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CAREER GUIDE Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education

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Career guide: elementary educator.

Are you looking for a career path that provides you with a sense of accomplishment as you help others? If you earn an online bachelor of arts degree in elementary education, you can become a certified elementary school teacher, meaning you'll work with children to help them learn reading, writing and many other skills that are necessary for success. This career is great for those who enjoy working with kids, want to make a difference, and seek a career with potential for growth.

Job listing growth 2016–2026.

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Career opportunities.

With a degree in elementary education, you can work in elementary and middle schools. Depending on the structure of the institution, you may find yourself teaching one core group of students all day or a rotation of classes. Educators who focus on the elementary school ages tend to teach all subjects in one classroom. Some of the subjects you'll introduce young minds to include:

Positions in the field.

  • Math 
  • Science (biology, critical thinking)
  • Language arts (English, literature, Spanish)
  • Geography
  • Art
  • Physical education
“WGU has allowed me to achieve something I wanted to do right out of high school—to teach children. It has given me a sense of pride and helped me earn the respect of my colleagues.” Terri King
B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies (Elementary Education)

Job market forecast.

The number of teaching positions in the United States is expected to grow by 7 percent by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, on par with the national average for job growth. Between 2016 and 2026, the BLS also projects that 116,300 new kindergarten and elementary school teaching positions will be created nationwide. If you seek an online bachelor of arts degree in elementary education, you will be well on your way to being included in this growing group.

Job growth 2016–2026.

Work environment.

The National Center for Education Statistics found that of the 3.9 million teachers working during the 2011-12 school year, 3.4 million taught in public schools, while 464,900 worked in private schools. You may seek employment in a public school, a private magnet school, or even a religious institution that is aligned with your personal beliefs. The environment will change based on the ideology of the school- - military institutions are generally much more disciplinarian than magnet schools, for example, while religious schools may offer courses outside the traditional curriculum - which may affect your lesson plans and even what subjects you cover.

Typical school hours for a teacher are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. That doesn't mean your day stops there, though. Teachers do a lot of work outside class hours, setting their curriculums, grading papers and communicating with students and parents. Teaching is a great job for self-starters who are willing to learn from feedback and put in extra effort to make sure their lesson plans address the wants and needs of the class.

Professional organizations.

There are many organizations available to assist teachers in various ways. Some promote the sharing of classroom development materials and curriculum while others are more about unionization and workers rights. Here are a few to check out before opting to pursue a bachelor's degree in elementary education:

Job search resources.

Before signing up to earn a degree in teaching, you're probably wondering where to look when it comes time to find a job. It's a good idea to look to the following resources during your teaching job search:

Salary stats.

Teachers must complete both a degree and teaching certification in order to work in most states. Once you've earned the proper credentials, your potential for a higher salary increases as you achieve seniority. You can also take extra courses, preparing you to specialize in certain areas, or work toward test-based incentives.

According to the BLS, kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn a median annual wage of $55,490. The U.S. Department of Education states that the average teacher salary has changed only 1 percent in the last 30 years, meaning that even during of the economic depression, educators are highly valued.

The BLS also states that among the 1,358,000 non-special-education elementary school teachers in 2015, the median annual wage was $54,890. Individuals not included in that number were substitute teachers or those who taught technical education classes.

In 2015, states with teachers who received the highest income included Connecticut, Alaska, New York, California, and Massachusetts. Educators in those areas earned annual mean wages of between $71,390 (Massachusetts) and $75,700 (Connecticut). States with the lowest annual mean wages (between $35,190 and $47,260) included Idaho, Arizona, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and West Virginia.

Salaries also vary greatly from private to public institutions. The NCES reported the average salary for a private school teacher during the 2011–2012 school year was $44,130, whereas public school instructors earned an average of $56,410. As with any career, expect to begin near the lower end of the salary scale and work your way up to higher pay.

Average salary of jobs with related titles.


There are many positions that K-8 teachers can hold. The options vary greatly by educational institution, ranging from art instructors to physical education coaches and subject-specific teachers. You may find that some jobs require you know how to teach multiple topics, like math and reading, or science and social studies. Today, some positions are based entirely around technology. IT teachers and library aids assist students in learning how to use a school's electronic resources like the student portal and other devices.

All of these careers require a bachelor's degree, certification, and licensure. Some teachers may also benefit from pursuing advanced degrees in order to gain access to even more career opportunities. To be a top-notch teacher, you must also be skilled in public speaking, conflict resolution, and problem solving.

There are many opportunities when you have an online teaching degree, and you'll likely find an educational area of expertise that aligns with your personal passions and can become your lifelong career. Not every teacher works in a school, some go on to become librarians, daycare providers, or special education instructors. If you're interested in the possibility of changing your work environment during your career, teaching may be for you. The National Center for Education Statistics states that nearly 85 percent of teachers stay at the same school for a full year, while only 7.6 percent switched to a new school in that period. Once the school year is over, you can move anywhere in the country, and even abroad, and still find other teaching opportunities. Some teachers choose to stay at a locationto provide structure in their own lives and those of their students, while others opt to move frequently. The good news is that teachers are needed all over the world, so there are plenty of opportunities for those who hold a teaching degree.

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Your career’s next step: Earn a degree.

Ready to jump-start your career in elementary education? The next step could be earning your B.A. Elementary Education. Accredited, competency-based WGU offers this degree online for at a surprisingly affordable flat-rate tuition. Flexible enough for a working adult’s schedule with the option to accelerate, your degree may be closer than you think!