How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher:
The Definitive Guide


A knack for adventure and a desire to learn are two great qualities to have in a Kindergarten Teacher.

If you love to be around children and enjoy teaching little minds, then the career of a Kindergarten Teacher might be right up your alley.

Consider kindergarten the bridge between being a toddler and being an elementary school child.

Kindergarten is a big step in the lives of many five to six year olds, which means you’ll need to have patience and empathy to succeed in this role.


What is a Kindergarten Teacher?

Elementary school may bring back fond memories for some, especially if they had a great Kindergarten Teacher.

As a Kindergarten Teacher, it will be your responsibility to teach 5-year-olds how to read, learn their alphabet, shapes, and many other subjects.

A Kindergarten Teacher needs to be ready to learn as well, as young kids often have their own ways of doing things.

Kindergarten is a very important year for students, and that’s why it’s important to gain as much information about this career as possible.

Duties

There are many responsibilities that a Kindergarten Teacher will need to handle each and every day.

Some of the types of things that a Kindergarten Teacher may do on a given day include:

  • Planning curriculum
  • Instruct hands-on lessons
  • Teach creative play
  • Read to students
  • Grade papers
  • Report to parents
  • One on one time with students
  • Group lessons
  • Chaperoning recess

Salary

Not only are Kindergarten Teachers necessary in the school system, but they are also a necessity in your child’s life.

Many Kindergarten Teachers make about $60,000 a year working in this career.

That may not be as much as they are worth, however, the most a Kindergarten Teacher makes in the United States is about $90,000 a year.

First-year Kindergarten Teachers, or teachers without much experience or education, can expect to make closer to $37,000 a year.

In order to gain the most out of this career, it is wise to explore further education and certification in various specialties.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $60,210

$37K
$45K
$60K
$71K
$90K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$46,190
Alaska$65,420
Arizona$45,310
Arkansas$48,100
California$73,480
Colorado$50,920
Connecticut$78,720
Delaware$61,040
District of Columbia$58,800
Florida$56,970
Georgia$57,490
Hawaii$37,570
Idaho$47,800
Illinois$57,810
Indiana$51,730
Iowa$51,720
Kansas$51,100
Kentucky$53,880
Louisiana$45,200
Maine$53,260
Maryland$70,240
Massachusetts$77,970
Michigan$60,320
Minnesota$62,410
Mississippi$45,510
Missouri$52,670
Montana$51,900
Nebraska$60,030
Nevada$56,070
New Hampshire$58,030
New Jersey$68,800
New Mexico$52,290
New York$78,140
North Carolina$48,700
North Dakota$55,290
Ohio$58,960
Oklahoma$45,360
Oregon$74,700
Pennsylvania$66,160
Rhode Island$78,180
South Carolina$54,710
South Dakota$43,060
Tennessee$50,390
Texas$55,340
Utah$64,710
Vermont$57,340
Virginia$68,720
Washington$63,710
West Virginia$46,980
Wisconsin$58,060
Wyoming$57,420
Guam$46,350
Puerto Rico$33,000

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Connecticut, where the average salary is $78,720.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Connecticut - $78,720
Rhode Island - $78,180
New York - $78,140
Massachusetts - $77,970
Oregon - $74,700
*Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher

Step 1Earn a Degree

Step one on your journey to becoming a Kindergarten Teacher is to earn a Bachelor’s degree.

These types of degrees take about four years for full-time students and provide a great opportunity to learn as much as possible about Early Childhood Education.

Those who enroll in this type of program will typically take general courses like English and math, but also classes that include:

  • Assessment of Young Children
  • Methods of Teaching
  • Elementary Mathematics
  • Foundations in Education
  • Early Language and Literacy
  • Science for Early Learners

Other majors that Kindergarten Teachers may want to look into instead of Early Childhood Education are:

  • Elementary Education
  • General Education
  • Physical Education
  • Special Education
  • English as a Second Language

Most states require that a Kindergarten Teacher has at least a Bachelor’s degree in order to be hired.

There are some places that allow for an Associate’s degree when not working in a public school.

Step 2Become a Student Teacher

While you are in school, and sometimes after you have already graduated, you will need to become a Student Teacher.

This type of role will allow you to work with a senior educator in order to learn the in’s and out’s of the career.

Consider this a shadowing opportunity, where you can learn new tricks for the job and also things not to do to be successful as a Kindergarten Teacher.

There are Teacher Preparation Programs across the United States that can help you set up a job as a Student Teacher.

These programs are different for each state, so it is important to find out what is expected of you in the state you will be working in.

Student teaching can last for one semester up to one full school year.

Step 3Apply for Licensure

Having a teaching license is just as important as having a Bachelor’s degree.

A teaching license will show prospective employers as well as parents and students that you are competent and capable at your job.

In order to gain licensure, it is likely that you will need to take an exam.

This can vary depending on which state that you work in, but for many, the test is computer-based and multiple choice.

Some of the areas covered on a typical Teacher Preparation test include:

  • Child Development and Learning
  • Communication, Language, and Literacy Development
  • Professional Development
  • Learning in Content Areas

An exam can be around 220 questions and typically takes about 2 and a half hours to finish.

There are testing sites around the country, as well as websites to take the exam online.

You must have a score of 70 percent to pass the exam.

The cost of licensure can range from $100 to $200, again depending on where you work.

Step 4Find a Job

Now, you may already have lined up employment through your student teaching gig, but if not, now is the time to find a new career.

There are many types of places that a Kindergarten Teacher can find employment.

From private schools, charter schools, and public schools, there are a variety of teaching positions available, it all depends on what you are most comfortable with.

Those working in private schools and charter schools typically have a higher salary than Kindergarten Teachers who work in public schools.

Another thing to keep in mind is gaining credentials and specializations throughout your career.

This way, many more doors, and opportunities will open for you in your dreams of becoming a Kindergarten Teacher.


Education

If you have the desire to become a Kindergarten Teacher, then you will likely be required to earn a Bachelor’s degree.

Most states and employers require this education in order to become a Kindergarten Teacher.

Most states also require a teaching license in order to gain employment as well.

There are several different Bachelors degrees that pertain to Kindergarten Teachers, such as:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Special Education

It is likely that through one of these programs, you will be required to take general courses like math, science, and English, but there will be specific courses to take as well.

Some of the likely classes that will be required for graduation include:

  • Childhood Language and Literacy
  • Health, Safety, and Nutrition
  • Preschool Teaching
  • Special Needs Education
  • Child Psychology

Along with classroom time, many programs require Student Teaching as well.

Being a Student-Teacher happens typically in the last semester of your college education.

This is to help you gain experience working in a classroom with supervision and the ability to watch someone work and see how they teach.

Kindergarten is supposed to be a fun and exciting time for students, as this is often the first time the little ones will be away from their parents.

It’s important for Kindergarten Teachers to have knowledge in various areas and an understanding of empathy and compassion.

Sometimes, a Kindergarten Teacher wants to enroll in a higher education program.

A Master’s degree program can fulfill that desire, and also provide opportunities for advancement in your career.

These programs take about two years to finish and can provide knowledge in areas like:

  • Classroom Management
  • Principles of Curriculum
  • Elementary Mathematics
  • Reading and Comprehension
  • Effective Teaching

Other Masters degree concentrations that may interest a Kindergarten Teacher are:

  • Education
  • Special Education
  • Speech-Language Pathology
  • Early Care
  • Early Childhood Studies

With a Master’s degree in any of these areas, there are opportunities to move beyond a teaching position into a role as a counselor, administration, and beyond.

Video About The Career


Licensing and Certification

Each state in the United States has its own rules when it comes to licensure and becoming a Kindergarten Teacher.

For many states, in order to be a legal Kindergarten Teacher or teacher of any kind in a public school system, you will need to have a license.

In order to be eligible for a license in most states, there are some requirements, including:

  • Passing a background check
  • Having a degree from an accredited school
  • College transcripts
  • Paying the application fee

Licensure can consist of taking an exam, which is usually computer-based.

These types of tests can be taken online or in-person at testing centers across the country.

The average exam is about 100-200 questions long, most of them being multiple-choice.

There are many topics covered on a teaching licensure exam, which may include:

  • Assessment of Professional Knowledge
  • Foundations of Reading
  • Prekindergarten
  • Technology Education
  • Educational Leadership

This exam takes the average person about two and a half hours to finish, and with a score of 70 or above, you pass and become a licensed Kindergarten Teacher!

There are other certifications available to Kindergarten Teachers who desire more knowledge in their life.

A certificate in Early Childhood Special Education can allow for more connection with different students, and knowledge of new and exciting ways to teach.

A certificate in Children’s Programs shows Kindergarten Teachers a variety of techniques when it comes to starting their own organization.

Each type of certification has its own requirements, some credentials may require sitting in a classroom and others may require taking an exam.

Every state has its own certifications for Kindergarten Teachers and other Elementary School Teachers, so be sure to check your state’s education website.

Most licenses must be renewed every 3 to 5 years.

Renewal can include retaking the exam or gaining further education.

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

Some training programs can take a couple of weeks to finish, while others may only require that you take an exam.

Each state has its own requirements when it comes to licensing and certification for Kindergarten Teachers.

Most states do require a Student-Teacher Prep Program, which provides anywhere from one semester to one school year of student teaching.

This allows for on-the-job experience with supervision from a senior educator.

Depending on your level of education and which type of program you enter, you may spend anywhere from one day to one year in a program.

Popular Degree Programs


Job Outlook

Though the amount of growth for the career of a Kindergarten Teacher will vary depending on the area in which you live, most can expect a growth of around 4 percent.

This career will always be a necessary part of our lives, as our children grow older and need to head off to school, eventually, our grandkids will have to do the same.

With that being said, there will be steady growth in job opportunities for Kindergarten Teachers over the next ten years.

Population growth and advancements in technology have also made the necessity of Kindergarten Teachers even more prevalent.

Employment Growth Projection: 4%

127,700
2018
132,400
2028

That's a higher than average projected growth of 4,700 jobs.

Kindergarten Teacher: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Kindergarten Teacher?

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

Overall Satisfaction

While working with kids can be a delight, it can also be quite stressful.

Most Kindergarten teachers love their jobs but do find that it has a lot more stress than other careers.

However, the hours are great for most Kindergarten Teachers, especially having the summers off of work.

There are some downsides to the hours, though, as flexibility is not as great as other careers.

Upward mobility, or the ability to gain promotions and raises, is about average for this career.

Average Salary: High

Average Salary

The average salary for a Kindergarten Teacher in the United States is close to $60,000 a year.

Working in different areas of the country may affect your salary as a Kindergarten Teacher.

Also, whether you work in a private school or public school can also affect yearly salary.

Kindergarten Teachers at the top of their careers make about $90,000 a year in some areas.

With a career as a Kindergarten Teacher, you should expect to start out making closer to $30,000 a year.

Once you gain experience and knowledge of the career, you will see raises and promotions in your salary and profession.

Job Growth Outlook: Medium

Job Growth Outlook

Those who are looking to begin a career as a Kindergarten Teacher should expect to see about a 4 percent growth in job opportunities over the next decade.

There will always be a need for Kindergarten Teachers, as children will always need someone to teach them the fundamentals of early life.

While this career won’t grow very much over the next ten years, it is a steady growth that goes along with other careers in the education field.

Expect to have more job opportunities and chances for promotion with education and career development.

Education Duration: 4+ Years

Education Duration

Kindergarten Teachers work hard to teach little kids how to read, write, and be humans.

This means that having a career as a Kindergarten Teacher will require a bit of an education.

The average duration of an education program for Kindergarten Teachers is four years.

With a four-year program, you will earn a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education.

Some Kindergarten Teachers may choose to earn an Associate’s degree, which takes about two years to finish.

However, it is necessary to have at least a Bachelor’s degree to gain employment in this career.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Not only is it important to have a passion for teaching to become a great Kindergarten Teacher, but it’s also important to have a love for children and a great sense of humor.

Some of the other types of traits that a Kindergarten Teacher should have include:

  • Empathy for others
  • Patience
  • Creativity skills
  • Flexibility
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to stay calm in stressful situations
  • Respect for others
  • High energy
  • Engaging personality
  • Good listener
  • Great communication skills
  • Compassionate
  • Innovative
  • Natural leader
  • Great organizational skills

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does a Kindergarten Teacher Make?

Most Kindergarten Teachers should expect a salary of around $60,000 annually in areas like California, Texas, New York, and other highly populated areas.

When just beginning a career as a Kindergarten Teacher, the salary can be as low as $30,000 a year.

However, with certifications, specializations, and experience in the field, a Kindergarten Teacher can make up to $90,000 a year in some places.

Expect to make anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 a year as a Kindergarten Teacher.

Q. What does a Kindergarten Teacher do?

While it’s debatable, we believe that a Kindergarten Teacher may have one of the most important jobs in the world.

That is because they are responsible for teaching young children how to read, write, and be generally good humans.

Some of the things that you can find a Kindergarten Teacher doing throughout their day include:

  • Teaching ABC’s
  • Reading stories
  • Teaching math problems
  • Talking with parents
  • Making lesson plans
  • Helping students one on one

Q. What is the demand for Kindergarten Teachers?

Since there are always new children coming up at age 5, it is likely that there will always be a need for Kindergarten Teachers.

This career should grow about 4 percent over the next ten years, which is slow but steady in this field.

Having quality educators is important in this country, so while the growth of this career is small, there will still be a need for great Kindergarten Teachers for the foreseeable future.

Q. How long does it take to become a Kindergarten Teacher?

With dreams of becoming a Kindergarten Teacher, you should expect to spend about four years in school.

Then, you will need to spend some time working as a Student Teacher.

This means that it can take anywhere from 4 1/2 to 5 years to become a Kindergarten Teacher.

Some Kindergarten Teachers even choose to earn a Master’s degree, which takes another two years to finish.

Q. How much does it cost to become a Kindergarten Teacher?

The average Bachelor’s degree in the United States costs around $35,000.

There are some states that have smaller costs, as little as $20,000 for community colleges or small universities.

There are also colleges that can cost up to $50,000 for 4 years of education.

Plus, the cost of a teaching license can be about $200.

This means that it can cost anywhere from $15,200 to over $50,000 to become a Kindergarten Teacher.


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