Those with an interest in teaching students in kindergarten to high school should look into bachelor’s degree programs in education. Usually, these programs are divided into three sections: secondary, middle, and elementary school. State licensure or certification is required to begin a teaching career.
Job and Wage Outlook
A job growth rate of 17% has been predicted for middle school, elementary, and kindergarten teachers over the 2010 – 2020 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the same period, a 7% job growth rate has been predicted for secondary school teachers.
In May 2012, secondary school teachers brought home the highest average annual wages of $58,260, while middle school teachers banked $56,280 (BLS). Kindergarten teachers grossed $53,030, and elementary school teachers banked an average annual wage of $56,130.
Continuing Education Choices
Each state may have its own licensure or certification requirements for teachers. However, certification candidates are typically required to pass a general praxis examination, provide proof of student teaching experience, and complete an accredited teacher training program that spans a four-year duration.
Passage of an exam is also required of licensure candidates; the exam has to be taken in a particular subject area, such as science or history, especially if the candidate aspires to teach at the high school or middle school levels.
Graduates of the bachelor’s programs may wish to earn a master’s degree that may lead to better employment prospects and higher wages. The master’s degree may be required by others in maintaining licensure or securing tenure. An area of expertise, such as art, science, reading, or special education, is typically the focus of graduate programs in education.
Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary School Education
Students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs in secondary education are typically trained in instructing high school-aged students. An area of specialization, such as the arts, writing, math, or English, must usually be chosen by bachelor’s degree students.
Coursework covers pedagogy and liberal arts topics along with coursework that supports the chosen specialty of the student. Most curricula include student teaching in a high school environment. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:
•Curriculum and instruction for high school-aged students
•Effective teaching practices
•Psychology of education
Bachelor’s Degree in Middle School Education
Students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs in middle school education are typically trained in teaching grades 4–9. An emphasis is sometimes chosen by prospective teachers at this level; this could be social studies, science, math, or English. A minimum of one student teaching experience has to be completed by incoming students to bachelor’s degree candidates in middle school education.
Coursework may generally cover numerous core liberal arts subjects, including writing, reading, English, and math, in addition to program-specific coursework relevant to middle school, including:
•Middle school curriculum
•Psychology in early adolescence
•Philosophy in middle childhood education
Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education
Students enrolled in undergraduate degree programs in elementary education are trained to become teachers that are adept at designing and executing classroom education for juvenile students enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma. Placement testing may also be required to be completed by teaching candidates.
Coursework typically covers fieldwork within elementary schools, general education coursework, and classes specifically devised to suit the needs of elementary-aged children. These include topic areas such as:
•Incorporating health and activity in early childhood
•Assessment of young children in educational settings
•Collaboration in early childhood
•Language development in young children