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Third-Grade Teacher Career Guide

How to Become a Third-Grade Teacher

Third-grade teachers are professional instructors in charge of students in the third grade. They help kids fall in love with learning in the classroom and instruct their students in math, science, social studies, history, and language.  

Third-graders are usually around 8 years old. They are excited to learn, and they love their teachers. Although they are still young, third-graders are old enough to do independent work, read simple stories, and draw simple pictures. 

Third-grade teachers have the opportunity to help shape the minds of young students and encourage them to be kind, thoughtful, and curious. Becoming a teacher is a great career path that will lead to rewarding experiences.

This guide will help those interested in becoming third-grade teachers take the right steps that will lead them to a classroom. 


Pretty teacher talking to the young pupils in classroom at the elementary school

What Does a Third-Grade Teacher Do?

Third-grade teachers have a variety of responsibilities. They lead their classrooms under the direction of the principal and vice principal of the school. As the leaders of their classrooms, they are responsible for any issues or situations that arise during class hours. 

For most third grade teachers, their day-to-day responsibilities will include: 

  • Developing core curriculum for third-grade students
  • Assessing the educational, social, and emotional needs of their students
  • Designing lesson plans based on how students interpret previous lessons
  • Administering tests and assigning homework to gauge the student’s progress
  • Enforcing proper behavior during school hours
  • Observing student behavior and intervening when necessary
  • Discussing student behavior with parents when in-class intervention is ineffective
  • Offering after-school help to students who fall behind
  • Interacting with students individually and in groups during school hours 
  • Leading activities to engage students in lessons
  • Meeting with parents to provide insights into student progress

Depending on the type of school and the curriculum taught, third-grade teacher responsibilities may vary.

What Is a Third-Grade Teacher?

Third-grade teachers teach students that are eight years old (sometimes a year younger or older). They teach basic elements of math, English, science, and other simplified subjects. Most third-grade teachers have a bachelor’s degree in education. 

Those who are outside of schools may assume that third-grade teachers simply recite lessons at the front of the classroom; however, third-grade teachers are also responsible for the well-being of their students. 

They create lesson plans, care for the emotional well-being of their students, and prepare their students for fourth-grade lessons. Teachers are responsible for ensuring that their students are taken care of. If a teacher suspects that there is child abuse or neglect in a student’s home, they are required to report it to the state’s Department of Social Services. 

Third-grade teachers often become attached to their classes as they help them grow during a vital period of their lives.

What Is Taught in Third Grade?

Third-grade transitions students from lower grade to upper grades. Students move from learning new skills to mastering them. In specific, third-graders should make significant advances in each of the following subjects:


  • Words with multiple syllables
  • Irregular words
  • Self-correct
  • Re-read
  • Increased understanding
  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Poetry
  • Fables
  • Literal and nonliteral text
  • Metaphors and analogies


  • Writing their own opinions
  • Writing events in the correct order
  • Connections in writing
  • Edit their writing
  • Take notes


  • Science projects
  • Experiments
  • Hypothesis
  • Animal habitats
  • Nature

Social Studies

  • Their country
  • Other countries
  • Geography skills
  • Qualities of states


  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Basic geometric
  • Mental math
  • Basic fractions

Where Do Third-Grade Teachers Work?

Third-grade teachers work in school settings where they can teach students to grow and learn. Some examples of school settings for third-grade teachers include:

  • Public schools: Public schools receive funds from local, state, and federal governments. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were 98,158 public schools in the U.S. in 2017. 
  • Private schools: Private schools are tuition-based. The NCES reports that there were 34,576 private schools in the U.S. in 2016. 
  • Charter schools: Charter schools receive public funding but are not a part of public school districts. In the 2018 to 2019 school year, there were 7,427 charter schools in the U.S. 
  • Religious schools: Religious schools are often private schools with required religious classes. The school curriculum centers around teaching religious values paired with traditional education. 
  • Special education schools and classes: Special education schools teach students who have special needs. Most schools also offer specific classes for students with special needs within the school district. 

Third-grade teachers can also teach online or tutor individual students.

What Education Does a Third-Grade Teacher Need?

Third-grade teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education or a related degree. In most states this type of degree is required in order to become a licensed teacher. Students learn about the specific subjects that they will teach, as well as critical skills in working with children every day.

Those who already have a bachelor’s degree can become licensed to teach elementary school with a master’s degree in elementary education. This type of degree program will similarly prepare you for a teaching license.

After earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree, would-be teachers will need to make sure they pass all the tests and meet the requirements for licensure in their state. Each state may have unique requirements for teaching certification, so it’s crucial to know what is expected in your area.

Best Degrees for Third-Grade Teachers

Elementary Education – B.A.

An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary...

An online teacher certification program for...

An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 60% of grads earned this degree within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this program often include:

  • Aspiring elementary school teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This elementary education degree program includes courses in the foundations of teacher education, instructional planning and presentation, assessment, and classroom management. Core teacher education courses focus on diversity, disciplinary literacy, elementary education methods, and pedagogy. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This online teaching degree program helps you to be eligible for teaching certification in any of the 50 states.

Teaching, Elementary Education – M.A.

An online master's of arts in education degree and teacher...

An online master's of arts in education degree...

An online master's of arts in education degree and teacher certification program for aspiring elementary school teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field.

Leads to a teaching license. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 67% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this master's of arts in education degree program often include:

  • Aspiring elementary teachers who currently hold a bachelor's degree but lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This online teacher's degree includes courses in the foundations of teaching, mathematics content, instructional planning and presentation, elementary education methods, and effective teaching practices. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

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education, elementary school, learning and people concept - teacher helping school kids writing test

What Skills Does a Third-Grade Teacher Need?

Third-grade teachers deal with a variety of situations every day and must be able to think on their feet. Some of the most important skills for third-grade teachers include:

  • Communication: Having communication skills ensures that the teachers will effectively communicate with the students, parents, and administrators. 
  • Creativity: Third-graders require teachers who can design creative lesson plans to keep the attention of a class of 8-year-old students. 
  • Patience: When working with children, teachers need to have limitless patience. They may need to repeat instructions and clarify assignments multiple times. 
  • Stress management skills: Classroom positions can put teachers in stressful situations. Third-grade teachers need to learn to manage stress. 

For example, if a student wets their pants in the middle of class, teachers need to be prepared to act to limit the student’s trauma. Third-grade teachers need to be fast thinkers with limitless patience.

What Is the Salary of a Third-Grade Teacher?


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that elementary school teachers make a median salary of $60,660 per year. The lowest 10% of elementary school teachers earn less than $40,030 a year, and the highest 10% earn more than $100,480 per year.  

Location, level of experience, and school type all play a large role in the salary range of third-grade teachers. 

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


In the United States, the BLS predicts that there will be a job growth of 4% for elementary school students. However, worldwide, there is a high demand for new teachers. Some studies suggest that we will need over 69 million new teachers by 2030 to meet global education needs. 

Additionally, some areas of the country are experiencing teacher shortages. Those interested in teaching should utilize their skills to overcome teacher shortages and ensure that kids around the country get the education they need. 

Does a Third-Grade Teacher Need Certification?


Teachers are required to hold a state teaching license or certification. They will also need to complete a teacher preparation program to qualify for certification. 

Teacher preparation programs prepare graduate and undergraduate students to become licensed teachers in classrooms. These programs offer hands-on student teaching experience. After completing a teacher preparation program, the individual can take their state teaching exam. 

Each state offers a different state teaching certification. Teaching certificates must be renewed every five years.

Interested in Becoming a Third-Grade Teacher?

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