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Become An Elementary Education Teacher

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Working As An Elementary Education Teacher

  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Scheduling Work and Activities
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Deal with People

  • $51,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Elementary Education Teacher Do

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, such as literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities.

Duties

Special education teachers typically do the following:

  • Assess students’ skills to determine their needs and to develop appropriate teaching plans
  • Adapt general lessons to meet the needs of students
  • Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student
  • Plan, organize, and assign activities that are specific to each student’s abilities
  • Teach and mentor students as a class, in small groups, and one-on-one
  • Implement IEPs, assess students’ performance, and track their progress
  • Update IEPs throughout the school year to reflect students’ progress and goals
  • Discuss student’s progress with parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators
  • Supervise and mentor teacher assistants who work with students with disabilities
  • Prepare and help students transition from grade to grade and for life after graduation

Special education teachers work with general education teachers, counselors, school superintendents, administrators, and parents. As a team, they develop IEPs specific to each student’s needs. IEPs outline the goals and services for each student, such as sessions with the school psychologists, counselors, and special education teachers. Teachers also meet with parents, school administrators, and counselors to discuss updates and changes to the IEPs.

Special education teachers’ duties vary by the type of setting they work in, student disabilities, and teacher specialty.

Some special education teachers work in classrooms or resource centers that only include students with disabilities. In these settings, teachers plan, adapt, and present lessons to meet each student’s needs. They teach students in small groups or on a one-on-one basis.

In inclusive classrooms, special education teachers teach students with disabilities who are in general education classrooms. They work with general education teachers to present the information in a manner that students with disabilities can more easily understand. They also assist general education teachers to adapt lessons that will meet the needs of the students with disabilities in their classes.

Special education teachers also collaborate with teacher assistants, psychologists, and social workers to accommodate requirements of students with disabilities. For example, they may have a teacher assistant work with them to provide support for a student who needs particular attention.

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide variety of mental, emotional, physical, and learning disabilities. For example, some work with students who need assistance in subject areas, such as reading and math. Others help students develop study skills, such as by using flashcards and text highlighting.

Some special education teachers work with students who have physical and sensory disabilities, such as blindness and deafness, and with students who are wheelchair-bound. They also may work with those who have autism spectrum disorders and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Special education teachers work with students from preschool to high school. Some teachers work with students who have severe disabilities until the students are 21 years old.

Special education teachers help students with severe disabilities develop basic life skills, such as how to respond to questions and how to follow directions. Some teach the skills necessary for students with moderate disabilities to live independently, find a job, and manage money and their time. For more information about other workers who help individuals with disabilities develop skills necessary to live independently, see the profiles on occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants and aides.

Most special education teachers use computers to keep records of their students’ performance, prepare lesson plans, and update IEPs. Some teachers also use various assistive technology aids, such as Braille writers and computer software that help them communicate with students.

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How To Become An Elementary Education Teacher

Special education teachers in public schools are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree and a state-issued certification or license. Private schools typically require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, but teachers are not required to be licensed or certified. For information about teacher preparation programs and certification requirements, visit Teach.org or contact your state’s board of education.

Education

All states require special education teachers in public schools to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some earn a degree specifically in special education. Others major in elementary education or a content area, such as math or science, with a minor in special education.

In a program leading to a bachelor’s degree in special education, prospective teachers learn about the different types of disabilities and how to present information so that students will understand. These programs typically include fieldwork, such as student teaching. To become fully certified, some states require special education teachers to complete a master’s degree in special education.

Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools may prefer to hire teachers who have at least a bachelor’s degree in special education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed. A license is frequently referred to as a certification. Those who teach in private schools are not required to be licensed. Most states require teachers to pass a background check.

Requirements for certification vary by state. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, states also require teachers to complete a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching. Some states require a minimum grade point average. Teachers may be required to complete annual professional development classes or a master’s degree program to maintain their license.

Many states offer general licenses in special education that allow teachers to work with students with a variety of disabilities. Others offer licenses or endorsements based on a disability-specific category, such as autism or behavior disorders.

Some states allow special education teachers to transfer their licenses from another state. Other states require even an experienced teacher to pass their state’s licensing requirements.

All states offer an alternative route to certification for people who already have a bachelor’s degree. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately, under the close supervision of an experienced teacher. These alternative programs cover teaching methods and child development. Candidates are awarded full certification after they complete the program. Other programs require prospective teachers to take classes in education before they can start to teach. They may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either type of program.

Training

Some special education teachers need to complete a period of fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching, before they can work as a teacher. In some states, this program is a prerequisite for a license to teach in public schools. During student teaching, they gain experience in preparing lesson plans and teaching students in a classroom setting, under the supervision and guidance of a mentor teacher. The amount of time required for these programs varies by state, but may last from 1 to 2 years. Many universities offer student teaching programs as part of a degree in special education.

Advancement

Experienced teachers can advance to become mentor or lead teachers who help less experienced teachers improve their teaching skills.

Teachers may become school counselors, instructional coordinators, assistant principals, or principals. These positions generally require additional education, an advanced degree, or certification. An advanced degree in education administration or leadership may be helpful.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Special education teachers discuss students’ needs and performances with general education teachers, parents, and administrators. They also explain difficult concepts in terms that students with learning disabilities can understand.

Critical-thinking skills. Special education teachers assess students’ progress and use that information to adapt lessons to help them learn.

Interpersonal skills. Special education teachers regularly work with general education teachers, school counselors, administrators, and parents to develop Individualized Education Programs. As a result, they need to be able to build positive working relationships.

Patience. Working with students with special needs and different abilities can be difficult. Special education teachers should be patient with each student, as some may need the instruction given aloud, at a slower pace, or in writing.  

Resourcefulness. Special education teachers must develop different ways to present information in a manner that meets the needs of their students. They also help general education teachers adapt their lessons to the needs of students with disabilities.

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Average Length of Employment
Certified Teacher 4.9 years
Bilingual Teacher 4.6 years
Teacher 3.9 years
2nd Grade Teacher 3.3 years
5th Grade Teacher 2.7 years
6th Grade Teacher 2.7 years
4th Grade Teacher 2.5 years
1st Grade Teacher 2.3 years
Teacher Internship 0.8 years
Top Careers Before Elementary Education Teacher
Teacher 20.3%
Cashier 2.8%
Tutor 2.5%
Internship 2.5%
Instructor 2.3%
Director 2.3%
Top Careers After Elementary Education Teacher
Teacher 19.5%
Tutor 4.3%
Instructor 3.1%
Director 2.4%

Do you work as an Elementary Education Teacher?

Elementary Education Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

73.9%

Male

16.2%

Unknown

9.9%
Ethnicity

White

64.6%

Hispanic or Latino

14.3%

Black or African American

12.3%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

3.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

67.6%

French

8.8%

Vietnamese

5.9%

German

5.9%

Swahili

2.9%

Braille

2.9%

Korean

2.9%

Italian

2.9%
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Elementary Education Teacher Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

9.2%

Nova Southeastern University

8.6%

Grand Canyon University

8.6%

Florida State University

7.0%

Northern Arizona University

6.5%

Wayne State University

5.4%

Walden University

5.4%

National Louis University

5.4%

University of Central Florida

4.3%

Wilmington University

3.8%

University of Iowa

3.8%

Northeastern State University

3.8%

Northeastern Illinois University

3.8%

Liberty University

3.8%

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

3.8%

Western Michigan University

3.8%

Concordia University Chicago

3.2%

Ashford University

3.2%

Arizona State University

3.2%

University of Houston

3.2%
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Majors

Elementary Education

35.5%

Education

17.9%

Special Education

9.7%

Educational Leadership

6.9%

Curriculum And Instruction

5.0%

Early Childhood Education

4.4%

Business

3.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.6%

School Counseling

2.1%

English

1.7%

Educational Technology

1.6%

Counseling Psychology

1.5%

Teaching Assistants/Aides

1.3%

Psychology

1.2%

Liberal Arts

1.0%

Nursing

0.9%

Management

0.9%

Sociology

0.9%

Library Science

0.7%

Social Work

0.7%
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Degrees

Masters

42.8%

Bachelors

35.2%

Other

11.9%

Certificate

4.6%

Doctorate

3.1%

Associate

1.5%

License

0.4%

Diploma

0.4%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$51,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$30,000
Min 10%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Harford County Public Schools
Highest Paying City
Baltimore, MD
Highest Paying State
New Jersey
Avg Experience Level
6.7 years
How much does an Elementary Education Teacher make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Elementary Education Teacher in the United States is $51,449 per year or $25 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $30,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $86,000.

Real Elementary Education Teacher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Elementary Teacher-Physical Education Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD May 31, 2014 $78,910
Teacher-Elementary Education Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 07, 2014 $78,910
Teacher-Elementary Education Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 01, 2014 $78,910
Teacher-Elementary Education Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 01, 2015 $78,669
Elementary Teacher-Physical Education Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD May 31, 2014 $77,890
Elementary Teacher-Physical Education Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Apr 30, 2014 $76,870
Teacher-Elementary Education Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 07, 2014 $76,870
Teacher-Elementary/Apc/Generic Spec. Educ/Elem & M Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Oct 01, 2012 $75,281
Elementary Bilingual Education Teacher Centronia Washington, DC Jul 30, 2013 $73,200
Elementary Education Teacher School District of Palm Beach County Lake Worth, FL May 04, 2011 $71,245
Elementary Teacher-Physical Education Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jun 04, 2014 $69,664
Elementary Education Teacher Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Oct 22, 2014 $67,075
Teacher-Elementary Education Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 07, 2014 $67,075
Teacher-Elementary/Spc/Early Childhood Education N Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Oct 01, 2012 $63,534
Elementary Education Teacher Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Feb 07, 2015 $62,518
Elementary Education Teacher Baltimore City Public School System Baltimore, MD Mar 15, 2011 $60,880
Elementary Bilingual Education Teacher Centronia Washington, DC Jul 01, 2014 $53,600
Elementary Education Teacher East Baton Rouge Parish School System Baton Rouge, LA Jan 08, 2010 $49,981
Elementary Science Education Teacher Salida Del Sol Academy Greeley, CO Dec 12, 2016 $49,000
Elementary Science Education Teacher Salida Del Sol Academy Greeley, CO Dec 27, 2016 $49,000
Elementary Education Teacher Baltimore City Public School System Baltimore, MD Aug 05, 2015 $47,475 -
$84,011
Elementary Education Teacher Baltimore City Public School System Baltimore, MD Aug 10, 2015 $47,475 -
$84,011
Elementary and Secondary Education Teacher Montessori School of Anderson Anderson, SC Jul 28, 2016 $46,757
Elementary Bilingual Education Teacher Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School Distr Baytown, TX Jul 01, 2011 $46,000
Elementary Education Teacher Community Academy Public Charter School Washington, DC Jul 29, 2011 $45,890
Elementary Education Teacher Allendale County School District Allendale, SC Aug 24, 2015 $41,473
Elementary Education Teacher Mater Academy, Inc. Miami, FL Aug 01, 2013 $41,214
Elementary Education Teacher Tooele County School District Tooele, UT Aug 17, 2011 $40,019
Elementary Education Teacher Tooele County School District Stansbury Park, UT Aug 17, 2011 $40,019

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Top Skills for An Elementary Education Teacher

  1. Classroom Management
  2. Curriculum Development
  3. Student Learning
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintained exceptional classroom management, in addition to excellent and consistent communication with parents and school administration.
  • Participated in collaborative curriculum development, grade-level activities, and school-wide functions.
  • Communicated with classroom teacher through detailed, personalized notes regarding student learning.
  • Integrated standards of learning content into thematic units to support cross-curriculum learning.
  • Developed and implemented state standard based lesson plans, worked on curriculum development and assessments.

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Top 10 Best States for Elementary Education Teachers

  1. New Jersey
  2. Connecticut
  3. Michigan
  4. Alaska
  5. Arizona
  6. Rhode Island
  7. California
  8. Maryland
  9. New York
  10. New Hampshire
  • (706 jobs)
  • (319 jobs)
  • (482 jobs)
  • (38 jobs)
  • (476 jobs)
  • (32 jobs)
  • (3,400 jobs)
  • (168 jobs)
  • (545 jobs)
  • (91 jobs)

Top Elementary Education Teacher Employers

Jobs From Top Elementary Education Teacher Employers

Elementary Education Teacher Videos

Elementary Education Teacher, Career Video from drkit.org

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