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Career Outlook for Licensed Elementary Educators

There’s a lot of opportunity for elementary school teachers as high demand for teachers continues.

As long as there are children, we’ll need teachers. But is now a good time or a not-so-good time to enter the profession? Here’s what you need to know.

There Is a Teacher Shortage

With public school enrollment in the U.S. continuing to increase,1 states are struggling to find enough qualified teachers to meet the demand.2 For many states, the solution is to fill gaps with teachers who aren’t fully certified. In Texas alone, the number of educators in the classroom who lack full teacher certification is upwards of 22,000.3 In most states, these not fully qualified teachers have been granted a form of emergency teacher licensure. However, states and districts would prefer to hire teachers who are fully qualified, which is creating opportunities for those who’ve earned full certification. The best way to ensure you have the full credentials is to earn a degree in education from an accredited university.


The Elementary Education Field Is Growing

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2016 and 2026, the U.S. will hire over 116,000 new kindergarten and elementary school teachers.4 This job growth compares favorably to the expected job growth in other sectors of the economy, making elementary education a good career choice for the foreseeable future.

Pay Depends on Where You Teach

The median annual wage for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is just under $57,000.4 But the amount you make has a lot to do with where you live and where you teach. First, it’s important to note that private school teachers typically make a lot less than public school teachers.5 Second, different states and different regions within states offer different salaries for certified teachers.

The five states that average the highest annual pay for public school teachers are:6

  • New York ($79,637)
  • California ($78,711)
  • Massachusetts ($77,804)
  • District of Columbia ($76,131)
  • Connecticut ($72,561)

The five states that average the lowest annual pay for public school teachers are:6

  • Mississippi ($42,925)
  • South Dakota ($42,668)
  • Oklahoma ($45,245)
  • West Virginia ($45,701)
  • Colorado ($46,506)

However, one thing to keep in mind is that the cost of living varies between states and regions. For example, while the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area has the highest salary for public school teachers at over $87,000 a year,7 the New York City region has the highest cost of living in the nation (and the 13th highest in the world).8

A BS in Elementary Education Can Help You Start Your Teaching Career

If you want to become a teacher at the elementary school level, you should seriously consider earning a BS in Elementary Education. This teaching degree can help you gain the knowledge and teaching strategies you need to succeed in the classroom—and it can prepare you for teacher certification.

In terms of where to earn your degree, an online university can be an excellent choice. In a BS in Elementary Education online program, you’ll complete classes right from home rather than having to drive to a campus. All you need is internet access and the ability to set aside time for your studies. The exact time you set aside will be up to you, thanks to online education’s flexible scheduling. If you need to complete coursework in the evening because you work during the day, online learning can let you do that. If you need to complete coursework in the morning, you can do that, too. And you can change things up if your schedule changes.

Earning an education degree can be an important first step to becoming an elementary school teacher. And online bachelor’s programs make taking that step more feasible than ever before.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Elementary Education degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,