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Become A Certified Teacher

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Working As A Certified Teacher

  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $46,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Certified Teacher Do

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers prepare younger students for future schooling by teaching them basic subjects such as math and reading. 

Duties

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically do the following:

  • Create lesson plans to teach students subjects, such as reading, science, social studies, and math
  • Teach students how to study and communicate with others
  • Observe students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Teach lessons they have planned to an entire class of students or to smaller groups
  • Grade students’ assignments to monitor their progress
  • Communicate with parents about their child’s progress
  • Work with students individually to help them overcome specific learning challenges
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules to teach children proper behavior
  • Supervise children outside of the classroom—for example, during lunchtime or recess

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers help students learn and apply important concepts. Many teachers use a hands-on approach to help students understand abstract concepts, solve problems, and develop critical thinking skills. For example, they may demonstrate how to do a science experiment and then have the students conduct the experiment themselves. They may have students work together to learn how to collaborate to solve problems.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers generally teach kindergarten through fourth or fifth grade. However, in some schools, elementary school teachers may teach sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. They typically teach students several subjects throughout the day.

Some teachers may teach in a multilevel classroom that includes students across two or more grades. They may teach the same group of students for several years.

Kindergarten and elementary school students spend most of their day in one classroom. Teachers may escort students to assemblies; to classes taught by other teachers, such as art or music; or to recess. While students are away from the classroom, teachers plan lessons, grade assignments, or meet with other teachers and staff.

In some schools, teachers may work in subject specialization teams in which they teach one or two specific subjects, either English and social studies or math and science. Generally, students spend half their time with one teacher and half their time with the other.

Some kindergarten and elementary school teachers teach special classes, such as art, music, and physical education.

Some schools employ teachers of English as a second language (ESL) or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Both of these types of teachers work exclusively with students who are learning the English language, often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). The teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English language skills and to help them with assignments from other classes.

Students with learning disabilities or emotional or behavioral disorders are often taught in traditional classes. Kindergarten and elementary teachers work with special education teachers to adapt lesson plans to these students’ needs and monitor the students’ progress. In some cases, kindergarten and elementary school teachers may co-teach lessons with special education teachers.

Some teachers maintain websites to communicate with parents about students’ assignments, upcoming events, and grades. For students in higher grades, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information or to expand on a lesson taught in class.

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How To Become A Certified Teacher

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.

Education

All states require public kindergarten and elementary school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Some states also require kindergarten and elementary school teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science. They typically enroll in their college’s teacher preparation program and also take classes in education and child psychology in addition to those required by their major.

In teacher education programs, future teachers learn how to present information to young students and how to work with young students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include fieldwork, such as student teaching. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit teach.org.

Some states require all teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification.

Private schools typically seek kindergarten and elementary school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified. Those who teach in private schools are generally not required to be licensed. Most states require teachers to pass a background check.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are typically certified to teach early childhood grades, which are usually preschool through third grade, or elementary school grades, which are usually first through sixth grades or first through eighth grades.

Requirements for certification vary by state. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, they are required to complete a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, typically gained through student teaching. Some states require a minimum grade point average. States often require candidates to pass a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach. Although kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically do not teach only a single subject, they may be required to pass a content area test to earn their certification. For information on certification requirements in your state, visit teach.org.

Teachers are frequently required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification.

All states offer an alternative route to certification for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately after graduation, under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master’s degree after completing one of these programs.

Training

In order to receive certification, teachers need to undergo a period of fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching. During student teaching, they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. The amount of time required varies by state.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teachers must collaborate with teacher assistants and special education teachers. In addition, they need to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.

Creativity. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must plan lessons that engage young students, adapting the lessons to different learning styles.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must respond with patience when students struggle with material.

Physical stamina. Working with kindergarten and elementary-aged students can be tiring. Teachers need to be able to physically, mentally, and emotionally keep up with the students.

Resourcefulness. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers need to be able to explain difficult concepts in terms that young students can understand. In addition, they must be able to get students engaged in learning and adapt their lessons to meet students’ needs.

Advancement

Experienced teachers can advance to serve as mentors to newer teachers or to become lead teachers. In these roles, they help less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills.

With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals, both of which generally require additional schooling in education administration or leadership.

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Certified Teacher Career Paths

Certified Teacher
Lead Teacher Assistant Director
Center Director
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Teacher Assistant Director Director
Education Director
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Teacher Assistant Principal
Elementary School Principal
12 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Assistant Principal
School Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Owner Assistant Director
Director Of Admissions
7 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Principal
High School Principal
9 Yearsyrs
Certified Substitute Teacher Office Manager President
Athletic Director
5 Yearsyrs
Certified Substitute Teacher Case Manager Director Of Admissions
School Director
6 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Assistant Professor Chairperson
Department Chairperson
7 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Department Chairperson
Assistant Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Department Chairperson Assistant Principal
Middle School Principal
11 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Director Education Director
Director Of Instruction
7 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Education Consultant
Educational Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Education Coordinator Preschool Lead Teacher
Lead Pre-K Teacher
5 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Assistant Professor Department Chairperson
Vice Principal
8 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Adjunct Faculty Education Consultant
Student Dean
7 Yearsyrs
Administrator Principal Assistant Superintendent
Director Of Special Education
11 Yearsyrs
Administrator Principal Elementary School Principal
Curriculum Director
8 Yearsyrs
Science Teacher Special Education Teacher Early Childhood Special Educator
Early Childhood Specialist
5 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Certified Teacher 5.0 years
Teacher 3.9 years
Junior Teacher 3.0 years
ESL Teacher 2.8 years
6th Grade Teacher 2.7 years
5th Grade Teacher 2.7 years
Mentor Teacher 2.6 years
4th Grade Teacher 2.5 years
Literacy Teacher 2.3 years
Student Teacher 0.7 years
Top Careers Before Certified Teacher
Teacher 19.1%
Internship 7.2%
Tutor 4.3%
Instructor 4.0%
Cashier 3.6%
Volunteer 2.6%
Manager 2.2%
Coach 2.2%
Top Careers After Certified Teacher
Teacher 25.9%
Internship 3.9%
Principal 3.2%
Tutor 3.2%
Instructor 3.1%
Volunteer 3.1%
Consultant 2.9%
Coach 2.9%

Do you work as a Certified Teacher?

Certified Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

66.3%

Male

23.9%

Unknown

9.8%
Ethnicity

White

62.9%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Black or African American

12.9%

Asian

5.9%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.3%

French

7.8%

Italian

6.8%

Portuguese

3.9%

German

3.9%

Arabic

2.9%

Chinese

1.9%

Dari

1.9%

Russian

1.9%

Mandarin

1.9%

Bulgarian

1.0%

Finnish

1.0%

Norwegian

1.0%

Cherokee

1.0%

Turkish

1.0%

Japanese

1.0%

Persian

1.0%

Gujarati

1.0%

Korean

1.0%
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Certified Teacher Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.8%

Walden University

8.8%

Grand Canyon University

8.8%

Nova Southeastern University

8.1%

Northern Arizona University

6.4%

Arizona State University

5.4%

Jackson State University

4.7%

University of Houston

4.0%

Liberty University

4.0%

Sam Houston State University

3.7%

National University

3.4%

Murray State University

3.4%

Florida Atlantic University

3.4%

Northeastern State University

3.4%

Wayne State University

3.0%

Texas State University

3.0%

University of Texas at Arlington

3.0%

Florida State University

3.0%

Kaplan University

3.0%

University of North Texas

2.7%
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Majors

Elementary Education

20.0%

Education

16.9%

Business

8.3%

Educational Leadership

7.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

5.4%

Special Education

5.4%

Psychology

5.2%

Early Childhood Education

4.9%

English

4.3%

Nursing

3.2%

Curriculum And Instruction

3.0%

School Counseling

2.3%

Secondary Education And Teaching

2.2%

Social Work

2.0%

Criminal Justice

1.8%

Management

1.7%

Communication

1.7%

Interdisciplinary Studies

1.6%

History

1.6%

Health Care Administration

1.5%
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Degrees

Masters

37.4%

Bachelors

34.0%

Other

14.4%

Certificate

4.5%

Associate

4.5%

Doctorate

3.6%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.5%
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Top Skills for A Certified Teacher

  1. Classroom Management
  2. Curriculum Development
  3. Lesson Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Demonstrated ability in being consistent, organized and dedicated to sustaining positive classroom structure through high classroom management expectations.
  • Maintained professional competence by participating in staff development activities, curriculum development meetings, and other professional opportunities.
  • Collaborated with professional learning community to design curriculum and lesson plans that followed state and district standards.
  • Organized lessons in curricular domains (including mathematics, language, communication, practical life skills and community skills).
  • Collaborated with administrators, teachers, and families to develop community-based initiatives to improve communication and student learning.

How Would You Rate Working As a Certified Teacher?

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