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We’ve all had at least one teacher who made a difference in our lives. Not all teachers are created equal, but all teachers are given the opportunity to mold and shape the way that children see the world and grow into themselves. If teaching children is your calling, consider an online elementary education degree. Historically, an elementary education degree provided certification for teachers working in grades one through six. However, many states have expanded the levels covered by this degree to include the seventh and eighth grade (middle school). In this type of teaching program, you'll learn educational theory and master teaching methods geared specifically for tiny minds in kindergarten through the eighth grade. Completing an elementary education program online will help you master classroom techniques engineered to keep young children engaged and learning. An online elementary education degree program will also provide valuable student teaching experience to help you prepare for your very own classroom.
THE CAREER PATH
It’s no question that elementary school teachers make a huge difference in the lives of the children they serve. With strong, passionate elementary school teachers, our society can set the next generation up for great success and create a path towards a better world.
All 50 states require public elementary school teachers to follow strict requirements for the type of undergraduate degree program they attend. States also require all elementary public school teachers to be licensed post-degree. If your goal is to become a certified elementary education teacher, look for programs that have been pre-approved for teacher certification in your home state. Certification programs will require aspiring teachers to complete student teaching in a local school district. The placements are usually unpaid. Most last for 12 to 20 weeks.
The Department of Labor describes elementary school teachers as professionals that will continue to be in steady demand in the coming decade, although the competitiveness for positions can fluctuate with government funding between states. The career is rewarding in many ways beyond just the reliability. It offers an average salary of more than $55,000 each year as well as a spiritual fulfillment in the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of children. Plus, teachers get summers and holidays off!
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
In elementary school, children are just beginning to understand the foundation on which their future learning and life skills will be developed. They are immersed in a world full of strange, new concepts and expectations. Elementary education professionals are the ones who help children navigate this time of growth and exploration. If you are patient and creative, and get excited about the thought of guiding children through their earliest paths of learning, then a career in elementary education may be a great fit for you.
Teaching in elementary education is both rewarding and challenging in many unique ways. It requires a specific type of professional who has the communication skills needed to share information on different levels with students, staff, parents, and administration, in a way that they each can understand and respond. The job requires patience to work with a variety of different students, as well as physical stamina to keep up with them physically and emotionally. If you’re interested in finding creative and resourceful ways to explain difficult concepts to young children and to get them engaged in learning, then you may be ready to look into starting a career in elementary education.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Earning your elementary education degree online at the certificate or associate's level might help if you seek work in private early childhood centers, daycare or preschools. Although public schools require licensing, many private schools do not. However, private schools also typically pay well below their public school counterparts.
You can also choose a more broad online teaching degree, such as a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies (K-8), if your goal is to gain certification to teach at all elementary school grade levels. Selecting a high-demand major, such as special education or ESL (English as a Second Language) may help you secure a teaching job faster, and with a better salary than offered teaching generalists.
Programs programmatically accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) have an additional seal of distinction beyond standard regional accreditation. In any program, expect coursework in subjects like:
- Social & Behavioral Science
- Assessing Reading and Writing
- Educational Psychology
- Methods of Teaching Math in Elementary School
- Methods of Teaching Science in Elementary School
- Methods of Teaching Social Studies in Elementary School
- Multicultural Education
If you're already working in elementary education, advancement is often tied to the number of degrees you earn. Depending on your state of residence, you may be required to complete continuing education courses or secure a master's degree online to continue teaching. Because these are such common requirements for teachers. Online graduate certificates, which cost less money and take less time to complete, might also benefit your teaching career. Certificates allow educators to focus on high-needs areas, such as bilingual education, special needs or math and science. Online certificates represent great ways for working teachers to specialize and add extra valuable career credentials to their resume.
An online bachelor's in elementary education can cost as little as $10,000 or as much as $100,000. The average cost in the United States is between $40,000 and $50,000. Expect to pay less for a master's—$18,000, on average.