Hopeful educators may obtain teaching credentials several ways in the state of California, whether they choose to attend classes online or on campus. In California, credentials are based on whether the teacher wants to work with elementary school students or high school students.

Elementary school teachers should obtain a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. This allows teachers to work in grades ranging from preschool to senior level in high school, and even classes for adults. Teachers must first obtain a preliminary credential and meet further requirements within five years to teach in California public schools. The teacher must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited school as well as complete a multiple subject teacher preparation program.

For the Multiple Subject credential, teachers must show competence in the subject matter they intend to teach by passing an examination or by passing an approved program. The examination, known as the CBEST, includes questions on math and reading comprehension. In the process of attending college, future teachers must have taken several courses too. These include a reading comprehension course, a computer course and a course that covers the principles of the United States Constitution. After achieving the preliminary requirements, teachers obtain a Clear Credential by completing an approved General Education Instruction Program at a university.

Secondary educators typically teach single subject classes in middle school and high school levels. Teachers must hold a baccalaureate degree or higher from an accredited school as well as passage of a credential program. This program should include a prescribed set of student teaching hours as well. The basic skills requirements include passing the CBEST or CSET examinations. This also demonstrates subject matter competency. Many test takers find it helpful to take a study course before attempting the exam.

Future teachers are also required to take an approved single subject program, including English language skills, United States Constitution and computer technology courses. After five years, the candidate may receive a Clear Credential if he or she completes a professional teacher induction program or obtains National Board Certification. Some teachers receive an internship at this time, during which he or she may complete additional coursework and still receive experience.

Of course it is important to remember that each state has its own requirements. There are many programs, especially at the University of California or California State University schools, that offer step-by-step programs and advisors to help aspiring teachers along the way.