How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a kindergarten teacher. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Kindergarten Teacher Do?

Kindergarten teachers work with children during their first official year in school. As a kindergarten teacher, you're responsible for exposing students to introductory academic topics and helping them get used to attending school. While some students may have attended pre-kindergarten, others may have never been away from home and may require more assistance. You will keep in touch with parents and track students' overall behavior and progress in school. The table below can give you an overview of this career.

Degree RequiredBachelor's (Some states require master's degree
Education Field of Study Elementary education (Some states require a subject concentration)
Training RequiredStudent teaching experience
Licensure RequiredAll states require public school teachers to be licensed or certified. Private schools do not require a license or certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)6% (as fast as average)*
Average Salary (2015)$54,510

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Kindergarten Teacher?

As a kindergarten teacher, you lay the academic foundation for a child's student life. Your classes introduce basic subjects, such as numbers and phonics, to new learners. While some parents prefer to enroll their children in preschool and pre-K classes, other parents cannot afford this luxury or prefer to wait. Therefore, you may work with children who are new to schooling, as well as those accustomed to being students. Young children may have an understanding of authority, but they may not comprehend proper behavior, rules and punishments. Training children in proper school behavior is also one of your duties as a kindergarten teacher.

Step 1: Earn a Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that most teachers have at least a bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov). As an aspiring kindergarten teacher, you'll want to look for bachelor's or master's degree programs in early childhood education or elementary education. These programs teach you about literacy, teaching methods, classroom management, lesson planning and assessment strategies.

In a degree program, you'll also learn communication skills that help you work with parents and communities. Classes explain how to remain unbiased in the classroom, work with multicultural students and help special needs students. Along with human and cognitive development, you'll study psychology, instructional technology (the use of technology in the classroom) and family dynamics.

Step 2: Get Teaching Experience

Most states require you to complete a supervised teaching experience prior to applying for your teaching license, according to the BLS. Many degree programs include the student teaching experience as part of their graduation requirements. The internship gives you the chance to observe in an actual classroom, as well as practice your teaching and communication techniques.

Step 3: Become Licensed

All states require public school teachers to have a current license, according to the BLS. Every state has different requirements; typically, these include completing a Praxis Series licensing exam, as well as meeting education and experience requirements (www.ets.org). The Praxis Series includes two exams that test you on basic skills and academic knowledge. The BLS reports that some states are adding requirements for teachers to provide evidence of satisfactory classroom performance in addition to the traditional testing.

Step 4: Seek Additional Certification

You may also choose to earn voluntary certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (www.nbpts.org). This national certification is valid for ten years and can be renewed. The Board offers 16 certification subjects, but an aspiring kindergarten teacher is likely to focus on the generalist certification for early childhood. This exam tests you on early childhood basics, the use of play in the classroom and human development.

Step 5: Look for a Job

Though most kindergarten teachers work in elementary and secondary schools, according to the BLS, you may also find a job in religious organizations, family services, educational support or the government. The BLS predicted that from 2014-2024 employment for all kindergarten teachers, except special education teachers, would grow by 6%. Job prospects can vary by location. In May 2015, the BLS reported that kindergarten teachers earned an average of $54,510 per year, and the top-paying states for kindergarten teachers were Alaska, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A bachelor's degree in teaching will also allow you to teach older students at the middle school and high school level, though you'll need to change your degree focus from elementary education to middle school education or secondary education. You could also choose to focus on special education, which would allow you to work with students who have a wide range of disabilities. For those individuals who have a master's degree, you are also qualified to work in school administration as a principal and are able to teach at some college and universities.

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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