Job growth in elementary education is projected at 16% for the 2008-2018 decade. This means elementary education graduates can expect more than 250,000 job openings in the coming years. Average salaries for elementary school teachers are expected to grow as well. The beginning annual salary for elementary school teachers is $31,480 and the mean wage is $48,700 per year. Top salaries for these professionals range from $58,170 to $72,720 and above.
To become an elementary school teacher, you must be social, energetic, and comfortable with helping and serving others. You must also have experience in the field and a bachelor’s degree or higher in education. While a bachelor’s degree is acceptable for entry into this field, most institutions prefer a master’s, doctoral, or first professional degree. Currently, 36% of all elementary educators hold a master’s degree or higher teacher education.
A great way to obtain the experience you need to compete for top elementary education positions is to enroll in an online teacher education program and work as an assistant or other entry-level position while earning your degree. An online program will give you the flexibility you need to work your class schedule around your life and not the other way around.
High quality on-campus and online education programs have been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). Therefore, when searching for a suitable degree program, you should look for the NCATE or TEAC seal of approval.
It is important to note that just about every elementary school in the U.S. prefers a degree from an accredited teacher education program and state certification. Many online programs have been accredited by the NCATE and the TEAC, but some offer little in the area of accreditation.
In addition to accreditation by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (Ed.gov), a quality online education degree program will offer the same curriculum as an on-campus program. Before settling on an online education degree program, take the time compare the on-campus teacher education curriculum to the online curriculum.
On-Campus Education Degree Curriculum
Traditional teacher education curricula require advanced training in the subject areas you plan to each. Elementary education subject areas include: biology, earth science, mathematics, history, reading, English, art, and coaching. You will also have to take courses in humanities and several computer courses. Major courses will include, but are not limited to:
- Curriculum Development
- Diversity in the Classroom and Workplace
- Education of Children
- Leadership and Teaching
- Managing Behavior and Social Skills
- Methods in Teaching
- School Law
Most teacher education students will complete an internship at a local participating school. An internship, along with the standard teacher education curriculum will make it easier to fulfill your state’s strict certification requirements.
Online Education Degree Curriculum
Accredited online education degree programs usually begin with foundations courses such as foundations for general education and the broader foundations of education. Online programs will also include child development courses, legal and ethical issues in education courses, classroom management courses, and advanced versions of basic subjects such as math, science, health, social studies, and arts.
Online students will also take methods in teaching in the basic subject areas listed above and elementary student teaching. Depending on the teacher education program and your location, teaching internship opportunities may also be available at local schools and learning centers.
Finding Online Education Degree Programs
To locate top accredited online education degree programs, you may also search through comprehensive online directories such as Online Colleges USA. Each online degree program will offer information on accreditation. A list of recognized accrediting agencies is available at the U.S. Department of Education website (ed.gov).
Tip: If you want to make a difference, consider teaching in the inner city or rural areas throughout the U.S. These areas are in great need of skilled educators and schools are willing to pay top dollar for your enthusiasm and expertise.