What Are the Requirements to Become a Kindergarten Teacher?

Learn about bachelor's degrees and student teaching requirements to earn state licensure as a kindergarten teacher or kindergarten special education teacher. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Will I Need to Become a Kindergarten Teacher?

In order to teach kindergarten, you need to complete at least a bachelor's degree in an education program with a major in elementary education. In some cases, birth-to-kindergarten (B-K) education programs may also work. Curricula in these programs covers topics such as young child development, children's literature, behavior management and age-appropriate curriculum design. Education courses may not begin until the second or third year of a bachelor's degree track, but more than half of all your credits will be dedicated to core early or elementary education subjects.

You may also have to participate in supervised practice training in a kindergarten classroom, and some teaching programs require you to complete an internship. Because of these practical, in-person requirements, degree programs in education don't translate well to online learning, so you'll want to look for an on-campus program.

Completion of the degree, a specific progression of courses and the internship will typically result in a recommendation or provisional recommendation for teacher certification in the state in which the school is located. Depending on your state's rules, you may be required to earn a master's degree in education within a determined amount of time after you begin teaching. Many teachers pursue a master's degree while continuing to teach.

ProgramBachelor's degree in education with a major or focus in elementary education
CourseworkYoung child development, children's literature and behavior management; supervised teaching experiences
Licensure/Certification Written test following degree completion; national certification available through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Teaching Special EducationBachelor's or master's degree in special education and special needs licensure or certification

How Do I Get Licensed or Certified?

To become a kindergarten teacher, you'll have to be licensed or certified. Professional credentialing is typically obtained through the State Board of Education and involves passing a written test. The test helps to determine your academic skill, classroom performance and general teaching knowledge. The type of test you're required to take, as well as the required score, may be different in each state. The Praxis system is used by most states for both licensing and certification. Licensing may not be required in private schools.

You can also obtain a voluntary national certification through The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. National certification is recognized in all the states and can provide you with better earning potential. It may also help establish credentials in other states.

What Are the Requirements for Teaching Special-Needs Students?

Although some states may require a master's degree in special education to teach special-needs students, other states may accept a bachelor's degree and completion of an approved special education training program. The training to be an educator for special-needs students may take longer than the training to become a teacher for the general population.

Just as with other teacher credentials, the licensing requirements for special-needs teachers vary by state. Some schools offer special education programs that provide you with the required courses, including professional education courses, liberal studies and special education-related core courses.

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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