Job description

Elementary school teachers teach, educate and instruct young children in basic subjects such as maths, English and science. Throughout their working day, they teach students how to interact with each other and overcome learning difficulties. Elementary school teachers also enforce classroom rules and behaviour, and they supervise children during lunchbreaks and playtime. Teachers grade students’ assignments and prepare them for tests and exams.


    • Teach basic subjects such as maths, English and science
    • Plan lessons and curriculum
    • Observe children’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses
    • Encourage interaction and communication
    • Help students overcome learning difficulties
    • Enforce classroom rules and behavior
    • Supervise children during lunchbreaks and playtime
    • Escort students to assemblies, playtime or other classes
    • Use technology and textbooks to apply teaching
    • Grade students’ assignments
    • Prepare students for tests and exams
    • Report child’s behaviour and progress to parents

Skills and qualities

Physical stamina

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

With the appropriate experience and education, elementary school teachers can progress to become heads of department, assistant principals or principals. They might also advance their careers by mentoring new teachers, becoming lead teachers, school counsellors, school librarians or instructional coordinators.

Some teachers gain qualifications in certain fields so they can teach specialised subjects in high school.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Some nights and weekends

Elementary school teachers work indoors in school classrooms, and spend time outdoors during playtime or physical education.

Being an elementary school teacher can be rewarding as you observe the development of a student. It can also be stressful and tiring as you deal with several children at once, especially those who are disobedient. This job, therefore, requires patience.

Some teachers work alongside teaching assistants and other members of staff, and they use a lot of textbooks and computers to teach certain concepts and classes. They will often work evenings and weekends to grade papers and plan lessons.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Bachelor’s degree in elementary education

Study time

4 years

Elementary school teachers require at least a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (BElEd). Some states require teachers to major in a specific area, such as maths or science. Other states require a master’s degree.

Those with just a bachelor’s degree in a specific subject can complete a teacher education programme to obtain certification to teach.

All aspiring elementary school teachers must be licensed and certified for the grade level they wish to teach. To maintain their licence or certification, teachers must complete professional development classes. Private school teachers typically do not need a licence.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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