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Career Information on Elementary Teachers

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an elementary teacher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Elementary teachers must meet certain educational and licensure requirements before securing a position at public or private schools. They are primarily in charge of educating young children, and can specialize in a particular subject matter through professional schooling or degree programs.

Essential Information

Elementary teachers are education professionals concentrating on the instruction of children who are typically 5-11 years old. All teachers working in elementary schools are required to possess a bachelor's degree, preferably in a field related to elementary education. Potential teachers must meet and maintain the licensing requirements of individual states to secure ongoing employment.

Required Education Bachelor's
Other Requirements Student teaching often required; certification or licensure required in order to teach
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6%
Median Salary (2015)* $54,890 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), elementary school teachers can look forward to stable job prospects with opportunities increasing 6% from 2014-2024. States employing the most elementary teachers are Texas, California and New York.

The BLS reported that elementary teachers earned an annual median salary of $54,890 as of May 2015. States paying elementary teachers the highest average wages were Connecticut, Alaska and New York. Teachers also receive substantial medical benefits for themselves and their families. Elementary teachers can boost their earnings potential by obtaining special education certification to teach children with learning and physical disabilities.

Teachers seeking to advance or formalize their education can pursue a master's or doctoral degree in elementary education. Those seeking roles as superintendents or principals may wish to earn a graduate degree in education administration.

Licensing Requirements

Elementary teachers must earn a license issued by the appropriate state agency. Transferability between states also varies by each state's laws, and may be easier in some regions. Teacher certification is specific to subject (such as science, mathematics or reading) and grade level. To earn teaching certification, candidates must meet state all requirements, which traditionally include passing examinations, satisfying background checks and performing supervised classroom instruction. Maintaining teacher certification generally requires continuing education courses and a renewal fee.

National Certification

Optional national certification is available through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). It is awarded upon the successful completion of portfolio entries and competency evaluations. Although this certification does not take the place of licensure and is not required to practice teaching, it may lead to enhanced employability and higher salaries. NBPTS offers 25 certificates which are categorized by subject area as well as student age classification. These are each valid for ten years, followed by a renewal process.

Becoming an elementary teacher requires at least a bachelor's degree. Whatever specialization an elementary teacher decides on, he or she should be the kind of person who enjoys working with children and who can easily communicate crucial information to young people.

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