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.
Do I Want to Be 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.
Becoming a kindergarten teacher in a public school requires training in elementary education, in addition to licensure and continuing professional development. The following table describes the main requirements for becoming a kindergarten teacher:
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; some states require a master's degree later on after certification*|
|Degree Field||Education, elementary education, early childhood education; some states mandate a second major in a relevant content area, such as science or math*|
|Licensure/Certification||Must pass state certification exams*; some states require a kindergarten endorsement***|
|Key Skills||Nurturing, patience, creativity, compassion; communication skills*|
|Computer Skills||Educational software, Microsoft Office, graphics programs, spreadsheet software**|
|Technical Skills||Pedagogy skills, classroom management skills**|
|Additional Requirements||Must pass background checks*|
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.
- 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
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, such as technology. These programs also seek to prepare teachers to become experts in pedagogy.
- 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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