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Elementary Teacher Requirements and Career Information

Elementary teachers are required to have some formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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If you enjoy teaching and working with children, then an a career as an elementary school teacher may be for you. These professionals teach kindergarten through sixth grade in either public or private elementary schools. They usually teach multiple subjects that may include reading, math and social studies.

Essential Information

Elementary teachers typically hold a bachelor's degree in education, have completed a student teaching experience as part of their degree program, and have obtained state teaching certification. Some elementary teachers complete a master's program after being hired or if they've earned a bachelor's degree in a non-education field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in education or elementary education
Other Requirements Certification or license for public schools
Projected Job Growth (2014 - 2024)* 6%
Median Salary (2015)* $54,890 annually

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

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  • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
  • Teaching, Adults
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Requirements to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Public elementary school teachers, like all public school teachers, are required to be licensed. There are some private schools that do not require licensure but still typically require formal education. All states require public school teachers to have a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher training program and complete a supervised student teaching experience. Many states offer alternative licensing programs for graduates of bachelor's degree programs in something other than education. Lateral-entry teachers usually start teaching while simultaneously earning their teacher certification.

Education and Training

Teachers who are preparing to teach elementary students, which usually encompasses kindergarten through grade six, take general studies classes in areas such as literature, art, music, social science, physical science and mathematics. They also take a number of professional education courses, including teaching methods, classroom management, psychology of learning, instructional planning and learning evaluation.

Some elementary education programs also include a dual certification in a middle school content area, such as social studies, science, fine arts, math or English. Per licensure requirements, bachelor's degree programs also require students complete a student teaching experience that usually lasts for a semester. Some states may require teachers to complete a master's degree program after they have started teaching.

Career Information

Elementary teachers provide students with a solid background in subjects such as social studies, science, mathematics and reading. They also use tools such as books, games, music and computers to teach children basic skills. Elementary teachers typically teach multiple subjects to one group of children. However, elementary teachers who specialize in physical education, music or art typically teach a single subject. Duties of elementary school teachers include evaluating student performance, establishing classroom rules, administering tests, communicating with parents and developing lesson plans.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for elementary school teachers is projected to increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reports that elementary teachers earned a median annual salary of $54,890 in 2015.

Elementary school teacher positions usually require a bachelor's degree in education as well as completion of a supervised student teaching program. Additionally, public school teachers are required to obtain a state license; private schools may also require teachers to be licensed.

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