The information in this guide is subject to change. Please review a current catalog of the campus of your choice and consult with a counselor.

Last updated 3/15/19.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do you need to do to become a teacher in California?

A: This depends on the level of education at which you would like to teach. California public school teaching in Kindergarten through high school (K – 12) requires credentialing through California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). The requirements to obtain a credential are reviewed below. Qualifications for teaching in California’s public colleges and universities are based on the attainment of the appropriate degree in the subject you wish to teach (also reviewed below). Teaching in private schools is not governed by the state and each school has its own requirements.

Q: What are the requirements to become a credentialed K – 12 public school teacher in California?

A: To obtain a preliminary credential, which is valid for 5 years, you must satisfy all the following requirements:

  • Complete a baccalaureate or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Demonstrate that you have mastered basic skills in English and mathematics. (ex: CBEST* exam)
  • Demonstrate that you know the subject (s) you intend to teach (called “subject matter competence”) – CSET* exam.
  • Complete a professional teacher preparation program (a “credential program”), including student teaching, and obtain a formal recommendation for the credential by the California college or university where the program was completed.
  • US. Constitution course & foundational computer technology course
  • Pass RICA* exam for multiple subject & education specialist instruction credentials.

Note: There are other subject and competence requirements for K – 12 teachers that are included in either the bachelor’s degree or credential program. For more information, visit Understand the Requirements.

Q: What are the types of K – 12 public school teaching credentials?

A: The basic credentials are the Multiple Subject, the Single Subject, and the Special Education Credential.

  • The Multiple Subject Credential is primarily for those who intend to teach all subjects in a self-contained classroom, usually in elementary schools.
  • The Single Subject Credential is for those who plan to teach a particular subject in a departmentalized class, usually in middle school and high school.
  • The Education Specialist Instruction Credential is for those who intend to teach students with disabilities who have an individualized education program and receive special instruction and related services.

Note: If you are proficient at the intermediate level or higher in a language other than English, you may be able to obtain an additional BCLAD – Bilingual, Cross Cultural, Language and Academic Development – Certificate.

Q:  What is subject matter competence and how does it differ from a teacher preparation program?

A: Whereas teacher preparation programs provide knowledge of HOW to teach, subject matter competence is knowledge of WHAT is taught. Subject matter competence is a requirement for all multiple subject and single subject credentials, as well as for teaching at a college or university. For K-12 teacher candidates it is required that subject matter competency is assessed by either passing specific examinations or by completing a degree program which is approved for that subject by the CTC. Candidates for elementary teaching must pass an exam in order to demonstrate subject matter competency. You can review preparation programs here.

Q:  What is a teacher preparation program?

A: Teacher preparation is a professional program which includes student teaching and develops the skills needed for serving in the classroom. It includes coursework in areas such as teaching methodologies, curriculum development, and classroom management. Approved teacher preparation programs are programs that have been approved by the CTC. To find the nearest program, visit Find the Right Preparation Program.

Q: Is there a specific undergraduate major for admission to the Multiple Subject Credential Program?

A: There is no specific undergraduate major that leads directly to a teacher preparation program. However, most universities offer subject matter preparation programs for the Multiple Subject credential. (Examples at Sonoma State University are American Multicultural Studies, Chicano and Latino Studies, Environmental Studies and Planning, and the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies.) Each university requires very specific courses for their diversified, Multiple Subject preparation majors, and the preparation coursework sequence is aligned with California’s Student Academic Content Standards and the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET). Most of these courses can be completed at SRJC prior to transfer. *Optional Pathway: SRJC also offers an Associate in Arts in Elementary Teacher Education for Transfer which allows students to complete the lower-division major requirements for most CSU Liberal Studies programs. For more information, consult a counselor & review the degree here.

Q:  Are there other requirements to enter a teacher prep program that I can meet at a community college?

A: Most credential programs require, or rely heavily for admissions decisions, on two other factors:

  • Documentation of at least 45 hours of classroom experience, evaluated by the teacher of that class.
  • A portfolio containing evidence of having met all academic, testing, and experience requirements. It should include syllabi for all subject-matter courses, college transcripts, test results, classroom evaluations, etc. This portfolio is also valuable in the teacher hiring process.

Colleges and universities offer courses that assist you with placement in a classroom, evaluation of classroom experience, and/or instruction on the creation of a portfolio. At SRJC that course is EDUC 55.

Q: What schools in California offer Teacher Credential Programs?

A: Many CSU, UC, and private universities in California offer credential programs.

Q: What are the requirements to teach in a community college or university?

A: For academic teaching in a public college or university, the earning of a degree in a particular subject meets the minimum qualification to teach that subject.

  • Qualification to teach academic coursework in a California Community College (CCC) requires a Master’s degree in the subject you wish to teach. Those who are interested in teaching in CCC Career Technical Education (CTE) can qualify based on a combination of education and experience. More information about CTE teaching can be found at www.teachcalifornia.org by selecting “Understand the Requirements”, then the link for those who “wish to teach career-technical education”.
  • Qualification to become a professor at a university requires a Doctorate (PhD). Some universities employ “lecturers” based on attainment of a Master’s degree.
Q:  How do I qualify to teach in a pre-school?

A: Qualification for teaching in a pre-school is based upon acquiring a Child Development Permit. There are several levels of such permits: Assistant, Associate Teacher, Teacher, Master Teacher, Site Supervisor, and Program Director. Only the last requires a baccalaureate degree. The SRJC Child Development Department offers certificates, associate degree programs, and other coursework through which students can qualify for the remaining permits.

K-12 Teaching Summary

To Teach:


Required Tests*

Credential needed

Elementary School (K-5 or K-6)

BA degree, completion of approved program, including student teaching


Multiple Subject Credential

Middle School (6-8 or 7-8)

BA degree, completion of approved program, including student teaching


Multiple Subject or Single Subject - varies per school system

High School or Secondary School (9-12)

BA degree, completion of approved program, including student teaching


Single Subject Credential

Special Education Specializations: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Visual Impairments, Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing, Physical & Health Impairments, and Early Childhood Special Education

BA degree, completion of approved program, including student teaching


Educational Specialist Instruction Credential in area of specialization

Bilingual  (ESL - K-12)

BA degree, completion of approved program, including student teaching


BCLAD Certificate - Multiple Subject or Single Subject

 Exam Information

CBEST is the California Basic Educational Skills Test that assesses reading, writing, and mathematics skills. This examination is required before applying for most California teaching and services credentials. It is highly recommended that teacher candidates take the CBEST as soon as possible after completing their first transfer-level math course. Use this link for more information about the CBEST, including test preparation, test dates, and registration deadlines.  

RICA (the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment) is an examination designed to ensure that prospective teachers have acquired the knowledge and skills needed to provide effective reading instruction for K-8 students. Passage of RICA is required of all applicants for a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and preparation is usually a part of the credential program coursework. Use this link for information on the RICA Written Exam. Use this link for information on the RICA Video Performance Assessment.

CSET is the California Subject Examination for Teachers required for all teachers "new to the profession" who receive a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential or for those secondary teachers who have not completed a Certified Subject Matter Preparation Program. Learn about the CSET exams here.