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Special Education Teacher Requirements

To teach special education in California public schools, you need an Education Specialist Instruction Credential. There are six specialty areas, each working with different populations of students. Please check to see which specialties are right for you.

This credential is a two-tiered system. First, you receive a "preliminary credential" which is good for five years. Then, take additional courses and complete a fifth year of study (which is met through a credential or teacher preparation program) and have an offer of employment to obtain a Level I "professional clear credential." To receive a Level II, you must complete an individualized induction program and complete 2 years experience in a school. Once you receive the credential, you can teach within your specialty in resource rooms, special schools, special day classes, correctional facilities, nonpublic schools and agencies, and home/hospital settings.

Requirements for a Preliminary Credential:

  • Obtain a Bachelor's Degree or higher from any regionally accredited university.
  • Pass the CBEST (California Basic Assessment Educational Skills Test) http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/.
  • Prove subject matter competence. This can be done by passing the CSET in your subject area. As of January of 2003, the CSET is being phased in to replace the SSAT/Praxis exams. Check to see which exam is right for you http://www.cset.nesinc.com/.
  • Pass the RICA (Reading Instruction Competence Assessment) http://www.rica.nesinc.com/.
  • Finish an official Special Education Credential preparation program that includes student teaching in your chosen specialty. To see which specialty is right for you click here.
  • U.S. Constitution requirement (this can be met with college courses or an examination; check with the University you are applying to).
  • Receive an offer of employment from a California school.
  • If you have passed the CBEST and CSET, some universities offer special internship options. Internships typically allow you to teach while earning your teaching credential. Call your university to see if they provide internship opportunities.

Requirements for a Level I Professional Clear Credential: 

  • Finish a fifth year of study (completing a credential or teacher preparation program will satisfy this requirement).
  • Finish approved courses in Special Education, Computer Education, and Health Education.
  • Have an offer of employment.

Requirements for a Level II Professional Clear Credential:

  • Complete an individualized induction program.
  • Provide proof that you have successfully worked in a public or private school.
  • Any additional requirements may be found on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing website http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/default.html.

We do our best to provide you with the most up-to-date information about teaching credentials; however, requirements are constantly changing. For the most recent information available regarding possible changes to the credentialing process, visit the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/default.html

Special thanks to TEACH California (formerly CalTeach), which provided much of this information.

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

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