Teaching can be a highly rewarding profession for those who derive satisfaction from influencing young minds through the education process. Students at this level can be unruly, easily distracted, and challenging; however, they are also very impressionable. This latter quality gives the elementary teacher the opportunity to enrich and expand the student’s life through the acquisition of knowledge. In order for these educators to increase the knowledge of their pupils, they too must be knowledgeable about a variety of subjects, such as the basics of reading, writing and mathematics.
In the pursuit of making education fun, many elementary school teachers take a playful approach, using props, games and songs to actively engage their students. It’s their job to not only create an academic and entertaining environment for the children, but to also interact with the parents to communicate the students’ progress.
Most Bachelor’s in Elementary Education will allow the graduate to teach from Kindergarten through Grade 6. Some undergraduate programs offer a diversity in courses, whereas others offer specialties within the degree programs. One example of the former is the Bachelor’s in Elementary Education offered at Florida State University (FSU). A sampling of their curriculum includes these courses:
- Human Development and Learning
- Early Literacy Learning
- Language Arts for Elementary School
- Classroom Management and Legal Issues
- Student Teaching
The University of Phoenix which has online and campus learning offers Bachelor programs in Elementary Education with a concentration in Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, and English Language Arts. This school also offers a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education that provides individuals with the opportunity to learn teaching techniques and methods they can apply in elementary school classrooms. Theories and teaching methods are taught for a wide range of subjects, including mathematics, social studies, health, science, and reading. Program coursework allows students to create lesson plans, develop classroom management plans, study child development, and examine educational ethics and legal issues.
After you’ve earned your undergraduate degree in Education, there’s another mandatory step before being inducted into the classroom. Requirements for teaching credentials include obtaining at least a Bachelor’s degree and completing a teacher education program. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico require their teachers be licensed to teach in public schools. However, the specific requirements for teacher certification vary on a state-by-state basis. The rules for licensure are set by each states’ board of education, and while most states require the completion of a standardized test to demonstrate subject competency and mastery of basic skills, other requirements are highly individualized.
Some states require their teachers to have a degree in the subject they wish to teach. Others require teachers to receive certification for each individual subject they teach or even certification for the specific grade they plan on teaching. Teachers can be licensed in early childhood education (preschool through third grade), elementary education (first grade through sixth or eighth), middle school (roughly grades five through eight), secondary education (usually a specific subject area from seventh through twelfth grade) or a specific field, such as reading or writing. Therefore, it’s advisable to check with the state in which you plan to teach for their specific certification requirements.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 12.3 percent for the profession between 2012 and 2022, which is slightly lower than the average growth rate. During that time period, more than 167,000 jobs will be added to accommodate an expected increase in kindergarten and grade-student enrollment.
According to the BLS, in 2013, elementary school teachers earned a median average salary of $53,590. The best-paid earned about $83,600, while the lowest-paid made approximately $35,760. The highest earners worked in the metropolitan areas of Nassau, New York; Kingston, New York; and Santa Ana, California. So location is another criteria to research as salaries vary from state to state and from city to city within a particular state.