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Private Elementary School Teacher: Educational Requirements

Private elementary school teachers often enjoy greater autonomy in the classroom than do teachers in public schools. Requirements vary by state, but licensing is not always required in order to teach in a private school. In most cases, though, a bachelor's degree in education or a similar field is the threshold to gain career entry. Supervised hands-on training in a classroom is typically part of the preparation to be a teacher.

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Educational Requirements

Private elementary school teachers are responsible for the creation of their classroom environments. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many private school teachers have greater freedom in this area than their counterparts in public schools (www.bls.gov). This is partly due to the fact that most private schools are not subject to the same government educational standards as public schools, although specific policies differ from state to state. Teachers are thus able to design learning activities and create learning materials to inspire and promote educational discovery in the ways that they see fit.

Private elementary school teachers may or may not be required by the state to attain licensure or a specific educational background. Schools, however, might require their teachers to complete a bachelor's degree program in education or similar. Completing a Bachelor of Science degree program for elementary education will lay the groundwork for aspiring educators to meet the broadest range of state and school requirements.

Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education

At the elementary level, teachers may be called upon to teach various subjects to children of different age groups. A Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree program provides a strong foundation in teaching academic subjects including math, science, English and social studies. Some programs also provide the opportunity for students to gain knowledge of music, art, geography, history, technology and even physical education. According to the BLS, most education degrees will require a student-teaching internship to provide supervised experience with students in a classroom. Common coursework in an elementary school teaching degree program may include the following:

  • Administration and supervision
  • Educational counseling
  • Learning methods and delivery systems
  • Curriculum planning and instruction
  • Diversity in the classroom
  • English as a second language
  • Special education
  • Early childhood education
  • Middle school education
  • Technology in the classroom

Alternate Education Options

The BLS states that professional development schools are becoming more common across the U.S. to help college graduates become licensed teachers even if they completed a degree in an area other than education. These programs require one year and provide a great deal of supervised classroom time to help new teachers become comfortable with students, classrooms and teaching techniques.

Optional Certification

Private elementary school teachers, like public school teachers, are not required to obtain additional certifications, which are separate and distinct from state licensing requirements. However, professional certifications are available to help educators enhance their careers. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which is recognized throughout the nation, in all states and the District of Columbia, offers such voluntary certifications (www.nbpts.org). Obtaining an NBPTS certification can bring teachers special benefits such as increased pay or reimbursement for any continuing education expenses they may accrue.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

While the BLS doesn't report employment outlook and salary statistics specifically for private school teachers, it does project a 17% increase in job prospects for elementary school teachers (except those teaching special education) in both public and private school settings through the 2010-2020 decade. The best employment opportunities were expected to be in the Southern and Western regions of the country. As of May 2012, elementary school teachers earned median annual salaries of $53,400.

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