Do I Need a Masters Degree to Be an Elementary School Teacher?

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If you are interested in pursuing a career in elementary teaching, you may have some questions regarding requirements, how to stand out, or even just how to get started! It isn’t uncommon for prospective teachers to have questions, or even misconceptions about what is required of new teachers. In fact, one of the most common questions asked is, “Do I need to have obtained a master’s degree to be an elementary school teacher?”


Requirements of New Elementary School Teachers

The truth is that there is a wide variety of requirements to be an elementary school teacher, though a master’s degree is not always one of them. Depending on the state you live in, for example, you may only be required to hold a bachelor’s degree. For the most part though, schools follow a certain set of qualifications when accepting new teachers. Keep these in mind when applying for your new career in the field of elementary education.

In addition to your formal education, you will be required to hold proper licensing and certification in your state. Often this will include passing a general teaching exam and a specific content exam based on the subject you wish to teach. All teaching licenses do require that the applicant has a bachelor’s degree, pass a background check, and complete the required teaching exams.

Another very important aspect to becoming an elementary teacher is student teaching. Through student teaching prospective teachers will gain firsthand knowledge on how to manage a classroom, prepare lesson plans, and gain an overall experience in a real classroom setting. Most states require a moderate amount of student teaching time to be logged in order to obtain licensure. Prospective teachers often find student teaching to be the toughest (and most gratifying) part of becoming an elementary teacher. For an idea of what it’s like student teach, take a look at CNN Journalist Heather Sinclair Wood’s firsthand experience.

Obtaining a Master’s Degree for Elementary Teaching

States that do require a master’s degree for elementary teachers will often collaborate with prospective teachers and allow them to work while enrolled in a graduate program. This permits the new teacher to begin work after obtaining a license and a bachelor’s degree. Not only will attaining a master’s degree give you full reign as an elementary teacher, it often will grant a significant pay raise as well (though you certainly didn’t get into teaching for the money!). The so-called “master’s bump” has been a hot button topic across the U.S. recently, as some states are trying to eliminate the pay raise, causing uproar and a national debate.

Know the Requirements, and Get Started!

The most significant thing for prospective elementary teachers to remember is that each state varies in its requirements to become a teacher. Although a master’s degree isn’t always required, it can help you to become a better teacher, and perhaps enhance your earning potential. Be sure to look up what is necessary in your state before beginning your road to becoming a teacher.

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