Becoming a kindergarten teacher

Do you want to become a kindergarten teacher? read these steps to find out how …

Step 1: Decide if It’s Right for You

Being a kindergarten teacher is not for everybody. The job takes dedication, patience and the willingness to manage your young charges. To get a feel for whether kindergarten teaching is right for you, consider volunteering opportunities at local schools or in other educational settings.

  1. Try to volunteer at a local community outreach or after-school program. Many programs can use the extra help. Volunteering can be an excellent way to gain practical teaching experience.
  2. Become a tutor. Are you particularly knowledgeable in sciences or languages? Tutoring can be a great way to hone your teaching skills on a one-on-one basis.
  3. Consider becoming a mentor. Mentoring is beneficial to many students, and is great experience. Check with local community organizations to assess their needs for potential mentors.
  4. Become a teacher’s aide. Contact local school administrators to find out about possible opportunities. Volunteering as a teacher’s aide could help you become comfortable in the classroom.

Step 2: Education

Consider what educational background will be required for the job. Differences in educational requirements and regulations vary from state to state and between public and private schools. According to the website Education Portal: Coursework in a Kindergarten Teaching Degree Program may include:

  • Theories in Child Development
  • Curriculum Planning
  • Integrating Parental Involvement
  • Foundations of Bilingual Education
  • Culture and Curriculum
  • Childhood Learning
  • Child Language Acquisition
  • Play and Learning

Apart from normal coursework, many colleges require classroom experience. This may involve assistant teacher positions concurrent with or following study requirements.

Step 3: Get Certified

Teacher certification is usually required whether teaching public or private classes. The requirements you’ll need to fulfill in order to obtain certification as well as the type of certification you’ll need vary based on state or school system.

Public Schools

  1. Most public school systems require a bachelor’s degree for all teachers, including kindergarten instructors.
  2. Public schools also typically require an early childhood education license for kindergarten teachers. For information on specific requirements, check with each state individually. The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC)’s online database is an excellent resource for contact information. This University of Kentucky page gives details on not only certification requirements for each state, but also contact information for licensers and recruiters.
  3. Some school systems may also require a master’s degree in education.
  4. So-called “alternative route” teaching certificates are available. Usually these types of certificates are available for those who want to teach, but have a bachelor’s degree in a field of study other than education.

Private and Parochial Schools

  1. Bachelor’s degrees are almost always a requirement for kindergarten teachers in private schools. The degree does not always have to be in an education-related field, however.
  2. Many parochial schools require kindergarten teachers to teach children religion. Special certification may be required; contact the school directly to find out the specific requirements.
  3. According to the Association of Christian Schools International, teachers in private Christian schools at any level, including kindergarten, are required to pass the ACSI certification program.

Step 4: Where to Teach

Where would you like to teach? Begin by researching rules and qualification requirements for kindergarten teachers in your own state. Keep in mind that not all teaching certificates and qualifications are the same between states, so if you think you might want to move, find out ahead of time whether the licenses are transferable.

Cost of living vs. salary is an important factor to consider if you are willing to move to secure a position as a kindergarten teacher. For instance, during the 2006-07 school year, teachers in Alabama earned an average of $43,389; teachers in California earned an average annual salary of $63,640.

As a new kindergarten teacher, you will likely be paid lower than other, more seasoned teachers. New teachers’ salaries for the 2006-07 school year ranged from $26,988 to $44,523, depending on location.

Step 5: Find a Job

Once you have completed a bachelor’s degree and obtained the necessary certification and credentials, it is time to begin your job hunt!

  1. Prepare a resume and list any and all unique qualifications. Did you volunteer as a tutor or a teacher’s aide? If so, include all of this information.
  2. Begin sending out your resume to prospective employers. Not sure where to send it? and can be excellent jumping-off points. Also consider posting your resume to education-specific sites like Education World and A list of job banks for private schools can be found on the Council for American Private School Education’s website.
  3. Networking can be an excellent way to find out about potential job openings for kindergarten teachers. Contact teachers you may know in your area to find potential leads. Join professional teaching organizations like the National Education Association (NEA) or the American Federation of Teachers to make potentially valuable contacts in the teaching profession.
  4. Keep in mind that job availability will vary by state and region. Of the nearly four million people working as teachers in the U.S. in 2006, approximately 170,000 were kindergarten teachers. By contrast, 1.5 million were elementary school teachers. Jobs teaching kindergarten might not be as plentiful—willingness to be flexible is key.

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