How Do I Become an Elementary School Teacher?

Elementary school teachers must complete a teacher-training program and a student teaching experience. They also need a license from the state where they intend to teach. This article discusses the steps involved in becoming an elementary school teacher. Schools offering Elementary Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Elementary School Teacher Education Requirements

Elementary school teaching positions require a bachelor's degree. Most students enroll in teacher certification programs. These bachelor's degree programs usually start during the sophomore year. They focus on the skills and knowledge necessary for a teaching license. Students learn education philosophies, psychology, and teaching methods in addition to math, science, and literature. The Council for the Accreditation for Educator Preparation ( accredit teaching programs. However, graduation from an accredited program is not always required.

Important Facts About Elementary School Teachers

Median Salary (2014)$54,120*
Work EnvironmentPublic and Private Schools
One-the-Job TrainingInternship/Residency
Similar OccupationsSchool Counselor, Principal, Teacher Assistant, Middle School Teacher

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Student Teaching

Most programs conclude with a student teaching internship that usually lasts a full semester. Students are placed in a local school to observe an actual classroom at work. Students may work with a licensed teacher to apply the knowledge they have learned. Toward the end of the semester, the student may lead some classroom activities.

State Licensing

Once students complete the teacher-training program and student teaching, they are eligible to apply for a teaching license. Elementary school teachers should apply for a license with the state in which they intend to teach. Some private schools might not require a license. However, all public elementary school teachers need to obtain a license. Licensing requirements vary, and most states require applicants to pass a competency test.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, reports that elementary school teachers will see average job growth in their field between 2012 and 2022, projected to be about 12% during the decade. Job prospects vary by region. Inner cities and rural areas might have more job openings because they are considered less desirable areas in which to teach.

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