How Can I Earn an Elementary Teacher Certification?

In order to earn elementary teacher certification, you must have a bachelor's degree from a teacher-training program. Additional certification requirements vary by state but can include testing and additional education. Read on to find out how you can become a certified elementary teacher. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Earning Elementary Teacher Certification

Becoming a certified elementary teacher requires a bachelor's degree from a teacher-training program or a bachelor's degree plus a degree from a separate teacher-training program. Beyond this, the certification requirements vary by state.

Most states require that elementary teachers attempting to gain certification pass basic competency tests and proficiency tests in the subject they'll teach. Other states offer qualified elementary teachers a provisional license and then grant a full license based on performance. A small number of states require teachers in this field to earn a master's degree in order to maintain certification.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Continuing Education Required to maintain elementary teaching credentials; advanced graduate degrees available
Online Availability Online coursework expanding for coursework in elementary education; accelerated elementary education programs available
Concentrations Special education, physical education, English as a new language, mathematics, fine arts
On-the-Job Training Prospective teachers must be supervised for a period of student teaching

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Many schools offer accredited bachelor's programs in elementary education. Successfully completing one of these programs fulfills all of the educational requirements for earning elementary teacher certification. In addition to traditional coursework, you'll also spend several months student teaching in real elementary schools.

There are degrees available in general elementary education or with a focus on teaching a particular subject, such as science or social studies. Regardless of the focus of the program, bachelor's degree programs in elementary education can include courses in the following:

  • Literacy and reading skills
  • Children's reasoning
  • Educational psychology

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 6% increase in the number of jobs for elementary teachers, not including those who teach special education, from 2014-2024. This increase is due largely to the high percentage of current teachers who will be retiring. Elementary teachers who can speak teach special education or English as a second language are likely to have the best chance of finding employment, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for elementary teachers was $54,120 in 2014, as reported by the BLS.

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