Many adults can reflect on their childhoods and remember fondly a teacher who made a significant impact on their lives. Teachers are in charge of educating the future leaders of the world, and primary school teachers take on the responsibility of educating the youngest members of society. If you love working with children and dream of a career that allows you to make a difference in your community, a career as a primary school teacher could be right up your alley.
Before you'll be ready to fill students' minds with knowledge, you've got some learning of your own to do. Every state requires public primary school teachers to have at least a bachelor's degree in elementary education, but you could spice up your degree with a major in a specialized content area, such as English or science --- some states even require this. An elementary education program provides you with a strong foundation of knowledge in concepts relevant to teaching children, including lesson plan development, problem solving, classroom communication, academic strategies, education philosophies and classroom technology.
As part of your degree program, you'll participate in a student teaching internship. During this time, you'll be placed in an elementary school classroom -- usually for a semester -- and you'll work under the supervision of a licensed teacher. You'll be in charge of developing and teaching lesson plans, grading student work and working with students to ensure they understand the material you present. All of these responsibilities are essentially the same as the duties you'll have once you're teaching on your own. The supervising teacher evaluates your performance and reports back to your college, so it's essential you take this opportunity seriously.
Licensure and Certification
Public school teachers in every state must be licensed or certified. Requirements vary slightly by state, but usually include a bachelor's degree, completion of a teacher preparation program, verifiable student teaching experience and passing a certification exam. Many states also require a clean criminal record. To keep your license or certification, you'll probably need to participate in ongoing continuing education opportunities throughout your career.
Skills and Traits
Being a teacher isn't just about having a degree and getting a license. You need to have certain skills to back up your knowledge. This includes excellent communication skills, as you won't only be communicating with students, you'll also be working directly with their parents and collaborating with other teachers. To develop lesson plans that are sure to hold your students' interest and capture their imaginations, you need to have a creative personality. Teaching students about new things requires instructional skills, and you need to have an adaptive personality to change up your methods if they don't work the first time around. Most of all, you need to have patience, as not all of your students will catch on to new concepts quickly, and some of the kiddos in your classroom might need a little bit of extra attention.
2016 Salary Information for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned a median annual salary of $55,480 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned a 25th percentile salary of $44,220, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $70,600, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,565,300 people were employed in the U.S. as kindergarten and elementary school teachers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher
- O*Net OnLine: Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Educatio
- University of Phoenix: Bachelor of Science in Education/Elementary
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Career Trend: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images