4th Grade Teacher: Job Duties & Career Information

Learn about a career as a 4th grade teacher. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Job Description

Like all elementary school teachers, 4th grade teachers' primary goal is to help students learn in core educational subjects, such as math, science, reading/vocabulary, social studies and the arts. Duties of a 4th grade teacher include grading assignments, administering standardized tests, establishing and enforcing behavioral expectations, conducting parent conferences and collaborating with other teachers.

Educational Requirements

Teachers at the 4th grade level must have a bachelor's degree in order to teach, although many states do not require that the degree be in education or elementary education as long as additional qualification requirements are met. A bachelor's degree program in education includes field training and/or student teaching. Courses in an education program may cover child psychology, family social science, literature, classroom management and U.S. history. Some 4th grade teachers choose to earn a master's degree in education, which takes an additional two years.

Licensing Requirements

Elementary school teachers working in a public school must be licensed by the state, but those at private schools may not need one. Public elementary school teachers in all states must hold a bachelor's degree and complete a teacher preparation program in order to qualify for licensure. Once a teacher has been licensed, his or her credential must be maintained; usually licensing requirements may be satisfied by continuing education courses. Many states also require a general teaching certification exam. National certification may be acquired through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS); potential instructors should check their state licensing requirements to ensure that NBPTS certification is accepted in their area (www.nbpts.org).

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that successful 4th grade teachers need to have these traits:

  • Creativity, communication abilities and instructional skills, since they work to develop innovative lesson plans and activities
  • Ability to relate to students and help them grow academically
  • Patience, understanding and adaptability when working with pupils
  • Bilingual skills are often beneficial
  • Physical endurance, since work involves long days on one's feet

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to the BLS, the job outlook for elementary school teachers was average; the field was expected to grow about 17% from 2010-2020. Enrollment of students was expected to increase in the coming years, especially in the Southwest. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for all elementary school teachers was $53,400 in May 2012.

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