Sections

Elementary School Teacher Career Guide

Are you interested in working with children who are just starting their education? Then become an elementary school teacher!

Elementary school teachers work in schools from kindergarten through to fifth grade. They are responsible for creating exciting lesson plans for young students in basic subjects. The lessons they plan are designed to prepare the students for future schooling. To become an elementary school teacher, you will need a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In some states, elementary teachers will be required to have a major in a content area (e.g., math, science or music).

Elementary School Teacher Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Elementary School Teacher Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Elementary School Teacher field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33963 1st Grade Teacher and Grade Chairman Female 37 $57,000 Collierville, TN 01/01/2010
33841 Teacher Female 36 $60,000 McMurray, NY 01/01/2010
33818 Elementary School Teacher Female 40 $52,000 gardena, CA 01/01/2010
33830 Teacher Female 46 $50,000 Bushkill, PA 01/01/2010
33607 Educator Male 33 $60,000 phila, NY 01/01/2010

Overview

What does an elementary school teacher actually do?

Elementary school teachers work in schools from kindergarten through to fifth grade. They are responsible for creating exciting lesson plans for young students in basic subjects. These lessons are designed to prepare the students for future schooling. It is an incredibly important and rewarding career as elementary educators are responsible for the social and intellectual development of society. The typical duties and responsibilities of an elementary school teacher include:

  • Creating lesson plans
  • Tailoring lesson plans to the students needs where necessary
  • Enforcing classroom and school rules
  • Observing and evaluating each students performance
  • Grading homework and tests
  • Forming relationships with parents and keeping them updated on their child’s development

Why they are needed

All teachers are arguably some of the most important members of society. Specifically, elementary teachers are so important because they are some of the first teachers that a child will encounter. Elementary teachers are responsible for installing a passion for learning in young students. They set up their expectation for their learning experience and attempt to engage and inspire children at an early age. Additionally, elementary teachers are needed to help students develop the appropriate skills (social and academic) that will help them throughout their entire education, and their entire life.

The pros and cons of a career as an elementary school teacher

Pros:

  • Like all teachers, elementary school teachers have an excellent schedule as they tend to work during school hours
  • Elementary school teachers get to work in a supportive and friendly working environment where they get to interact with other like-minded people
  • Being a teacher is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding career as you will be making a huge difference to the lives of young children by teaching them the skills they need to progress successfully through life
  • No two days are the same and there is rarely a boring day as an elementary teacher
  • Elementary school teachers often have excellent benefits packages

Cons:

  • There is a lot of responsibility and this can be very draining
  • Not every child will progress and develop as hoped, which can be difficult
  • It is a job that requires a high level of commitment and dedication
  • Elementary school teachers will have to dedicate evenings and weekends to marking lesson plans and preparing materials for the classroom
  • Elementary school teachers may have to work with challenging parents who may disagree with what they believe is best for the child’s development
  • Elementary school teachers may have to work with disobedient children, which is stressful

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. This employment growth is expected because the growing population will cause a rise in student enrolment. As a whole, there is expected to be an increased number of children enrolling in elementary schools, and therefore, more elementary school teachers will be needed to accommodate these students.

However, it is important to note that the employment growth of elementary school teachers will vary by region, as it is dependent on state and local government budget.  If state and local governments experience budget deficits, they may lay off employees, including teachers. As a result, employment growth of public kindergarten and elementary school teachers may be somewhat reduced.

Career paths

The career path to becoming a public or private elementary school teacher begins with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In some states, you may be required to have a major in a content area (e.g., math, science or music).

If  you decide to achieve a bachelors degree in another subject, you can still become an elementary education teacher! To do this, they must complete a teacher education program to obtain a certificate to teach.

In a teacher education program, you will learn how to present information to young students and how to work with young students of varying abilities and backgrounds. During these programs, aspiring teachers will work with a mentor teacher to gain experience teaching students in a classroom setting!

In some states, elementary teachers are required to have a masters degree which is achieved after receiving their teacher certification and obtaining a job.

Example Job Titles for Elementary School Teacher

Below is a list of common job titles in the Elementary School Teacher field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for elementary school teachers in the United States was $59,670. The lowest 10% earned less than $39,020 and the highest 10% earned more than $97,900 per year. Elementary school teachers at local elementary and secondary schools received a higher median annual salary ($60,870 per year) than those at private elementary and secondary schools ($48,100).

Autonomy and flexibility

Like many careers, autonomy is lower among early career teachers and higher among senior leaders. However, one study found that 38% of all teachers felt that they have ‘a little’ or ‘no’ influence over their professional development goals. This means that many teachers (whether they are preschool, high school or elementary) will feel they have little autonomy. This is likely to be because teachers need to stick to state regulations and teaching requirements in order to give children the best education and the possible chances.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be an elementary teacher, based on average annual salary and number of job available, are:

  1. Connecticut, where the average annual salary is $67,19
  2. Massachusetts, where the average annual salary is $72,710
  3. Alaska, where the average annual salary is $66,401
  4. New Jersey, where the average annual salary is $60,963
  5. New York, where the average annual salary is $72,439

The worst states to be a teacher, according to Zippia, are West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming and North Carolina.

Work environment

85% of elementary school teachers were employed by local elementary and secondary schools and 16% were employed by private elementary and secondary schools. As a whole, being an elementary school teacher is highly rewarding and often, teachers work in supportive and cohesive working environments. However, of course it can be very stressful at times. Some schools have large classes and lack important teaching tools, such as computers. At other times, children can be very challenging and frustrating.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Elementary School Teacher careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Elementary School Teacher career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Elementary School Teacher.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

Successful teachers are likely to be ENFJ personality types. ENFJ’s, or sometimes called ‘the mentor’, are forward-thinkers. They enjoy serving the community and can always see the potential in other people. They want to focus on the possibilities of growth for others, which is absolutely essential qualities for school teachers who must strive to help every student grow.

Accomplishment and mastery

In general, all teachers will feel a high sense of accomplishment and mastery when they help students to achieve the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in life. However, teaching really isn’t an easy job and teachers can face a lot of scrutiny throughout their career. Particularly, teachers may face scrutiny from parents who do not agree with the way the teacher works. This might take away some of the sense of accomplishment and mastery. On top of this, not all children are willing to learn and this may diminish a teachers sense of accomplishment and mastery.

Meaning and contribution

As mentioned previously, elementary school teachers are so important because they are some of the first teachers that a child with encounter. They have huge meaning to society because the shape a child’s educational process. Without the hard work and dedication of teachers, society would not be able to progress in a positive way. Teachers play a hugely meaningful role in inspiring each generation and preparing them from the big wide world.

Life fit

In general, elementary school teachers work during school hours when students are present. However, elementary school teacher will have to meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. Elementary school teachers will often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons.

Many elementary school teachers work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers work during the summer. Which, can provide lots of time off to spend with family and friend.

Who will thrive?

Teaching requires a lot of patience. To thrive as a teacher, of any grade, you will need to have qualities such as:

  • Adaptability, as teachers will be faced with constant changes and differing situations – this may be having different students each year or changing curriculum
  • Mental strength, as students can be challenging and difficult
  • The ability to remain calm in stressful situations, as teachers will have to keep their cool when dealing with disobedient students
  • The desire to graft during school term time, as although school teachers have long summers off, they will work long days during term time and must be committed and prepared
  • Finally, to thrive high as a teacher, you need the genuine passion for education and improving the lives of students. Without this, they may be ok teachers, but they will never thrive and be successful

Who will struggle?

Rather obviously, you will struggle as a teacher if you don’t like children. Similarly, if you have no real passion for education and shaping the future generation, then you are likely to struggle as a school teacher. A lack empathy and patience is also not beneficial to teachers, who will have to work with challenging and demanding children.

Requirements

Skills and talents

As well as a genuine passion for education, elementary school teachers need skills and talents such as:

  • Communication skills, as elementary school teachers need good writing and speaking skills to communicate with parents and colleagues and understanding children
  • Creativity, as elementary school teachers must be able to plan lessons and activities that engage children and inspire them
  • Patience, as elementary school teachers need to remain calm when instructing difficult children or when explaining things to children who don’t understand
  • Observational skills, as elementary school teachers will need to observe and notice the development of their students
  • Interpersonal skills, as elementary school teachers must be able to understand the child’s emotional needs and build relationships with colleagues and parents
  • Resourcefulness, as elementary schools teachers must find new ways to engage students, especially those who are not passionate about learning

Education

To become an elementary school teacher, either at a public or private school, you will ideally need a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In some states, you may be required to have a major in a content area (e.g., math, science or music). If you do not have a bachelors degree in elementary education, you must complete a teacher education program to obtain a certificate to teach.

Certificates

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed in the specific grade level that they teach. To achieve licensure elementary school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average, completed a student-teaching program, passed a background check and passed a general teaching certification test. Those who teach in private schools typically do not need to be licensed.

For information about teacher preparation programs and certification requirements, visit Teach.org or contact your state’s board of education.

However, if you didn’t complete a student-teaching program, all states offer an alternative route to licensure. These alternative programs cover teaching methods and child development. Candidates are awarded full certification after they complete the program. Other alternative programs require prospective teachers to take classes in education before they can start to teach. Teachers may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either type of program.

How to Become

Summary

Elementary school teachers work in schools from kindergarten through to fifth grade. They are responsible for creating exciting lesson plans for young students in basic subjects. These lessons are designed to prepare the students for future schooling. It is an incredibly important and rewarding career as elementary educators are responsible for the social and intellectual development of society.

Due to the growing population, and therefore the increased enrolment of students in elementary schools, the demand for elementary teachers is expected to rise over the coming years. This will create many exciting job opportunities in both local and private schools.

Immediate action

Does becoming an elementary teacher sound like something you’re interested in doing? Great!

Well, like many careers, it is always advisable to get your foot in the door early. To do this, we recommend seeking relevant work experience. Work experience includes things such as working in a school, working in a preschool or nannying children

Education and learning

Elementary school teachers will need a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In some states, elementary teachers will be required to have a major in a content area (e.g., math, science or music). Elementary school teachers that do not have a bachelors degree in elementary education must complete a teacher education program to obtain a certificate to teach.

Skill development

Elementary school teachers will learn many of their skills through their training. Like all teachers, elementary school teachers will continue to develop their skills throughout their career. They will do this by attending teacher training days and by constantly learning.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Elementary School Teacher careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33963 1st Grade Teacher and Grade Chairman Female 37 $57,000 Collierville, TN 01/01/2010
33841 Teacher Female 36 $60,000 McMurray, NY 01/01/2010
33818 Elementary School Teacher Female 40 $52,000 gardena, CA 01/01/2010
33830 Teacher Female 46 $50,000 Bushkill, PA 01/01/2010
33607 Educator Male 33 $60,000 phila, NY 01/01/2010

Resources