How to Become an Elementary School Teacher – A Career Guide

School Teacher

If you love kids and want to help them succeed, becoming an elementary school teacher is a rewarding career choice with unlimited possibilities. With the right education and training, the potential for employment is excellent. Teachers are always in demand and someone who exhibits skills to truly instill memorable experiences in their students are even harder to find.

But getting a job in this field depends on a number of factors. Make sure you know what is required of you before you dive in. Below are a few pointers to help you get started on your journey towards a becoming an elementary school teacher. Navigate to a section quickly with the links below:

First things first: Is teaching for you?

Before you even start researching degree programs, it is important to think long and hard if teaching is the career for you. This is an essential first step for anyone considering a new profession. If you are unsure, visit a school, talk with an elementary school teacher, or read about life on the job. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be with your decision. Consider these qualities that are ideal for an elementary teacher to exhibit:

  • Communicative. It seems like a no-brainer that anyone who goes into elementary education will love kids, yet they may not always know just how to talk to them. It is been longer than you think since you were in their (size 3) shoes. You have to know how to interact with someone who does not yet fully understand the basic principles of a subject, or why they should even listen to you. This can be tough to do without also being condescending. While it may be frustrating at times, they best way to manage this is to be…
  • Patient. Again, remember that you are talking with and trying to teach someone decades younger than you. It will not always be easy, but it is definitely possible.
  • Organized. This quality is not just beneficial for you and your students, but for coworkers, substitute teachers, teaching assistants, and parents as well. Remember that your job is far from finished when the bell rings.
  • Adaptable. The modern classroom can be a wonderland for kids, with various teaching aids and devices, but can also be difficult at first to understand. Be aware of how the current classroom has changed since you were a kid.
  • Humility. You will not always know how to reach that one difficult student. It is okay to admit your failures. Even as a teacher, you are still learning and mistakes are a part of that process.
  • Creativity. This is a must, especially with young kids who learn in a myriad of ways. College professors can get away with standing at a chalkboard all day. You have to turn the classroom into both an exciting and respectful environment.

What is next?

After you have determined that a career in elementary education is right for you as a person, the messy bureaucracy of it all comes in to play. While this can be a tedious process, ultimately it is in place for a reason. We do not want just any random person teaching the future bright minds of the world. Here are the next steps you will need to take to become a teacher:

  • Choose the right degree program. There are many teacher training programs out there. Each program is different and the amount of time required by you will vary. Most jobs will require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree and the proper certification to work in both public and private schools. Make sure whatever degree program you choose provides the necessary training and certification preparation. You also need to decide if you want to take courses online, on campus, or combination of the two. If you are working full-time or have other commitments, an online program will provide flexibility and convenience.
  • Determine where the jobs are. Do you live in an area that needs elementary school teachers? Perhaps you are unsure? Consult The Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out where the demand is. You might not live in a city, or a state for that matter, that needs elementary school teachers. Understanding which places are best suited for growth of the community will also put you in the right place for new schools to be added, thus more teachers to be hired. If you are unable to relocate, you might want to consider tutoring or subbing until a vacancy becomes available. Private schools and daycare centers also need trained educators to create and implement curriculum.
  • Research certification requirements. Each state has its own teaching certification requirements, and it is up to you to know what requirements you have to fulfill to work as an elementary school teacher. Additionally, certain teaching certifications can increase pay and open more job opportunities. You can find this information by contacting your state Board of Education.

What types of degree programs are offered in elementary education?

The path to becoming an elementary school teacher involves completing a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, earning a teaching certificate, completing student teaching, and passing licensing and competency exams in the state where you wish to teach. If you’re interested in learning more about specific elementary education degree programs, we’ve listed some featured schools below.

SchoolPrograms
Liberty University
Liberty University

Accreditation
  • SACS
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University

Accreditation
  • HLC
University of Southern California
University of Southern California

Accreditation
  • WASC
Ashford University
Ashford University

Accreditation
  • WASC

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Career Options with an Elementary Education Degree

A variety of job opportunities are available for graduates with an elementary education degree, so never feel pigeon-holed into a specific area. Check out the list below for some ideas on how to put your degree to work after you graduate:

  • Reading Specialist
  • Resource Teacher
  • Substitute Teacher
  • Education Technician
  • Educational Consultant
  • After School Program Counselor
  • Program Facilitator or Administrator

Whether you are a career changer or a career starter, it is important to know as much as possible about a profession before you enter the field. Becoming a teacher is an enormous time commitment, but definitely well worth it in the end. Working with children is a non-stop adventure, so best to prepare yourself by doing your research and planning accordingly. Getting students attention in their rudimentary years is crucial for the successful development of students and can significantly impact their educational trajectory.

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