How to Become an Elementary School Teacher: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


Elementary school teachers teach elementary school. But of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. Elementary school teachers are entrusted with kids in their formative years, helping them learn not only the reading, writing, math, and other skills they’ll use all their lives, but also developing their social skills and instilling positive attitudes and values. Few jobs are more important than that.


Annual salaries for elementary school teachers will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for elementary school teachers working in the U.S. was $56,320 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for elementary school teachers, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Elementary School Teaching

Texas is number one in employment for elementary school teachers, where 142,690 teachers are making a yearly average salary of $50,290. California is second, with 134,440 elementary teachers bringing home an annual mean wage of $69,320.

The metro areas employing the most elementary school teachers are:

  • New York-White Plains (46,190)
  • Chicago-Joliet (37,260)
  • Houston-Sugar Land (34,470)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of elementary school teachers are:

  • Yuba City, CA (28.2 jobs per thousand)
  • Madera-Chowchilla, CA (27.81 jobs per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid elementary school teachers are:

  • Nassau-Suffolk, NY (average annual salary $96,860)
  • Kingston, NY (average annual salary $81,400)

Employment and Salary Information for Elementary School Teachers

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as an elementary school teacher. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Employment and Information Data for Elementary School Education

Why Become An Elementary School Teacher?

Everyone says that few jobs are more rewarding than teaching, but it’s worth spelling out just what the benefits of teaching are—for you and the kids.

  • Work with kids. It’s not for everyone. But if it is for you, then elementary school is one of the best possible ways to work with kids.
  • The demand is there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were just over 1.5 million elementary school teachers in the U.S. in 2012.
  • Growing profession. Between 2012 and 2022, job growth for elementary school teachers is projected to be 12%.
  • Decent pay. The average salary for elementary school teachers is $56,320 per year.
  • Set students up for life. Elementary school education helps you reach kids in their formative years, when they’re learning vital skills that will shape the rest of their lives. That’s a big responsibility, but also very rewarding.
  • Vacations. Yes, teachers work hard, and they need the breaks between school semesters for grading and planning lessons, so it’s not all a vacation for them. But still!

Elementary School Teaching: What You Need To Know

Although most people can call on their own experience in explaining what makes a teacher great, it’s worth remembering a lot of the work teachers do is outside the classroom. A basic working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Lesson Structuring and Planning
  • Classroom Management and Discipline
  • Subject-Matter Knowledge
  • Public Speaking and Communication
  • Working with Children

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about elementary school teaching careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Elementary School Teaching Careers

Bachelor’s degree

Every state in the nation requires teachers to have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education or a particular subject area, such as English, math or science. Regardless of major, teachers often also complete a teacher preparation program that gives them a broad view of the teaching profession and some hands-on, supervised teaching experience.

Public school teachers are also required to also hold a state-issued certification or license.