Steps to Becoming a Teacher for the Four-Year College Student

Photo of two students studying together

If you are in college and have decided to become a teacher, there are many things you need to do
in order to complete the process. Here is a checklist of those items.

Step 1 - Find out if teaching is for you

Participate in a teacher recruitment program at your college like the Future Teacher Club or AmeriCorp Program.
Volunteer in several different classrooms or grade levels. Remember to explore special education classrooms as well.
Get involved in a service learning project with a local school.

Step 2 - Decide what grade level and subject to teach

If you want to teach elementary school, proof of subject matter competency is required (verified by passage of the CSET Multiple Subject exam). You will need to teach many subjects and will be seeking a "Multiple Subject Teaching Credential."

If you want to teach high school, proof of subject matter competency is required (verified by a major in the subject you wish to teach or passage of the Praxis/SSAT/CSET exam). You will need to teach one subject in depth and will be seeking a "Single Subject Teaching Credential."

If you want to teach special education classes, you must verify subject matter competency by either taking an approved Praxis/SSAT/CSET exam or by completing an approved, single subject program. You will be seeking an "Education Specialist Instruction Credential."

Step 3 - Decide what type of credential (licensing) program is best for you

The four major types of programs are:

  • Blended: These programs combine teacher preparation coursework with the courses needed to obtain a bachelor's degree. This is the only credentialing program for individuals without a bachelor's degree.
  • Internship: These programs provide participants with classroom responsibilities while they complete course work requirements for a credential.
  • Post-Baccalaureate: These programs are two or three semesters long (including student teaching) and sometimes include a master's degree.
  • Online: CalState TEACH is a multiple-subject credential program that delivers the curriculum in a self-study format using online, print, and CD-ROM materials.

Step 4 - Take the required tests

You will need to take the CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) and, depending on your credential type, other exams.

Step 5 - Apply for financial aid

File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on time (March 2). The information on this form is used to determine the amount of federal and state financial aid for which you are eligible. Log on to for more information. Check out: -

  • Grants
  • Loans
  • Work Study
  • University-Based Programs
  • America Reads/AmeriCorps
  • Scholarship

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