How Can I Become Certified to Teach in Elementary Schools?

Entering a teacher education program is the pathway to working with elementary children, but this is only the beginning. An internship and license finalize your qualifications to teach children. To round out your qualifications, you have the opportunity to become nationally certified. Schools offering Elementary Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Teaching in Elementary School

Certified elementary school teachers are trained to work with children in grades 1-6 and teach multiple subjects within a single classroom setting. Elementary school teachers may use a number of instructional techniques, including art, music, play or technology. They set the foundation for children to understand math, reading, science and history.

Elementary school teachers must complete an accredited teacher education program. They are also state-licensed. The licensure process requires completing a series of exams that test basic competency skills and the candidate's understanding of professional coursework.

Important Facts About Elementary School Teachers

Median Salary (2014) $53,760
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 6% growth
Key Skills Patience; physical stamina; creativity; ingenuity; clear spoken and written communication
Similar Occupations Childcare workers; instructional coordinators; librarians; school and career counselors; social workers; teacher assistants

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


You have a couple of options to obtain training to teach in elementary schools, depending on your prior education. For those who do not hold a bachelor's degree and are newly entering college, you can pursue a 4-year bachelor's or a 5-year dual degree in elementary education. If you already possess a bachelor's degree in another major, you can enter into a master's degree program in elementary education. Master's programs are typically two years in length.

For those holding a bachelor's degree in another education grade level or specialty, some colleges and universities offer opportunities to enter into a master's program to receive an endorsement in elementary education. Completing any of these degree programs leads to an elementary education teaching certificate.


As a student studying elementary education, you're introduced to theories and techniques that cross over the multiple subjects you'll teach, including reading, math, science and art. Professional coursework also introduces you to curriculum development, lesson planning and assessment. Elementary education teaching programs commonly cover topics in child and adolescent development and educational technology, as well as an introduction to special education.

All accredited teacher education programs require you to complete a student teacher training internship, which commonly lasts for one semester, although this depends on the program. The student teaching internship is typically completed within a local participating public elementary school.

Additional Certification

In addition to obtaining your elementary education teaching certificate, you can pursue the National Board Certification, which is administered by The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This certification is not in place of your initial teaching certificate but is an extended credential recognized throughout all states.

Eligibility for pursuing the certification is a bachelor's degree, a minimum of three years of teaching experience and a valid state license. The process for national teacher certification requires having ten assessment reviews completed by other teachers who are trained in your area. The assessments cover teaching practices and content knowledge in elementary education. The certificate is valid for ten years and may help you find a teaching job if you move to a new state.

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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