How to Become an English Teacher in California - CA | Jobs and Degree Requirements (2023)

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California State Superintendent of Public schools recently released a message about teacher layoffs in California. The downturn in the economy saw a percentage of teachers in California receive pink slips. This may be a concern for new teachers, but it’s not the entire picture.

California is expecting the total student population to rise by 4% in the next ten years. This growth means that more teachers will be needed, especially in the critical areas such as English. As of late 2014, there is a shortage of qualified English teachers in the state. Coupled with the fact that there are scores of teacher retirements looming, the prospects for a job as an English teacher in California are very good. After considering the following steps to become an English teacher, you may find it’s the job you always wanted.

How to Become an English Teacher in California - CA | Jobs and Degree Requirements (6)Educational Preparation
How to Become an English Teacher in California - CA | Jobs and Degree Requirements (7) Testing
How to Become an English Teacher in California - CA | Jobs and Degree Requirements (8)Pursue a State Issued Teaching Credential
How to Become an English Teacher in California - CA | Jobs and Degree Requirements (9)Continue Professional Development

Step 1. Educational Preparation

The first step for the aspiring English teacher in California is to complete an approved educational program. The program will train you to become a teacher and prepare you for your major as well. Each college and university listed will have various choices for you to consider. One decision you want to make is whether or not to incorporate a master’s degree into your education, or complete the minimum bachelor’s degree with the added time for the teacher preparation portion.

Once you decide which degree level you desire, you can select from the specific programs. Here are a few examples of degree programs in California for teachers:

  • M.A in Education
  • M.A. in Teaching
  • B.A. in Secondary Education/ English
  • B.S. in Early Childhood Development

Internship Program

California also offers options for those who wish to enter teaching that may be transferring out of another industry. If you already have a degree you may find this works well for you. Many schools will offer internship programs to candidates with the following:

  • Already have a degree in English
  • Passed the basic skills exam (see “testing” below)
  • Have an assigned mentor teacher at the school you plan to work
  • Completed a course in U.S. history or pass a test given by a college to waive this requirement
  • Complete the application
  • Have a Live Scan fingerprint set completed
  • Complete a teacher preparation program or pass a test for subject competency
  • Create a Professional Development Plan
  • Take any additional courses required by the district

Whichever route you take, testing will be part of the credential requirement for everyone — the next step in the process.

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Step 2. Testing

Once you have finished with school you can register to take the necessary tests that all teacher candidates must take. There are different tests that show proficiency in different areas.

As an English teacher, you will have to prove subject proficiency as well as basic skills knowledge and an understanding of the use of technology in the classroom. California also requires teachers to have a general understanding of teaching to second language learners due to the highly diverse population in the state. The three tests that you will take are as follows:

California allows candidates to register for their test datesonline. You will have the convenience of also being able to retrieve information from this site once you register including obtaining the results of your tests. After you have your passing scores, you will be eligible to apply for your Credential.

Step 3: Pursue a State Issued Teaching Credential

California requires all full-time teachers to have a teaching credential. If you are teaching younger children (K-6), you will apply for a Multiple Subject Credential. If you plan on teaching middle school and up, you will apply for the Single Subject Teaching Credential in English.

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The first credential you receive- a Preliminary Credential – will be valid up to five years. In order to qualify for the credential, you need to meet the following requirements:

When you are ready to apply for a credential, you will need to have a Live Scan fingerprint set created. There is a fee for both the Live Scan set and for processing the application. You will also have to have a current TB test (current within 60 days of employment).

Once you have taught for five years, you will be eligible to clear your credential and move from probationary status to permanent. The Clear Credential is available when you have met all the requirements.

Step 4: Continue Professional Development

Professional development in California has changed over the last several years. The verification process for professional growth isn’t a requirement in order to renew the professional clear credential. You will still need to accumulate 150 hours of education and activities that will expand your teaching knowledge, however. Your individual school will likely have some form of record keeping for this.

Another new item is an addition of stipends for highly qualified teachers. These may be in the form of thousands of dollars added when you pursue an advance degree and/or pass the stringent National Board Exam.

For teachers wishing to further their career, continuing a college education can pay off in the long run. It not only satisfies the professional growth requirement to clear your credential, but it will add to your salary, plus you may have opportunities for other special programs in some California schools.

With the new focus on highly educated teachers, some schools are seeking grants to give as incentives to teachers willing to invest in becoming master teachers. They also have programs that may allow for mentoring. These types of funds are subject to outside monies so they are not always available. Salary stipends that are paid for each degree level, however, are part of standard contracts.

California English Teacher Salaries

California is the longest state in the Union. It is over 1200 miles long flanked by beautiful Pacific Coastlines to the west, Sierra Nevada Mountains in the middle and the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts to the south. As a prospective teacher living in California, you will soon discover that the teacher salaries in the state differ just as much as the vast terrain. Depending on which parts of the state you live in there can be quiet a gap in earnings.

For instance in the small forested town of Paradise, California near the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, an entry level English teacher with a bachelor’s degree will start at $35,370 a year. In the San Francisco Bay Area town of Los Gatos this same teacher will earn $51,204 their first year. Here are two other possible examples:

San Diego

  • Entry: $ 42,209.82
  • Experienced: $ 52,514.09

San Jose

  • Entry: $ 48,588
  • Experienced: $ 48,588

Salaries will change depending on where you live, how long you teach, and usually by how much you invest in your education. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. As you can see from the example above, San Jose Unified School District is somewhat unique. It pays first- year teachers the same salary no matter what their level of education.

After the third year—the year that a teacher typically can earn permanent status in this district—the education begins to affect a salary benefit. In the third year an English teacher with a bachelor’s will still earn $48,588, but a teacher with a bachelor’s plus sixty post-graduate units will earn $53,740. Additionally, they would also earn a stipend of $2,750 if they turn those sixty units into a master’s degree.

More English teacher salary information in other major California cities is available below:

Area Name


Annual Mean Salary

Annual Median Salary

Annual 75th Percentile Salary

Annual 90th Percentile Salary

Bakersfield-Delano CA






Fresno CA


Estimate Not Released

Estimate Not Released

Estimate Not Released

(Video) NEW Substitute Teacher Requirements 2023 | NO MORE CBEST? | How to become a substitute teacher

Estimate Not Released

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA Metropolitan Division






Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana CA






Oakland-Fremont-Hayward CA Metropolitan Division






Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario CA






Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville CA







San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos CA






San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA






San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City CA Metropolitan Division






San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA






Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine CA Metropolitan Division





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What degree do I need to be an English teacher in California? ›

Complete the educational requirements: Completion of a B.A., B.S., M.A., or M.A.T., degree in education or single subject English (secondary school teachers only) Pass an ESL requirement. Pass a S.

How to become a teacher in California if you have a bachelor's degree? ›

To earn a preliminary teaching credential a teacher must have:
  1. A bachelor's degree.
  2. Completed an accredited teacher preparation program.
  3. Completed 600 hours of student teaching.
  4. Been fingerprinted and passed a background check.
  5. Taken required tests or completed university-approved coursework.
Sep 14, 2022

What degree do you need to be an English teacher? ›

Get a TEFL/TESOL Certificate

Or better yet, get yourself a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or teacher's certification instead. Otherwise, you might want to get a TEFL or TESOL certificate.

How long does it take to become an English teacher in California? ›

In most cases, it takes four years to earn your bachelor's degree and an additional fifth year to earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential. Some programs — such as the teacher education track at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) — blend the bachelor's degree program with the teaching credential program.

Which bachelor degree is best for English teacher? ›

The minimum educational requirement for English teachers is a bachelor's degree in English, education or English education. Many colleges offer a specialized English education degree program, which provides all of the instruction needed to start teaching English at the high school level.

Can you teach English with any degree? ›

While most English-teaching companies require their teachers to have a degree (any kind of degree!), there are still enough companies out there for which being a native speaker, TEFL certification, and some teaching experience are more than enough to meet baseline requirements to teach English online.

Can you teach in California with just a bachelor's degree? ›

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.

How long does it take to get teaching credentials in California? ›

The amount of time it takes to earn a teaching credential depends on your chosen program and pathway. A traditional, non-accelerated college or university program takes four to five years, assuming you complete each course successfully the first time. Internships may take longer depending on the institution you choose.

What is the starting salary for teachers in California with a bachelor's degree? ›

How much does an Entry Level Teacher make in California? The average Entry Level Teacher salary in California is $47,229 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $39,443 and $57,595.

Can you teach English without a masters degree? ›

Yes, you can teach English online with an associate's degree. Taking a TEFL certification course will provide you with the training and qualifications you need to get hired to teach English online with an associate's degree.

Do you need a master's degree to teach English? ›

In order to teach college-level English, job candidates will typically need to have at least a master's degree. Some community colleges will accept a bachelor's degree, but many universities now require a doctoral degree for full-time, tenure-track English faculty positions.

Do you need an English degree to be an ESL teacher? ›

The minimum requirement to be an ESL teacher is a bachelor's degree. Many ESL training programs are happy to accept applicants with any type of bachelor's degree, but you should pursue a relevant one, such as education, English, or writing. This gives you the foundation you need to pursue your ESL training.

How do I get an English credential in California? ›

To obtain a credential to teach English, students must fulfill the following requirements:
  1. Bachelor's Degree.
  2. Complete the Basic Skills Requirement.
  3. Either complete the English Subject Matter Program or obtain a passing grade on the CSET examinations in English. ...
  4. Complete the Education Program.

How much does an English teacher make in California? ›

The average salary for a english teacher in California is $49,500 per year. English teacher salaries in California can vary between $19,000 to $91,000 and depend on various factors, including skills, experience, employer, bonuses, tips, and more.

How much does it cost to get your teaching credential in California? ›

2023-24 Standard Costs for California Residents
Living with parentsLiving in university housing
Basic tuition and fees*$9,208$9,208
Books, supplies$908$908
Food, housing$10,930$21,629
2 more rows

Are English teachers in demand? ›

An Increasing Demand for Native English Speaking Teachers. An estimated 250,000 native English speakers work as English teachers abroad in more than 40,000 schools and language institutes around the world.

Where is the highest demand for English teachers? ›

China. China is by far one of the biggest employers of ESL teachers in the world. With the large job demand, plus the generous benefits packages and low cost of living, many ESL teachers are able to save up a good amount of cash while teaching in China.

Can I teach English with an associate's degree? ›

Yes. With an associate's degree and a TEFL certification, you can teach English abroad in more than 50 countries, from Costa Rica to Taiwan. Some countries like South Korea & Japan require a 4-year degree, but you still have many options.

Where can you teach English without a bachelor's degree? ›

10 Countries where you can teach English without a degree
  • Cambodia. Cambodia is a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia thanks to its ancient temples, such as Angkor Wat, and its incredible beaches in the South. ...
  • Mexico. ...
  • Costa Rica. ...
  • Nicaragua. ...
  • Argentina. ...
  • Russia. ...
  • Spain. ...
  • Romania.

Can you teach English with a bachelors in English? ›

With a B.A. in English, you are qualified to teach English and English Language Arts in grades 7 through 12 in some private/parochial school settings.

Can I teach in California without a teaching 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.

Is a bachelor's degree enough to be a teacher? ›

Every state requires that you have at least a bachelor's degree, and you will need to pass a background check. After that, you'll most likely have to take your state's teaching exams. In some states, you will be required to earn your master's degree soon after you start teaching.

Is CBEST still required in California? ›

Individuals only need to pass The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) once; CBEST passing scores remain valid indefinitely for all credential and employment purposes.
Table 1.
CSU Placement TestsMathEnglish
English Placement Test (EPT)N/A151
2 more rows

Do you need to pass the CBEST to be a teacher? ›

But in order for you to become a teacher in the state of California, you need to prove that you have mastery over essential subject matters. Passing either the CSET or CBEST exams shows that you have what it takes to be a Californian teacher! What about using your coursework to fulfill the basic skills requirement?

What is the best way to get a teaching credential in California? ›

The traditional route to receiving teaching certification in California is to complete a state-approved teacher education program from a regionally accredited university and follow through on these specific credentials.

Can I get a California teaching credential online? ›

Can I get a California teaching credential online? Yes, National University offers California teaching credentials courses that are 100% online. However, in-person licensure requirements must be fulfilled.

How much do CA teachers make an hour? ›

How much does a Teacher make in California? The average teacher in California makes $57,807 annually. The average hourly rate for a teacher is $27.79/hr. This compares to the national average teacher salary of $47,989.

What California school district pays teachers the most? ›

Teacher pay was highest in Silicon Valley's Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, where teachers earned, on average, about $152,500.

Do California teachers get paid during summer? ›

Most teachers do not get paid over summer break, but teachers can usually choose to receive their paychecks over 10 months or 12 months. Many teachers take a prorated salary to keep a steady income throughout the calendar year.

How much is a TEFL certificate? ›

You know you need it, but how much does TEFL certification cost? Prices vary depending on some key factors, but expect to pay about $200 for very minimal online certification and closer to $400-$500 USD for online certification of enough hours (at least 120) to qualify for most TEFL/TESOL jobs.

How long does it take to get TEFL? ›

How long does it take to get a TEFL certificate? Not everyone will earn their TEFL certificate in the same amount of time. Some students take intensive courses to get TEFL certified in as little as 1 month. However, most students should plan to set aside about 4 to 6 months to complete their TEFL course.

What qualifications do I need to teach English to adults? ›

TEFL Certification: A TEFL certification is usually required if you want to teach English online to adults. At the minimum, employers will want to see that you've completed a 120-hour TEFL certification course that includes some sort of live practice teaching component.

What degree do you need to teach literature? ›

Becoming a Literature Teacher

At least a bachelor's degree, and in some cases a master's degree, in English literature or teaching itself is required. Student teaching is generally part of a teacher preparation program as well. Public school teachers are also required to be licensed through the state.

What is the difference between English teacher and ESL teacher? ›

ESL stands for English as a second language. So naturally, an ESL teacher is an instructor who teaches English as a second language! Meaning your students' native tongue is anything but English.

Can you teach English with TEFL and no degree? ›

We are here to say – you can teach English abroad without a degree. How do we know? Because we have over 20 years of experience in the International TESOL industry and we know numerous graduates without a degree that are placed around the world teaching English.

Can you teach ESL if you only speak English? ›

Well, the short answer is no: you do not need to know the local language to get a job teaching abroad (though it certainly helps with living abroad), and there are plenty of reasons why.

How do I get a certificate in English teaching? ›

You generally have three options when it comes to getting TEFL certified: taking an online course, attending home-based on-site course, or getting certified abroad. Each option offers different advantages and challenges, and each one carries with it its own price tag.

What credentials do you need to teach English online? ›

To teach online successfully, you'll need a secure and reliable Internet connection, a Zoom or Skype account, and a TESOL/TEFL certificate. Generally, it's also important to be a native English speaker.

How do I get my Ell certification? ›

These are some steps you can follow to get your ESL certification:
  1. Earn your bachelor's degree in a related field. ...
  2. Determine which certification is best for you. ...
  3. Enroll in a certification program near you. ...
  4. Complete classes and study for the examination. ...
  5. Pass the examinations and earn the certification.
4 days ago

What state pays English teachers the most? ›

Our research put Maryland at no. 1 on the list of best paying states for high school english teachers. New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island also ranked high on our list.
1. Maryland.
Total High School English Teacher Jobs:925
Lowest 10 Percent Earn:$52,000
Highest 10 Percent Earn:$98,000
2 more rows
Apr 6, 2021

Is there a need for English teachers in California? ›

"The thirst for English is worldwide, but the need at home in California is so, so great," says Dr. Snow, chair of the Division of Applied and Advanced Studies in Education at California State University, Los Angeles and a TESOL faculty member.

How to get free teaching credential in California? ›

Through CSEA's No-Cost College Program, CSEA members and their family members can obtain their California Teaching Credential. Attend part or full time on your own schedule as classes are offered online (with the exception of student teaching and fieldwork requirements).

Is there a shortage of teachers in California? ›

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — California has the the third highest teacher shortage in the country, according to data analyzed by Scholaroo. The education research firm compiled a list based on a US teacher-to-state population ratio to determine which states are most effected by shortages.

How long is Cal State Teach credential Program? ›

Term 1 is two days per week, Term 2 is Initial Student Teaching, 5 half days per week, and term 3 is full time for a minimum of 10 weeks with four weeks of solo teaching.

Can you teach English without a bachelors degree? ›

Yes, you can teach English online without a degree! While some of the major online teaching companies require a degree, there are many that don't. A TEFL certification can provide you with the training and qualifications that you need to get a job teaching English online.

Is CBEST still required? ›

Passing the California Basic Skills Test (CBEST) fulfills the Basic Skills Requirement (BSR) required by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in California. The CBEST measures a prospective K-12 educator's proficiency in the basic skills of reading, writing, and mathematics.

Can I teach without CBEST in California? ›

Becoming a Teacher in California

To meet increased demand for teachers, California no longer requires the CBEST and CSET exams as a condition to becoming a teacher. However, some requirements have remained the same if you want to be a teacher in this state.

Can I be a teacher without an undergraduate degree? ›

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.

Can you take the CBEST without a bachelor's degree? ›

You may take the CBEST only if you have earned, at minimum, a high school diploma, a GED, or the equivalent or if you are, or have been, a student taking courses for college credit pursuant to a career in education.

What is the lowest teacher salary in California? ›

How much does an Entry Level Teacher make in California? The average Entry Level Teacher salary in California is $47,357 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $39,549 and $57,752.

Where can I teach English without a college degree? ›

Countries that do not require a degree to teach English abroad: The best countries for where to teach English abroad without a college degree are Cambodia, Costa Rica, Spain, Argentina, Mexico and Myanmar. These countries do not require a college degree to teach in, and are popular among TEFL teachers.

Can I teach English without experience? ›

Good news: experience isn't necessary to teach English online. There are plenty of online teaching companies out there that don't ask for any previous teaching experience, so as long as you have at least a 120-hour TEFL qualification there are jobs out there for you.


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