How to Become an Elementary School Teacher


Career Path Guide

To become an elementary school or kindergarten teacher, you need to first determine if a career in this field is the right fit for you. Are you able to easily build a rapport with children and their parents? Are you interested in a rewarding career that allows you to play a key role in the development of children? Are you interested in providing children with an educational foundation?


If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then a career in this field might be perfect for you! Did we mention these teachers usually get summers off?


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as an elementary school teacher. We've also included helpful information for this teacher career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Required in the United States

To become an elementary school teacher in the United States, you need to be licensed as a teacher by the state employing you. To be licensed, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in elementary education; relevant coursework may include child psychology and behavioral psychology. Depending on the state you plan to teach in, you may need to major in a specific content area, such as English or Mathematics.


You will also be required to complete a teacher preparation program, which includes supervised experience in teaching, typically gained through student teaching. This program may or may not be offered as a part of your bachelor’s degree program. Some states may also require kindergarten and elementary school teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification.


To work in a private school, you may not need to meet the requirements of the state; however, private schools typically seek teachers with at least a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.





Education To Become an Elementary School Teacher in Canada

To become an elementary school or kindergarten teacher in Canada, you need a teaching license; this requires a Bachelor's degree in pre-school and elementary school education.


In Canada it is quite common for elementary school and kindergarten teachers to teach English or French as a second language. To be authorized to teach English or French as a second language, a Bachelor's degree in teaching of English or French as a second language is required. These programs last for four years, and include at least 700 hours of training periods as student teachers.


As educational requirements in Canada vary from province to province, we recommended that you contact your provincial education authority to find out more information on how to become licensed as a teacher in Canada.


Success Tip: although it may not be a requirement, having a master’s degree in pre-school and elementary education can put you ahead of the competition for teaching jobs.



General Job Description

Primary school teachers are responsible for teaching students in kindergarten through sixth grade, as well as helping them develop social skills and positive learning habits. They must be sure to provide an enthusiastic, stimulating and positive classroom environment for the children.



Typical Job Duties

• Present the most current information in specified areas of study, such as mathematics, social sciences and language arts

• Ensure the students behave appropriately within the classroom and school grounds

• May be involved in supervising the play of students during recess or lunch hours

• Liaise with other teachers, school administrators and parents

• Identify the individual social, emotional and intellectual needs of students

• Assign, review and evaluate the work of students



Average Salary Level

The salary level for elementary school and kindergarten teachers can vary depending on many factors, such as where they work, their level of education, their level of experience, their employment status (full-time, part-time, substitute, etc.) and many other factors. 


Elementary School Teacher Salary Canada: According to the 2012 Alberta Wage & Salary Survey (latest figures available at the time of writing), the average salary level for elementary school and kindergarten teachers in Canada is $78,971 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (June 30, 2019). It's worth noting that elementary teachers typically earn more in Alberta than in other parts of Canada.


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for elementary school and kindergarten teachers is $51,380 per year.




Working Conditions 

Work Setting: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers typically work in a public school or private school setting. Some may teach in religious schools, while others may teach in secular schools. The size of school they teach within and the size of their classes can vary greatly depending on the school district, enrollment of the school and other factors.


Some elementary school and kindergarten teachers may work on a part-time or substitute basis, a short-term contract basis, or a permanent full-time basis. The employment status of a teacher can vary depending on their level of experience, their career ambitions (as some may choose to remain part-time or substitute teachers) as well as the availability of employment opportunities. Typically, the more experienced and educated an elementary school or kindergarten teacher is, the more likely they are to be hired for the position of their choice.


Work Environment: The job of an elementary school or kindergarten teacher is one that can be very rewarding; as they can play a key part of a student’s intellectual, personal and academic development. On the other hand, teachers can experience high amounts of stress at times, as they must cope with and discipline unmotivated and disrespectful students, as well as their parents.


They may also experience great amounts of frustration, as they may operate within a school or a school district that lacks crucial supplies and learning tools, such as computers and up-to-date textbooks.


Work Schedule: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers generally work normal school hours. However, they may occasionally spend time in the evenings and on the weekends grading assignments and preparing lesson and activity plans. Teachers must also meet with other teachers, school administrators and parents, meetings that typically take place in the mornings before school or in the evenings. Some teachers may be involved in coaching sports teams or acting as an advisor or a supervisor for school clubs, which typically involves spending time at the school outside of normal hours.


Many of them work during the 10-month school year and are afforded a 2-month break during the summer, although some teachers may also be involved with teaching programs during the summer months. Teachers also typically have breaks during the winter and springtime as elementary schools normally take breaks during these times.



Who Employs Elementary School Teachers?

Elementary school and kindergarten teachers may be employed on a part-time, full-time, tenured, substitute or contractual basis. Elementary school teachers are typically employed by the following organizations:


• Private elementary schools

• Public elementary schools

• Parents (as tutors)

• Hospitals

• Juvenile correctional facilities



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has "elementary school teacher" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (when available):




Interview with an Elementary School Teacher

Do you want to hear what a career as an elementary school teacher is like, from the perspective of someone working in the field? Read the interview we've conducted with Cindy Tidsbury, Elementary School Teacher in the Sturgeon School Division, in Sturgeon County, Alberta.


Being an Elementary School Teacher- Interview with an Elementary School Teacher 



Similar Occupational Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are professions that are similar in nature to this one, as they involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Daycare Worker

Early Childhood Educator

High School Teacher


Special Education Needs Teacher




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an elementary school teacher.


Occupations in Alberta:Elementary School Teacher.” (February 1, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 12, 2019.

Education, Training, and Library:Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 12, 2019.

Explore Careers:Elementary school and kindergarten teachers.” (n.d.). WorkBC website. Retrieved November 12, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Elementary School Teacher

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming an elementary school teacher can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page, by finding the pages that correspond to the majors listed on our "Relevant Fields of Study" section below. Any scholarships found within those pages will be suitable.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for this occupation. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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