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Become A Teacher

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Working As A 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

  • $43,842

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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A Day in the Life of a Teacher

Kindergarten Teacher - Career Conversation

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Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

72.9%

Male

24.4%

Unknown

2.7%
Ethnicity

White

60.2%

Hispanic or Latino

15.5%

Black or African American

12.1%

Asian

8.2%

Unknown

4.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

45.8%

French

11.0%

Chinese

6.5%

Mandarin

5.6%

Japanese

4.4%

Korean

3.8%

German

3.7%

Portuguese

3.3%

Arabic

3.2%

Russian

3.0%

Italian

2.9%

Hindi

1.1%

Cantonese

1.0%

Hebrew

0.9%

Urdu

0.7%

Thai

0.7%

Greek

0.6%

Vietnamese

0.6%

Polish

0.6%

Turkish

0.4%
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Teacher Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.7%

Grand Canyon University

11.3%

Liberty University

8.3%

Walden University

6.6%

Ashford University

5.9%

University of North Texas

4.1%

Nova Southeastern University

4.0%

Capella University

4.0%

University of Central Florida

3.9%

Florida State University

3.9%

University of South Florida

3.9%

University of Houston

3.8%

Michigan State University

3.4%

Temple University

3.3%

New York University

3.3%

Texas A&M University

3.2%

Texas State University

3.2%

Arizona State University

3.1%

Northern Arizona University

3.1%

National University

3.0%
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Majors

Education

15.7%

Elementary Education

15.5%

Business

7.6%

Early Childhood Education

7.1%

English

6.8%

Educational Leadership

6.1%

Psychology

6.0%

Special Education

5.5%

General Education, Specific Areas

4.6%

Human Development

3.5%

Curriculum And Instruction

2.6%

Communication

2.4%

Nursing

2.4%

History

2.3%

Criminal Justice

2.2%

Liberal Arts

2.1%

Social Work

2.0%

School Counseling

2.0%

Secondary Education And Teaching

1.9%

Sociology

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

35.8%

Masters

31.1%

Other

18.3%

Associate

5.8%

Certificate

4.5%

Doctorate

3.1%

Diploma

1.0%

License

0.3%
Show More

Teacher Videos

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

Kindergarten Teacher - Career Conversation

A Day In the Life of a Teacher: The Documentary

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Real Teacher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Teacher Austin International School Association Austin, TX Oct 01, 2015 $206,613
Contract Teacher Loma Linda University Loma Linda, CA Jun 08, 2015 $156,525
Teacher Temple Shaaray Tefila New York, NY Jun 09, 2016 $135,655
Japanese Teacher Woodside Priory School Portola Valley, CA Aug 01, 2015 $118,959
School Teacher/Assistant Director for French Studies French American School of New York Larchmont, NY Mar 05, 2015 $110,413
Secondary School Teacher-Science-Chemistry Mamaroneck Union Free School District Mamaroneck, NY Aug 29, 2016 $107,336
Teacher The Kids International Weekend School Inc. River Edge, NJ Jun 09, 2016 $104,350
Teacher AYA Nakamura River Edge, NJ Jun 09, 2016 $104,350
Teacher Ecole Internationale de New York LLC New York, NY Sep 22, 2015 $103,000
School Teacher/Assistant Director for French Studies French American School of New York Larchmont, NY Jul 02, 2015 $100,050
Teacher Bright Star Schools CA Dec 08, 2016 $97,118
Bilingual Secondary School Teacher Lycee Francais de San Francisco San Francisco, CA Dec 09, 2016 $95,576
Bilingual Secondary School Teacher Lycee Francais de San Francisco San Francisco, CA Sep 16, 2016 $95,576
Mandarin Teacher Darien Public Schools Darien, CT Aug 22, 2016 $91,661
English Teacher New York City Department of Education New York, NY Sep 01, 2015 $49,908
Childhood Education Teacher New York City Department of Education New York, NY Jan 02, 2016 $49,908
English Teacher New York City Department of Education New York, NY Jan 02, 2016 $49,908
Childhood Education Teacher New York City Department of Education New York, NY May 01, 2015 $49,908
Teacher Global Teachers Research & Resources, Inc. College Park, GA Sep 25, 2015 $42,500
Teacher Global Teachers Research & Resources, Inc. Jonesboro, GA Oct 04, 2015 $42,500
Teacher Global Teachers Research & Resources, Inc. Morrow, GA Sep 20, 2015 $42,500
Teacher Milestone Educational Services, Inc. Covington, GA Oct 01, 2015 $42,500
Teacher Milestone Educational Services, Inc. Forest Park, GA Jul 17, 2016 $42,500
Elementary Teacher Oakland Unified School District Oakland, CA Jul 30, 2015 $42,498
Secondary School Teacher International Institute for Educational & Cult DEV Baton Rouge, LA Aug 08, 2015 $42,420
Teacher (General Science) St. Helena Parish School District Greensburg, LA Aug 09, 2015 $42,420

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Top Skills for A Teacher

  1. Classroom Management
  2. Lesson Plans
  3. Curriculum
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Institute positive classroom management strategies and disciplinary programs that effectively handle challenging behavior issues.
  • Conducted weekly team meeting to identify needs of struggling learners and develop individualized learning opportunities reflected in lesson plans.
  • Scheduled quarterly parent conferences to promote academic standards and advantages of the School of Tomorrow curriculum.
  • Developed course materials for mathematics and English Grammar related to university admission in Bangladesh.
  • Promoted language development skills through reading and storytelling.

What is it like to work as a Teacher

2.0

Teaching in AZ

July 7, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Teacher.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Teacher?

Working with young minds. Community impact... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Too political. Long hours, low morale, out of pocket expenses, low pay... Show More

5.0

Retiring teacher

April 28, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Teacher.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Teacher?

Working with kids and helping them achieve their goals... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Lack of support from some parents and mostly appathy from some kids... Show More

4.0

I need to do better

March 25, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Teacher.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Teacher?

To change and improve lives... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Attitudes of some guardians and parents who show little or no enthusiasm in the education of their young ones who will take care of them in their old age... Show More

How Would You Rate Working As a Teacher?

Are you working as a Teacher? Help us rate Teacher as a Career.

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Top 10 Best States for Teachers

  1. Maryland
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Connecticut
  4. California
  5. Delaware
  6. New York
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Texas
  9. Illinois
  10. New Hampshire
  • (764 jobs)
  • (66 jobs)
  • (574 jobs)
  • (5,411 jobs)
  • (182 jobs)
  • (1,068 jobs)
  • (1,248 jobs)
  • (2,234 jobs)
  • (1,488 jobs)
  • (448 jobs)

Top Teacher Employers

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Jobs From Top Teacher Employers

Teacher Videos

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

Kindergarten Teacher - Career Conversation

A Day In the Life of a Teacher: The Documentary

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