What are the requirements for earning elementary education degrees? What does it take to be an elementary education major? An elementary education degree can be used in a variety of ways, but the most common way is to use it toward a license to teach on the elementary grade level. Those who pursue such a degree can expect to have their accountability measured through state mandated testing programs within the classroom. Baby boomers leaving the field create openings for a new kind of teacher. An elementary education degree, even on the associate level requires some sort of classroom observation standards. As the degree becomes more refined, students in this field will find that they need to perform tasks in an elementary classroom as well as pass basic skills exams such as the Praxis I and Praxis II. Part of the experience of this program includes development of lesson plans, a curriculum and various tasks using technology.
Elementary Education Preparation and Training
This educational program tends to have a wide variety of classes to take toward the degree. In fact, in most schools, the only other major that takes as many classes is the engineering major. This is important to remember because this degree has been developed to make sure that the elementary teacher is capable of teaching all subjects. That’s why there are various general education requirements as well as requirements that are meant to develop teaching strategies themselves. This nonetheless varies by individual elementary education colleges.
Depending on the particular program of study, elementary education courses may include: Child psychology and development, curriculum design and development, Education of exceptional children, philosophy of education, educational psychology, supervised internship and/or practicum, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), teaching science, language arts, social studies, mathematics, technology in teaching, etc. A masters degree in elementary education allows students to focus on a particular area of their interest.
Additional elementary education classes may lead specializations in curriculum and instruction, early childhood (K-3), and elementary and special Education (Grades K-8) among other areas. In addition, it is important to determine whether the college you select prepares students to take the state teaching certificate or teaching licensure.
Licensure and Certification
All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed, or certified (Bureau of Labor Statistics – BLS). The requirements for certification vary by state but all states require at least a bachelor’s degree. For those who teach in private schools licensure may not be required, but may nonetheless be preferred.
- Each sate may require candidates to pass a teaching certification test, demonstrates their knowledge in the subject they will teach
- Teachers are often required to complete annual professional development classes to maintain their certificates
- Most states require teachers to pass a background check
- Some states require teachers to complete a master degree after receiving certification
- All states offer an alternative route to certification for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree but are missing education courses required for certification
- States also require students in teacher preparation programs to complete supervised experience in teaching earned through student teaching or teaching practicum
- Some states require a minimum grade point average
- With additional education or certification, teachers can work toward becoming school counselors, librarians, instructional coordinators, assistant principals or principals
Elementary Education Teaching Careers
The elementary education program is intended for those that want to teach in a range of younger grade levels. That’s not the only place that this degree can be helpful though. Anyone wanting to direct the education side of a daycare would be helped by having this degree. It can also be used directly in juvenile treatment centers, residential programs and juvenile correction facilities. An elementary school teacher’s responsibilities include:
- Teaching a variety of subjects like math, English, social studies, science, music, art, and physical
- Selecting instructional materials and resources
- Creating lesson plans, planning field trips, and inviting guest speakers
- Administering and grading homework and tests
- Keeping in touch with teachers and guardians
- Using technology in the classroom
- Assessing and evaluating student progress
- Preparing students to take state and national assessments
- Classroom management
Graduates with elementary education degrees are expected to have a wealth of general knowledge as it pertains to grade levels before high school. They will also be expected to be able to teach using the latest in technology and with an understanding of what it takes to pass state skills exams. That means subject knowledge preparation as well as test taking skills that need to be developed.
Estimated Income and Projected Career Outlook
For instance, someone who holds a elementary education degree and has a license to teach will be paid according to the state scale for teachers. Keep in mind that this scale also goes up with increased education. Those who use their degree in a different setting will be following whatever guidelines there are for that particular setting.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries for teachers can begin as low as $22,000 and average as high as $54,000 depending on the location of the teaching position. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the following median annual wage for 2010.
- Kindergarten teachers – $48,800
- Elementary school teachers – $51,660
- Special education teachers – $53,220
Employment of kindergarten, elementary, and middle school teachers is expected to grow by 17% from 2010 to 2020 (BLS). The salary offered to someone with this type of educational background is going to be based on the specific degree level reached, where the degree holder is employed and any continuing education that needs to be considered.
In short, elementary education degrees can take a career as far as the degree holder wants to go. There are many options, both financial and intrinsic that make this degree an attractive one for anyone interested in children, education and/or teaching.
Elementary Education and Teaching Programs
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Concordia University - Portland offers several fully online 14-month Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs and a fully online Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) program. You'll learn new strategies and techniques for your classroom while expanding your knowledge and skills as an educator.
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