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First Grade Teacher Education Requirements and Job Description

First grade teachers must have some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

First grade teachers head a single classroom of children aged six or seven. They teach reading and writing skills as well as also introduce mathematical and science concepts to first graders. First grade teachers typically need a bachelor's degree as well as licensure for work in public schools. A teaching internship is often necessary.

Required Education Bachelor's, master's required by some employers
Other Requirements State license, internship often required
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 12%
Median Salary (2013)* $53,590 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Education Requirements for First Grade Teachers

The traditional route to becoming an elementary school teacher begins with earning a bachelor's degree from a teacher education program. The Teacher Education Accreditation Council and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accredit education programs for teachers. Students planning to teach at the first grade level should find a program that offers an early childhood (preschool through grade three) or elementary education (grades 1-6) degree.

In addition to completing coursework, students observe and work with students in a classroom setting. They write sample lesson plans and research philosophies of teaching. Students learn about childhood development and examine activities that are developmentally appropriate for first graders. Elementary and early childhood education degree programs may cover the following subject areas:

  • Child or educational psychology
  • Technology in the classroom
  • Beginning reading
  • Elementary science
  • Elementary mathematics
  • Special education
  • Classroom instruction techniques

Additional Requirements

Most programs require students to complete a supervised student teaching internship at a nearby school. Students typically must complete this phase prior to gaining employment. In order to teach first grade in a public school, teachers need a state license. Private schools may not require licensing. To qualify for a teaching license, applicants must possess a bachelor's degree and demonstrate that they have completed supervised teaching experience. Teaching licenses can be obtained through an individual's state Board of Education.

Job Description

First grade teachers work in both public and private schools. Typically, first grade consists of children age six or seven. A talent for communicating with young children and encouraging academic achievement is essential for the job. Since many first graders are still learning how to behave in a classroom setting, a high level of patience is also needed.

First grade teachers deliver lessons on elementary reading, writing and mathematics and also introduce basic science concepts to students. Oftentimes, early childhood teachers use arts and crafts, classroom games and other activities to help students understand the lessons. Teachers communicate with parents and supervisors about the educational and behavioral challenges of individual children. In addition to grading papers, first grade teachers write report cards, which provide specific feedback on each child's performance. They may also meet with parents in one-on-one conferences. Common job duties include:

  • Leading group study, discussion and demonstration
  • Introduction of new concepts
  • Behavior and rule enforcement
  • Objective communication
  • Evaluation and observance of students
  • Challenging students in preparation for advanced education
  • Material preparation and delivery

Career Advancement

Some teachers choose to go back to school for a master's degree in education or a related field. Several school districts pay college tuition for teachers enrolled in graduate courses. Some districts may even require their teachers to earn a master's degree within a few years of being hired.

Obtaining a master's degree generally will increase a teacher's salary or stature. Similarly, completing a voluntary certification program through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards can accomplish upward mobility for teachers who wish to advance their careers, salaries, benefits or a combination thereof (www.nbpts.org).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov) predicts average growth for elementary school teachers, at a rate of 12% between 2012 and 2022. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers was $53,590 as of May 2013.

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Popular Schools

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Curriculum and Instruction
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • Educational Evaluation and Research
      • ESL Teaching
      • Philosophical Foundations of Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
        • Teaching, Elementary
        • Teaching, High School
        • Teaching, Young Children
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Education
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • ESL Teaching
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Elementary
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • International and Comparative Education
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Elementary
        • Teaching, High School
        • Teaching, Young Children
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas

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Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics