How to Become an Education Administrator in California

Learn how to become an Education Administrator or School Principal in California.​​​​

The California Commission on Educator Credentialing offers the Administrative Services Credential to prospective education administrators and school principals.

Academic Obligations

To be qualified for the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential, you must already possess a prerequisite teaching credential, as per 1 of the following:

  • A valid California teaching credential  
  • A valid California Designated Subjects Teaching Credential, with at least an undergraduate degree
  • A valid California Pupil Personnel Services Credential, Educator Librarian Services Credential, Speech-Language Pathology Services Credential, Clinical or Rehabilitative Services Credential, or a School Nurse Services Credential (Clear or Professional Clear level only), along with at least an undergraduate degree  and successful completion of a program of professional preparation

You must successfully complete a Commission-authorized education administrator preparation program. You might be exempt from this requirement if you fulfill certain experiences and assessment obligations.

The Preliminary Administrative Services Credential is valid for 5 years and must then be transformed into a Clear Administrative Services Credential. Educational obligations for the Clear Credential include completing 1 of the following:

  • A personalized program of advanced preparation in cooperation with your employer and the program sponsor
  • A State Board of Education-authorized Education Administrator Training Program
  • A Commission-authorized alternative preparation program, or equivalent assessment or experience (see below)


To be qualified for the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential, you may take The California Preliminary Administrative Credential Examination (CPACE), instead of the Commission authorized administrator preparation program or the 1-year administrative practicum. If you have not done so, you can satisfy the Basic Skills Requirement by passing 1 of the authorized exams.

To obtain the Clear Administrative Services Credential, you may opt to take a Commission-authorized performance assessment or meet the Mastery of Fieldwork Performance Standards and pass an assessment instead of the administrator preparation program.

Classroom Teaching Experience Requirements

If you are pursuing the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential, you can complete a 1-year, Commission-authorized supervised practicum in administrative services instead of educator education. You must also possess 3 years of full-time experience in teaching, pupil personnel work, health services, librarianship, or clinical or rehabilitative services (substitute or part-time experience does not count).

Before obtaining the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential, you must confirm employment in an administrative position. If you have not been hired yet, you can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility, which may be transformed to a Preliminary Administrative Services Credential once you secure an administrative position.

When you want the Clear Administrative Services Credential, you must confirm successful completion of 2 years of full-time administrative experience while possessing the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential.

Document and Application Requirements

In order to apply for the Preliminary Administrative Services Credential, complete the Application for Credential Authorizing Public School Service (Form 41-4). Submit the application, required fees and the following materials to State of California Commission on Educator Credentialing; Certification, Assignment and Waivers Division; Attention: Applications; 1900 Capitol Avenue; Sacramento, CA 95811-4213:

  • Official, unopened transcript documenting successful completion of a Commission-authorized administrator’s educational preparation program, or other authorized educator education
  • Copies of score reports of assessment passed
  • Authentication of Employment form (completed and signed by your employer)
  • Copy of completed Request for LiveScan Service
  • Signed Oath and Affidavit

The Clear Administrative Services Credential can be applied for and renewed online only.

Background Check Requirements

As part of your application, you must successfully complete a criminal history background check, including fingerprinting and apply for a Certificate of Clearance. To start the process, print 3 copies of the Request for LiveScan Service. Send these copies to the LiveScan operator who takes your fingerprints (locations found here). If you successfully complete the credentialing application online, you will be given instructions on confirming once the fingerprinting process has begun. I

The fingerprint process will take 1 to 3 days to successfully complete. When you have met the Certificate of Clearance obligations, you will receive an email from the Commission notifying you of this.

State Contacts

For additional info about Commission-authorized education administrator preparation programs, make contact with the institutions offering them.

For additional info about Administrative Services Credentialing, contact the California Commission on Educator Credentialing at (888) 921-2682 or visit their website.

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