How to Get a Vocational Teaching Credential in California

California offers two different types of certifications to individuals who want to get vocational teaching credentials. Read on to learn more about education and experience requirements if you want to become a vocational teacher in California. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Requirements for California Vocational Teachers

California offers a Three-Year Preliminary Credential and a Five-Year Clear Credential for vocational teachers, each with its own set of requirements.

Minimum Education/Experience Required High school diploma or GED; three years of related work experience
Exams Required An exam on the U.S. Constitution given by an accredited school (Five-Year Clear Credential)
Certification Validity Period Three years for the Preliminary Credential; five years for the Clear Credential (renewable)
CEU Credits Required for Renewal The Clear Credential must be renewed online every five-year renewal cycle; no CEUS are required
Mean Annual Wage (2018)* $77,580 (Career/technical education teachers, secondary school); $57,790 (Career/technical education teachers, middle school)
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)* 4% nationwide

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Vocational Teacher Job Duties and Skills

Vocational teachers are also called as career and technical education (CTE) teachers. Vocational teachers teach students practical career skills. They provide training in subjects such as culinary arts, auto repair, welding, technology, agriculture, cosmetology, computer technology. Career and technical education teachers typically create lesson plans and assignments, teach students certain technical skills, enforce classroom rules and discuss students' progress with parents.

Education Requirements

To get the Three-Year Preliminary Credential, candidates must hold a high school diploma or pass a General Education Development (GED) Test. Foreign equivalents of a high school diploma are also accepted.

To progress to the Five-Year Clear Credential, candidates must either complete a course on the U.S. Constitution or pass an exam on the subject at an accredited college or university. Candidates must also acquire health education and complete study in computer-based technology. Moreover, candidates are required to complete approved training in an area known as Specially Designed Academic Instruction Delivered in English (SDAIE).

Experience Requirements

To get the Three-Year Preliminary Credential, candidates must have completed three years of work experience directly related to their teaching subject. Experience can be earned on a full- or part-time basis as long as it totals a minimum of 1,000 work hours annually.

The first experience requirement for the Five-Year Clear Credential is to already hold a valid Preliminary Credential. Candidates must also have completed either two years' worth of teaching experience or a personalized preparation program outlined by their program sponsor and approved by the state.

Additional Requirements

To get either type of credential, candidates must have written approval from their program sponsor and pay all application fees. Applicants for the Three-Year Preliminary Credential must also have their fingerprints taken and pass a background check.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2018), the California mean annual wage for career and technical education teachers in secondary schools was $77,580. The mean wage for middle school CTE teachers was $57,790 during that same year.

Overall employment of career and technical education teachers was projected to grow 4% from 2016 to 2026. Vocational teachers can work in a wide range of settings, from middle and secondary public and private educational institutions to adult training institutes and prisons.

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