How to Get a Preliminary Teaching Credential in California? A Complete Roadmap

Have you ever dreamt of inspiring young minds and igniting a passion for learning in California’s vibrant classrooms? If so, then obtaining a preliminary teaching credential is your first crucial step. How to Get a Preliminary Teaching Credential in California This credential acts as your gateway to launching a fulfilling career as a Californian educator. But where do you even begin? 

This comprehensive guide will unveil the path to securing your preliminary teaching credential in California, breaking down the requirements, exploring program options, and equipping you with the knowledge to navigate the process with confidence.


What is a Preliminary Teaching Credential?

A preliminary teaching credential is the first document issued to someone who has met basic credential requirements. It is valid for five years and allows the holder to teach in California’s public schools if they complete the requirements before the credential expires.

how to get a preliminary teaching credential in california?

Importance of a Preliminary Teaching Credential

A preliminary teaching credential in California is the first step toward becoming a fully qualified teacher. It’s like a learner’s permit for the world of education! Here’s a breakdown for you to understand what it means and its significance:

  • Initial Qualification:  Earning this credential signifies you meet the basic requirements to enter a classroom in a supervised capacity.
  • Temporary Status:  The preliminary credential is valid for five years, giving you time to gain experience and demonstrate your teaching skills.
  • Pathway to Growth:  This credential allows you to begin teaching under the guidance of a mentor or experienced educator. During this time, you’ll participate in professional development opportunities to further hone your craft.
  • Stepping Stone to Clear Credential:  To become a fully qualified teacher in California, you’ll need to convert your preliminary credential to a clear credential within the five-year validity period. This involves completing an induction program or obtaining National Board Certification.


How to Get a Preliminary Teaching Credential in California

Here’s a roadmap to navigate the process:

1. Solidify Your Foundation:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Equip yourself with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Basic Skills Test: Demonstrate your foundational skills by passing the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST).

2. Choose Your Path:

  • Multiple Subject Credential (Elementary School): This credential qualifies you to teach all subjects in kindergarten through sixth grade.
  • Single Subject Credential (Middle or High School): Focus on a specific subject area like Math, Science, or English for middle or high school.

3. Find Your Program:

  • University Credential Programs: Many universities offer Commission-approved credential programs that combine coursework with student teaching experiences.
  • CalState TEACH: Explore the California State University’s online Preliminary Multiple Subject Credential program for a flexible option.

4. Subject Matter Competency:

The path to becoming a California teacher involves demonstrating your knowledge and skills through a series of tests. Here’s a breakdown of the essential exams you’ll need to tackle to prove your subject matter competency-

  1. California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST): This computer-based test assesses your proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics – the fundamental tools for effective teaching.  Passing scores are required for each section and a combined minimum score, ensures you possess a strong foundation in these crucial areas.
  2. Subject Matter Competency Exams (CSET): Dive deeper into your chosen subject area! The California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) offers a variety of tests specific to different subjects, like Math, Science, English, History, and more. These exams assess your in-depth knowledge of the content you’ll be teaching, ensuring you’re well-equipped to guide students’ learning.

Here’s a point to know

  • CSET Waivers: If you possess a strong subject matter background (often through relevant coursework or experience), you might be eligible for a CSET waiver. However, check with the CTC for specific requirements, as some waivers might still involve additional exams.
  1. Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA): California places a high value on fostering strong reading skills. This assessment comes in two options: a written exam or a video performance assessment. Both options evaluate your understanding of effective reading instruction methods, ensuring you can guide students on their reading journeys.


Another requirement to fulfill

  • Reading Instruction: Demonstrate your reading expertise by passing the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA).
  • Developing English Language Skills: Ensure you possess the skills to support English learners by fulfilling the Commission’s requirements.
  • U.S. Constitution:  Solidify your understanding of the U.S. Constitution through an approved course or exam.
  • Computer Technology:  Complete a foundational computer technology course to stay up-to-date with educational technology.


You should also make sure that

  • The specific tests you need may vary depending on your chosen subject area and credential program.
  • Always consult the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) website [] for the latest information on testing requirements and resources for test preparation.

By taking these essential exams, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to teaching excellence and pave the way for a rewarding career in California classrooms.

You should also-

  • Contact your chosen program for specific requirements and application deadlines.
  • The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing ([CA Commission on Teacher Credentialing]) is your official resource for all credential information.

Consider pursuing a bilingual authorization to enhance your qualifications and expand your teaching opportunities in California’s multilingual classrooms.


How to Get a Teaching Credential in California?

Here’s a concise guide on how to get a teaching credential in California:

  1. Choose Your Pathway:
  2. Meet Educational Requirements:
    • Obtain a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution.
    • Satisfy the basic skills requirement (usually through standardized tests or coursework).
  3. Subject-Matter Competence:
    • Demonstrate subject-matter competence by passing the relevant exams or completing approved coursework.
  4. Additional Requirements:
    • Pass the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA).
    • Fulfill the Developing English Language Skills requirement.
    • Complete a course on the U.S. Constitution.
    • Take a foundational computer technology course.
  5. Teacher Preparation Program:
    • Enroll in a Commission-approved teacher preparation program.
    • These programs provide essential training and classroom experience.
  6. Apply for Your Credential:
    • Submit your application through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).
    • Pay the required fees and provide necessary documentation.


Final Note

In conclusion, getting your preliminary teaching credential in California takes dedication and preparation, but the reward of nurturing young minds in this vibrant state is immeasurable. With this guide for teaching, you’ll be well on your way to unlocking your California classroom. 

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