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What do you need to become a teacher

I am in 10th grade in high school and I would like to become a teacher to young age students education teaching teacher

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Elishah’s Answer

Hi Saniaya,
It's great that you want to be an elementary teacher!

At the very least, to become an elementary teacher in the United States you'll need a bachelor's degree (elementary education, is a popular major) and a teaching credential (also called a license or certification).

There isn't a national standard, for this credential, so states have their own requirements. While some states have reciprocity agreements so that you can use a credential earned in one state to teach in another, states can require additional steps to be authorized to teach as well.

In addition to coursework, teaching credentials requires fieldwork, so you'll get hands-on experience working with your desired grade levels.

There are many financial incentives that can help with the higher education costs, including partial federal student loan forgiveness for teaching in at-risk areas of the country for a set amount of time. Some states offer additional incentives with similar requirements.

Even though you didn't ask about income, it might be helpful to know that a teacher's pay can fluctuate dramatically from state to state, as can benefits (healthcare, retirement, sick leave, , ,) and union representation. New York pays the most at an average of nearly $86, 000 a year, while Virginia pays an average of less than $54,000 per year.

Collectively, the national average income for elementary teachers, not including special education, is around $64,00 per year. Broken down based on experience, that translates to a beginner elementary school teacher earning about $35,000 a year, junior-level earning around $44,000, a mid-level earning around $55,000, and by retirement age earning around $69,000 per year. This, of course, varies state by state, but at least this gives you a general sense of the future. Most states have decreased teaching salaries over the last ten years, but some states, like New York, have increased salaries.

I hope this doesn't scare you away from teaching. Keep in mind that these salaries do not include special education or other teaching specialties. It also doesn't include additional roles many teachers take on within their academic communities that can increase salaries.

I hope this helps!
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Saniaya,

It sounds like you want to be a teacher of elementary school kids. That is an incredible group to teach. They are learning everything for the first time. That is very exciting. I believe that the most obvious element for you is getting a college degree in Education. It varies my university if they offer something as specific a Elementary Education. If you can't get that, I would recommend a degree in EducationI would also consider if you want to teach some of the specialized subjects, such as Music.

Outside of a formal education, as a teacher, you should focus on your Communication skills. You can start doing this now. Do you have opportunities to teach others around you? Practice teaching others what you know. You can do this by teaching someone how to cook or dance, or mentoring a classmate who is struggling in a subject that you understand well. Do this as often as possible. I say this because all human being learn differently. That means that you have to be flexible in your teaching style, being able to tailor your responses to what a specific human needs. Some people need to see what you are doing to learn. Some people need step by step instructions verbally. Some people you need to stand over them while they do it and others just need to be told what to do and work it out. It may seem that children learn differently than others, but at the core, everybody learns in a small subset of ways. Teaching people will also help you recognize your dominant style and figure out how you may need to flex your style when others don't respond to how you teach.

The challenge of the youngest children in school is that you are likely to be the person who figures out if they have learning challenges, like Dyslexia. Ideally, you will get some of this information in college, but it cannot hurt to start considering them now. Think about who you think that your students will be. In my family, we have several individuals who are left-handed. Since the majority of people are right-handed, the process of learning to write was stressful, because some teachers could not adjust to their needs.

I am so glad that you want to be a teacher. It is a hard profession and very rewarding. Good luck.
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Sheila’s Answer

Hi Saniaya:

It's awesome that you want to become a Teacher. It is a field that is in great demand. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects, such as math and reading, in order to prepare them for middle school.


Public kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically need a bachelor's degree in elementary education. Private schools typically have the same requirement. Some states also require public school teachers to major in a content area, such as family and consumer sciences, mathematics, or science, or a related field, such as liberal arts. Those with a bachelor’s degree in another subject can still become elementary education teachers. They must complete a teacher education program to obtain certification to teach. Requirements vary by state.

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


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 student teaching program
• 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.

Teachers are frequently required to complete 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.


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

Physical stamina. Working with kindergarten- and elementary-age 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 must be able to get students engaged in learning. They also should be prepared to adapt their lessons to meet students’ needs.

I hope this was helpful. Best of luck to you!

Sheila recommends the following next steps:

How to Become a Teacher •