How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher: Step-by-Step Guide

Oct 20, 2021

Learn how to become a kindergarten teacher. Discover the requirements to be a kindergarten teacher - including the necessary skills, certification, education, experience.

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What Are the Requirements to be a Kindergarten Teacher?

Kindergarten teachers are involved in the instruction and development of children who are generally between five and six years old. These professionals require a bachelor's degree and certification in order to guide the children's intellectual and interpersonal growth via play, educational tools and instructional activities in the classroom.

Certification as a kindergarten teacher typically requires candidates to student teaching requirements and pass any required professional exams in addition to completing their undergraduate degree. Some employers may require a master's degree, and a student teaching internship is also required in most cases.

Working with young, energetic children can be tiring, and a great deal of patience and empathy are also required for success, but these can be job benefits for those who enjoy these aspects of the work.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual kindergarten teacher salary, except for those in special education, was $56,850 as of May 2019. Job growth for kindergarten teachers is projected at 4% between 2019 and 2029, which is around average for all professions. Below is an overview on general kindergarten teacher requirements.

Kindergarten Teacher Certification, Key Skills, Education, and Salary

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required; some states require a master's degree
Degree Field Elementary education
Experience Student teaching internship required
Certification Teacher certification required
Key Skills Patience, creativity, communication skills, classroom management, flexibility
Median Salary (2019) $56,850 (for a kindergarten teachers, except special education)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Kindergarten teacher requirements include education and certification

Steps to Becoming a Kindergarten Teacher

Let's look at the steps you can take to earn your kindergarten teacher qualifications - including the required work experience and what degrees you need to be a kindergarten teacher.

Step 1: Learn How to Work with Young Children

Some elementary education degree programs require applicants to have a certain amount of experience working with young children. Volunteering as a teacher's assistant at a local school or daycare facility can give you beneficial experience prior to enrolling in a postsecondary education program. Working with kindergarteners takes patience and the capacity to relate to youngsters who are likely to be facing their first classroom environment.

Consider visiting a kindergarten classroom. Seeing a kindergarten classroom in action could help you decide whether you are truly suited for the job. Additionally, you might even have the opportunity to observe, talk to and learn from the experienced kindergarten teacher.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

While there are no specific kindergarten teaching degrees (or kindergarten teaching courses), public school kindergarten teachers are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in education. These professionals ordinarily major in elementary or early childhood education in a bachelor's degree program. Which major you pursue depends on the school and the state licensing requirements.

Coursework in elementary or early childhood education degree programs often include the study of basic math, reading and writing in addition to classes in children's literature and art. Additionally, bachelor's degree programs include other types of education courses, such as multicultural classrooms, learning technology and instructing students with special needs.

During your education, create a professional teaching portfolio. Such portfolios incorporate teaching philosophy statements, student evaluations, sample assignments, and full list of courses you've taught. This portfolio is used to exhibit competence during the post-graduation job hunt.

Step 3: Complete Student Teaching Requirements

Most teacher preparation programs feature one or two semesters of student teaching in classrooms. During the classroom internship, future kindergarten teachers are mentored by experienced educators in topics such as classroom management, effective lesson plans, student evaluation and parent-teacher communication. They are also evaluated on their classroom performance.

During the student teaching internship, you may have the opportunity to meet some of the parents of students in the host class. Being able to communicate with the parents is an important part of a kindergarten teacher's job.

Step 4: Get a Teaching Certificate

Anyone who intends to teach kindergarten must be certified in the state in which he or she plans to work, but licensure requirements may differ by state. Individuals can contact the Board of Education in his or her state for information on the requirements for kindergarten teachers. Typically, they consist of graduating from a state-approved teacher preparation program, in addition to passing basic proficiency exams and assessments in instructional methods.

Step 5: Earn a Graduate Degree to Advance your Career

Certain states expect kindergarten teachers to obtain additional education, such as a master's degree, after earning certification. A graduate degree is also one way to further a teaching career. These programs explore the subject of teaching in great detail and offer students an opportunity to be involved in educational research.


How Long Does It Take to Become a Kindergarten Teacher?

Because becoming a kindergarten teacher requires a bachelor's degree, student teaching, and certification, it generally takes at least five years to become a kindergarten teacher. Bachelor's degrees are usually four years in duration, and student teaching and certification together can usually be completed in around a year or perhaps a little more. If you include time spent learning how to work with young children, the time it takes to become a kindergarten teacher may be somewhat longer, so there is no specific set answer to the question of ''how long does it take to be a kindergarten teacher?'' Because a master's degree is not typically required, this job requires less preparation time than some other similar ones.

What Degree Do I Need to Teach Kindergarten?

As explained above, your bachelor's degree needs to be in the field of education, but there is no specific degree required. If possible, try and specialize in early childhood education during your degree in order to be better prepared for your career. Kindergarten teacher education requirements are fairly fluid and vary by location. In many ways, your personal experience working with young children will be more valuable in securing a position as a kindergarten teacher than your specific degree field.

What Qualifications Do I Need to Be a Kindergarten Teacher?

You will need a bachelor's degree and teacher certification in order to teach kindergarten. If you have spent time working with children in other settings, that will be to your advantage as well. Getting a master's degree in early childhood education may give you extra insight into how best to teach your students and may open up further educational and career opportunities for you in the future.

What Are the Job Duties of a Kindergarten Teacher?

Job duties for this position include:

  • Teaching young children important academic concepts like reading and writing
  • Supervising play to make sure that children are safe at all times
  • Providing a safe learning space
  • Accommodating the needs of all students, with the understanding that students will have different backgrounds and learning styles
  • Helping students to resolve conflicts and manage emotions productively
  • Modeling positive behavioral interactions for students
  • Designing activities and curricula for classes to study

Where Do Kindergarten Teachers Work?

Kindergarten teachers work in public and private schools across the country. Teachers will typically work in a single classroom for a given school year, and may teach one or two classes of students over that time.

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