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How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Written by: Wilson College   •  Jan 31, 2024
An Elementary School Teacher Plays a Game With Three Students in Their Classroom.

How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers play a pivotal role in the lives of young children. Not only do they impart foundational early-learning knowledge skills, they help shape the subsequent academic journeys that will take learners into early adulthood and beyond. Individuals who are interested in starting a teaching career and working with young children can benefit from understanding the education and experience requirements of becoming an elementary school teacher. 

What Does an Elementary School Teacher Do?

Elementary school teachers typically oversee the education of students from the kindergarten level to fifth grade, depending on the individual school system. An elementary school teacher should possess the relevant skills and training to tailor classroom curriculum to various learning styles. Developing well-researched lesson plans for a range of subjects, and delivering them across multiple learning mediums, is an essential job duty for the role. 

Elementary school teachers are also responsible for imparting lifelong values such as punctuality, interpersonal skills, and discipline. They achieve this by maintaining an accurate record of student attendance and supporting students through collaborative group activities. Creating a conducive classroom environment that encourages learning and personal growth is necessary for fulfilling elementary curriculum goals. 

As such, elementary school teachers should have the following skills to provide the best teaching outcomes.

  • Problem-solving skills help teachers interpret and resolve education challenges young learners face. 
  • Time-management allows teachers to oversee daily lessons according to schedule.  
  • Patience is essential for elementary school teachers who need to take the time to understand and fulfill the needs of younger learners while often managing student behavior and learning difficulties. 
  • Creativity provides teachers with a flexible toolkit for coping with the demands of a dynamic classroom environment.

Steps to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers must meet specific criteria. Candidates should familiarize themselves with the steps required to become an elementary school teacher to teach in their specific state and school district. 

Earn a Degree

Individuals must begin their career journey by acquiring a high school diploma and bachelor’s degree. These academic qualifications validate the skills and knowledge to organize and manage an elementary school classroom environment. 

A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education takes approximately four years to complete and is the most straightforward route to qualify for the role. It is also necessary for candidates to have the required specialized training in the subjects they intend to teach.

Courses for elementary school teaching usually include modules for general education and fulfilling pedagogical requirements (i.e., the knowledge and skills related to the art and science of teaching). 

Obtain Certification

Candidates who have passed all the academic requirements set by their state’s education department must then apply for a teaching certificate. These certificates require candidates to pass an examination that evaluates their teaching capabilities. A state-issued teaching certificate qualifies individuals to teach in an elementary school environment. 

Gain Teaching Experience

Once they have gathered the necessary academic qualifications, individuals should gain relevant teaching experiences through an undergraduate program. These courses help develop core teaching skills such as student assessment techniques, practical field experiences, and curriculum development. 

Fulfill Specific School Requirements

Before becoming an elementary school teacher, individuals may have to fulfill specific requirements mandated by the school to which they are applying. For example, prospective elementary-level teachers may have to pass a background check and provide additional information. They may also have to demonstrate specific subject expertise and pedagogical knowledge. 

Elementary School Teacher Salary and Job Outlook

Elementary school teachers had a median annual salary of $61,690 as of May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Several factors can influence the exact salary, such as geographic location, years of experience, and level of education. Additionally, salaries may vary depending on whether a teacher works for a private or a public school.

The BLS projects consistent demand for elementary school teachers with around 1% growth in job openings between 2022 and 2032. However, despite the steady demand, there remains a high number of vacancies, with around 109,000 openings for kindergarten and elementary school teachers each year. 

Pursue an Elementary School Teaching Career with Wilson College Online

Wilson College Online is a trusted education provider that offers specialized degrees for achieving elementary school teaching goals. We provide asynchronous courses to help advance your teaching qualifications while you navigate your busy schedule. 

The online Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Wilson College Online prepares students for a variety of teaching careers, including elementary school teaching roles. The online courses include 12 weeks of student teaching in Pennsylvania, to help build your confidence in managing the classroom setting through practical real-world experience.

Learn more about Wilson College Online. Discover how the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education program can accelerate your teaching career, and help you inspire the lives of young learners. 

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