Kindergarten Teacher Career Info
A kindergarten teacher instructs students who are normally four to six years old using games, technology, group activities, crafts and storytelling. By developing language skills, social skills and problem-solving abilities and introducing math and science concepts, kindergarten teachers prepare students for higher levels of learning. Learn more about the required education, salary and employment outlook by reading on.
Kindergarten teachers lay the foundation for a child's educational career. They may use building blocks and counting games to teach math concepts, organize group activities to foster social skills, encourage creativity through arts and crafts projects, and develop language skills through storytelling and reading aloud. A kindergarten teacher establishes and enforces rules, leads physical exercise activities, helps disabled students with assistive devices, maintains records of student performance and meets with parents to discuss student progress.
Though the trend is shifting toward all-day kindergarten programs, some students attend half-day programs, and many kindergarten teachers instruct two separate groups of students each day. After three years, teachers in public schools often receive tenure, which can enhance long-term job security.
How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher
Certification and Educational Requirements
Most states require kindergarten teachers employed by public schools to have a bachelor's degree in a teacher education program accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC), as well as state licensure. A list of accredited schools is available on the NCATE website. Private schools often do not require state licensure, but may have other requirements in addition to a bachelor's degree. Voluntary certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is also available for experienced teachers and may enhance job prospects.
Kindergarten teachers must be creative, organized and enjoy working with kids. They must be able to maintain order in the classroom, lead and demonstrate group activities, read aloud to large groups, use audio-visual equipment and computers, operate assistive learning devices for disabled students and communicate with other teachers and parents. Additionally, they must also be able to evaluate a student's performance and identify potential learning disabilities.
Financial and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 12% job growth for kindergarten and elementary teachers from 2012-2022, which was about average (www.bls.gov). The South and West were expected to experience the fastest student enrollment growth, with the best job opportunities in rural and urban areas, rather than suburbs. The BLS reported mean annual earnings of $53,030 for non-special education kindergarten teachers in 2012.
Alternate Career Options
Usually needing a master's degree in library science, librarians assist others in conducting research and finding information. Slower-than-average employment growth of 7% was predicted for librarian positions by the BLS from 2012-2022. According to the BLS, librarians earned $57,190 per year, on average, in 2012.
Often requiring just an associate's degree, preschool teacher positions provide care and education to children younger than kindergarten age. Faster-than-average job growth of 17% was expected by the BLS during the 2012-2022 decade. This profession offered an average salary of $30,750 per year as of 2012.
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