Kindergarten and elementary school teaching is an important field that helps shape the foundation of young people across the globe. In this role, teachers help give children the foundational knowledge they’ll use for the rest of their lives. If you’ve always wanted to work with children while sharing knowledge of the world, this might be the career for you.
This field also offers both steady growth and salary potential, too. The 2020 median pay in this field was about $60,660 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also projects jobs in this field to grow by 4% through 2029, which is about as fast as average for all occupations.
If you want to enter this field, you should know that kindergarten and elementary school teachers usually must have at least a bachelor’s degree in teaching or a related field to enter the field, along with certification and licensure — though requirements will depend on the state or district you’re looking in. The best place to start your path to elementary education is by looking at the top affordable online elementary education bachelor’s degrees.
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Do elementary education programs help you attain licensure?
Yes, most elementary education programs will help you attain licensure. That said, whether or not your program will help will depend on what school and program you enroll in, but most location-based programs do help prepare you to attain local licensure to work in public schools. State licensing is usually required to work in public schools.
Do I have to major in a specific area of education?
Yes, you may be required to major in a specific area, but that isn’t always the case. Some programs will require that you major in one content area, like math or science. Check carefully to find out the program requirements at the schools you are considering enrolling in. If you wish to teach in a public school, be sure to also check with state requirements, as some states may require you to major in a specific content area. Nearly all will require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in teaching or a degree in a related area.
How do I get classroom experience in an online program?
Many online elementary education bachelor’s programs will help you set up to earn classroom experience, whether you’re required to complete observation or student teaching at a local school. In almost all cases, student teaching will count toward degree requirements.
Top 10 Affordable Online Elementary Education Bachelor's Degrees
|#1||University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA|
|#2||The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL|
|#3||St. Petersburg College Clearwater, FL|
|#4||University of Alaska Southeast Juneau, AK|
|#5||Fort Hays State University Hays, KS|
|#6||Valley City State University Valley City, ND|
|#7||Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT|
|#8||Mayville State University Mayville, ND|
|#9||Randolph Community College Asheboro, NC|
|#10||Wilmington University New Castle, DE|
The main focus of an elementary education degree online is to prepare you to work in a public or private elementary school upon completion of the program. Public schools require a bachelor’s degree in education, and many private schools do as well. If you want to be a teacher, you will most likely need to choose this type of degree.
An online elementary education degree serves the dual purpose of preparing students in both the content they will be teaching and in the teaching skills they need, like classroom management. Programs like these aim to produce well-rounded graduates who are effective classroom leaders.
When searching for the right affordable online elementary education bachelor’s degree programs, you will also want to look at the program’s educational philosophy. Many have features that emphasize a focus. For example, some programs focus on how to teach in multicultural environments with compassion and diversity in mind. These usually have courses focused on multiculturalism topics. Other programs might focus on specialties like special education.
Degree requirements can vary by program, so it’s important to check the specific requirements of the schools you are considering. That said, to successfully get accepted into the program, you generally have to show certain SAT/ACT scores or a certain high school GPA. These requirements can vary by program, and some programs may require admission after you complete general education requirements with a certain GPA.
Most bachelor’s degrees generally require the completion of 120 credit hours to graduate.
There may also be GPA requirements to keep in mind, which are often designated by overall GPA and major GPA, such as a 2.0 GPA in all courses and a 3.0 in major courses, for example.
You might also have to complete requirements like a certain number of hours of student teaching. This is a typical requirement for licensing and graduation from programs focused on teaching or elementary education.
Elementary Education Courses
During an online elementary education degree, undergraduates take courses that build their teaching skills. By studying instructional design and assessment, majors learn to plan instructional materials that align with curriculum standards and assess student learning. Specialized courses in areas like teaching math and English language arts to elementary students also build classroom-ready skills.
Teacher training programs also include a practicum, or student-teaching experience, to give learners hands-on experience in the field. In addition to elementary education classes, undergraduates complete general education requirements that build critical thinking and analytical skills. Below, we outline several common courses found in online teaching degree programs.
- Fostering Engaging Learning Environments
- Elementary educators must create engaging and supportive learning environments for students. This class explores approaches to promoting active engagement, self-motivation, and collaborative learning in the classroom. Students review theoretical and practical perspectives on creating an engaging learning environment.
- Instructional Design and Assessment
Courses on instructional design and assessment train future teachers to plan instructional materials and conduct assessments. The course covers curriculum standards, information assessment strategies, and differentiated instruction, with a focus on elementary education. Students may complete practicum or field experience requirements to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world settings.
- Child Development
- Many elementary education programs include a course in child development, which examines how children grow and develop. The class examines cognitive, social, linguistic, and emotional development, linking child development to the learning process. Education majors also explore the knowledge acquisition process and student motivation. After taking the course, educators can build learning experiences that align with student development.
- Mathematics for Elementary Teachers
Classes on mathematics for elementary teachers train students to teach K-5 math skills, including set theory, numeration systems, and integers. Coursework focuses on problem-solving skills and critical thinking in a mathematical framework. Students may also study number theory, rational numbers, proportions, and ratios to build a strong foundation in math education.
- Teaching English Language Arts
- In this course, elementary education majors learn research-based methods to teach reading and writing skills. Students learn to apply concepts from child development to the instruction process while building strong literacy skills.
The career path for an elementary education major is one of the most straightforward. People who major in this field typically want to teach at public or private elementary schools in some capacity.
Certain degree programs in this field may allow you to focus on specializations, like English as a second language, special education, or reading specialist. Some states may require you to major in a subject specialization, like math, arts, or science.
These specializations allow graduates the opportunities to work in settings that make use of the specialized skills, like working with special needs classrooms or in a school that has arts-focused curriculums, for example.
Some elementary school teachers may eventually decide to transition into an administration role. To do this, they will need to continue their education by getting graduate degrees in school administration or a master’s in education, which not only opens up opportunities for administration roles, but also strengthens teaching skills and expands specializations.
Job Outlook & Salary
Elementary school teachers work in every county across the country. The BLS reports that over 1.5 million kindergarten and elementary school teachers currently work in the U.S., and the organization projects 56,100 new jobs for these professionals between 2019-2029.
Elementary school teachers earn a median annual salary of over $60,660. Several factors affect teacher salaries, including location, school type, and experience. For example, educators with a master’s degree generally earn higher salaries than those with a bachelor’s degree.
According to the BLS, 85% of elementary and secondary school teachers worked in local public schools and 13% worked in private schools. 81% of kindergarten teachers worked in local public schools, 14% worked in private schools and 3% worked in child daycare services.
Who Can Apply: The TEACH grant, offered by the federal government, supports students who plan to teach in a high-needs field or a low-income area after earning their degree.
Amount: $4,000 per year
Who Can Apply:Students over age 25 studying elementary education at an accredited college or university qualify for this opportunity. Applicants must demonstrate a minimum 3.5 GPA.
Who Can Apply: Full-time students earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education meet the requirements for this scholarship. Applicants must provide proof of enrollment.
Who Can Apply: A scholarship for elementary education majors, applicants must provide an official transcript, resume, and narrative about their inspiration for becoming a teacher.
Who Can Apply: Members of the National Education Association student program can apply with an essay, two letters of recommendation, a paragraph demonstrating financial need, and a transcript indicating a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Certifications and Licensure for Elementary Education
Elementary school teachers who work in public schools typically need a state-issued teaching license. Many private and charter schools also require a teaching license for classroom positions. The requirements for a teaching license vary by state, so prospective teachers should research the process and requirements in their state.
In general, a teaching license requires a bachelor’s degree, completion of a teacher preparation program, and passing scores on an educator examination. Teaching candidates must also undergo a background check, which often includes a fingerprint screening.
Educators in New York, for example, must submit an application for an initial teaching certificate. Candidates for the credential must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a state-approved teacher preparation program, and pass a test. The license remains valid for five years, at which point educators must meet continuing education requirements to renew the license.
In addition to a teaching license, educators can stand out in the job market by pursuing voluntary certifications.
Board certification recognizes experienced educators in 25 certification areas. Candidates must demonstrate advanced knowledge and experience in their certification area by completing an assessment and portfolio.
Offered by the International Society for Technology in Education, this credential recognizes educators with training in using technology in the classroom. Candidates must create an e-portfolio and undergo a review to earn certification.
Designed for K-12 educators, this certification recognizes teachers with training in conservation and sustainability. Candidates must create a capstone project to demonstrate their abilities.
This degree is typically offered as a bachelor’s degree and allows you to teach at a secondary level, meaning you can teach at the middle and high school levels. If you want to focus on working with older children and teenagers, you may want to consider this degree. These degrees typically require you to specialize in a certain subject, like English or math.
For those who want to eventually work in administration as a school principal, continuing your education with a master’s degree in educational administration might be a good choice. These types of degrees are generally required to be hired in an administrative capacity at a public school.
Another similar degree would be in library science. Librarians can work in elementary schools to pass on important literature knowledge to children. They also help children find information for school projects and teach children how to use library resources. Librarians typically need to get a master’s degree in library science to work in this field.
The Top 25 Affordable Online Elementary Education Bachelor's Degrees of 2021
Angelica Leicht is the schools editor at Best Value Schools who oversees our college rankings, school profiles, and other higher education coverage. She previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.
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