Elementary education bachelor's programs introduce the pedagogical theories and communication techniques relevant to childhood education. Students learn how to teach cornerstone subjects, like language arts, history, literature, science, math and the arts. Prospective elementary education educators also learn teaching methods and problem-solving skills required to manage a classroom. Students are usually required to complete an internship prior to graduation. Graduates are prepared for professional teaching licensure.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, or they can transfer into the program after earning an associate's degree.
Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
The Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education teaches the prospective educator how to plan lessons, assess students' work and make the changes needed to help their students be successful. Common classes include:
- Developmental psychology
- Teaching principles
- Educational psychology
- Classroom learning assessment
- Classroom management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Enrollment of elementary age children in public schools contributes significantly to the demand for teachers; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that from 2014-2024, enrollment levels are expected to rise. Schools in suburban areas are expected to experience declines, while rural and urban schools will have the largest increases. Additionally, the BLS forecasted a 6% increase in job opportunities for elementary teachers (except special education) from 2014-2024, which is about average. In May 2015, elementary teachers (except special education) earned a mean annual salary of $57,730, according to the BLS.
Licensure and Continuing Education
Elementary teachers in all public schools are required to obtain licensure, stated the BLS. Each state sets its own requirements for attaining a teaching license, but they typically include having a bachelor's degree, completing a state-approved teacher training program and having supervised practical experience. Continuing education is necessary to keep the license valid. Teachers can acquire additional voluntary certifications from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), which offers 25 certificates in different subject and development areas.
Graduate degrees in elementary education are also available for students who want to pursue further studies. Master's programs teach students more advanced teaching methods and research theories. Doctoral degrees in elementary education focus on research and can prepare students to teach at the university level.
Individuals who want to become elementary school teachers can start by getting a BS in the field. These programs usually qualify teachers for professional licensure, which can be obtained by passing a state exam. Graduates may also consider pursuing master's or doctoral degrees in education.