Elementary School Teacher

Elementary School Teacher Career Overview

Pursuing an elementary teacher career is an exciting and emotionally rewarding pursuit. The role takes patience, intelligence, and education. We look at how to become an elementary school teacher, the role of an elementary school teacher, job outlook, and salary.

What is an Elementary School Teacher?

Technically, an elementary school teacher’s job description refers to an early education provider who instructs children in kindergarten through the sixth grade. In some school districts, however, they teach pre-K or the seventh and eighth grades. The roles of the elementary school teacher depend on the age of the students and their developmental needs.

Work for Elementary School Teachers

An elementary school teacher’s work environment is usually in a private or public school setting. Elementary school teachers have an essential role in the emotional and intellectual growth of their students. They give students in the early grades the tools and environment to succeed. Teachers who teach elementary school students help them learn and apply science, math, and English. An elementary school teacher’s job description includes making classroom plans and presenting lessons, grading tests and other assignments, and preparing report cards. The elementary school teacher is a member of a school community and a liaison between the school and parents. An elementary school teacher, however, does not act only as a teacher. Elementary school teachers are members of a community. They spend time outside regular school hours to help their students grow emotionally and intellectually. Some roles outside the classroom are going with students on field trips, overseeing study halls, and supervising extracurricular activities.

What Tools Do Teachers Use?

Elementary school teachers use several tools in the classroom to instruct students. They teach many subjects such as art, PE, reading, writing, math, and science. Education tools in the classroom reflect the different subjects elementary teachers teach. They use traditional tools such as books, art and crafts materials, and games. With the advent of multimedia, computers, and the internet, elementary school teachers use technology to instruct their students.

Elementary School Teacher Education

Teaching requirements for an elementary school teacher degree, teaching license, or certification vary by state. For an elementary teacher career, teachers usually have a bachelor’s degree. Teachers, in some states, may need a master’s degree. With their elementary school teacher degree programs, they take elementary education courses. Many of these classes are teacher programs accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. They can also take classes that are specific to an academic area they choose such as art, science, and math, or earn a dual degree. You might ask yourself how long it takes to become an elementary school teacher. Those who study full-time can usually complete teacher education requirements in 4-6 years. After they graduate, they can apply for a teacher’s license.

Skills an Elementary Teacher Needs

Elementary school teacher roles require a wide range of skills.


Teachers need to communicate, so their students can understand. They need to be able to speak clearly, listen to others, read and understand work-related materials. Teachers also need to understand and use the communication their students use. For example, teachers of deaf and hard-of-hearing children need to know sign language and lip-reading.

Reasoning and Problem-solving

Elementary school teachers need to have reasoning and have problem-solving skills. They need to know how to help their students learn reasoning and problem-solving skills. Teachers need to be able to combine several pieces of information and create conclusions. They need to know how to judge the costs and benefits of actions that affect their students.

Math and Science

Elementary school teachers, because they teach math and science, need to know these subjects and be able to teach them.

Working Well with People

Elementary school teachers need to work well with people — when it comes to solving problems — by bringing students and staff together to discuss strategies, differences, and solutions to problems. They need to know how to teach others and be aware of how students react to instruction. Teachers must know how to handle difficult situations, but firmly and fairly. As important, teachers should know when to listen and be respectful of others’ opinions, beliefs, and feelings.


Elementary school teachers must be able to inspire trust, motivate, and understand their students’ needs. Teachers are leaders who are entrusted with the future and must be aware of this role in motivating their students. They should know how to encourage their students to do their best and learn from their experiences.

Work Conditions

Elementary school teachers often teach large classes if they work in public schools. Teachers who work in private schools usually have smaller classes. Public school teachers have less control over what they teach and the testing requirements. Teachers in private schools sometimes have more control over their curriculum and testing depending on state and federal regulations. Elementary school teachers work alone or in teams. The average workweek for an elementary school teacher, according to information on O-net Online, is 40 hours within a 10-month school year and their 2-month vacation time. Elementary school teachers who work all year usually work 8 weeks with a 1-week vacation and a 5-week winter break.

Employment Outlook

The number of elementary school teacher jobs in 2020 was 1,492,400 teachers. The job outlook for elementary school teachers is 7 percent growth, which is as fast as average. The employment change from 2020 to 2030 will be 111,500 teachers.

Earnings and Salary

Median annual wages for an elementary school teacher salary are, according to a 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics, $60,660 per year. An elementary school teacher’s salary depends on several factors. These factors are regional salaries, the amount of education a teacher has had, and the length of time an elementary school teacher has worked as a teacher. For example, an elementary school teacher’s salary in a rural area may not be the same as salary in a suburban area. Teachers with master’s degrees should have higher salaries, and teachers who have worked the longest should have higher pay. These factors are not always consistent and depend also on regional school funding.

Scroll to Top