Humboldt State University

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How to Become a Teacher

Welcome! California needs good teachers. Teaching jobs are available throughout California, especially in urban areas. Teaching is a rewarding and challenging profession and we hope your reflection on questions below will assist you in your career decision.

For information on each program and how to apply, join us for our scheduled informative orientation meetings.

To view information by topic, please click on one of the below links:

Is a teaching career a good fit for you?

Good schools have teachers who reflect the political, social, religious, cultural and ethnic diversity of California. Teaching styles vary among good teachers. Aspects of a teaching career to ponder include:

Do you enjoy and get energized working with people? Teaching involves daily work with individual students in varying class sizes, and teamwork with other teachers, school administrators and staff and the parental community to build and maintain a healthy, empowering school climate and family.

Are you a good communicator? Successful teachers convey instructions and information in a manner their students can understand while modeling effective writing and speaking skills for their students. Teachers need well developed interpersonal and intercultural communication skills to build trustful relationships with their diverse students and parental communities.

Are you academically well prepared? All students deserve well educated teachers who, by example, can help them master basic skills of reading, writing and critical thinking, and who have a level of subject matter mastery that enables them to interest and inspire students.

Do you enjoy learning and are you interested in learning to help young people mature and love learning? Good teaching requires a commitment to lifelong education of one’s self and a desire to stimulate and motivate students to develop a passion for learning as they mature. Successful teachers focus on their students as individuals growing and developing.   

Do you want to work hard, meet challenges daily, receive decent pay and rich emotional rewards? If so, teaching may be an excellent profession for you.

How do I prepare for admission to a credential program?

Try teaching and find out if you like it! Forty-five hours of observation and participation in appropriate grade level classrooms (elementary K-5, middle school 6-8, high school 9-12, or special education) with a certificated teacher are required for admission to a credential program. You may already know which grade levels and type of teaching you most enjoy; if not, you can investigate some or all of these types of teaching and then complete at least 45 hours in the level of your choice. The more experience you have in public school classrooms, the better prepared you will be for your credential methods courses and student teaching.

Graduate from a regionally accredited college or university. You may select a teaching major or any major of your choice.
Here at HSU, teaching majors for elementary teaching are: Liberal Studies Elementary Education and Child Development Elementary Education. Teaching majors for middle school and high school teaching are: Art Education; Business Education; English Education; French, German, or Spanish Education; Industrial Technology Education; Math Education; Music Education; Physical Education; Science/Chemistry, Geosciences, Life Science or Physics Education; Social Science Education (includes Civics, Economics, and History). Special Education teachers work with all ages of students and can major in any subject for their bachelor’s degree.

Take prerequisite classes or exams to meet the U.S. Constitution and Technology for Educators requirements. Most CSU-system graduates have met the Constitution Requirement. A variety of courses count including PSCI 110, 210, 359, or 410 here at HSU and PoliSci-10 at College of the Redwoods. You may also meet this requirement by taking the Constitution Test at HSU’s testing center or a County Office of Education. Meet the preliminary education technology requirement by one of 3 options: (1) passing grade in EDUC 285 or an equivalent (such as EDUC 120 at College of the Sequoias), (2) pass the CSET for Preliminary Education Technology or San Jose State University’s Technology Exam, (3) complete a computer information systems major or minor.

Obtain a CPR card. CPR training must be completed in-person (online classes are not accepted) and must cover adult, infant, and child CPR. Your CPR card will need to be valid during the entire length of the credential program (August-June), and with that in mind, we usually recommend completing CPR training in July prior to entering the credential program.

Meet the subject matter competency (SMC) and basic skills requirements. The basic skills requirement is met by passing the CBEST Test, which covers reading, writing, and Math. Registration and testing information is available online at CBEST’s website. Alternately, candidates who will be passing the Multiple Subjects CSET to teach Elementary or Special Education have the option of taking the CSET: Writing Skills Test instead of the CBEST.

The SMC requirement must also be completed for admission to a credential program. The ways of meeting the SMC requirement differ for different credentials:

For Multiple Subjects (elementary): Pass the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) for Multiple Subjects, Subtests I, II, and III.

For Single Subjects (secondary): Satisfy one of two options:

(1) Complete an approved Subject Matter Program (teaching major) from an accredited California college or university. Make an appointment with a designated subject matter advisor for transcript evaluation and/or verification of completion of an approved major; or

(2) Pass the required California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) for your teaching content area prior to beginning the program.

For Special Education: You must pass one of the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET), Multiple Subjects, English, Math, or Science OR complete an undergraduate major in English, Math, or Science approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

How does HSU help students realize their goals to become teachers?

Advising People Interested in Exploring a Career in Teaching
HSU professional staff and faculty are happy to explain and answer questions regarding teacher preparation and certification (being recommended for a credential). We serve recent high school graduates ready to begin college, undergraduates including transfer students searching for a career direction, people considering a career change, and experienced teachers from other states.

Subject Matter Preparation Knowledge of subjects to be taught is the necessary foundation in working toward a credential. All credentialed teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree. HSU offers undergraduate Education majors in the following areas: For elementary teaching (multiple subject credential):

For middle school and high school teaching (single subject credential), we offer the following subject areas:

  1. Art
  2. English
  3. French
  4. German
  5. Mathematics
  6. Music
  7. Physical Education
  8. Science/Chemistry
  9. Science/Geosciences
  10. Science/Life Science
  11. Science/Physics
  12. Social Science (includes Civics, Economics, and History)
  13. Spanish

Verification of Subject Matter Preparation by Examination

To verify subject matter competence, students need to pass examinations: the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) and the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). HSU offers workshops and tutoring to help students prepare for these tests. Study guides for CSET and CBEST are available at HSU Bookstore.

Professional Preparation
California requires professional training for certificated teachers. The HSU School of Education offers credential programs that include foundations and methods classes and student teaching. HSU can recommend a student for a preliminary credential upon:

  1. Completion of a basic credential program
  2. Completion of college-level course or examination on the U.S. Constitution
  3. Passage of Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) Note: not required for Single Subject

Credential programs HSU provides include:

  1. Multiple Subjects (Elementary)
  2. Single Subject (Secondary)
  3. Special Education (mild/moderate and moderate/severe) Preliminary and Clear Credentials
  4. Administrative Services Level 1 and Level 2
  5. Reading Specialist (program currently inactive)

How do I get additional information and advising?

Explore this website further, and please look at the Frequently Asked Questions page. Visit the School of Education’s credential office in HGH 202.
For more information about our programs, contact:
Secondary Education: Anna Thaler Petersen at 707.826.5870, aet10@humboldt.edu
Elementary Education: Bryn Coriell at 707.826.5108, bpc11@humboldt.edu
Special Education: Peggy Kirkpatrick at 707.826.5795, bpkirk@aol.com
Administrative Services: Greg Aslanian at 707.826.5886, gva1@humboldt.edu
Master’s Programs: Lauren Parker at 707.826.5867 lauren.parker@humboldt.edu.

How do I apply to a credential program at HSU?

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