How Can I Get a Job in K-6 Education?
If you want to work in elementary education, you may choose to work as a teacher, administrator or education specialist. Read on to learn more about the career options available to you, as well as the education and training required to work in K-6 education or teaching.
Overview of K-6 Education Career Opportunities
Teachers and other education professionals who work with elementary-aged students are generally required to have earned a postsecondary degree and a state-issued teaching license. As a K-6 teacher or educator, you'll need to be familiar with not only teaching techniques but also the theories and fundamentals of childhood development and knowledge acquisition.
Important Facts About K-6 Educators
|Key Skills||Patience, creativity, resourcefulness||Leadership, communication, decision making|
|Job Growth (2019-2029)*||4% growth||4% growth (for all public school principals)|
|Median Salary (2021)**||$47,000||$71,000|
|Similar Occupations||Childcare worker, librarian||School counselor, teacher|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
If you're interested in teaching at the elementary level, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree in elementary education. If you're interested in teaching special education students, you may need to earn a master's degree. As part of your training, you'll study education theories, learn to plan lessons and develop the ability to engage and interact with a classroom full of young students.
Administrators, such as principals and superintendents, often begin their careers as licensed and practicing teachers. To work in an administrative capacity, you'll likely need to complete a graduate program in educational leadership or educational administration and policy. These graduate-level programs commonly require you to hold an active teaching license or have completed a minimum number of years of teaching experience before applying. A thesis requirement in many programs allows you to complete an original research project that aims to shed new light on a challenge facing elementary educators and administrators.
Guidance counselors, reading specialists and instructional technology specialists are all examples of education specialists who work with students in grades K-6. These professionals help students develop specific skills or help them work through their academic and personal problems. If you're interested in one of these careers, you'll probably need to earn a master's degree, Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree, doctoral degree or a specialized professional certificate.
Additional Training Requirements
As part of your education and training as an aspiring educator or administrator, you'll likely need to complete an internship, also known as student teaching. By working with experienced teachers and other educational professionals in a local school, you'll receive real-world experience and build your practical skills. These internships typically last one semester, although some fields may require longer internships. For example, if you're training to become a special education teacher, you might have to complete two semesters of student teaching.
Whether you want to be an educator or an administrator, if you work for a public school system, you'll need to earn a state-issued license. As a part of the licensure process for both educators and administrators, you'll need to take professional qualifying exams, such as the Praxis series of exams. Other licensure requirements vary from state to state, but often include passing a background check and earning a degree from an accredited program.