How Can I Become a 2nd Grade Teacher?

Explore a career as a 2nd grade teacher. Read about education and licensing requirements, work responsibilities, salary and job outlook to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Elementary Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a 2nd Grade Teacher Do?

Like all early elementary educators, 2nd grade teachers play a key role in laying the foundation for a child's education. In essence, they prepare students for future grades through education in basic subjects, like math and reading. The language and math skills children learn in the 2nd grade allow them to progress to upper grades, high school and eventually, to college if they choose. Their specific responsibilities include but are not limited to observing students to evaluate them in multiple areas, creating lessons, and developing classroom rules. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about a career as a 2nd grade teacher.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Elementary education
Training Requirements Up to one semester of student teaching required for license or certification
Licensure State license or certification required for public school teachers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for all elementary school teachers (except special education)*
Median Salary (2015) $54,890 for all elementary school teachers (except special education)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find a Degree Program for 2nd Grade Teachers

Your first step would be to enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education program - a 4-year degree program that could give you the academic and practical skills needed to be a 2nd grade teacher. In the academic phase of the program, you'd take general education classes and major coursework in education. Some topics you might study in the core curriculum include:

  • Educational theory
  • Human development
  • Classroom diversity
  • Reading acquisition
  • Special education
  • Classroom technology

You would learn to teach elementary subjects like math, reading, social studies and science. The final phase of the program is usually a real-world teaching experience. Most colleges and universities have partnerships with local school districts where you could work under the supervision of an elementary school teacher in a K-6 school.

In the beginning of the teaching practicum, you would take teaching methods courses and observe a professional teacher in a classroom. After the observational phase, you would be given more teaching duties and eventually teach classes on your own. You may be required to film your independent teaching sessions and submit them to your professors for evaluation.

Complete Licensing Requirements

After you graduate, you can take the Praxis exams for teacher licensure. While a passing grade on the Praxis I exam is often required for enrollment in a teaching program, the Praxis II exam is designed to test a potential teacher's knowledge of teaching methods and elementary subjects. Some state boards of education require teacher candidates to submit Praxis I scores in addition to Praxis II scores.

You can prepare for the Praxis exams by finding test preparation books at your local library or bookstore. Testing centers are located at colleges, secondary schools and Prometric testing centers throughout the U.S. You will have to pay registration fees as well as testing fees.

Once you pass your Praxis exams, you can complete other state licensing requirements. These might include submitting college transcripts, paying license fees and passing a criminal background check.

What Would My Job Duties Be?

You would not only be responsible for teaching children but also mentoring and disciplining them. While some teachers write their own lesson plans, others are required to follow lesson plans written by state boards of education. Subjects you could teach include math, science, social studies, reading and language arts.

As a teacher, it would be your job to manage the classroom; you'd find effective ways to discipline children who misbehave or disrupt class lessons. It would also be your responsibility to keep records and communicate with parents on the phone, through e-mail and parent-teacher conferences. Teachers often spend hours in the classroom after school preparing activities, grading papers and gathering teaching materials.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Many skills required to teach elementary school transfer to higher and lower grades, but different education and certification may be required. For example, if you want to teach high school, you'd likely need a bachelor's degree in secondary education with a subject focus, like history or science. Technical as well as career educators are also another comparable option in the education field. Librarians and counselors also work with students in schools, but they have different responsibilities and more advanced education requirements. Librarians and school counselors typically need a master's degree and licensure.

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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