How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

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Teachers shape the minds of our children and prepare them to become successful adults. The role they play in forming the future of our nation cannot be overstated. This noble profession calls for those who possess immense patience, understanding and passion, as well as a love of knowledge.

The path to becoming a teacher is relatively straight forward. However, there are decisions and mandatory steps that must be made along the way. Read on for information on how to become an elementary school teacher, where to start your education and how to take your career further.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public kindergarten or elementary school teachers must hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Requirements vary by state and school district. Some states require elementary teachers to obtain a bachelor’s degree in their intended content area and then complete a teacher preparation program or go on to earn a master’s degree in education.

Teachers in private schools are not always obligated to earn a license. However, those schools also typically seek elementary school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Licensure and Certification

In addition to educational requirements, all states require public school teachers to obtain a teaching license for the state in which they practice. A teaching license may also be referred to as a certification. Private school teachers in certain states may be exempt from this requirement.

Though requirements for teacher certification may vary by state, there are some common threads. Generally, states require:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Graduation from a teacher preparation program which includes teaching experience
  • A background check
  • Passing a general teaching certificate test
  • Passing a test that demonstrates knowledge of their teaching subject

Alternative certification programs are available in some states for teachers who have experience in private schools and wish to transition into the public school system.

Career Advancement

In teaching, as with most disciplines, the best way to advance your career is to further your education. With additional training, teachers can become school counselors, librarians, instructional coordinators, school administrators or principals.

Notre Dame College Online Education Programs

Notre Dame College Online offers several online education programs for teachers who are starting out or who want to take their careers to the next level.

Bachelor of Arts in Education Online

This education program offers two licensure tracks for students in the bachelor’s program. The mild/moderate intervention specialist (MMIS) concentration prepares graduates to work with K–12 special education children. The early childhood education (ECE) program is intended for teachers who wish to work with students in Pre-K–Grade 5.

Master of Education Online

Choose from concentrations in reading endorsement, educational leadership, or mild/moderate intervention specialist. Teachers who hold a bachelor’s degree can specialize their skills or transition into a school administrator position.

Post-Baccalaureate Teaching License Certificate

Those who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in any field can earn their teaching license through the Teaching License Certificate program. The program prepares teachers for for early childhood (Pre-K–Grade 3), middle childhood (Grades 4-9), adolescent/young adult (Grades 7-12) or mild/moderate intervention specialist (K-12).