Traditional elementary education bachelor's degree programs combine general education courses, such as art, reading, mathematics, music and social science with professional education courses. These professional courses instruct aspiring teachers on various teaching methods, educational philosophies and psychological principles behind childhood learning.
Prerequisites for a bachelor's degree include having a high school diploma or the equivalent. For successful completion of the bachelor's degree, a student teaching internship must be completed.
Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education
Elementary education bachelor's degree programs provide students with education's foundational theories, principles and strategies. Coursework prepares future educators to create and maintain a disciplined classroom as well as instruct and assess standard elementary school curriculum. Teachers learn how to create lesson plans, develop and assess tests and provide both one-on-one and group instruction. Many 4-year elementary education bachelor's degree programs do not enroll students into the education department until their sophomore year.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree in elementary education is the benchmark requirement for employment at public and private schools (www.bls.gov). This degree must be obtained from an accredited teaching college or university as defined by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. According to the BLS, elementary school teachers held over one million jobs and earned a median salary of $54,890 annually in 2015.
Licenses and Certifications
All teachers, including elementary teachers, require state licensure in order to teach at public schools in the U.S. Requirements vary in all 50 states, but most licenses are contingent upon completion of an accredited bachelor's degree program and an approved student-teacher experience as well as successful passage of any state-mandated teaching examinations.
Elementary teachers may seek licensure for grades K-3 or grades 1-6. Additional certification is necessary if elementary teachers specialize in literacy, speech or special education. Licensed teachers are required to complete continuing education credits each renewal cycle in order to maintain certification. Additionally, the BLS reports that many states require teachers to obtain a master's degree in education within a limited timeframe.
Voluntary national certification is also available through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. According to the BLS, all states recognize this certification and may offer salary and benefit incentives for those who certify nationally. This certification also allows teachers to carry their state license from one state to another.
Elementary teachers are bound by continuing education requirements that encourage professional development beyond their existing degree. Some teachers meet these requirements by taking professional seminars or workshops offered through their school district. Others may choose to pursue a master's degree program in elementary education. Either way, elementary teachers must always foster an organized and inspirational atmosphere for learning and maintain an open line of communications between teachers, parents and administrators.
A bachelor's degree, which includes student teaching, is the most common path to a career as an elementary teacher. The degree, especially the student teaching, will prepare future teachers for a career in education.