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How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher

Written by: Wilson College   •  May 6, 2024
A Kindergarten Teacher Reads a Book to Students in a Library.

How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher

Kindergarten is an important educational milestone for young children. This all-important year includes basic concepts in subjects such as math, science, and reading, but it also introduces young and impressionable minds to the skills they need to succeed in their education for years to come. 

With 9 in 10 school districts across the country struggling to hire educators, never has there been a better time to learn how to become a kindergarten teacher. A bachelor’s degree in education offers the preparation required to serve as a teacher, a role model, and a mentor. 

What Does a Kindergarten Teacher Do?

Kindergarten teachers instruct young children in basic concepts, such as counting, reading, writing, and telling time. Their exact duties can vary depending on state education requirements and school district policies, but all kindergarten teachers perform the following basic duties: 

  • Creating complete and detailed teaching plans that incorporate state education requirements
  • Providing students with emotional and social support that helps them have positive interactions with others
  • Evaluating each student to determine individual abilities, including strengths and weaknesses
  • Providing instruction to the entire classroom, a group of students, or individual students as needed
  • Communicating with the parents or caregivers of students regarding their progress
  • Creating and enforcing classroom rules to encourage good behavior
  • Supervising students in the classroom, on field trips, at recess, and during meals
  • Preparing students state standardized testing

Steps to Become a Kindergarten Teacher

While the exact role can vary from one state and school district to the next, most of the steps involved in learning how to become a kindergarten teacher are the same. They include earning a degree, developing a specific set of skills, gaining work experience in the field, and obtaining licensure. 

1. Earn a Degree

Degree options for aspiring teachers include a B.A. in Elementary Education, a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Childhood Studies or Education, and a B.A. in Early Childhood Education. 

Any of these degrees can qualify an individual to work as a kindergarten teacher, but the B.A. in Early Childhood Education offers education specific to teaching very young children. It incorporates child psychology, research-based teaching practices, and the unique skills required to thrive as a kindergarten teacher. This degree is also the perfect starting point for other early childhood education degree careers, such as elementary school teaching, special education, and child care and education administration. 

2. Develop Key Skills

Learning how to become a kindergarten teacher involves much more than classroom learning. Aspiring kindergarten teachers need to develop key skills that prepare them to instruct impressionable young minds and teach them the skills that they’ll carry with them for a lifetime. The most important skills include the following:

  • Subject knowledge. Kindergarten teachers need to understand their curriculum to create effective lesson plans in alignment with state regulations. A solid understanding of childhood development allows teachers to find the best ways to deliver their curriculum to individual students.
  • Classroom management. Kindergarten teachers must be experts in classroom management. This ensures that students are treated fairly and that the learning environment is suitable for every child’s unique needs.
  • Communication. Kindergarten teachers spend the majority of the day communicating with very young children, so verbal communication skills are vital. These communication skills are equally important for communicating with parents via email, classroom newsletters, or in-person meetings.
  • Planning. Kindergarten teachers must be excellent at planning to cover the state-mandated curriculum. Short- and long-term planning skills ultimately ensure that students receive the education they need to progress and succeed.
  • Organization. An organized classroom is important for students’ overall well-being. Organizing books, papers, toys, files, and grading systems is imperative.
  • Patience. Patience is one of the most important skills kindergarten teachers can develop. Very young children are inquisitive and sometimes difficult, but empathetic and patient teachers can overcome these challenges.

3. Gain Work Experience

Many kindergarten teachers start their teaching careers by taking on roles as substitute teachers for local school districts. Unlike their requirement for full-time teachers, many states don’t require substitute teachers to have a formal education or licensure. 

Many degree programs require aspiring kindergarten teachers to participate in a student teaching internship, which provides all the work experience required to complete the degree program and obtain licensure. Student teachers serve as assistants, which means they may aid in classroom activities, grade assignments, and help with classroom organization. 

4. Earn Licensure and Certifications

In public schools, kindergarten teachers are required to hold a teaching license or certificate. These credentials prove that teachers have the knowledge and skills they need to instruct young children. To maintain licensure or certification, public school kindergarten teachers are required to complete continuing education credits or log a specific number of teaching hours per recertification period. 

Historically, private and religious schools haven’t always required their teachers to obtain licensure or certification. In recent years, this has changed due to the demand for high-quality education and competition among schools. Finding employment as a teacher without licensure or certification is difficult, even in the smallest private schools. 

Kindergarten Teacher Salary and Job Outlook

Before learning how to become a kindergarten teacher, considering the salary and job outlook associated with this career is important. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers was $61,700 as of May 2022. 

Despite ongoing teacher shortages, the BLS projects that the employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers won’t change between 2022 and 2032. Though the demand for teachers is high, the number of teaching positions across the country will remain roughly the same. Kindergarten teachers enjoy exceptional job security, and many public school systems offer benefits that include medical insurance, retirement plans, and even pensions. 

Shape the Minds of the Future

Kindergarten teachers are vital to the success of future generations. They’re the individuals who are responsible for molding and shaping a child’s education through social and academic development. Take the next step in this rewarding and fulfilling career path with Wilson College Online’s Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and Bachelor of Arts in Special Education degree programs. Discover how you can shape the future of countless children for the better.

Recommended Readings

A Look Inside the Modern Classroom

What Can You Do With an Early Childhood Education Degree?

Special Education Teacher Salary and Career Overview


Education Commission of the States, 50-State Comparison: State K-3 Policies

Indeed, How Long Does It Take to Become a Kindergarten Teacher?

Indeed, 20 Important Rewards of Being a Teacher to Consider

National Association for the Education of Young Children, Why Teacher Quality Matters and How We Can Improve It

National Center for Education Statistics, Preprimary Education Enrollment

National Center for Education Statistics, Teacher Qualifications

NPR, “6 Things to Know About U.S. Teacher Shortages and How to Solve Them”

Parents, “Here’s What Kids Actually Learn in Kindergarten”

Teachers of Tomorrow, How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher in 5 Steps in 2023

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

USA Today, “Teacher Shortages Continue to Plague US: 86% of Public Schools Struggle to Hire Educators”

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