Becoming a Kindergarten Teacher: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a kindergarten teacher. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in the education field.

Should I Become a Kindergarten Teacher?

Kindergarten teachers aid the development of children between the ages of approximately 4-6 as they enter the education system. Through the use of games, educational tools and learning exercises, teachers help children build core skills to succeed in school. Working with young children can be quite stressful and tiring, requiring a great deal of patience and energy. Seeing students' social and academic progress at the end of the school year can be rewarding, though, and most teachers get the summers off.

To become a kindergarten teacher, students must earn at least a bachelor's degree in elementary education and teacher certification may be required as well. Prospective teachers must complete the requirements of supervised student teaching and pass proficiency exams for certification.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; some states require a master's degree
Degree Field Education, elementary education, early childhood education; some states mandate a second major in a relevant content area, such as science or math
Experience Entry level
Licensure/Certification Must pass state certification exams; some states require a kindergarten endorsement
Key Skills Nurturing, patience, creativity, compassion, communication, computer software, classroom management skills
Salary (2014) $53,480 (Annual average salary for a kindergarten teacher)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ONET Online, National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Education

Kindergarten teachers must graduate from a 4-year teacher education program. Students interested in becoming kindergarten teachers can earn a degree such as a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. Alternative programs may award degrees in elementary education, kindergarten and elementary education, or early childhood and elementary education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensure in some states is based on earning a second major in a relevant subject area along with the education degree.

Students in education degree programs will take courses in curriculum planning, child learning methods, and child development theories. Because textbooks and lectures can't fully prepare individuals for leading a class of kindergartners, education degree programs also include hands-on training. Aspiring teachers will spend one of their later semesters fully immersed in an internship or student-teaching experience.

Success Tip:

  • Become a tutor. Tutoring can help prospective teachers gain knowledge and techniques needed for effective instruction and communication.

Step 2: Become Licensed

In the United States, all public school teachers are required to obtain a state license after graduating from an approved teacher education program. Licensing requirements vary by state, but applicants must typically earn a bachelor's degree in education and pass a basic skills proficiency exam. Individuals who have earned a bachelor's degree in a field other than education may consider alternative certification routes. Private school teachers usually don't have to meet the state licensure requirement; however, many private schools prefer to hire teachers who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some states require kindergarten teachers to earn an additional endorsement in early childhood education.

Step 3: Earn a Graduate Degree for Career Advancement

Some states require teachers to earn a master's degree within a certain amount of time after receiving their certification. A master's degree, such as a Master of Education, offers teachers the opportunity to specialize in a grade level, subject or specific facet of teaching, and at the same time offers them an opportunity for advancement. Graduate degrees also prepare teachers to become experts in pedagogy.

Success Tip:

  • Take professional development courses. In order to remain licensed, states require teachers to participate in ongoing professional development or continuing education courses.

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