Undergraduate degree programs in education prepare students to become teachers who design and execute classroom curricula for children in kindergarten through high school. Students complete lecture courses and labs, as well as a student teaching experience. Students in middle and secondary education programs often choose a subject specialization as well, like math or science.
Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education
An elementary education curriculum typically includes general education classes, fieldwork within elementary schools, and courses specific to elementary aged children. Here are some examples:
- Collaboration in early childhood
- Assessment of young children in educational settings
- Child development
- Language development in young children
- Incorporating health and activity in early childhood
Bachelor's Degree in Middle School Education
Bachelor's degree programs in middle school education typically train students to teach grades four to nine. Those aspiring to become teachers at this level sometimes declare an emphasis of study, such as English, math, science or social studies. Most often, bachelor's degree candidates in middle school education must complete at least one student teaching experience. Curricula for aspiring middle school teachers generally include core liberal arts classes, such as math, English, reading and writing, as well as program specific courses for middle school. These might include the following:
- Psychology in early adolescence
- Discipline courses
- Human development
- Philosophy in middle childhood education
- Middle school curriculum
Bachelor's Degree in Secondary School Education
A bachelor's degree program in secondary education instructs students on how to teach teenagers in high school. Students choose an area of specialization, such as English, math, writing or the arts. Coursework in bachelor's degree programs for secondary school teaching includes liberal arts and pedagogy courses, along with classes that support a student's specialty. Student teaching in a high school setting is also part of most programs. Examples of course options include:
- Effective teaching practices
- Curriculum and instruction for high school-aged students
- Educational leadership
- Psychology of education
- Personal health
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers typically fluctuate by region and state. The majority of job prospects will be found in rural and urban areas, with expected employment growth of 6% at all grade levels between 2014 and 2024. As of 2015, BLS figures showed that secondary school teachers earned an annual median salary of $57,200, followed by middle school teachers who were paid $55,860. Elementary school teachers made an average and kindergarten teachers received $54,550.
Continuing Education Information
Requirements for teaching certification or licensure vary by state but generally include completion of an accredited, four-year teacher training program, proof of student teaching experience and passage of a general Praxis exam. Candidates for licensure also may be required to pass an exam in a specific subject, such as history or science, especially if they plan to teach at the middle or high school levels. Those who have completed undergraduate teaching programs often go on to acquire a master's degree. Some teachers continue their education in hopes of a higher salary and the potential to advance in their careers, while others are required to do so to maintain licensure or secure tenure. Graduate programs in education typically focus on an area of expertise, such as special education, reading, science or art.
Depending on what grade level and aspiring teacher would like to teach at, bachelor's degree programs are available in elementary, middle school and secondary school education. These programs include courses in education theory as well as student-teaching experiences to prepare individuals for teaching certification. Graduates can also pursue master's degrees in education or similar fields.