Public Elementary School Teacher: Educational Requirements

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

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A public elementary school teacher is required to have a bachelor's degree and state teaching license. Prospective teachers must also complete an internship to gain practical experience under the supervision of a qualified teacher.

Essential Information

Public elementary school teachers must be comfortable instructing large groups in different subjects. To acquire these skills, individuals must complete bachelor's degree programs in education that include workplace experience. They must also meet state licensing requirements.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements State license and internship experience usually necessary
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% (for all elementary school teachers, except special education)
Median Salary (2018)* $58,230 annually (for all elementary school teachers, except special education)

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

Public Elementary School Teacher Job Description

Elementary school teachers work with children during their formative years and help their students develop life skills such as problem solving and critical thinking. They employ various methods to convey information including discussions and hands-on exercises. Unlike many middle school and high school teachers, elementary school teachers often instruct students in all subjects. They are the ones who introduce students to the subjects they'll be studying the rest of their lives. Teachers who work in public schools will most likely have large classes full of students with different learning abilities.

Educational Requirements

Most public elementary school teachers have a bachelor's degree from an education or elementary education program. These programs develop students in all subject areas, but many require them to select a concentration subject. Many programs require students to complete their lower division coursework with a satisfactory grade point average and pass a competency exam before they can enter the teaching program. Some schools offer other majors that can lead to certification in elementary education such as special education and child development.

Elementary education curricula include coursework in teaching methods for individual subjects and classroom management. The capstone requirement is a year of student teaching. During student teaching, students gain teaching experience under the supervision of a licensed teacher.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), teacher education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Graduation from an accredited program can make the licensing process easier and shows that an individual is meeting professional standards.

License Requirements

Every state requires that public school teachers be licensed, but the requirements for licensure vary. According to the BLS, most states require basic competency tests. Some states are moving toward a performance-based system in which teachers must meet certain standards during a probationary period to obtain a license. Many teachers get licensed in a special subject such as reading or music.

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

The BLS reports that, as of May 2018, elementary school teachers earned median annual salaries of $58,230, a figure which includes both public and private school teachers while excluding those who specialize in special education. These elementary education professionals could see employment opportunities increase 3% during the 2018-2028 decade, though job prospects could vary depending on regional enrollment figures and government budgets.

Public school elementary teachers typically have a bachelor's degree in education or elementary education. Although they are usually required to teach multiple subject areas, they are required to select an area of specialization, and when they get licensed they can be licensed in a specific subject area.

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