Maybe it’s been a lifelong dream, teaching for a living, playing with children and helping them get the foundational education they will take with them throughout the next 12 years of school and beyond. But before you can spend your days teaching letters, numbers, reading, writing, coloring inside the lines, and – oh, yeah – disciplining a room full of 30 five-year-olds, there is a lot of education that must first take place.
Ultimately, your path to becoming a teacher will be determined by the state in which you live and plan to teach. Most states will require certification exams on top of a degree and a certain number of hours of in-classroom experience, such as substitute teaching or student-teaching. But prior to the certification exams and student teaching, an online degree in elementary education can put you on the right track.
An associate degree in elementary education could prepare you for a career as a paraprofessional in a public or private elementary school or preschool. Coursework will include introductory classes in education, special education, classroom management, human development, and perhaps other specialized courses in teaching math, science, or English as a second language.
With a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, you could have the foundation to pass your state’s certification exams and other prerequisites—which do not always apply at private schools. Bachelor’s level coursework will include several courses in pedagogy, such as typical and atypical child development, diversity in the classroom, classroom management, teaching gifted and talented students, teaching English as a second language, instructional design, and curriculum and instruction.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in elementary teaching are expected to increase 17% by 2020, and the average teacher’s salary is $51,380 per year. In most school districts, teachers will see pay increases with experience.