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Elementary School Teacher

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Overall Score
(6.2 out of 10)

Number of Jobs


Median Salary


Unemployment Rate

4.5 percent

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This Job is Ranked in
Best Social Services Jobs #10
The 100 Best Jobs #64

Don’t let Arnold Schwarzenegger’s nightmarish experience in 1990s’ “Kindergarten Cop” scare you away from this profession. Elementary school teachers build a special bond with their students as they watch them grow and learn throughout the year. With little kids constantly on the go, jumping, playing and laughing, this line of work requires boundless energy. These educators are knowledgeable about a variety of subjects, as many design lesson plans across subjects to teach their students the basics of reading, writing and mathematics. They also frequently work one-on-one with students to assess their abilities and challenge them to overcome any weaknesses. Many elementary school teachers take a playful approach, using props, games and songs to actively engage their students. It’s their job to not only create an academic and fun environment for the kids, but to also interact with the parents to communicate the students’ progress.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a steady job growth of 12.3 percent for the profession between 2012 and 2022. During that time period, 167,000 jobs will be added.


According to the BLS, in 2012, elementary school teachers earned a median salary of $53,400. The best-paid earned about $83,160, while the lowest-paid made approximately $35,630. The highest earners worked in the metropolitan areas of Nassau, N.Y., Kingston, N.Y., and Ithaca, N.Y.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $67,480
Median $53,400
25th Percentile $42,910


Education and training requirements depend largely on whether teachers work at public or private schools. Public schools require teachers to have bachelor’s degrees as well as state-issued licenses obtained through teacher education programs. Aspiring teachers at four-year colleges usually enroll in this program concurrently to save time and money. A student-teaching internship is often a component of such programs as well. Future educators should be sure to attend a nationally accredited program so they are free to work anywhere. “The best programs work with candidates over a long period of time, usually a year or more, to help candidates gradually take on increasing amount of teaching responsibilities until they are prepared to assume full responsibility for a classroom,” says Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association. Each state and the District of Columbia have their own licensing requirements, although some states recognize the licenses of others and extend reciprocity to individuals holding sufficient credentials. Private school educators face noticeably less red tape. Most private institutions lack the licensing requirements of public schools; however, a bachelor’s degree is usually still required.

Reviews & Advice

Van Roekel says the hiring process typically includes three steps: a written application or initial interview, which sometimes takes place at a college job fair, a formal interview with the district human resources office and finally an interview with the school principal or school’s hiring committee. Even before that application process begins, though, Van Roekel says aspiring teachers can set themselves apart by earning additional state certifications for specialities such as special or bilingual education.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility good Above Average
Stress Level poor Above Average
Flexibility poor Below Average
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Last updated by Kimberly Palmer.

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