How to Become an Elementary Teacher

Develop Your Career Skills to Become a Teacher

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People who choose to become teachers are generally quite interested in the development of others and enjoy imparting information. The field of teaching is broad; from teachers who work with preschool age children through the age spectrum to those who teach specific skills to adult learners. Elementary school, middle school, and high school teachers typically have undergraduate degrees (often with a specialty in a particular area) and complete the training requirements for certification. They can then qualify to teach math, science, reading, writing, music, or any other number of school-based subjects.

Career Skills for Teachers

If you like working with children or adults to help them develop their skills, broaden their understanding of a topic, and learn how to access information, then you might enjoy training to become a teacher. Within schools, teachers work independently to develop a lesson plan, deliver the material, and evaluate student progress. They also collaborate with other teachers, specialists, assistant principals and principals, and parents. To do this work well, you must possess patience, an understanding of human development, a good working knowledge of your subject area, and effective communication skills. Those teachers with bi-cultural backgrounds, second language skills, and/or an understanding of diversity can be an asset in areas with multicultural populations. Teachers can be found in schools for young children, for middle school or high school students,as well as vocational training centers, colleges, prisons, and even medical settings. They use books, computers, and media as tools to help to impart information about their chosen subject.

Career Advice: Be a Great Teacher

The need for teachers is expected to grow in the future as large numbers of teachers retire. If you are thinking about a career change, you may want to retrain in education. Becoming a substitute teacher can improve your skills and you can gain experience and exposure in a classroom setting. Take online teacher courses to supplement your experience and give you the education and training you need to become a teacher.

Career Outlook

  • Median Annual Salary: In May 2013, the elementary school teachers earned a median annual salary of $56,320 with top 10% making more than $83,600.
  • States with Highest Employment: Texas, California, New York, Florida, Illinois.
  • Top Paying States: Rhode Island, New York, Alaska, California, Connecticut.
  • In 4th century B.C. Athens, teaching was one of the highest-paid professions
  • While most states require a bachelor's degree and the completion of licensure program, alternative licensing routes have become available for the harder-to-fill positions
  • Teachers have a unique opportunity to impact students. From developing social skills to deciding on a career path, the influence that teachers have on their students reaches far beyond a traditional classroom setting
  • Outside the classroom, teachers coach sports, run clubs and student organizations, accompany students on field trips, and generally become a huge part of the lives of their students
  • Contemporary education's reach is far beyond the classic reading, writing, and arithmetic, allowing teachers to combine their passion for instruction with any number of other fields

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education, May 2013 Wages
National Education Association
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education