Alternative Teaching Credential Programs in California

Subject-matter experts seeking a career change can fast-track their careers as teachers by joining a California commission-approved alternative teaching credential program. Find out how! Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Alternative Teaching Credential Overview

For subject-matter experts seeking a career change as a teacher, California offers alternative teaching credential programs designed to help seasoned professionals fast-track their careers as instructors. These rigorous programs are highly selective and require intensive training as well as complete dedication from participants. Completion of an alternative program results in the same teaching credentials issued to those who pursue the traditional method for earning their teacher's certification in California.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree in education, early childhood education, or similar field, or significant experience in chosen subject matter
Exams Required California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST); California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET)
License Validity Period Intern credential issued for two years; preliminary/level one credential issued for maximum of five years upon intern credential completion; during five-year preliminary period, teachers must convert preliminary/level one credential to clear/level two credential
Certification Renewal Process Once preliminary/level one licenses are converted to clear/level two, credentials must be renewed every five years either online or via mailed application
CEU Credits Required for Renewal N/A
Average Salary in California (2018) $69,690 (kindergarten and elementary school); $75,660 (middle school); $80,510 (high school)*
Estimated Job Growth Nationally (2016-2026) 7% (kindergarten and elementary school); 8% (middle school and high school)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Pursuing one's teaching credential through an alternative program is a perfect choice for subject-matter experts seeking a career change. These individuals possess unique characteristics, including the following:

  • Passionate about learning and teaching
  • Capable of managing a classroom
  • Significant experience within their respective fields
  • Strong sense of community service and passion for student success

Those instructing elementary and middle school help build upon existing knowledge to help prepare students for secondary education. In addition to elaborating on prior learning, high school teachers help mold young adults, preparing them for college and the real world at large.

Benefits of Alternative Credential Programs

Alternative credential programs in California are not only beneficial to the seasoned professionals seeking certification, but they provide advantages for the community as well. Subject-matter experts can gain access to the classroom much quicker while students benefit from receiving more comprehensive instruction from a seasoned professional within the field. Alternative certification programs are responsible for placing up to 8,000 teachers annually, with many instructors eagerly participating in underserved or hard-to-staff school districts. These professionals not only provide advanced instruction to their students, but are valued members of the communities in which they serve.

Education & Training Requirements

Joining an alternative credential program can be done in a few simple steps; however, interested participants should be aware of the time commitment expected of them prior to applying for the program. Individuals should possess at least a B.A. or B.S. in their respective field from an accredited college or university. In addition, program participants need to have the equivalent of at least a semester's worth of experience in pedagogical instruction, classroom management, lesson creation, English language learner education, and more. Teachers are first issued an intern credential for two years, during which time they must actively participate in a commission-approved alternative certification program and engage with all classroom planning, preparation, and instruction. After two years, teachers will receive their preliminary/level one credentials for a five-year period, and they will be required to convert the preliminary license to a clear/level two credential before the five years end.

Exam Requirements

Alternative credential program participants should receive a passing score in both the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET). In order to pass the CBEST, teachers must earn an average score of at least 123 across all three sections of the exam: mathematics, reading, and writing. CSET scores are issued on a scale from 100-300, with a passing score equaling at least 220.

Credential Renewals

Teachers earning their credentials through a commission-approved alternative credential program are first issued an intern credential for two years. After two years, teachers are given a preliminary/level one credential lasting a maximum of five years. During this time, instructors must apply to convert the preliminary license to a clear/level two credential. These credentials must then be renewed by the state every five years either online or through mailed application. Educators are not required to provide proof of ongoing education or professional experience in order to qualify for renewal.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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