Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are, with the exception of parents, the forefront for preparing young children for further schooling. These teachers often teach the very basics, so students can continue onto more advanced schooling with a foundation in subjects such as reading and math. Students’ social skills are also usually developed during this period, as well.
Those who wish to begin this career must first earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from an accredited college or university. While some degrees may be in areas of general study, some states will require teachers to major in a specific area, such as science or math. These specialized areas often accompany a university’s teacher preparation program and require additional courses in child psychology and education. Some states will require a master’s degree along with teaching certification. A license is also known as a teaching certification. While public schools require teachers be licensed, some private schools do not have this requirement.
Along with earning a degree, the majority of programs will have students complete a teacher preparation program and student teaching. This is typically completed at a nearby school, under the supervision of a certified teacher. This is a very important part of the learning process, because students will be able to interact with children in their future job environment.
While in this field, students should have good communication, instructional, and creativity skills, as well as a fair amount of patience. Especially with small children, learning can be a difficult process, and recognizing that individuals have different abilities and learning rates.
Those interested in becoming a kindergarten or elementary school teacher should expect to work school hours, plus after school hours to meet with students or parents. A school year is approximately 10 months long, and summer break lasts about two months. Some teachers may have an alternate schedule that allows them to work eight weeks in a row, break for one week, and have a midwinter break that lasts for five weeks. For all teachers, weekends and evenings during the school year will typically be spent preparing lessons and grading papers (if applicable).
Those who successfully earn a bachelor’s degree and begin this career will earn salary based upon where they work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May of 2010, the median annual wage of kindergarten teachers was $48,800 and $51,660 for elementary school teachers. For kindergarten teachers, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,720 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,490. Elementary school teachers earned $34,390 for the lowest 10 percent and $80,140 for the top 10 percent.