Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Work Environment: Kindergarten and elementary school teachers work in public and private schools. They generally work during school hours when students are present and use nights and weekends to prepare lessons and grade papers. Most kindergarten and elementary school teachers do not work during the summer.

How to Become One: Kindergarten and elementary school teachers usually must have at least a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.

Salary: The median annual wage for elementary school teachers, except special education is $58,230. The median annual wage for kindergarten teachers, except special education is $55,470.

Job Outlook: Overall employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is projected to grow 3 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for kindergarten and elementary teachers, but employment growth will vary by region.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of kindergarten and elementary school teachers with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a kindergarten or elementary school teacher with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Kindergarten School Teacher Jobs

  • IMMEDIATE OPENING - Kindergarten/Pre-School Teacher/Program Supervisor - Greater Trinity Academy - Everett, Washington

    The teacher will be responsible for creating, implementing and supervising appropriate activities ... Training on school curriculum, policies and acceptable discipline styles will be provided

  • Assistant Preschool Teacher Montessori Early Childhood Campus - Montessori Family School: Preschool-Kindergarten - Berkeley, CA

    Montessori Family School early childhood classroom teachers work a 10-month school year from August - June, with summers off, minus 2 weeks of summer camp and teacher work weeks. We seek a positive ...

  • Kindergarten Teacher 2020-2021 School Year - Academies of Math & Science - Goodyear, AZ

    Best Place to Work Kindergarten Teacher - 2020-2021 School Year AMS South Mountain Campus - 1445 W. Baseline Rd., Phoenix, AZ, 85041. (W Baseline Rd and S 15th Ave) AMS Avondale Campus - 10649 W

See all Kindergarten School Teacher jobs

Top 3 Elementary School Teacher Jobs

  • Elementary School Art Teacher (Hawaii Campus) #019127 - Kamehameha Schools - Keaau, Hawaii

    Kamehameha Schools (KS) has an Elementary School Art Teacher position available with our Hawaii Island campus in Kea'au. The deadline to apply is: 12/8/2019. At Kamehameha Schools , the mission to ...

  • Elementary School Teacher - Monster - Bellevue, Washington

    Looking for a part-time teacher who can lead a language art/math/research classes for 3 hours/day in a small group of K-2 grade mixed age class. The teacher can choose what time he or she wants to ...

  • Elementary Teacher - Mission Hills Middle School - Union City, CA

    Motivated teacher with experience in private school teaching , especially in elementary , grades 1-3. Required skills : Good English writing skills Ability to communicate with parents Familiarity with ...

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What Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects, such as math and reading, in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Duties of Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically do the following:

  • Create lesson plans to teach students subjects, such as reading, science, social studies, and math
  • Teach students how to study and communicate with others
  • Observe students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Teach lessons they have planned to an entire class of students or to smaller groups
  • Grade students' assignments
  • Communicate with parents about their child's progress
  • Work with students individually to help them overcome specific learning challenges
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules to teach children proper behavior
  • Supervise children outside of the classroom—for example, during lunchtime or recess

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers help students learn and apply important concepts. Many teachers use a hands-on approach to help students understand abstract concepts, solve problems, and develop critical-thinking skills. For example, they may demonstrate how to do a science experiment and then have the students conduct the experiment themselves. They may have students work together to learn how to collaborate to solve problems.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers generally teach kindergarten through fifth grade. However, in some schools, elementary school teachers may teach sixth, seventh, and eighth grade.

Kindergarten and elementary school students spend most of their day in one classroom. They typically teach students several subjects throughout the day. Teachers may escort students to assemblies, recess, or classes taught by other teachers, such as art or music. While students are away from the classroom, teachers plan lessons, grade assignments, or meet with other teachers and staff.

In some schools, teachers may work in subject specialization teams in which they teach one or two specific subjects, typically either English and social studies or math and science. Generally, students spend half their time with one teacher and half their time with the other.

Some kindergarten and elementary school teachers teach special classes, such as art, music, and physical education.

Some schools employ teachers of English as a second language (ESL) or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Both of these types of teachers work exclusively with students who are learning the English language, often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). The teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English language skills and to help them with assignments from other classes.

Students with learning disabilities or emotional or behavioral disorders are often taught in traditional classes. Kindergarten and elementary teachers work with special education teachers to adapt lesson plans to these students' needs and monitor the students' progress. In some cases, kindergarten and elementary school teachers may co-teach lessons with special education teachers.

Some teachers use technology in their classroom as a teaching aide. They must be comfortable with using and learning new technology. Teachers also may maintain websites to communicate with parents about students' assignments, upcoming events, and grades. For students in higher grades, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information or to expand on a lesson taught in class.

Work Environment for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers[About this section] [To Top]

Elementary school teachers (except special education) hold about 1.4 million jobs. The largest employers of elementary school teachers, except special education are as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local 85%
Elementary and secondary schools; private 13%

Kindergarten teachers (except special education) hold about 134,500 jobs. The largest employers of kindergarten teachers, except special education are as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local 80%
Elementary and secondary schools; private 14%
Child day care services 3%

Most states have tenure laws, which provide job security after a certain number of years of satisfactorily teaching.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers may find it rewarding to watch students develop new skills and learn information. However, teaching may be stressful. Some schools have large classes and lack important teaching tools, such as computers and up-to-date textbooks. Some states are developing teacher mentoring programs and teacher development courses to help with the challenges of being a teacher.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher Work Schedules

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers generally work during school hours when students are present. They may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. They often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons.

Many kindergarten and elementary school teachers work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers work during the summer.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row, and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new schooling session.

How to Become a Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers near you!

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must have a bachelor's degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.

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Education for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

All states require public kindergarten and elementary school teachers to have at least a bachelor's degree in elementary education. Private schools typically have the same requirement. Some states also require public kindergarten and elementary school teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science.

Those with a bachelor's degree in another subject can still become elementary education teachers. They must complete a teacher's education program to obtain certification to teach.

In teacher education programs, future teachers learn how to present information to young students and how to work with young students of varying abilities and backgrounds. They also take classes in education and child psychology. Programs typically include a student-teaching program, in which they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit Teach.org.

Some states require teachers to earn a master's degree after receiving their teaching certification and obtaining a job.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified in the specific grade level that they will teach. Those who teach in private schools typically do not need a license. Requirements for certification or licensure vary by state, but generally involve the following:

  • A bachelor's degree with a minimum grade point average
  • Completion of a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, which is typically gained through student teaching.
  • Passing a background check
  • Passing a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach.

For information on certification requirements in your state, visit Teach.org.

Teachers are frequently required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license or certification. Some states require teachers to complete a master's degree after receiving their certification and obtaining a job.

All states offer an alternative route to certification or licensure for people who already have a bachelor's degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately after graduation, under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master's degree after completing one of these programs.

Important Qualities for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Communication skills. Teachers need to discuss students' needs with parents and administrators. They also need to be able to communicate the subject content to students in a manner in which they will understand.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must respond with patience when students struggle with material.

Physical stamina. Working with kindergarten and elementary-aged students can be tiring. Teachers need to be able to physically, mentally, and emotionally keep up with the students.

Resourcefulness. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers need to be able to explain difficult concepts in terms that young students can understand. In addition, they must be able to get students engaged in learning and adapt their lessons to meet students' needs.

Advancement for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Experienced teachers can advance to serve as mentors to new teachers or become lead teachers. In these roles, they help less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills.

With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals, both of which generally require additional schooling in education administration or leadership.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

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Entry Level Experienced

The median annual wage for elementary school teachers (except special education) is $58,230. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,780, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $95,270.

The median annual wage for kindergarten teachers (except special education) is $55,470. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,680, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,310.

The median annual wages for elementary school teachers (except special education) in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local $59,420
Elementary and secondary schools; private $46,410

The median annual wages for kindergarten teachers (except special education) in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local $57,270
Elementary and secondary schools; private $46,350
Child day care services $29,860

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers generally work during school hours when students are present. They may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. They often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons.

Many kindergarten and elementary school teachers work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers work during the summer.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.

Union Membership for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Compared with workers in all occupations, kindergarten and elementary school teachers have a higher percentage of workers who belong to a union.

Job Outlook for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers[About this section] [To Top]

Overall employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is projected to grow 3 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for kindergarten and elementary teachers, but employment growth will vary by region.

The number of students enrolling in public kindergarten and elementary schools is expected to increase over the coming decade, and the number of classes needed to accommodate these students should rise. As a result, more teachers will be needed to teach public kindergarten and elementary school students.

Despite expected increases in enrollment in public schools, employment growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers will depend on state and local government budgets. If state and local governments experience budget deficits, they may lay off employees, including teachers. As a result, employment growth of public kindergarten and elementary school teachers may be somewhat reduced.

Job Prospects for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Some teachers are expected to reach retirement age over the coming decade. Their retirements may increase the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

Opportunities will vary by region and school setting. There will be better opportunities in urban and rural school districts than in suburban school districts. Flexibility in job location may increase prospects.

Employment projections data for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, 2018-28
Occupational Title Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28
Percent Numeric
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers 1,569,000 1,622,000 3 53,100
  Kindergarten teachers, except special education 134,500 139,700 4 5,100
  Elementary school teachers, except special education 1,434,400 1,482,400 3 47,900


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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