An Associate of Arts in Elementary Education can be earned through a partially online program. The program lasts at least two years, but it may last longer depending on the student's rate of progression. Some programs have admission standards and require students to maintain an average GPA of 2.0 or better to remain enrolled. It's important to note that these programs don't prepare students for teacher certification or licensure, but they can help students transfer into a bachelor's degree program in elementary education.
The majority of schools require live attendance at a campus site for early childhood courses due to their importance. However, general education classes required for this associate degree can often be earned online. Some online programs may be offered in cohort format, allowing a certain group of students to progress through the entire program together.
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Associate's Degree in Elementary Education
Future teachers or teacher's assistants take early childhood classes to learn to handle a variety of educational and non-educational issues that can arise in the classroom. Prospective educators also learn about race and ethnic issues and other sensitive cross-cultural topics. Some programs are designed to aid students in preparing for state licensing exams.
In these programs, students learn how to teach and communicate with children and young adults, creating and building on their educational foundations. An emphasis is also put on developing written communication skills. Students can expect to take education courses like the ones listed here:
- Foundational contexts of education
- Self exploration and the teaching profession
- Introduction to education
- Processes in teaching and learning
- Literacy pedagogy in the elementary school
- Child growth and development
Graduates of an associate degree program have the following career opportunities available to them:
- Childcare worker
- Teacher's assistant
- Substitute teacher
- Library aide
If teaching at the elementary level is a long-term goal, a bachelor's degree in a specific grade level will be required. With that bachelor's degree and perhaps other additional degrees or training, these positions may be possible:
- Elementary teacher
- Preschool teacher
- Special education teacher
- Assistant school principal
- School principal
Job growth and opportunities for most teaching positions vary depending on the grade level. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that job opportunities for kindergarten and elementary school teachers will grow at an average rate of roughly 6% between 2014 and 2024. The median salary for an elementary school teacher in 2015 was $54,550.
Continuing Education Information
These programs encourage associate degree graduates to transfer to a 4-year university and obtain a bachelor's degree so that they can become full-time elementary teachers. However, since courses may not always transfer to a 4-year school easily, students should always work with an academic adviser to help plan out their educational path. In addition, students should research the licensing requirements in their own state before deciding to pursue a further degree.
An associate's degree in elementary teaching can be completed partly online and also on-campus. This degree provides a foundational starting point for students interested in working with children at the elementary school level, with the possibility of earning additional degrees and certification.