With an online master’s degree in elementary education, you’ll be ready to teach students at the elementary level in kindergarten through 5th or 6th grade. This is a crucial age for education, at a time when many students are developing a love of learning. Your degree program will prepare you for an advanced career in elementary education with courses in teaching methods, instructional planning, research, and more. You may also be able to choose a specialization in areas like educational technology, special education, and gifted and talented programs.
How a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education Benefits Teachers
Any education that allows you to further your understanding of teaching at the elementary school level will be beneficial, but a master’s degree in particular is a great opportunity for teachers. This degree is excellent for educators who are interested in career advancement, higher pay, and new opportunities.
A master’s degree in elementary education will help you stand out among teaching staff, and will typically allow you to enter a higher pay bracket than a bachelor’s degree would. Additionally, you may find that your advanced degree will open you up to opportunities in school leadership or administration.
Master’s in Elementary Education Degree Curriculum
Master’s degree programs in elementary education focus on preparing candidates for real-world teaching. Since elementary school teachers wear many hats, coursework for a master’s degree in elementary education often covers instructional strategies in reading, math, science, art and technology. Courses are likely to include:
- Foundations of Teaching
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Childhood Development
- Educational Research
If you’re interested in an online master’s degree program in elementary education, be sure that you understand how a program prepares candidates for licensure. In-class, supervised student teaching is typically a prerequisite for a license and it’s important that a program facilitates opportunities to gain this experience.
Trends in Elementary Education
Elementary educators can expect to see increased diversity in United States classrooms over the course of their careers. The percentage of public school students who are English language learners (ELLs) has risen steadily in the past decade. Test-based assessment and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act continue to be hot-button topics.
In the classroom, effective technology integration is more important than ever. Better and faster access to multimedia and online content is changing the way educators approach learning. Teachers are increasingly experimenting with game-based learning, social networks and mobile devices.
Elementary Education Teaching License Requirements
The U.S. requires that all public elementary school teachers hold a teaching license. Private schools may or may not require one. Licensure requirements vary from state to state, but aspiring public elementary educators should expect to provide proof of:
- A bachelor’s degree from an approved education program
- Passing scores from teacher certification exams such as Praxis tests
- Student teaching experience
Additional certifications or qualifications, such as a master’s degree, may be needed to teach in specific fields. These include ESL, gifted learning, or special education. Elementary school educators are typically required to participate in ongoing professional development to maintain their license.
States have also developed alternative licensing programs for those looking to make a career change to teaching. Candidates are required to hold a bachelor’s degree at minimum, and some prospective teachers with a bachelor’s degree choose to pursue a master’s in elementary education for better specialization in the field.
Working as an Elementary Education Teacher
Elementary school educators take charge of the intellectual, social and emotional development of children from age 5 or 6 to age 12. They provide students with a solid foundation in language arts and math, as well as wide exposure to science, music, art, geography and social studies.
On any given day, elementary teachers may teach, develop a curriculum, organize classroom materials, review assignments, present work to parents and administrators, supervise field trips, or participate in continuing education.
Traditionally, U.S. elementary schools have operated on a one-teacher, one-class model, but this structure has been challenged in recent decades. Children in different grades may share classrooms or teachers; for instance, some may attend a math class taught by one teacher and a science class taught by another.
Elementary Education Career Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of elementary school teachers is expected to grow at approximately the average rate until at least 2022. However, a decline in student–teacher ratios and increases in enrollment should provide some new jobs, and growth is expected to be greatest in the South and West. English as a second language and special education teachers are in short supply, and will find that their expertise is in high demand.
Qualified elementary educators can choose to work in public, private or charter schools, or pursue administrative positions. The median annual pay for elementary school teachers is $53,090, but most teachers who pursue a post-baccalaureate qualifications may be rewarded with higher pay.