California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education in California

May also be called: Teachers; High School Teachers; Secondary Teachers; English Teachers; Math Teachers; Social Studies Teachers; Science Teachers; Spanish Teachers; Art Teachers; Classroom Teachers; Biology Teachers

What Would I Do?

Secondary School Teachers, usually known as High School Teachers, educate teenagers generally between the ages 14 and 18 (Grades 9-12). Some specialize in single subjects like art, science, or music, while others teach two or more related subjects such as English and drama or physics and mathematics. Teachers use a variety of teaching methods, including interactive discussions and visual demonstrations. They assign lessons and correct homework, develop and give tests, prepare course outlines and objectives; and analyze, record, and report student growth.

When students enter high school in the ninth grade, they begin to take on more responsibility, such as deciding which classes to take. Before exiting high school, they must make even more significant choices such as whether to attend college, pursue further technical training, or find a job. Consequently, Teachers may provide career guidance and assist with job placement, and follow up with students after they have graduated.

Secondary School Teachers generally use coursework and textbooks chosen by their school district and the material they teach must meet California and federal government standards. In addition, Teachers must continually update their skills so that they can instruct and use the latest technology in the classroom. They often use computers and computer software as well as diagrams, science apparatuses, cameras, overhead projectors, television, DVDs, and the Internet to aid in their instruction.

Teachers create a positive environment that promotes good behavior in the classroom. They often speak with students, parents, and school counselors to discuss student progress or to help students improve behavior or academic problems. They also take part in faculty and professional meetings, conferences, and Teacher training courses.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Instruct through lectures, discussions, and demonstrations in one or more subjects such as English, mathematics, or social studies.Instructing
Adapt teaching methods and instructional materials to meet students' varying needs and interests.Learning Strategies
Plan and conduct activities for a balanced program of instruction, demonstration, and work time that provides students with opportunities to observe, question, and investigate.Monitoring
Confer with parents or guardians, other teachers, counselors, and administrators in order to resolve students' behavioral and academic problems.Speaking
Meet with parents and guardians to discuss their children's progress, and to determine their priorities for their children and their resource needs.Active Listening
Observe and evaluate students' performance, behavior, social development, and physical health.Social Perceptiveness
Prepare, administer, and grade tests and assignments to evaluate students' progress.Clerical
Guide and counsel students with adjustment and/or academic problems, or special academic interests.Psychology
Establish and enforce rules for behavior and procedures for maintaining order among the students for whom they are responsible.Education and Training
Prepare for assigned classes, and show written evidence of preparation upon request of immediate supervisors.Written Expression
Establish clear objectives for all lessons, units, and projects, and communicate those objectives to students.Speech Clarity
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Secondary School Teachers work in private, public, and publicly funded schools such as charter schools, and can work more than 40 hours a week both in and outside the classroom. Most work the traditional 10-month school year with a 2-month vacation during the summer. Those in districts with a year-round schedule may work for several weeks or months with a vacation in between. Year-round education can be single-track or multi-track. Traditional and most year-round school calendars have approximately 180 days of instruction, or the same number of instructional minutes, but year-round calendars spread instructional and vacation periods throughout the year.

Seeing students develop new skills and gain an appreciation of learning can be very rewarding. However, Teachers may experience stress if they have to deal with large classes, lack of volunteers or teacher aides, a need for modern equipment, or heavy workloads. Many Teachers are also frustrated by the lack of control they have over what they are required to teach. They can also feel discouraged when trying to teach unmotivated or disrespectful students. Violence may occur in high school settings; therefore, Teachers are often trained in conflict management to quickly resolve problems.

Teachers in private schools generally have more control over establishing the curriculum and setting standards for performance and discipline. Their students also tend to be more motivated, since private schools can be selective in their admissions processes.

Teachers may belong to the California Teachers Association.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Secondary School Teacher will appeal to you if you enjoy activities that involve assisting others and promote learning and personal development. This occupation satisfies those with social interests. Social occupations involve teaching, offering advice, helping, and being of service to people.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Salaries vary between school districts and generally are based on experience and college units completed. Teachers with a master’s degree or national certification often receive higher pay. In addition, some districts pay bonuses for advanced degrees or extra duty. Private schools pay somewhat less, but Teachers may be compensated with free or reduced tuition for their own children and greater independence in the classroom. Substitute Teachers are generally paid at a daily rate.


The median wage in 2021 for Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education in California was N/A annually. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Annual Wages for 2021Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Both public and private schools almost always provide medical, dental, vision, life, vacation, sick leave, retirement, and insurance benefits.

What is the Job Outlook?

California has over 1,000 high schools serving more than two million students. Enrollment has been increasing steadily and is expected to continue growing. As a result, the number of Secondary School Teachers is expected to increase and job opportunities for Teachers will vary from good to excellent, depending on the locality, grade level, and subject taught. Job openings will result from new jobs as well as the need to replace the large number of Teachers who are expected to retire or leave teaching for other reasons.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education are expected to increase by 5.1 percent, or 6,300 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Total Job
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Secondary School Teachers must get a Single Subject Teaching Credential to teach in California. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) establishes requirements for the Preliminary and Professional Clear Credential.

The Preliminary Credential is valid for five years. Applicants must:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree, or higher, from an accredited college or university.
  • Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST).
  • Verify subject matter competence by passing the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) in a single subject matter or by completing a CTC-approved subject-matter program. Students of Specialized Science subjects may use completed subject-matter coursework instead of completing a program.
  • Complete a single subject teacher preparation program, including successful student teaching, and be recommended for the credential.

The Professional Clear Credential is renewable on-line after five years and is issued to applicants who meet one of the following requirements:

  • Complete a CTC-approved Professional Teacher Induction Program.
  • Hold a National Board Certificate in their chosen subject area, after their California Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential was issued.

Teachers can earn their Single Subject Teaching Credential through a university, district, or Early Completion Internship program; from teaching experience in the Peace Corps; or from experience teaching at a private school. Those who work in charter schools are required to hold either a teaching credential or other document equivalent to that of a public school Teacher. Troops to Teachers is a Department of Defense program that provides tuition reimbursement, career counseling, and monetary bonuses for current and prior members of the Armed Services who agree to teach in economically disadvantaged urban and rural schools.

Emergency Permits are only available at the request of an employer.

All Teachers are required to obtain an electronic fingerprint (LiveScan) and criminal background clearance prior to their employment.


Teachers are required to have teaching experience prior to employment. Most candidates take a year of graduate courses at an accredited teacher training institution, usually with practice teaching. An alternative path is a one- or two-year university internship in which the candidate teaches while still taking classes. Some districts have established their own internships that include a two-year professional development plan for the Teacher. Many new Teachers start as Substitute Teachers to gain classroom experience and district recognition.

Early Career Planning

Students who are thinking about a future career in teaching should take the necessary courses required for admission into college. In addition, students can gain valuable experience by tutoring or mentoring other students. This, in turn, should help them decide whether teaching is a desired career choice.

Work Study Programs

California offers Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) for Careers in Education. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Continuing Education

Continuing education courses may be required depending on the employing school district. If required, Teachers must complete the continuing education requirements for the Professional Clear Credential before the expiration date of their Preliminary Credential and submit the appropriate renewal application, documentation, and processing fees. On-line renewal is required for all Professional Clear Credentials. Once renewed, the credential will be issued as a Clear Credential. Teachers are encouraged to update their skills to keep up with the latest technologies.

Licensing and Certification

Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.

Teachers may hold one or several certificates such as an Early Adolescence through Adulthood/Art, Written French, or a Computer Fundamentals certificate. Most Teachers are also required to have a certificate in First Aid, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) for Schools and the Community. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Teacher Education, Multiple Levels; Art Teacher Education; Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Subject Areas, Other; Secondary Education and Teaching
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Elementary and Secondary Schools99.0%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to school districts remains one of the most effective job search methods. The California Department of Education publishes both a public and private school directory, which together contain a listing of all schools and school districts in the State of California. They also have a list of the county offices of education with their contact information that can be used to find job opportunities. In addition, college placement offices on campus are valuable resources for finding a job and are recommended to all teaching students. Job openings can also be found in newspaper ads, public libraries, and career centers across California.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education.

  • Public Schools
  • Private Schools (K-12)
  • High Schools
  • Religious General Interest Schools
  • Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Schools

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Promotion for most Teachers consists of regular salary increases. Administrative positions require teaching experience, advanced study, and additional credentials.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education with links to more information.

Health EducatorsProfile
Instructional CoordinatorsProfile
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical EducationGuide
Teacher AssistantsGuide
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Secondary SchoolProfile

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification25-2031
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education25-2031.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)SAE
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Health Teacher Education 131307
   Technology Teacher Education/Industrial Arts Teacher Educati131309
   Foreign Languages and Literatures, General 160101
   French Language and Literature 160901
   Spanish Language and Literature 160905
   Latin Language and Literature 161203
   Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences, General 190101
   English Language and Literature, General 230101
   Biology/Biological Sciences, General 260101
   Mathematics, General 270101
   Physical Sciences 400101
   Chemistry, General 400501
   Physics, General 400801
   Social Sciences, General 450101
   Art/Art Studies, General 500701
   Music, General 500901
   History, General 540101
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Biology, General040100
   Health Education083700
   Industrial Arts (Transfer)083900
   Foreign Languages, General110100
   Family and Consumer Sciences, General130100
   Mathematics, General170100
   Physical Sciences, General190100
   Physics, General190200
   Chemistry, General190500
   Social Sciences, General220100