Teacher Education for Elementary Teachers

If you enjoy working with children in kindergarten through fifth grade, you may want to consider a career as an elementary school teacher. Read about educational and licensing requirements for elementary school teachers here, as well as what to expect in terms of job growth and salary.

Is a Career as an Elementary School Teacher for Me?

Career Overview

Elementary school teachers who work in public schools and private schools provide students in grades K-5 with instruction in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, among other subjects. Many use computer technology, games or other hands-on approaches to help students develop critical thinking skills and understand abstract concepts. Kindergarten teachers introduce children to the alphabet, numbers and phonics, using art, music and nature studies to broaden their academic horizons. The majority of elementary school teachers, including private school teachers, work with a single group of students over the course of a school year.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for elementary school teachers nationwide were expected to grow by an average rate of 12% from 2012-2022. An increase in enrollments and retirements may have a positive impact on job growth, which can vary according to school location and region. Bilingual education and special education teachers may enjoy the best prospects. As of May 2013, elementary school teachers earned a mean annual salary of $56,320 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become an Elementary School Teacher?

Educational Requirements

Aspiring elementary school teachers who would like to work in a public school must complete a bachelor's degree program in elementary education from a recognized teacher education program. These can include programs that have been approved by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Individual states may also require a major in a specific subject area.

Participation in a teacher preparation program is mandatory, which typically includes classes in child psychology, educational theory and instructional methodology, as well as a student teaching experience. Classroom experience usually takes place under the supervision of licensed teacher.

There are alternative routes available for those who have not completed a bachelor's degree program in education. For example, college graduates with a degree in another major may complete a teacher certification program or pursue classes in education.

Certification and Licensing

Unlike private schools, public schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia require that their teachers possess a state license. Licenses are granted by the State Board of Education, with the requirements varying from state to state. In order to obtain a license, teachers must exhibit competence in general education as well as their major content area. Public elementary school teachers can be licensed for various age groups and subjects.

National certification is voluntary and cannot replace a state license. Credentials for elementary teachers are available through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

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