Elementary Education Teacher: Educational and Career Profile

Research what it takes to become an elementary education teacher. Learn about the job outlook, educational requirements and median salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Elementary Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Elementary Education Teacher Do?

Elementary education teachers introduce young people to subjects like language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. They can also specialize in subjects such as music, physical education or art. You will develop daily lesson plans, administer tests and evaluate each of your students' performance based on curriculum guidelines set forth by the state where you will work. You will need to collaborate with other teachers in your grade level meetings and other staff. Classroom organization is important, as well as the ability to manage several small groups of children at the same time. Teachers may be required to monitor lunch time or recess, depending on the age of the students.

The following chart gives an overview.

Degree Required Bachelor's
Education Field of Study Elementary education
Key Responsibilities Teach students, develop lesson plans, give tests, evaluate students
Licensure Required in public schools
Job Growth (2014-24) 6% (as fast as average)*
Median Salary (May 2015) $54,890*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What is an Elementary Education Teacher?

At most elementary schools, each teacher is responsible for at least one class of students, whom he or she instructs in a variety of subjects. It is your duty to set forth and enforce rules of conduct to establish an environment that is conducive to learning. You are expected to regularly communicate with the parents of your students, especially if a problem arises with academics or behavior.

What is the Projected Employment Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 1.3 million men and women worked as elementary education teachers in 2014, with expected employment growth of 6% until 2024 (www.bls.gov). Demand for teachers will increase based on the number of projected teachers who will retire in the next ten years, which was projected to rise about as fast as average. It was predicted that job opportunities would be more favorable in underserved, poor urban and rural communities. The BLS reports that median annual salaries for elementary education teachers who worked in elementary schools were $54,890 in 2015, but salaries were variable, depending upon location, experience and other factors.

What Educational Requirements Must I Attain?

If you'd like to become an elementary education teacher, you need to earn a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, which enables you to attain a teaching license from your state's education board. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education must accredit your undergraduate elementary education curriculum and focus on courses such as children's literature, art experiences, curriculum and planning, elementary music, teaching elementary science and mathematics methods.

Licensing is a requirement for public elementary education teachers in each state. While private schools do not require licensing, they do recommend it. Licensing requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited teacher education program and experience in teaching under supervision. You are given a licensing examination, which gauges your writing and reading skills as well as your teaching ability.

In an effort to satisfy an increasing demand for teachers, many states have started employing them via lateral entry. Lateral-entry teachers are men and women who hold at least a bachelor's degree and work in a profession other than education. They begin teaching at a school while working toward their teaching license.

Also, keep in mind that no matter how you enter the teaching profession, a voluntary National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards might help you earn a raise or a promotion. Eligibility requirements for certification include holding a teaching license and bachelor's degree, along with three years of experience in teaching or counseling.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Teacher assistant is a popular alternative that requires an associate's degree or less. Professionals in this field are able to work in the classroom alongside a teacher but do not plan lessons or evaluate students on their progress. One could also be interested in becoming a social worker for the school system. A social worker in the school system performs duties as a case worker or mental health assistant. This position requires a bachelor's degree. Special education is another alternative for those who love the idea of teaching but want to work with smaller groups of children with special needs. This career requires a bachelor's degree in education with a focus on special education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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