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Elementary Education Teacher: Educational Requirements

As an elementary school teacher, you will be in charge of younger students, possibly entering a classroom for the first time. Discover what you need to earn to become an elementary school teacher, and the different ways you can become certified or licensed.

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Overview of Elementary Education Teachers

Job Title Elementary school teacher
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree, teacher education program; master's degree may be needed for specialty areas
Certification and Licensing Requirements Varies by state; usually includes standardized testing
Alternative Certification Requirements Varies by state; bachelor's degree in unrelated field can qualify for teaching positions
Job Duties Creating lesson plans, instructing students in first through sixth grade, conferences with students' parents, rule enforcement inside classrooms, grading assignments and tests

Elementary Education Degree Requirements

If someone asks 'What is an elementary education degree?' they might be referring to the common requirement to teach students in first through sixth grade. Elementary teacher education requirements can vary with each state, but the common minimum is a bachelor's degree. If you want to know how to get a degree in elementary education and become an elementary school teacher, you can look at a college or university's school of education, where you could find something like a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. These are typically four-year degrees, although some bachelor's degrees might be available in a part-time format, partially delivered online.

Elementary teacher college requirements typically include a student teaching practicum. This component of a degree allows you to gain real experience inside a classroom before you begin your own career as a teacher. While earning an elementary teacher degree, you can choose from courses that include topics like foundations of literacy, diversity in learning, and world literature.

How to Become an Elementary School Teacher: Certification

If you plan to teach at a public school, each state has its own requirements for certification; you will find different standards for elementary teacher certification in New York and those that govern teachers in Maryland, for example. After your degree is completed and you are finished with your student teaching, most school districts require you to pass a background check and some standardized tests. One common testing agency is ETS, the creators of the Praxis exams. Different states will require one or more exams to become a certified elementary school teacher, which could include subject exams in elementary education and specific subject tests in teaching methods.

Alternative Answers for How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

You have a bachelor's degree, but it's not in elementary education. Fortunately, this won't prevent you from becoming an elementary school teacher. Many states have alternative paths to certification and licensing, allowing you to begin a new teaching career as soon as you complete a fast-track educational program.

Careers after Earning an Elementary Education Degree

Once you begin your job as an elementary school teacher, you will be in charge of a classroom full of students who could be as young as first graders. You can be responsible for teaching them some of the basics of school rules, along with the necessary methods of interacting with other students. Your lesson plans will give you a tentative schedule for the year, but you should be prepared for those plans to change due to unforeseen circumstances involving weather or administrative changes. You can have students work in group settings to work out problems and give individual attention to each student when necessary. When the day is over, you can expect to grade student tests and give feedback on homework assignments. Expect regular conferences with the parents of your students about performance and progress.

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