How to Become an Elementary School Teacher - School of Education (2023)

How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Drexel University School of Education

Working with kids is an opportunity to make a lasting impact on society that many people find personally rewarding. But what does it take to be an elementary school teacher? Elementary school teacher education and requirements for training vary from state-to-state. Learning the various skills necessary to become an elementary school is only a first item on a longer list of training requirements. Fortunately, there are paths students can follow to more easily meet the various elementary school teacher education requirements.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming an elementary school teacher, and going above and beyond the most basic requirements, then take a moment toRequest Informationabout how the Drexel School of Education can help.

What Degree Do You Need to Become an Elementary School Teacher?

Having a bachelor’s degree is virtually a universal requirement for all teachers across the United States. But deciding what to major in to become an elementary school teacher depends on several factors, including the subjects you want to teach. While many different degrees can lead to an elementary school teaching career, the most direct route is a Bachelor's in Elementary Education (BS) Degree.

The requirements to become an elementary school teacher vary depending on the state where you’re seeking certification, but most states require elementary school teachers to have expertise within a specific set of subjects.

That’s why the Drexel School of Education prepares prospective elementary school teachers with a degree that allows them to specialize into specific subject areas, like English, math, and science. This can make fulfilling the requirements for a Pre K-4 teacher certification much simpler.

It may also be necessary or prudent to consider graduate education programs. Completing a Master’s program, like the MS in Sport Coaching Leadership or the MS in Higher Education, can help lay the foundation for career advancement and help teachers to differentiate themselves from other job candidates. Pursuing an MS is also a requirement for licensed teachers to retain their certification in many states.

Reasons to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Not everybody is cut-out to become an elementary school teacher. While the typical elementary school job description might go to great lengths to discuss the importance of lesson plans and classroom discipline, not as much is said about the kind of attitudes, personalities, and motivations that help someone thrive in a teaching position. That said, what are some good reasons to become an elementary school teacher?

  • Lifelong learners make great teachers. Because teaching gives you the opportunity to continue learning, and to help teach students to become lifelong learners themselves.
  • People who appreciate the importance of early education as the foundation for student’s lives can find teaching in an elementary school very fulfilling.
  • Teaching the elementary grades grants you the opportunity to pursue a broad range of interests, and teach many subjects to students.
  • Being able to form special relationships with students is something few other careers can offer. People who enjoy the excitement and energy of working with kids often make excellent teachers.

How Much do Elementary School Teachers Make?

Elementary school teacher salaries vary depending on several factors including years of experience, education experience, and type of school.According to, as of October 29, 2021, salaries for an elementary school teacher range from $39,435/year to $81,672/year, with an average salary of $60,252/year.

Required Classes for the Elementary Education Major

Since they’re responsible for instructing more than one subject, becoming an elementary school teacher requires a well-rounded education. For example, the Elementary Education: PK-4 Degree Requirements include a wide selection of courses to help students to prepare for both general education and pedagogical requirements. Some of those courses include:

  • BIO 100 – Applied Cells, Genetics, & Physiology
  • CHEM 111 – General Chemistry I
  • EDUC 210 Early Language Development
  • EDUC 236 Early Literacy I
  • MATH 181 Introduction to Analysis A

The full Drexel course catalog also provides a wide range of electives that allow students to help focus their education.

Elementary School Teacher Certification Requirements

In addition to needing a bachelor’s degree and completing a student teaching program, prospective teachers must pass state certification exams. The specific requirements surrounding certification exams vary from one state to the next, and from one type of teacher to the next. But there are broad similarities.

In Pennsylvania, teaching Pre-K through the 4th grade requires passing the Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests (PECT). The Praxis Series of subject exams is required to each grades four through eight, and basic skills requirements are generally completed by taking the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA.)

More detailed information can be found on the Undergraduate Teacher Certification Requirements page.

Graduate Certifications

Public school teachers are required to be certified by the state where they teach. Teacher certifications are granted by the state, and they show that the recipient has been cleared to teach children in a specific area, or otherwise perform special tasks. The School of Education has several programs to help aspiring educators to achieve a variety of valuable post-graduate certifications, including:

  • Reading Specialist Certification
  • Teaching English as a Second Language
  • Certification in Special Education
  • School Principal Certification

Graduate certifications help prepare teachers to take on new roles within the realm of education and can make recipients more competitive job candidates. The School of Education currently offers 14 certification programs to help students specialize.

Graduate Certificates

Along with graduate certifications, it’s possible for students to pursue a variety of graduate certificatesthat can be incredibly useful for elementary school teachers. While certifications are legal documents granted by the state which permit a person to work in a particular area of education, certificates are an endorsement from the university. For example:

  • Certificate in Education Policy
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Certificate in Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Wellness
  • Certificate in STEM Education
  • Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Certificates serve to inform prospective employers that the recipient has a firm understanding within a specific area of study, and is able to put their understanding into practice. This can make certificate holders more competitive job candidates and allows teachers to develop expertise within the teaching niche most relevant to their interests.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Elementary School Teacher?

The time required to become an elementary school teacher depends on your starting point and where you practice. But you’ll need to:

  • Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. (Approximately 4 years)
  • Complete state requirements for teacher licensing. (Approximately 3 months)
  • Complete a period of supervised teaching. (Up to one year)

If you complete a bachelor’s degree that doesn’t provide teaching experience, an extra year for continuing education may be necessary. Depending on your state, it may be necessary to pursue a master’s degree after becoming licensed. As a result, becoming an elementary school teacher can typically take between five and seven years.

Student Teaching with Drexel School of Education

Obtaining field experience in the classroom is a core requirement for being an elementary school teacher. A prospective educator completes this requirement during a supervised period of teaching. They’re mentored by an experienced educator who oversees a student teacher. That student teacher then gradually takes on an increasing array of classroom responsibilities. Becoming familiar with the Student Teaching Advice and Resources Guidecan help you learn more about the intensive nature of the process.

Not all student teaching programs are alike. But student teaching programs usually occur during the senior year of an education degree, and involve an intensive period of field experience that lasts around three or four months. As student teaching is one of the most critical elements of any teacher’s education, the School of Education provides a variety of robust part time and full time placement opportunities for students.


How to Become an Elementary School Teacher - School of Education? ›

The first step to becoming an elementary teacher is to earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. After this, you have to complete a teacher preparation program from an institution approved by the state.

What degree do most elementary teachers need? ›

Elementary Teacher Degree Requirements

All states require elementary school teachers to have at least a bachelor's degree. Most teachers major in elementary education, while some states require them to also specialize in a content area, like social studies or history.

What is the easiest subject to teach in elementary school? ›

10 Easiest Subjects to Teach
  • Math. Math is a subject that is mainly conceptual. ...
  • Physical Education. If you're like most people, you probably dreaded having to go to gym class when you were in school. ...
  • Art. ...
  • Music. ...
  • Science. ...
  • Health. ...
  • Spelling. ...
  • History.

What is elementary level of education? ›

Elementary education is the first stage in formal education. It is free and compulsory, comprising 6 years (grades 1–6) for children aged 6–11. Some elite private elementary schools also offer an extended elementary level, grade 7, which is optional.

How long does it take to become an elementary school teacher in NY? ›

Under a transitional teaching certificate, participants must complete their graduate teacher education program within three-years and holders qualify for an initial certificate.

What is the fastest degree to become a teacher? ›

An accelerated bachelor's in education, like a traditional four-year education degree, is a great first step toward a career as an educator. Depending on your state's requirements and whether you're interested in teaching at a public or private school, you may be ready to begin teaching at the K-12 level.

What grade teacher is most in demand? ›

English, math, and science teacher shortages are concentrated at the middle school level, while special education teachers are needed across all grade levels and specializations.

What grade is hardest teaching? ›

The Verdict: Fifth grade~ what a special grade. But do you see many of these factors as deal breakers? Do you have more cons than pros? If so, teaching fifth grade may be the hardest elementary grade for you to teach.

What is the hardest part of teaching elementary? ›

10 Challenges Of Teaching & How To Overcome Them
  1. Understanding the different learning challenges amongst students. ...
  2. Student family problems & bullying. ...
  3. Lack of funding. ...
  4. Lack of effective communication. ...
  5. Being encouraging and motivating under challenging times. ...
  6. Disciplining students. ...
  7. Endless paperwork & extended working hours.

Is it hard being an elementary school teacher? ›

Every teacher is impactful, especially those that work with children early in their educational paths. Becoming an elementary school teacher is hard work but can be very rewarding. Deciding if your personality, education and career aspirations are a fit for the job is important to consider before diving into the field.

What are the 5 levels of education? ›

Early childhood education is followed by primary school (called elementary school in the United States), middle school, secondary school (called high school in the United States), and then postsecondary (tertiary) education.

Why is elementary education so important? ›

Elementary school is a vital step in preparing children for later learning and life in general. It's where most children learn to read, where they learn the fundamental concepts of science and mathematics, and where they gain a basic understanding of the world and its history.

What is the basic education curriculum? ›

The Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) aims to produce more functionally literate students by empowering them with life skills and promote more ideal teachers that will perform collaborative teaching and transcending knowledge in a non-authoritative way of instructing.

How fast can you become a teacher? ›

Becoming a certified teacher usually takes between four to five years. But, if you already hold a bachelor's degree, you could enroll in an accelerated teacher certification program, become licensed in as little as one year (some programs are longer), and start teaching as quickly as possible.

Can I teach in NY without certification? ›

New York State requires that all teachers, school leaders (administrators), and pupil personnel service providers who are employed or wish to become employed in the State's public schools hold a New York State certificate.

What is the starting salary for an elementary teacher in NY? ›

For 2021-22, starting salaries for teachers range from $61,070 (bachelor's degree, no prior teaching experience) to $83,972 (master's degree, eight years teaching experience, without additional coursework). New teachers with a master's degree but no prior teaching experience will earn $68,252.

Which degree is best for teacher job? ›

In India, a Bachelor of Education is a minimum qualification required to be appointed as a pre-primary or primary school teacher in any Government or Private School. To move the level up to secondary and professor positions, one must complete one or more of the courses which are mentioned below: Bachelor of Education.

What degree should I get for teaching? ›

At minimum, you will need a bachelor's degree to teach most grade levels and school subjects in California, including elementary school. You can obtain a bachelor's degree in various subjects, but must also complete a master's degree program or a teaching credential program to fulfill the state's requirements.

Is a bachelor's degree enough to be a teacher? ›

In order to become any kind of teacher, from elementary education to high school, you'll have to have a bachelor's degree. An education program is usually required in order for you to become a teacher due to the coursework, student teaching, and licensure requirements that will need to be met.

What are the 4 types of teachers? ›

8 Kinds of Teachers
  • Preschool Teachers. Preschool teachers work with students before they enter elementary school. ...
  • Elementary School Teachers. ...
  • Middle School Teachers. ...
  • High School Teachers. ...
  • Special Education Teachers. ...
  • Bilingual Teachers. ...
  • Home-School Teachers. ...
  • Vocational Teachers.
Apr 18, 2022

What areas pay teachers the most? ›

In 2021, the average K-12 public school teacher nationwide was paid $65,090. Average teacher pay was the highest in New York at $87,738, followed by Massachusetts and California. In three states — Mississippi, Florida, and South Dakota — teachers made less than $50,000 on average.

Where do teachers get paid the most? ›

New York leads the nation in teacher pay with an average salary of $80,286, according to WalletHub.

What is the hardest age to teach? ›

While middle school is undoubtedly one of the hardest age groups to teach, it can also be the most rewarding for teachers and students alike, but there are a few things we'd like you to know to understand it truly.

What is the most failed grade? ›

F - this is a failing grade.

What is the lowest level of teaching? ›

Teaching at memory level is considered to be the lowest level of teaching. At this level, the thinking ability does not play any role. students only cram the facts, information, formulas and laws that are taught to them.

Is teaching elementary school stressful? ›

Having to teach English, math, social studies, science, and more in an elementary school can be stressful. You have a lot more lessons you need to prep for the day. You also may have shallower knowledge in the subjects compared to a teacher that dedicates all their teaching in one subject.

What is the best teaching style for elementary? ›

Today, the Montessori method is most popular in preschools, kindergartens, and lower elementary grades. In this method, the teacher prepares an ideal classroom environment full of activities that children may pick from to work on.

Is being a first grade teacher hard? ›

The best first grade teachers understand that working with young children can be challenging yet rewarding. You need a lot of patience and the ability to communicate well with students who may have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time or who may have short attention spans.

How old are most elementary teachers? ›

There are over 1,650,500 elementary school teachers currently employed in the United States. 80.5% of all elementary school teachers are women, while 19.5% are men. The average age of an employed elementary school teacher is 42 years old.

What is a typical day for an elementary school teacher? ›

Many teachers use time after students leave the classroom to clean or prepare the space for the following day. Teachers also grade assignments, communicate with parents and guardians, and attend professional development sessions. Meetings between teachers and administration may also occur after school.

What are the benefits of being an elementary school teacher? ›

There are several advantages to becoming an elementary school teacher, including:
  • Impact on children. ...
  • Motivated students. ...
  • Generous vacation days. ...
  • Job security. ...
  • Learning opportunities. ...
  • Behavioral challenges. ...
  • Long hours. ...
  • Difficult parents.
Mar 30, 2023

What is a 5 year degree called? ›

Bachelor's degrees require students to complete four- or five-year programs in a specific academic discipline. The two most common types of bachelor's degrees are bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BS).

What age is elementary school in USA? ›

elementary education, also called primary education, the first stage traditionally found in formal education, beginning at about age 5 to 7 and ending at about age 11 to 13.

What grade is 14? ›

What grade am I in?
Student Age (as of September 1, 2023)American Grade Equivalent
16 years oldGrade 11
15 years oldGrade 10
14 years oldGrade 9
13 years oldGrade 8
7 more rows

Why do you want to be an elementary education teacher? ›

A Rewarding Career

Becoming an elementary teacher gives you a unique opportunity to impact the lives of children beyond the classroom. You'll spend more time with your students than their parents and have an extraordinary opportunity to influence their future. Elementary teaching is also family friendly.

Which grade is most important in elementary school? ›

The early elementary years – from kindergarten through third grade – are particularly important ones in children's schooling. Parents and teachers know that children acquire new skills and knowledge rapidly during these years.

What is another name for elementary school? ›

synonyms for elementary school
  • grade school.
  • grammar school.
  • folk school.
  • graded school.
  • junior school.

What is daily lesson plan? ›

The daily lesson plan is the most detailed standards-based plan that a teacher will develop. It outlines the purpose and activities of what will be done on a specific day or across several days. Unit plans help to turn year-long plans into daily plans.

What is an example of a curriculum? ›

What is a curriculum example? For example, a school may use an accredited curriculum for language arts featuring numerous tools for delivering academic content: workbooks, presentation slides, activity suggestions, etc.

Is 24 too late to become a teacher? ›

Wherever you are in your journey to becoming a teacher, don't let your age be a factor. Students and schools need all kinds of teachers. Your experience will most likely be an asset: part of what makes your teaching and your classroom uniquely valuable to your school community. In short, it's never too late to teach!

Is 50 too late to become a teacher? ›

Can you be too old to teach? The short answer is no. Teaching takes focus, dedication, and a degree of stamina, but some teaching jobs take more energy than others – particularly jobs in early childhood education or physical education.

Can I become a teacher at 40? ›

While becoming a teacher at age 40 may present some challenges, pursuing a new career that excites or fulfills you can offer numerous advantages. This transition also may not take as long as you might think and offers several opportunities to grow and develop.

How do I become an elementary school teacher in New York? ›

Earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. Pass required New York state teaching exams. Complete mandatory New York state child safety workshops.

How do I get my NY teacher certification? ›

Upon graduation from a NYS program, the institution recommends candidates for Certification. If you fit this profile, you may obtain Certification by: Earning a graduate degree from an approved teacher education program at a NYS higher preparation institution. Passing the appropriate New York State Exams.

How long does it take to get NYS teacher certification? ›

Three years of teaching experience, with one year as a mentored experience; successful completion of an appropriate master's degree, and. completion of the 6-hour DASA training workshop (if not completed as a requirement for the initial certificate).

What is the lowest teacher salary in New York? ›

How much does an Entry Level Teacher make in New York? The average Entry Level Teacher salary in New York is $45,487 as of May 01, 2023, but the range typically falls between $37,986 and $55,473.

How much do teachers make a day in NY? ›

Salaries by years of experience in New York, NY
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$37.67
3 to 5 years-
6 to 9 years$43.92
More than 10 years$50.45
1 more row

What do I need to be a teacher in Colorado? ›

Requirements for a Colorado Initial Teacher License
  1. Holds a bachelor's or higher degree from an accepted, regionally accredited institution of higher education.
  2. Has completed an approved teacher preparation program at an accepted institute of higher education.
  3. Has provided an approved program verification form.

What degree do you need to be a elementary teacher in Michigan? ›

Students earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and are recommended to the State of Michigan for elementary teacher certification.

How to become an elementary school teacher in Washington state? ›

Washington requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree and a state-approved teacher preparation program. Since you already have a bachelor's degree, you could enroll in a 'cert only' or master's program. Information on programs located in Washington(link is external).

How do I become an elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania? ›

Teachers need a bachelor's degree, student-teaching experience, and passing scores on several exams to obtain teaching certification in Pennsylvania. Most teachers receive training through a PDE-approved teacher training program, though PDE offers alternative pathways to certification.

Can you teach in Colorado without a degree? ›

Every state requires at least a bachelor's degree for teacher certification, but some have additional undergraduate credit hour restrictions. Colorado requires that the bachelor's degree include a teacher preparation program. For Elementary educator licensure, there are no specific coursework requirements.

How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in Colorado? ›

In order to become a teacher in Colorado you must have earned at least a bachelor's degree and completed an approved teacher preparation program. The average time frame is 2-4 years.

What disqualifies you from being a teacher in Colorado? ›

a felony offense involving unlawful sexual behavior. indecent exposure, as described in section 18-7-302, C.R.S. felony domestic violence. a felony drug offense.

What skills does a teacher require? ›

Some qualities of a good teacher include skills in communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, empathy and patience. Other characteristics of effective teaching include an engaging classroom presence, value in real-world learning, exchange of best practices and a lifelong love of learning.

How much money do elementary teachers make in Michigan? ›

Avg Salary

Elementary school teachers earn an average yearly salary of $61,640. Wages typically start from $39,120 and go up to $95,890.

Can I teach in Michigan with a master's degree? ›

A master's degree qualifies teachers for a higher level of teaching certificate in Michigan called the professional teaching certificate. Most traditional teacher preparation pathways, including online teaching programs in Michigan, require students to complete the program before they teach.

How much do elementary teachers make in Washington per hour? ›

Salaries by years of experience in Washington State
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$19.91
3 to 5 years-
6 to 9 years$23.27
More than 10 years$27.80
1 more row

How much do master teachers make in Washington state? ›

Master Teacher Salary in Washington:$31,861 - ZipRecruiter.

How much do elementary school teachers get paid near Seattle WA? ›

The average salary for a elementary school teacher in Seattle Metro Area, WA is $65,000 per year.

Do teachers need a masters in PA? ›

Like most states, becoming a teacher in PA requires candidates to possess at least a Bachelor's degree. The most direct route is with Undergraduate Education Degrees, which can help you complete various requirements, like requirements for student teaching.

How much do PA elementary teachers make? ›

The average salary for a elementary school teacher in California is $54,500 per year.

How long is student teaching in PA? ›

Student teachers (students engaged in student teaching) may serve as a substitute for no more than 10 days for an individual professional or for 20 days for the school year if they meet the requirements of 24 P.S. § 12-1201.1 and have received at least one satisfactory observation related to their student teacher ...


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