completion of required testing. Satisfactory scores are required for the Basic Skills Test as well as the Subject Area Competence assessment required for an individual’s area of specialization. For example, California offers three different Basic Skills Tests: California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), California Multiple Subject Plus Writing Skills Examination (CSET) and the California Early Assessment Program (CSU). While there are multiple Basic Skills Tests, the Subject Area Competence assessment score is drawn from one examination, the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

Thus, when preparing for teacher certification, individual’s like John must keep in mind the following three factors: prerequisite coursework, teacher preparation, and required test scores. As long as the three of these factors have been fulfilled, a prospective teacher residing in California will be able to obtain a teaching certificate.

Now straying away from John’s situation, suppose another individual attained his or her teaching certificate in a different state and decided they would like to move to California; would this create any conflict?

Luckily, the state of California accepts teaching certificates from a majority of other states. More specifically, an interstate certificate reciprocity disclaimer exists outlining which states accept other states’ teaching certificates. For example, if a woman who just earned her teaching certificate in Maryland decides to move to California, she will find that under this interstate agreement, the state of California will accept her Maryland teaching certificate.

To find out more information regarding interstate agreement and teaching certificates in general, take a look at The website can provide answers to many of your questions regarding teaching certificate rules and requirements. The site details certification requirements for every state in an easy to understand manner. People like John no longer need to stress – just read, plan and get the ball rolling!

  • Ljpeterlin

    The word “individuals” should not have an apostrophe in the above 4th from last paragraph. In an educational article, proper grammar should be used.

  • Randy

    The degree is what we get as a result of studying, not what we study. So, when we talk about studying, we normally say, “I plan to study economics [or some other field].” It’s not incorrect to say, “I plan to learn marketing,” but “I plan to study marketing” is more normal, idiomatic English.

    - The certificate that confirms that we have successfully completed a course of study and earned an advanced degree (not necessarily a master’s degree) is called a “diploma.” You can say, “I plan to earn a diploma in marketing,” or, if you have completed the degree, “I have a diploma in economics.” But if you do, realize that a native English speaker will not necessarily understand which graduate degree you have earned.

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    Teaching Degree Pittsburgh

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