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Become A Public School Teacher

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Working As A Public School 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

  • $42,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Public School 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 Public School 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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Public School Teacher Career Paths

Public School Teacher
Tutor Lead Teacher Assistant Director
Center Director
7 Yearsyrs
Tutor Instructor Adjunct Professor
Assistant Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Tutor Team Leader Director
Education Director
7 Yearsyrs
Special Education Teacher Adjunct Professor Assistant Principal
Elementary School Principal
12 Yearsyrs
Special Education Teacher Lead Teacher
Lead Pre-K Teacher
5 Yearsyrs
Special Education Teacher Lead Teacher Assistant Principal
School Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Instructor Adjunct Professor Assistant Principal
High School Principal
9 Yearsyrs
Instructor Team Leader Assistant Director
Director Of Admissions
7 Yearsyrs
Math Teacher Adjunct Instructor Chairperson
Department Chairperson
7 Yearsyrs
Math Teacher Adjunct Instructor Principal
Athletic Director
5 Yearsyrs
Math Teacher Team Leader Assistant Director
School Director
6 Yearsyrs
Coach Adjunct Faculty Education Consultant
Educational Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Coach Adjunct Instructor Department Chairperson
Vice Principal
8 Yearsyrs
Coach Social Studies Teacher Education Consultant
Student Dean
7 Yearsyrs
Art Teacher Social Studies Teacher Lead Instructor
Director Of Instruction
7 Yearsyrs
Art Teacher Special Education Assistant Early Childhood Special Educator
Early Childhood Specialist
5 Yearsyrs
Art Teacher Social Studies Teacher Guidance Counselor
Middle School Principal
11 Yearsyrs
Counselor Guidance Counselor Elementary School Principal
Director Of Special Education
11 Yearsyrs
Counselor Guidance Counselor Department Chairperson
Academic Director
7 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Education Consultant Elementary School Principal
Curriculum Director
8 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Public School Teacher?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Certified Teacher 4.9 years
Teacher 3.9 years
2nd Grade Teacher 3.3 years
6th Grade Teacher 2.7 years
4th Grade Teacher 2.5 years
7th Grade Teacher 2.2 years
Student Teacher 0.7 years
Top Careers Before Public School Teacher
Teacher 24.8%
Internship 7.0%
Cashier 5.3%
Volunteer 5.1%
Tutor 3.7%
Instructor 3.5%
Supervisor 2.8%
Top Careers After Public School Teacher
Teacher 22.0%
Internship 5.1%
Tutor 4.8%
Volunteer 4.7%
Owner 4.2%
Instructor 4.2%
Educator 3.4%
Director 3.2%
Consultant 2.8%
Coach 2.8%
Cashier 2.7%

Do you work as a Public School Teacher?

Average Yearly Salary
$42,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$26,000
Min 10%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$67,000
Max 90%
Highest Paying City
Baltimore, MD
Highest Paying State
Maryland
Avg Experience Level
5.7 years
How much does a Public School Teacher make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Public School Teacher in the United States is $42,619 per year or $20 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $26,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $67,000.

Real Public School Teacher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Professor, School of Public and International Affairs Virginia International University Fairfax, VA Dec 22, 2016 $70,000
Public School Teacher Unified School District No. 259, Sedgwick County, Ks Wichita, KS Jul 28, 2015 $60,945
Public School Teacher Unified School District No. 259, Sedgwick County, Ks Wichita, KS Dec 10, 2015 $60,945
Public School Teacher Unified School District No. 259, Sedgwick County, Ks Wichita, KS Dec 30, 2016 $60,945
Public School Teacher Unified School District No. 259, Sedgwick County, Ks Wichita, KS Aug 07, 2016 $60,945
Public School Teacher Unified School District No. 259, Sedgwick County, Ks Wichita, KS Oct 12, 2016 $60,945
Public School Teacher Unified School District No. 259, Sedgwick County, Ks Wichita, KS Jun 02, 2015 $60,945
Public School Teacher/Chinese Teacher USD 259 Wichita, KS Dec 22, 2015 $56,299
Public School Teacher Unified School District No 259 Sedgwick County Ks Wichita, KS Jun 15, 2016 $55,079
Public School Teacher Unified School District No 259 Sedgwick County Ks Wichita, KS Jun 15, 2016 $50,156
Public School Teacher Unified School District No 259 Sedgwick County Ks Wichita, KS Jun 16, 2016 $50,156
Public School Teacher Unified School District No 259, Sedgwick County Ks Wichita, KS Nov 04, 2016 $50,156
Public School Teacher Unified School District No 259 Sedgwick County Ks Wichita, KS May 26, 2016 $48,274
Public School Teacher Whiteriver Unified School District Whiteriver, AZ Jan 15, 2015 $36,000
Public School Teacher Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools Gallup, NM Aug 24, 2015 $36,000
Public School Teacher Gallup McKinley County Public Schools Gallup, NM Aug 22, 2016 $35,663
Public School Teacher Pinon Unified School District #4 Pinon, AZ Jul 18, 2015 $35,000
Public School Teacher Espanola Public Schools Espanola, NM Aug 15, 2016 $34,681
Public School Teacher Espanola Public Schools Espanola, NM Mar 12, 2015 $34,334
Public School Teacher Espanola Public Schools Espanola, NM Jan 24, 2015 $34,334
Public School Teacher Espanola Public Schools Espanola, NM Feb 04, 2015 $34,334
Public School Teacher Espanola Public Schools Espanola, NM Feb 18, 2015 $34,334
Public School Teacher Espanola Public Schools Espanola, NM Feb 28, 2015 $34,334
Public School Teacher Espanola Public Schools Espanola, NM Mar 11, 2015 $34,334

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Top Skills for A Public School Teacher

  1. Classroom Management
  2. Mathematics
  3. Lesson Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintained classroom rules and implemented clear expectations of student behavior for effective classroom management.
  • Provided one-on-one tutoring assistance and instruction for students performing below minimum academic achievement levels in Mathematics.
  • Implemented previously developed lesson plans while incorporating my own teaching style
  • Planned and implemented differentiated instruction in an ICT class providing instructional support and personalized attention to groups with special needs.
  • Developed curricula to engage student learning, due to lack of available resources for the classroom.

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Top 10 Best States for Public School Teachers

  1. California
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Connecticut
  4. Alaska
  5. Rhode Island
  6. New York
  7. Michigan
  8. New Jersey
  9. Oregon
  10. Delaware
  • (3,960 jobs)
  • (717 jobs)
  • (286 jobs)
  • (36 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (523 jobs)
  • (760 jobs)
  • (614 jobs)
  • (180 jobs)
  • (106 jobs)

Public School Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

51.3%

Male

33.0%

Unknown

15.7%
Ethnicity

White

60.4%

Hispanic or Latino

15.3%

Black or African American

12.5%

Asian

7.8%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.8%

French

10.5%

Chinese

5.3%

Korean

4.2%

Japanese

3.2%

Russian

2.1%

Carrier

2.1%

Mandarin

2.1%

Navajo

2.1%

Italian

2.1%

German

1.1%

Hawaiian

1.1%

Gujarati

1.1%

Czech

1.1%

Romanian

1.1%

Hebrew

1.1%

Cantonese

1.1%

Braille

1.1%

Hindi

1.1%

Kazakh

1.1%
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Public School Teacher Education

Schools

Nova Southeastern University

9.3%

University of Phoenix

9.3%

University of Central Florida

7.1%

Grand Canyon University

6.6%

Johns Hopkins University

6.0%

Michigan State University

4.9%

New York University

4.4%

National University

4.4%

Texas State University

4.4%

Walden University

4.4%

Indiana University Bloomington

4.4%

Liberty University

4.4%

University of Pennsylvania

3.8%

Texas A&M University

3.8%

Capella University

3.8%

Northeastern State University

3.8%

University of Houston

3.8%

Salisbury University

3.8%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

3.8%

National Louis University

3.8%
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Majors

Education

18.0%

Elementary Education

16.2%

Business

9.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

7.6%

Educational Leadership

7.0%

Special Education

5.8%

Early Childhood Education

3.8%

Curriculum And Instruction

3.2%

English

3.2%

Psychology

3.0%

School Counseling

2.8%

Music

2.8%

Social Work

2.5%

Health Education

2.4%

Secondary Education And Teaching

2.3%

Nursing

2.1%

Criminal Justice

2.1%

History

2.1%

Biology

2.0%

Communication

2.0%
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Degrees

Masters

35.6%

Bachelors

31.2%

Other

18.2%

Doctorate

5.4%

Certificate

4.4%

Associate

3.9%

Diploma

1.1%

License

0.3%
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