How to Become a Preschool Teacher in California: Requirements & Certification

Do you have any interest in teaching young children in California? Discover how you can become a preschool teacher in the state, including the educational requirements you'll need for certification and what you can expect to make for a salary in your field. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Teaching Preschool in California

California preschool teachers need to obtain specific certification credentials as educators. You don't have to earn a bachelor's degree, but you'll need to complete either educational or experience minimum hours before you can begin teaching preschool students in a classroom.

Education/Experience Requirement OptionsMinimum of 24 semester units in early childhood education, 175 days of teaching experience, associate's degree in early childhood, 16 semester units of general education classes, or three semester units of supervised field experience in an early childhood classroom
Exams RequiredN/A
License ValidityFive years
Renewal Requirements105 hours of continuing education
Average California Salary* (2018)$37,850 for preschool teachers
Job Growth* (2016-2026)10% for preschool teachers (nationwide)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Overview

Preschool teachers work with some of the youngest children in the school system. You'll help children learn about numbers and colors as they begin to understand social settings and make new friends. You'll be in charge of creating a lesson plan and sticking to it throughout the year. Your schedule should also ensure that each child in your classroom has enough opportunities to get physical activity and rest in the same day. You'll closely monitor all children in your class and alert their parents to any issues with developmental problems that may begin to show.

Education and Training Requirements

Unlike many other teaching positions, preschool educators do not need a four-year degree. There are several options you can select to meet the requirements. You can complete 24 semester credits in early childhood education or child development, including courses in programs and curriculum, child and family relations, and child growth and development. You could also choose to gain 175 hours of teaching experience (at least three hours a day), complete an associate's program in early childhood education, complete 16 semester units of general education classes, or complete three semester units of supervised field experience in an early childhood classroom.

Certification Requirements

After finishing your education or training period, you'll apply for a Child Development Teacher Permit. This teaching credential is good for five years, and you can renew it for the same amount of time. To renew, you'll need to take an additional 105 semester credits toward your education. You can also advance to a higher level permit if you complete additional requirements and an application within three years of your initial permit.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Job openings for preschool teachers have a positive trend predicted through 2026, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Jobs for preschool teachers are expected to increase by 10% during this period. In California, the average salary for a preschool teacher in 2018 was $37,850. California employed the most preschool teachers of any state, with 52,950 preschool teachers reported as working in May 2018. Of these teachers, 17,040 were found to work in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area, where they averaged a salary of $38,190. Another 10,280 preschool teachers made an average salary of $43,460 in the greater San Francisco area.

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