1. Apply to a teaching program.
Do your research. Look for an in-person program that is not too far of a drive from home. You also want small class sizes. I chose Dominican University of California because it fulfilled all of these things for me. (Note: This program is part of a larger masters degree program. After you get the credential, you can teach, and then take 15 more units to earn a Masters in Education.)
2. Get a Certificate of Clearance. Fee: $50.
Here's the California site for more info. Thankfully, if you've already worked at a school like I have (I was a "paraeducator" when I was the after-school program supervisor), you've already done this. In order to get this, you'll also need to Livescan. (See the next step.)
3. Do your Livescan (fingerprinting). Fee: $121
(Teaching includes various things they check, so the fees vary. This was my total cost.) You'll have to schedule this with your local sheriff's office, unless it's available at the district office where you'll be student teaching. (Note: Unfortunately they don't send the information to more than one office after you Livescan, so if you've already done this before, you'll have to pay and do it again.)
4. Get a TB Test.
No fees, but it takes a bit of time to find a clinic or schedule an appointment with your doctor. You'll have to go in twice--once to receive the test and then again a few days later to check the results. (I recommend you don't give away your only copy of the TB test to the school or future employer. Make multiple copies and file them!)
5. Take the CBEST. Fee: $102
This is also known as the "Basic Skills Requirement" because passing this test shows you're capable of up to 7th grade level school work. Take the practice test here for free, and sign up to take a test here.
6. Take the Child and Adolescent Development Psychology course. Fee: (about) $100
If you were smart, you may have already taken this class when you were an undergrad. I didn't take this class as part of my BA, so instead of taking it at Dominican, I found that it was offered at the community college. Of course a community college will offer it cheaper, but don't forget the other costs, such as parking and a transcript fee of $12 to transfer the course to your program. (Note: I found that this class was class a bit time-consuming. It was twice/week from 9:45-11:00am, and I spent a LOT of time studying.)
7. Take the CSET. Fee: $297 ($99 for each of 3 exams)
I recommend taking each of these separately, and STUDY. I found this book to be really helpful. (A used version is fine, even better if you can loan it from someone or from the library.) Use study tools like Quizlet to go over terms because there's a lot of them. Here's where you can register to test, just like the CBEST.
8. Take the RICA (written exam). Fee: $171
Just like the CSET, you'll need to STUDY for this one. At Dominican, you are required to take a class called Teaching Reading that technically is preparation for this test. There are loads of study booklets available. This is the book I'm using. Here's the link to register.
9. Take the US Constitution test. (or take a class) Fee: $52 (varies though)
My school provides this test and charged the fee. It's a simple multiple choice test about the Constitution. My school also provided study materials with this fee, but just reading the Constitution is worth it. (Unfortunately I didn't take it seriously and missed one too many questions the first time--you could only miss 12, so I'll have to pay another $49 to take it again.) Take it seriously and pass the first time!
10. Become CPR-certified. Fee: $90 (infant, child, and adult CPR which meets the American Heart Association or American Red Cross criteria)
I worked at a summer camp the summer between Spring and Fall semesters, so this was a requirement for my job as well. I took a class through the American Red Cross, which was a one-time in-person class. Before the in-person class though, I had to complete a web portion that took at least an hour to complete. I would recommend doing this over the summer if you can.
11. (Not required, but highly advised) Become a substitute teacher. Fees: $121 (Livescan fingerprinting) and $102.50 for the substitute permit (aka the Emergency 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit)
This isn't necessarily in order to become a substitute. If you are ready at the beginning of the Fall semester with a substitute permit, you'll be able to legally student teach sometimes without your Directing Teaching in the room. Plus, you'll be the first person your Directing Teacher calls when s/he needs a sub.
(Note: It's called a "Emergency 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit" not because you only have it for 30 days. It's because you can only sub for one teacher up to 30 days in one school year (even non-consecutively), otherwise you'd be a "long-term sub.") (Another note: Yes, you've already done the Livescan, but unfortunately you'll have to do the Livescan again, and it'll be sent to the county district office this time.)
12. Do your student observations and student teaching.
This is all part of your program, which includes seminar classes. You'll get assigned everything--the school, your observations and student teaching assignment. I recommend requesting a school close to home if you can, but be flexible because it's not really in your control.
14. Pay for TaskStream.com. Fee: $42 for the year.
You'll need this for your school assignments and to complete the TPAs. (Tip: type those questions from the lesson plan builder and save them for when you're a teacher.)
15. Do the TPA's (Teacher Performance Assessment, all 4)
Again, this is part of your program. No additional fees, but there's a class that's worth .5 units at Dominican held twice/semester in the last two semesters to help you get through it. You do two TPAs per semester for two semesters.
16. Pay tuition.
I almost left that part out. I've taken 2 of 3 semesters so far, and my program tuition is based on each unit I take. There's no "full time" or "part time" student options. So far, I've paid about $7700 per semester. (Thankfully, I got a $750 discount scholarship per semester for having a good GPA from USC.)
Working is really tough to do when you're in school full-time. You're required to observe, student teach and take classes in the late afternoon or evening. I paid out of pocket for the first semester, and I've borrowed the full tuition cost, plus about $3,000 extra for other expenses, for the final two semesters.
Good news: I hear that you can get some of these loans repaid by the government through what's called The Teach Grant. I believe there are certain requirements, including the fact that you'll need to be teaching at a low-income school.
17. Pay for the credential.
I haven't gotten to this part yet, but I believe the fee for the California credential is $100. This is the website for more information.
Total cost: $24,346
Giving out extra homework to feel better: priceless
(okay, just kidding)
Have any updates to this? Please share in a comment.
Someone recently asked me about the process and costs to become a teacher. Of course this process varies in each state, so this is specific to California, where I'm getting my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. If you're interested, here is the nitty gritty.
Hi, my name is Alexis Markavage. I'm a student teacher and a Multiple Subject Credential candidate at Dominican University of California. I graduated from the University of Southern California in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design, but now I'm continuing my education to work in education. I hope to work as an upper elementary school teacher.