Published: January 19, 2024

If you're considering the education profession, teaching younger children is a fulfilling and worthwhile career. Your days are filled with meaning as you help children build their confidence and teach them the skills they need to thrive. The rewards last long past the final school bell.

As you research how to become a teacher, you’ll need to determine two things:

  • Which age or grade you want to teach
  • The degree you need to teach that grade

This guide explains the education you need to achieve your career goals and the additional job opportunities that may be available to you with an education degree.

What education is required to become a teacher?

A bachelor’s degree is usually required to teach younger students, and two degree programs can get you there:

Choose the online program that’s right for you to help you fit your education with the rest of your life.

Who is a good fit for a career in education?

Those who wish to teach children should have the following skills, according to the BLS:

  • Communication skills. Of course, you need to communicate the lessons to your students. You also need to interact with parents to update them on their child’s progress, and you need to communicate with administrators as well.
  • Patience. Children can test anyone’s patience at times, and spending six hours a day five days a week with a classroom full of rambunctious young ones can be trying. They may struggle with the material or act out—and working with children of varying abilities and backgrounds can be taxing. Patience is a must.
  • Physical stamina. Teaching kindergarten- and elementary-age students can be exhausting. Young children are energetic, and you need to keep up physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • Resourcefulness. What works with one child may not work with another. To get students engaged in learning, you need to be creative—and you should be prepared to adapt your lessons to meet students’ needs.

“I’d add passion, flexibility and strong collaboration skills to this list,” says Kelly Burlison, associate professor in the College of Education at Lynn University. “You need to be a good listener yet have an engaging classroom presence.”

Brittany E. Kiser, assistant professor in the College of Education at Lynn University, agrees. “Other skills that make an effective educator with any age group include excellent organization and time management skills, creativity and a general love for the role,” she says. “Classroom teachers wear many hats besides the facilitator of knowledge.”

What is the difference between early childhood and elementary education?

“Early childhood education refers to teaching younger kids, from pre-K through third grade,” says Kiser, “whereas elementary education covers a broader and older age range—kindergarten through sixth grade. And yes, there’s a little overlap here.”

Early childhood education Elementary education
Age 3 through grade 3 Kindergarten through grade 6

“The elementary education (K-6) degree requires that students pass all six state teacher exams as part of their graduation requirements, while the early childhood education degree does not,” Kiser adds.

Deciding to teach at a particular grade level requires evaluating your goals, individual attributes, capabilities, readiness and subject area expertise. Let’s look at each degree field and the required skills and job duties of each so you can see if one calls to you more than the other.

Is a degree in early childhood education right for you?

“A degree program in early childhood education prepares you to work with young learners,” Burlison says. “You’ll learn about childhood development and how to recognize and meet the needs of this age group.”

Career opportunities with a degree in early childhood education include:

Preschool, kindergarten and first- through third-grade teachers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of preschool teachers will grow from 2022 to 2032. Some states may only require an associate’s degree.

What they do:

  • Teach younger children in this age range basic skills such as identifying colors, shapes, numbers and letters
  • Work with children in groups or one-on-one
  • Plan and carry out developmentally appropriate activities that enable children to learn about the world
  • Ensure children have enough physical activity and rest
  • Watch for signs of emotional or developmental problems in each child and bring them to the attention of the child’s caregivers
  • Keep records of the children’s progress, routines and interests, and inform caregivers about their child’s development

Preschool and childcare center directors

The BLS projects an average of 4,600 job openings for preschool and childcare center directors each year from 2022 to 2032. The typical education needed to enter the field is a bachelor’s degree.

What they do:

  • Supervise preschool teachers and childcare workers
  • Provide professional development opportunities for staff
  • Establish policies and communicate them to staff and parents
  • Develop educational programs and standards
  • Prepare budgets and allocate program funds
  • Ensure that facilities are maintained and cleaned according to state regulations

Education administrators

O*NET OnLine projects an average of 20,200 job openings for education administrators in K–6 from 2022 to 2032. The typical education to enter this field is a master’s degree.

What they do:

  • Evaluate curricula, teaching methods and programs to determine their effectiveness, efficiency and use; ensure compliance with federal, state and local regulations
  • Observe teaching methods, and examine learning materials to evaluate and standardize curricula and teaching techniques
  • Provide guidance to students regarding personal, academic, vocational or behavioral issues
  • Collaborate with teachers to develop and maintain curriculum standards, develop mission statements and set performance goals and objectives
  • Direct and coordinate activities of teachers, administrators and support staff

Child, family and school social workers

O*NET OnLine projects that employment of child, family and school social workers will grow 5%–8% from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

What they do:

  • Maintain case history records and prepare reports
  • Interview students to assess their situations to determine what services they need
  • Serve as liaisons between students, homes, schools, family services, child guidance clinics, courts, protective services, doctors and other contacts to help children who face problems
  • Develop and review service plans and perform follow-ups assessing the quantity and quality of services
  • Address legal issues (such as child abuse or custody arrangements), assist with hearings and provide testimony

Is a degree in elementary education right for you?

“Usually, those seeking a degree in elementary education wish to become a classroom teacher in an elementary school setting,” Kiser says. “They learn how to create a nurturing environment in the classroom and are encouraged to be creative when designing lesson plans and planning for instruction and assessment activities to meet the needs of diverse learners.”

Career opportunities with a degree in elementary education include:

Elementary school teachers

The BLS projects an average of 109,000 job openings for kindergarten and elementary school teachers each year from 2022 to 2032. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers usually must have a bachelor’s degree.

What they do:

  • Create lesson plans to teach students such subjects as reading, science and math
  • Observe and evaluate students’ abilities, strengths and weaknesses
  • Grade assignments
  • Communicate with parents or guardians about their child’s progress
  • Work with students to help them overcome specific learning challenges
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state

Academic coaches/tutors

O*NET OnLine projects an average of 39,100 job openings for tutors from 2022 to 2032. Most tutors require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience or an associate's degree.

What they do:

  • Provide feedback to students, encourage and motivate them
  • Discuss classroom material, work out solutions to problems and review worksheets and other assignments
  • Assess students' progress
  • Teach students study skills, note-taking skills and test-taking strategies
  • Provide private instruction to individual or small groups of students

Instructional coordinators

Employment of instructional coordinators is projected to grow from 2022 to 2032, the BLS reports. Typical entry-level education is a master’s degree.

What they do:

  • Develop and implement the curriculum
  • Plan and conduct teacher training, conferences or workshops
  • Analyze students' test data
  • Assess and discuss the curriculum standards with school staff
  • Review and suggest textbooks and other educational materials
  • Mentor or coach teachers to improve their skills

English as a second language (ESL) teachers

English learners are a growing subset of the student population. Between 2000 and 2019, the number of English learner students increased from 8.1%–10.4%. Teachers are needed for this increasing segment of students.

What they do:

  • Teach the mechanics of language and how it is used in different contexts and for different purposes
  • Communicate with students and engage their families
  • Plan, organize and present instruction to help English language learners acquire language, academic and social development skills
  • Monitor compliance with federal, state and local policies governing the education of English language learners

Resource teachers

A resource teacher is a type of special education teacher. O*NET OnLine projects an average of 10,300 job openings for elementary school special education teachers from 2022 to 2032. Of schools reporting teaching vacancies, special education teaching positions have the most vacancies.

What they do:

  • Work with other teachers to help students who are struggling with subject matter
  • Evaluate students' educational instruction needs and strengths for the purpose of making accommodations, modifications and instructional decisions
  • Participate in students’ individualized education program (IEP) by collaborating and coordinating instruction with parents, teachers and other community and school personnel
  • Plan, develop and implement instructional program plans

How to become an elementary school teacher

The general requirements to become an elementary school teacher in the U.S. are:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree (Connecticut, Maryland and New York require teachers to earn a master's degree after receiving their teaching certification and obtaining a job, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality).
  • Complete your state’s practicum/internship requirements (find these at
  • Earn a teaching certificate (some states may call it a teaching license or credential).

In Florida, elementary school teachers must complete a state-certified program that includes a practicum and clinical internship in a local elementary school. If you plan on serving English language learners (ELL), you must earn the English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) endorsement, according to Orange County Public Schools. Additionally, all Florida-certified educators must demonstrate mastery of the four General Knowledge Exams, the Subject Area Exam, and the Professional Education Test.

“The online bachelor’s in elementary education at Lynn University helps you develop the skills needed to design attention-grabbing lesson plans, create a culturally responsive curriculum and develop your own personal teaching style,” Kiser says. “A combination of practical decision-making and problem-solving skills are embedded throughout the program.”

Lynn University offers online programs in early childhood education and elementary education

Enrolling in an online program for either of these degrees helps you balance your work, family and education obligations. You have flexibility with regard to your location, and your professional network knows no geographical boundaries.

“The overall cost of the online programs is more affordable,” Burlison says. “Students have more free time in their everyday lives and a schedule that can be extremely flexible. The learning can take place anywhere, which can improve their quality of learning and time management skills.”

Lynn University and the online bachelor’s in early childhood education

To become a preschool teacher in Florida, you must complete an approved teacher education program (bachelor's degree or higher) and all necessary requirements to become a licensed teacher in Florida, including a 10-week field experience in a preschool setting.

“Lynn’s online bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education teaches the latest early literacy techniques,” Burlison says. “Students are taught the social and educational issues faced by teachers in multicultural classrooms. All early childhood education majors have to complete a teaching experience practicum course of 40 hours. They will also be placed at local preschools or daycare or early learning centers.”

Online bachelor's degree in elementary education at Lynn University

Lynn’s state-approved elementary education degree program is designed to meet Florida certification requirements.

“If you have a passion for working with slightly older children, this is the degree for you,” Kiser says.

“Teacher candidates start observing in the classroom as soon as they take their first education course,” Burlison says. “They are placed at a local K–6 school, and they are required to pass a practicum course observing 150 hours and a clinical internship course.

“Students in both Lynn programs are encouraged to stay for their master’s in exceptional student education or educational leadership,” Burlison adds.

Learn more about the online education programs at Lynn University

Becoming a teacher enables you to help shape the nation’s next generation. The impact you could have on children and the community is unlimited. Lynn University offers the following degrees:

To learn more about how an online education degree can help you meet your career goals, get in touch with us.

Notes and conditions - PLEASE READ

Employment and career advancement: Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience and opportunities for employment. Lynn University does not guarantee employment placement or career advancement.

Florida certification requirements: Credits and degrees earned from colleges within the State of Florida that are licensed by the State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities do not automatically qualify an individual for a Florida Teaching Certificate. The established procedure requires the Florida Department of Education to review and recognize the credentials of the individual and the accreditation of the college granting the degrees prior to approving teacher certification. Any student interested in obtaining a Florida Teaching Certificate should contact the Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Educator Certification, Suite 201, Turlington Building, 325 West Gaines St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-0400.

About the Author

Lynn University

Take your education to the next level with Lynn University's high-quality, flexible and affordable online bachelor's degree programs. Whether you're interested in business, education, communication, aviation, criminal justice or the arts and sciences, you'll find something here for you. Explore programs led by established faculty members who are passionate about your success.