How to Become a Teacher in San Diego (2023)

The largest public school district in the San Diego area is the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), which educates over 121,000 students, making it the second-largest school district in California.1 You must have a teaching certificate to work in the public school district, which involves completing a bachelor’s degree, a teacher preparation program, and the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET). Charter schools also require applicants to have a teaching certificate, although private schools set their own requirements. See the private and charter school section for more details, and continue reading to learn more about teaching careers in San Diego.

San Diego Teacher Certification Requirements

To become a teacher in San Diego, individuals must complete a bachelor’s degree program and an approved teacher preparation program, pass the CBEST and CSET tests, and complete a fingerprint check. This will enable you to earn the California teacher certificate through the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Students currently enrolled in a teacher preparation program may be eligible to complete a paying internship and earn classroom experience. To learn more about certification requirements, please visit our California teacher certification page.

Aspiring teachers who possess a bachelor’s degree but have not completed teacher preparation can earn certification through an alternate route by enrolling in a teacher preparation program and simultaneously working as a district intern. This can help you save time meeting the certification requirements while gaining experience. See our guide to California alternative teacher certification to learn more.

Teacher Certification Programs in San Diego

The following San Diego-area colleges and universities offer teacher certification programs that can prepare you for first-time licensure or additional endorsements, if you are already licensed. You can read more about teacher preparation programs in the state on our California schools page.

  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • San Diego State University
  • University of San Diego

How to Become a Teacher in San Diego (1)

How to Become a Teacher in San Diego (2)

(Video) As teacher shortages persist, state makes it easier to become a substitute

San Diego School District Steps for Becoming a Teacher

To become a teacher in San Diego, you will need to be certified through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. There are many ways of completing the requirements for certification, including earning a bachelor’s degree in education or an alternative educator program. See the certification section for more information. To apply for a position in the district, follow these steps and check job postings frequently as positions are available throughout the year.

Step 1: Complete your application.

First, you should create an account on the school district’s website and complete the online application, including information on your educational background, criminal history (if applicable), and work experience. You will also be required to upload a resume and may be required to answer written questions or provide references.

Step 2: Be interviewed by a school leader or panel.

If your application is selected by the school, you may be asked to attend an interview. The interview process may include a written evaluation or test and/or a teaching presentation to demonstrate teaching skills.

Step 3: Complete the hiring process.

Successful applicants will be extended an offer of employment with the school. Offers of employment are contingent on successful verification of your credentials, reference checks, a drug test, a TB test, and a fingerprint clearance. In some cases, you may also need to complete a physical exam. Details will be provided at the time of hiring.

Contact Information

San Diego Unified School District

4100 Normal St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 725-7700

How to Become a Substitute Teacher with the San Diego School District

For substitute teaching positions (also known as “visiting teacher” positions in the San Diego Unified School District), you must hold a bachelor’s degree and pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). Teacher certification is preferred, but in high-needs areas prospective substitute teachers can apply for an emergency 30-day substitute teaching permit. The substitute permit, which is valid for one year and must be renewed annually, allows substitutes to teach in any of the 42 schools in San Diego County. However, substitutes with this permit can only teach for a maximum of 30 days in the same classroom. You can view open positions and apply through the district’s website.

(Video) NEW Substitute Teacher Requirements 2021 | NO MORE CBEST? | How to become a substitute teacher

How to Become a Teacher in San Diego (3)

Private and Charter School Teacher Requirements in San Diego

California law requires that charter school teachers in San Diego hold a current teaching certificate or its equivalent. Private schools in San Diego have some latitude to set their own separate requirements for prospective teachers. Schools that are not part of the public school system are not required by the state to hire certified teachers but may prefer candidates who hold California teacher certification. Take a look at the websites of individual private schools to learn more about specific hiring practices.

The Largest K-12 Schools in San Diego

To help you compare public, private, and charter schools in San Diego we have compiled the following table that compares the largest schools in the San Diego area.

SchoolTypeGrade Level# StudentsStudent-Teacher
Rosa Parks Elementary SchoolPublicK-597425:1
Porter Elementary SchoolPublicK-691126:1
Dingeman Elementary SchoolPublicK-578227:1
Marshall Middle SchoolPublic6-81,50925:1
Lewis Middle SchoolPublic6-81,11424:1
Standley Middle SchoolPublic6-81,03427:1
Henry High SchoolPublic9-122,39725:1
Mira Mesa High SchoolPublic9-122,32225:1
Scripps Ranch High SchoolPublic9-122,23428:1
The O’Farrell Charter SchoolCharterK-121,78221:1
Charter School of San DiegoCharter7-121,43630:1
Gompers Preparatory AcademyCharter6-121,30519:1
Cathedral Catholic High SchoolPrivate9-121,63015:1
Francis Parker SchoolPrivatePK-121,18510:1
The Bishop’s SchoolPrivate6-128008:1

See Table Notes and References at bottom of page.

How to Become a Teacher in San Diego (4)

(Video) Substitute teachers are in high demand at all San Diego County school districts

San Diego Teacher Salary and Jobs Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, secondary school teachers in the San Diego-Carlsbad area earn the highest average salary at $77,630, followed by elementary school teachers at $71,990, middle school teachers at $73,150, and kindergarten teachers at $66,720.1 These average salaries are slightly below statewide averages but notably above national averages.2,3,4

San Diego-area teaching positions for kindergarten, elementary, middle school, and secondary school are projected to grow between 7.6% to 9.9% through 2026.5 Even stronger growth is projected for preschool teachers, at 14.6% during the same time period.5 Each year, openings will be created by new positions and replacements for existing positions. Elementary school teachers are projected to have the highest number of total job openings each year (922) followed by secondary school teachers (877) and preschool teachers (486).5

San Diego Teacher Shortage Areas

The US Department of Education bases some student loan forgiveness programs on teacher shortage areas, meaning that your chances of qualifying for loan forgiveness may be stronger if you are teaching a subject that has been formally identified as a shortage area. You may also qualify for other funding opportunities or a more competitive salary based on your endorsement(s). Note that shortage areas may change from year to year, so you should be sure to check with state education agencies, your selected education program, and your student loan providers about funding options. For the 2020-2021 school year, the following subject areas were recognized as shortage areas in California (statewide):6

  • Bilingual Education
  • Career Technical Education
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Special Education

San Diego Teaching Jobs Boards

To find teaching job opportunities in the San Diego area, regularly check online job boards for new postings throughout the year. Here are some sites with postings in the area. You can also check out our jobs board to search for teaching jobs in San Diego.

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is the typical San Diego teacher salary?

Answer: San Diego public school teacher salaries are based in large part on the number of years of experience that a teacher has, as well as his or her education level. First-year teachers in schools with a 184-day schedule who have a bachelor’s degree start at a salary of $48,791 per year.7 Higher first-step salaries, up to a maximum of $60,703 for a bachelor’s degree plus 90 graduate credit hours, are offered.7 All teachers receive regular step increases based on experience.

(Video) 🎓 Earning My Teaching Credential | San Diego State University

Question: What is the pay rate for a San Diego substitute teacher?

Answer: Substitute teachers, also known as visiting teachers, are paid $166.69 per day for short-term assignments or $186.28 per day for long-term assignments.8 “Established” day-to-day visiting teachers, those who work 50% or more of the instructional year, are paid $176.49 per day.8

Question: How do you become a kindergarten teacher in San Diego?

Answer: To become a kindergarten teacher in San Diego public or charter schools, you must complete a bachelor’s degree and an approved teacher preparation program in early childhood education and then pass California’s state exams for early childhood educators. You can read about the requirements in detail through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Private school requirements may vary by school.

How to Become a Teacher in San Diego (5)

Table Notes and References:
1. Niche, Largest Schools in San Diego:

(Video) San Diego school districts taking extreme measures to deal with teacher shortage

1. San Diego Unified School District:
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, San Diego-Carlsbad Metropolitan Division:
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, California:
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, United States:
5. State of California Employment Development Department, Employment Projections 2016-2026:
6. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas, California, 2020-2021:
7. San Diego Unified School District Salary Schedules:
8. San Diego Unified School District Visiting Certificated Employee Salary Schedule:


How long does it take to become a teacher in California? ›

In most cases, it takes four years to earn your bachelor's degree and an additional fifth year to earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential.

What is the fastest way to become a teacher in California? ›

To earn a preliminary teaching credential a teacher must have:
  1. A bachelor's degree.
  2. Completed an accredited teacher preparation program.
  3. Completed 600 hours of student teaching.
  4. Been fingerprinted and passed a background check.
  5. Taken required tests or completed university-approved coursework.
14 Sept 2022

What is required to become a teacher in CA? ›

In California, the minimum education requirement for teacher certification is a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. You must also complete a teacher preparation program approved by the CTC. An approved program provides both educational curriculum and fieldwork.

Does San Diego need teachers? ›

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — School districts in San Diego County are struggling to cope with a shortage of teachers and failing to keep classrooms staffed with properly credentialed teachers, according to recent data from the California Department of Education.

What kind of teacher gets paid the most? ›


When you are looking for the best-paid teaching jobs for your area of interest or specialized skill, then you may consider working as a professor in a college or university. A college professor prepares course material, teaches students in a classroom environment, and grades student work.

Is 40 too old to become a teacher? ›

Wherever you are in your journey to becoming a teacher, don't let your age be a factor. Students and schools need all kinds of teachers. Your experience will most likely be an asset: part of what makes your teaching and your classroom uniquely valuable to your school community. In short, it's never too late to teach!

Does California have a teacher shortage? ›

Districts throughout the state have struggled to fill teacher vacancies. The teacher shortage has struck most districts in California, but an EdSource survey shows that the impacts are nuanced, uneven — and sometimes inequitable.

What type of teachers are in demand in California? ›

Science, math, bilingual and special education teachers were in particularly high demand and the study projected that statewide, districts would need to hire about 300,000 teachers a year starting in 2018.

Can I teach in California without a degree? ›

At minimum, you will need a bachelor's degree to teach most grade levels and school subjects in California, including elementary school. You can obtain a bachelor's degree in various subjects, but must also complete a master's degree program or a teaching credential program to fulfill the state's requirements.

Can I teach in California without CBEST? ›

Instead of taking the CBEST, the new law allows teacher candidates to prove they are proficient by earning a B or better in college coursework in reading, writing and mathematics.

Is it hard to be a teacher in California? ›

Your first step in becoming a teacher in California is to determine whether the role is a good fit for your personal and professional goals. Teaching is a challenging job that requires patience and commitment. Though highly rewarding, it is not for everyone.

Can I become a teacher without a degree? ›

To become a teacher, you'll need qualified teacher status (QTS) and to obtain QTS you must have a degree or a qualification equivalent to a UK degree. So, if you want to teach and already have an eligible degree – great! You're on the right track.

What is a teachers salary in San Diego? ›

Public School Teacher Salary in San Diego, California

How much does a Public School Teacher make in San Diego, CA? The average Public School Teacher salary in San Diego, CA is $59,993 as of October 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $50,110 and $73,157.

Can you live off a teacher salary in California? ›

Yes, educators absolutely do and can live well on a teacher's salary. It's all about what you value. If after reading this post you feel that teaching is not the best career choice for you, that's fine. It's good to know what you want vs.

What city in California pays teachers the most? ›

Here are the districts that finished highest, along with their average teacher salaries: Solana Beach Elementary School District, $141,209. Carmel Unified School District, $121,948. Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District, $106,017.

Which state has the lowest teacher salary? ›

Mississippi has the lowest average teacher salary of $45,574, followed by West Virginia with $47,826. The other states with average teacher salaries under $50,000 a year are New Mexico, Florida, South Dakota, Kansas, and Arizona.
Teacher Pay by State 2022.
StateTeacher Salary
South Dakota$49,761
48 more rows

Can you make 6 figures as a teacher? ›

Yes, it's true. Teachers who've been on the job for several years can earn six figures in many states. Sure, teaching isn't the highest paying gig out there, with a median salary of $57,949 ($3,000 below other professions that require a BA degree).

Is California a good state for teachers? ›

California, despite its high cost of living and higher-than-average student-to-teacher ratio, ranked No.
Overall ranking of best and worst states for teachers in 2022.
Overall score6.98
Overall cost of living rank48
Student/teacher ratio rank49
Average annual wage rank2
49 more columns
31 May 2022

What is the best age to become a teacher? ›

How Young Can A Teacher Be?
  • If you finish college and complete student teaching then you are able to start applying for a teaching job and get started. ...
  • As you can see most teachers started teaching at a young age, between 21 and 24 years old.

Can I train to be a teacher while working? ›

If you have been working in a classroom for a significant amount of time, as a teaching assistant or in a similar role, you may be able to get qualified teacher status (QTS) through a 12-week 'assessment only' programme. You must also have a degree. You'll need to show that you already meet the standards for QTS.

What age is the average teacher? ›

StateAverage age of teachersMedian age of teachers
65 more rows

Do teachers get paid well in California? ›

How much does a Public School Teacher make in California? The average Public School Teacher salary in California is $62,097 as of October 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $51,867 and $75,722.

Why teachers are leaving the profession? ›

The tension and responsibility that educators like Gillum faced during the pandemic — combined with long-standing issues plaguing the profession, plus the coarsening of debates about classroom control, teacher pay and respect — have caused many to make the tough choice to leave the classroom.

Are teachers underpaid in California? ›

Districts struggle to fill open positions and see new waves of teacher departures this summer.

What state pays teacher the most? ›

Pennsylvania, California and New York have the highest average teacher salaries in the country, compared to all other occupations.

What month do most new teachers get hired? ›


This is one of the best times to apply for teaching jobs, as many openings are posted during the spring. Job fairs are often held during this time, which are a great opportunity to network and learn more about schools you might like to teach at.

Where is the highest teacher shortage? ›

Mississippi saw the highest teacher-to-student vacancy rate in the 2021-22 school year. The state reported having nearly 69 missing teachers per 10,000 students.

How much does it cost to get a teaching credential in California? ›

Teaching Credential
Personal Expenses$1,921$1,959
Total for California Residents (3) (includes health insurance)$46,237$47,589
Nonresident Supplemental Tuition (for California nonresidents)$15,102$15,102
5 more rows
14 Jul 2022

Which Cal state has the best teaching program? ›

5 Best Colleges in California for Teaching Degrees
  • 1. California State University – Fullerton. 4 Year; Fullerton, CA. ...
  • 2. California State University – Long Beach. 4 Year; Long Beach, CA. ...
  • San Diego State University. 4 Year; San Diego, CA. ...
  • San Jose State University. ...
  • 5. California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo.

What test do teachers have to take in California? ›

Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST).

How difficult is the CBEST exam? ›

Less than 66% of students pass the CBEST on their first try. Only 81% of test-takers pass after multiple attempts. That's why in 2021, the state of California changed its requirements for teacher certification.

How much does the CBEST cost? ›

The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) tests basic reading, mathematics, and writing skills of prospective educators. How much does it cost to take the CBEST exam? The paper-based exam costs $41, while the computer based test costs $102.

Can I take CBEST without a bachelor's degree? ›

You may take the CBEST only if you have earned, at minimum, a high school diploma, a GED, or the equivalent or if you are, or have been, a student taking courses for college credit pursuant to a career in education. If you are uncertain about your eligibility to test, please contact the CTC for approval to test.

What state is the best to be a teacher in? ›

The states where its best to be a teacher:
  • Virginia.
  • Florida.
  • Washington.
  • New Jersey.
  • Pennsylvania.
  • Massachusetts.
  • Maryland.
  • Connecticut.
19 Sept 2022

How many hours do teachers work in California? ›

We found teachers work an average of 42.2 hours a week as compared to nonteachers working 43.2 hours.
Professor of Economics - University of California, Santa Barbara.
1 more row
12 Jun 2019

How much does a beginning teacher make in California? ›

How much does an Entry Level Teacher make in California? The average Entry Level Teacher salary in California is $46,863 as of October 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $39,143 and $57,146.

How long is teacher training? ›

Full-time courses usually take three to four years, while part-time courses take four to six years. If you have undergraduate credits from previous study, you might be able to complete a course in two years.

How do I become a teacher with no qualifications? ›

You can work as an unqualified teacher in a secondary school/further education while training part-time or you can complete a University or College course such as the Professional Certificate in Education (PCE) or the Certificate of Education (CertEd), which both meet the requirements of Level 5 DET.

How do I get teacher certification? ›

Traditional Teaching Certification
  1. Choose a bachelor's degree and teacher preparation program. The traditional route to certification in any state begins with earning an undergraduate degree. ...
  2. Complete a student teaching experience. ...
  3. Take your state's required exam(s) for educators. ...
  4. Apply for teacher certification.

What is the highest paying school district in San Diego? ›

Solana Beach Elementary School District, $141,209. San Dieguito Union High School District, $110,214. Coronado Unified School District, $97,557. Del Mar Union Elementary School District, $128,937.

What is a good starting salary in San Diego? ›

As of Nov 7, 2022, the average annual pay for an Entry Level Bachelors Degree in San Diego is $43,597 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $20.96 an hour.

What is a high salary in San Diego? ›

Above Average Salary in San Diego, CA
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$84,114$7,009
75th Percentile$66,676$5,556
25th Percentile$32,825$2,735

What city pays teachers the most? ›

Where Do Teachers Get Paid the Most? 20 Cities with the Highest Teacher Salaries for the Cost of Living
  • #8: Indianapolis, Indiana. ...
  • #7: Baltimore, Maryland. ...
  • #6: Salt Lake City, Utah. ...
  • #5: Portland, Oregon. ...
  • #4: Sacramento, California. ...
  • #3: Columbus, Ohio. ...
  • #2: Albany, New York. ...
  • #1: Buffalo, New York. Average annual salary is $70,216.

Do teachers get paid during summer? ›

In most teaching positions, teachers are not paid over the summer break. Usually, teachers can choose to receive their paychecks over a 10-month period or over a span of 12 months. Many teachers choose to take a prorated salary even at a lower monthly rate to keep a steady income throughout the entire year.

What state pays teachers the most per hour? ›

New York is the top paying state for experienced teachers, with an average annual salary that tops $85,000 and a starting salary of $57,845.

What type of teacher makes the most money? ›


When you are looking for the best-paid teaching jobs for your area of interest or specialized skill, then you may consider working as a professor in a college or university. A college professor prepares course material, teaches students in a classroom environment, and grades student work.

How much does a teacher with a master's degree make in California? ›

Annual Base Salary of Elementary and Secondary Teachers by Education and Experience, 2017-18
0-2 YearsAverage, All Levels
National Average of Teachers with a Bachelor's$42,440$49,890
CA Teachers with a Master's$61,740$81,320
National Average of Teachers with a Master's$51,050$63,120
1 more row
14 Oct 2020

Who are the highest paid teachers in California? ›

Top companies for Teachers in California
  • California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 3.8 $59.60per hour. ...
  • PUC Schools. 3.4 $50.60per hour. ...
  • Tulare County Office Of Education. 4.1 $50.08per hour. ...
  • Mad Science. 4.0 $50.00per hour. ...
  • COMPTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT. 3.6 $49.15per hour. ...
  • Show more companies.

How fast can I become a teacher? ›

It typically takes between four and five years to become a teacher. That is the length of time required to complete a bachelor's degree, which is the minimum qualification for teachers, whether they are teaching elementary, middle school or high school.

Do California teachers get paid well? ›

The average California teacher salary was $82,746 for the 2019-2020 school year. This is over $20,000 higher than the national average.
3. Location of your School.
DistrictSan Francisco Unified
Average salary$75,872
Median home price*$1.3 million
9 more columns
20 Aug 2020

How much do California teachers make? ›

How much does a Public School Teacher make in California? The average Public School Teacher salary in California is $62,097 as of October 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $51,867 and $75,722.

Which teachers get paid the most in California? ›

Top companies for Teachers in California
  • California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 3.8 $59.60per hour. ...
  • PUC Schools. 3.4 $50.60per hour. ...
  • Tulare County Office Of Education. 4.1 $50.08per hour. ...
  • Mad Science. 4.0 $50.00per hour. ...
  • COMPTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT. 3.6 $49.15per hour. ...
  • Show more companies.
4 days ago

Is becoming a teacher worth it? ›

Is Being a Teacher Worth It? (According to 10+ Teachers) Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers you can choose; it also offers many opportunities for personal growth and professional development. However, there's no doubt that teaching is a challenging and demanding profession.

Is becoming a teacher hard? ›

It is not too hard to become a teacher.

In general, it takes at least a bachelor's degree plus a teaching license to become a teacher. For many, a bachelor's degree in education, teaching, or a similar area will be the standard degree, at least with respect to teaching at primary and secondary levels.

What state has the best teacher salary? ›

Pennsylvania, California and New York have the highest average teacher salaries in the country, compared to all other occupations.

What's the best state to be a teacher in? ›

Overall ranking of best and worst states for teachers in 2022
RankStateOverall score
1New York3.80
4New Jersey4.77
46 more rows
31 May 2022

Do teachers in California get paid in the summer? ›

No, technically, teachers do not get paid in the summer if they are not actively teaching. However, most teachers have the option to spread their pay for ten months of work over an entire 12 month period.


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