Elementary School Teacher Career Info

Mar 27, 2019

Read on to learn more about what elementary school teachers do. Get details about required education and training. Find out about career prospects and earning potential to see if this job is for you.

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Career Definition for Elementary School Teachers

Elementary school teachers work in private and public schools to teach children at the elementary level, which is usually considered to be grades 1-5. Most elementary school teachers teach a class of children in most subjects, although some schools are experimenting with new approaches such as team or co-teaching. Common duties of elementary school teachers include planning lessons, maintaining class discipline, giving classroom instruction, administering and grading tests, evaluating students' performance, and meeting with parents.

Education Bachelor's in education
Job Duties Planning lessons, maintaining class discipline, providing instruction
Median Salary (2017) $56,900 (all kindergarten and elementary school teachers)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 7% (all kindergarten and elementary school teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The most common route to becoming an elementary school teacher is to complete a 4-year bachelor's degree in an educational training program. Common coursework to prepare for a career as an elementary school teacher includes social science, art, mathematics, physical science, literature, philosophy of education, teaching methods, and psychology of learning.

Licensing and Certification Requirements

All public school teachers are required to meet state licensing requirements; licensure is required in all 50 states, but may not be necessary for private school teachers. Some states also offer alternative programs that allow people who already hold a bachelor's degree to become licensed to teach.

Skill Requirements

To work as an elementary school teacher, you'll need to be comfortable working with and connecting with younger students; this connection is critical to the learning process. Being skilled at handling both academic and behavioral challenges will help you to succeed in an elementary school teaching career.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) projects employment in this field to grow 7% from 2016-2026. Per the BLS, the median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers was $56,900 in 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers provide age-appropriate academic instruction to young children, usually aged 3-5. Preschool teachers help kids prepare for kindergarten and practice social, gross, and fine motor skills through individual and group instruction and activities. Education requirements for this job can vary by employment setting; childcare centers may require only a high school diploma, while public schools that offer preschool programs may require a bachelor's degree in early childhood education.

Depending on the state and employer, professional certification or state licensing may be required; some states require preschool teachers to have a minimum of relevant experience, too. The BLS predicts that preschool teachers can expect faster than average job growth 10% from 2016-2026. The median wage for preschool teachers was $28,990 in 2017, per the BLS, although this figure varied by employment type. Those who worked in elementary schools earned median pay of $46,600, while those who worked in daycare centers earned median pay of $26,870 that year.

Childcare Worker

Childcare workers provide basic care such as supervision, meals, bathing, and comfort to kids whose parents are away, such as for work or school. Childcare workers may also provide age-appropriate activities and instruction.

Requirements for this occupation vary by employer and state, but usually include at least a high school diploma. Some employers prefer candidates with some postsecondary education in early childhood education, and some require professional certification. Completion of a training program in how to provide appropriate care may also be required. The BLS projects that jobs in this field will increase 7% from 2016-2026; it also reported that childcare workers earned median pay of $22,290 in 2017.

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