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Elementary School Teacher Career Outlook & Job Description

An elementary school teacher is an early education provider and may teach children in kindergarten through the sixth grade. In addition to standard job responsibilities, an elementary teacher also helps young children develop social skills and positive learning habits in an enthusiastic, stimulating and positive classroom environment. It can be a rewarding career, in which educators help foster the social and intellectual development of their students.

How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teacher requirements depend on the state or region, but generally a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in education is needed from an approved teacher preparation program. If you already have a bachelor’s degree then look for a master’s degree program that leads to an initial teacher certification. Elementary education programs include coursework in child psychology, education psychology, child development, curriculum development and teaching methods. In most states, certification is required to be able to practice as an elementary school teacher. Criteria for certification varies from state to state, but in general, three things are required – a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, supervised practice teaching experience, and a passing grade in a state teaching exam. Students can decide on an elementary education program that is most convenient – either online distance learning or on-site programs in accredited colleges.

Elementary School Teacher Requirements and Common Tasks

Elementary school teachers will generally possess a bachelor’s degree or better as well as certifications and licensing specific to the individual requirements of each state. Teacher degrees in early childhood development and other behavioral sciences can be especially helpful for teaching at the elementary level. In most situations, teachers are expected to continue their education and clearly demonstrate a commitment to learn, prepare and present the most current information in any given area of study. Because of teacher shortages and difficulty placing teachers in high-risk positions, some states offer alternative licensing methods, such as a baccalaureate level certification which allows prospective teachers to begin their career while still attending school. These alternative types of certifications are usually temporary and may only be renewed a few times.

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Elementary school teachers are expected to prepare a lesson plan or teaching guide that employs consistent, proven standards that best help students comprehend and develop basic, elementary level skills. Lesson plans typically include many age appropriate activities that are designed to stimulate young minds and aid the learning process. Teaching methods and materials must be specifically arranged to prepare students for advancement by ensuring fundamental goals have been met or exceeded. Depending on the age of the students, some elementary school teachers also provide some basic child care, such as monitoring nap times and helping with hygiene.

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Elementary School Teacher Salary & Job Outlook

Elementary teacher salary levels vary depending on such things as location and experience. Of the approximately 1.3 million elementary school teachers in the United States, the average annual salary is $56,320.1 Employment of elementary teachers is expected to grow 12% from 2012-2022.2

The number of jobs available will largely depend on location, field of study, and budgetary concerns. Educators who teach math, science or bilingual studies or hold multiple endorsements may find more job opportunities. The largest projected growth in elementary school teacher jobs is expected in the Southern and Western states.

Job opportunities for elementary school teachers who have earned their degrees and licenses vary by state and availability. A person with excellent communication skills and a degree in elementary education has a strong chance of success in becoming an elementary teacher. Jobs for certified educators include: elementary teacher, kindergarten teacher, middle school teacher, child special education teacher, supervising teacher, preschool teacher. Early childhood jobs such as childcare workers in daycare centers, non-profit organizations and community child care programs are also available to graduates of elementary education programs.

Elementary Education Teaching Degrees and Programs

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  • B.S. in Education / Elementary Education
  • M.A. in Education/Elementary Teacher Education
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  • M.Ed. Teaching and Learning - Elementary Education
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  • Bachelor of Science: Early Childhood Development
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  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education
  • M.Ed: Special Education (Elementary)
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Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Elementary School Teacher

Question: What are the NCLB teacher requirements?

Answer: The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act is a federal law which requires that teachers be highly qualified. This means a teacher must have a bachelor’s degree and full state certification. It also means that a teacher must have passed tests to demonstrate competency in the subject matter being taught.

Question: What degree do I need to teach elementary school?

Answer: To teach elementary school, you need a bachelor’s degree in a subject that is teachable in school. You also must take courses that give you a broad education in all of the subjects taught in the primary grades, such as math, English, reading, science, and social studies. You must also complete a teacher preparation program at a university and become certified as a teacher according to your state’s requirements.

Question: What are the NCLB teacher requirements?

Answer: The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act is a federal law which requires that teachers be highly qualified. This means a teacher must have a bachelor’s degree and full state certification. It also means that a teacher must have passed tests to demonstrate competency in the subject matter being taught.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252021.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm

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