Education and training. Traditional education programs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers include courses designed specifically for those preparing to teach. Most programs require students to perform a student-teaching internship. Graduation from an accredited program is not necessary to become a teacher, but it may make fulfilling licensure requirements easier.
Many States now offer professional development schools, which are partnerships between universities and elementary or secondary schools. Students enter these 1-year programs after completion of their bachelor’s degree. All 50 States and the District of Columbia require public school teachers to be licensed. Licensure is not required for teachers in most private schools.
All States require general education teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and to have completed an approved teacher training program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits, as well as supervised practice teaching.
Expect to be able to pass a background check. Many states now require a thorough background check of any public school teacher.
Licensing requirements for preschool teachers also vary by State. Requirements for public preschool teachers are generally more stringent than those for private preschool teachers. Some States require a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, while others require an associate’s degree, and still others require certification by a nationally recognized authority. The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, the most common type of certification, requires a mix of classroom training and experience working with children, along with an independent assessment of the teacher’s competence.
Private schools are generally exempt from meeting State licensing standards. For secondary school teacher jobs, they prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in the subject they intend to teach, or in childhood education for preschool teachers.