If you want to become an elementary school teacher and teach in California, you must make sure you follow the regulations for that state when you start your teacher training. This is because each of the states has different regulations for hiring “highly qualified” teachers and California is one of the states with its own teaching certification tests. In the elementary grades, teachers teach all the subjects of the curriculum with the exception of specialized subjects like Music, foreign languages and perhaps Physical Education.
Becoming an elementary school teacher in California is a five-year process. First you have to obtain a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, which can be anywhere in the country. Then you have to graduate from an approved teacher training facility with a grade point average of no less than 2.0. Finally you have to take and pass the California Teacher Certification exam, called CBEST, and obtain a score of at least 41 on each of the three sections. Your overall score must not be less than 123.
Some of the courses you must take during the teacher training program or your degree program include a course in US Constitution and a course in how to teach reading. Without these you will not receive a license as an elementary school teacher for California schools. You must be able to verify that you have sufficient knowledge of the subject matter of elementary grades by passing the Praxis Multiple Subject Assessment or by passing a comprehensive liberal arts program. Finally, you have to take and pass the RICA, which is the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment.
Once you have all these credentials, you can receive a preliminary license to teach as an elementary school teacher. The license is valid for a five-year period and can be renewed after that period of time. However, in order for your teaching license to be renewed you do have to take 150 hours of continuing education and professional development. The professional development can be arranged and approved by the school district. You also have to have evidence of effective teaching practice during that initial period. There are fees involved in taking the proper certification exams and you do have to provide your fingerprints to the school district. In addition, school districts require a background check and a police check to ensure that you can work safely with children.
Once you get established in your career as an elementary school teacher, you can advance in your career by taking the steps to obtain a professional teaching certificate. This involved post-graduate work by taking at least ten courses toward your Master’s degree and one course in each of Health Education, Computer Education and Consumer Education.
You do have to apply directly to each school district in order to be hired for a teaching position. You can find the job postings on the district websites, and by simply searching for teaching jobs in a specific area of the state. As in all other areas, it is much harder to find openings for positions in the larger centers, so you might try the outlying and rural areas if you are a recent graduate meeting the requirements for teacher certification.