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Online Associate Degrees for Aspiring Elementary Teachers

Although distance-learning options aren't common for entry-level teaching programs, a handful of schools do offer associate's degree programs concentrating in elementary education. Learn about the programs, courses, career options, and advancing your education to the bachelor's degree level.

What You Need to Know

Online associate's degree programs in elementary education can prepare you with a solid foundation to begin your teaching career. Courses cover a range of topics, including general education requirements and educational techniques.

Course Options Early childhood education, children's literature, child development, human behavior
Degrees Associate's and 'two plus two' programs
Median Salary $57,160 per year (elementary school teachers, except special education)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2017)

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

Only a few colleges and universities offer online or hybrid associate's degree programs for aspiring elementary teachers. Some programs offer a 'two plus two' degree program in cooperation with a four-year college. These programs allow you to complete an online associate's degree program through the community college and then earn a bachelor's degree in elementary education from a university. An online associate's degree program typically requires 60-90 credit hours and can usually be completed in 18-24 months.

What Will I Study?

Associate's degrees for aspiring elementary teachers usually prepare you for a four-year degree. Core coursework might cover classroom relationships and fundamental principles of education. Additional course topics could include intercultural perspectives, mathematics, chemistry and geology. The following list of topics may be explored in your associate's degree:

  • Environmental biology
  • Physical geography
  • National and state government
  • U.S. history
  • The solar system

What Careers are Available to Me?

Once you earn your associate's degree, you can gain experience working as an elementary school instructional aide. Aides, also known as teacher assistants or paraprofessionals, do a variety of tasks, most of which help classroom teachers have more time to implement lesson plans. They also supervise students and usher them to different locations within the school. Depending upon the school, aides may also grade papers and tests or check homework assignments. You can advance in this position when you obtain years of experience or additional education. In many states, completing the hours required to earn an associate's degree will also qualify you as a substitute teacher. Check with your state, county, or local school district for details.

How Can I Further My Education?

If you desire to become an elementary school teacher in a public school in any of the 50 states, you must obtain at least a bachelor's degree from an endorsed teacher training program. Bachelor's degree programs build upon knowledge gained through an associate's degree program, and some schools allow you to apply your credits to a baccalaureate degree within the same field. These four-year programs also can prepare you for any required teacher certification exams.