What Requirements Are Needed to Be an Elementary School Teacher?

Teacher Standing in Front of a Class of Raised Hands
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Becoming a teacher requires compassion, dedication, hard work and a lot of patience. If you want to teach in an elementary school, there are a few basic teacher qualifications that you will have to achieve.


In order to teach in an elementary school classroom, prospective teachers must first get accepted into an education program and complete a bachelor's degree. During this program, students typically are required to take several different courses on a range of topics. These topics may include educational psychology, children's literature, specific math and methods courses, and classroom field experience. Each education program requires specific classes on how to teach for all the subject areas a teacher would cover.

Student Teaching

Student teaching is a crucial part of the education program. This is where students are required to gain hands-on experience by logging a specific amount of hours in the classroom. This allows the aspiring teachers to learn how to prepare lesson plans, manage a classroom and get an overall general experience on how it is to teach in a classroom.

Licensing and Certification

Although the requirements vary from state to state, each state does require that individuals must take and pass a general teaching exam and a content-specific exam on the subject they want to teach. Candidates that want to acquire a teaching license must hold a bachelor's degree, have had a background check, and completed the teaching exams. All public schools require teachers to be licensed, but some private schools only require a college degree in order to teach.

Background Check

To ensure the safety of the children most states require teachers to be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check before they will hire a teacher.

Continuing Education

Once individuals have received a Bachelor of Science or Arts in Education, most go on to receive their Master's degree. A few states require that teachers receive their Master's degree in order to receive their tenure or professional license. This degree also places you in a higher pay scale and can position you in an advanced education role such as a school counselor or administrator.

If you choose not to get your Master's degree, then teachers must still complete their continuing education each year. This varies by state and school district and may include seminars, specific training or taking additional college courses.

Private Schools

All public schools require teachers to be licensed, but some private schools only require a college degree in order to teach. Generally, prospective teachers do not need to meet state standards and have a teaching license in order to teach in a private school. With this said, private school teachers usually do not make as much money as public school teachers.

Essential Skills/Duties

Elementary school teachers must possess the following skills:

  • Have patience
  • Be able to collaborate with other teachers
  • Explain new concepts
  • Engage students in learning
  • Manage classroom
  • Adapt lessons
  • Work with diverse backgrounds
  • Be a leader
  • Communicate and interact with parents, teachers, and students
  • Solve problems that may arise
  • Facilitate social relationships
  • Serve as a role model
  • Supervise activities
  • Attend seminars and meetings
  • Deliver instruction based on individual needs

Getting Ready to Apply for Jobs

Once you have completed all of your teacher requirements, you are now ready to start looking for a job. Use the following articles below to help you before you begin your search.