Elementary school teachers work in both public and private environments with students in grades one through six, usually teaching one class of students in several subjects. Public school elementary teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree, possibly coursework towards a master’s degree, complete an approved teacher education program, and be licensed. Private school teaching requirements vary.
Although specific duties vary among the grades, all elementary school teachers prepare and deliver lessons and exams, maintain classroom discipline, evaluate student performances, and meet with parents and school administrators to discuss children’s progress. Teachers of younger elementary school children focus on areas like reading, writing, and basic mathematics while teachers of older elementary school students also teach social studies, science, and English.
The median annual wage of elementary school teachers was $55,270 in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,910, and the top 10 percent earned more than $81,230. The BLS estimates that there were 1,415,590 elementary school teachers (not including special education teachers) in the US in 2011 and projects there will be 1,725,300 in 2020 for an increase of 21%.
Opportunities will vary by region and school setting. Job prospects should be better in the South and West, which are expected to have rapid enrollment growth, as well as in urban and rural school districts than in suburban school districts. A significant number of older teachers will reach retirement age from 2010 to 2020, creating job openings for new teachers. However a surplus of teachers trained to teach kindergarten and elementary school may make it difficult to find a job.