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1st Grade Teacher: Employment Info & Requirements

Read about a career in 1st grade teaching. Research the educational and skill requirements, and learn about the job description and employment and salary outlook for a 1st grade teacher.

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  • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
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  • Teaching, Kindergarten and Preschool
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  • Teaching, Young Children

Career Defined for 1st Grade Teachers

First grade teachers help children transition from kindergarten to the more rigorous schedule of 1st grade, attending to the specific needs of each child to ensure that they start their education comfortably. These teachers develop a curriculum that includes required subjects such as reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and science. They may also teach classes in music, art, physical education, or English as a second language. Common duties include creating lesson plans, leading classes or working with small groups of students, grading assignments, and overseeing other activities such as recess. They are also responsible for meeting with parents and implementing classroom rules.

Elementary school teachers are employed by public and private schools, and typically work during the standard school hours for their institution. However, it is common for teachers at all levels to handle lesson planning, grading, and other responsibilities before or after school, as well as in the evening or on weekends. First grade teachers mostly teach in one classroom, but they may escort students to other areas of the school, such as the cafeteria. Schools with a traditional academic year offer 1st grade teachers a summer break, which usually lasts about two months.

Education Bachelor's in elementary education or related field
Job Duties Creating lesson plans, leading classes, grading assignments
Median Salary (2015) $54,550 (all kindergarten and elementary school teachers)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (all kindergarten and elementary school teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

All 1st grade teachers working in public schools must have a bachelor's degree or higher in elementary education. These programs may include courses in child development, exceptional children, educational psychology, behavior management, assessment, and teaching methods for common subjects. In some states, 1st grade teachers are required to major in a specific subject and complete a teacher preparation program. A student teaching component is usually involved. Private school teachers do not operate under state requirements, but they still typically hold a bachelor's degree in elementary education.

Licensing Requirements

First grade teachers in private schools do not need to be licensed. However, public school teachers must earn a state license, which usually qualifies them to teach preschool through 3rd grade. Although licensing requirements vary by state, candidates must generally have a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher education program, and obtain student teaching experience. A general teaching test and an exam in a specialized area of knowledge may be required. In some areas, 1st grade teachers have to pursue a master's degree or continuing education classes to maintain licensure.

Required Skills

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 1st grade teachers must have the listed traits:

  • Patience and understanding in order to help young children learn
  • Conflict resolution abilities
  • Good communication skills to interact with students and parents
  • Creativity in developing lessons and activities that are both engaging and educational

Employment and Salary Outlook

The BLS reported that kindergarten and elementary school teachers, including 1st grade teachers, can expect average job growth in the coming years, with employment projected to increase 6% between 2014 and 2024. Areas with growing populations, especially the Southwest, offer the most job opportunities. Teaching jobs depend on government funding, so cuts in education spending on the federal, state, and local levels could lead to fewer jobs. In 2015, elementary school teachers had a median annual salary of $54,550.

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