Want to teach kindergarten, but aren’t sure how to become a kindergarten teacher? Here is a step-by-step guide to starting your future career.
How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher, Step 1: Enroll in the right kind of university program
To become a kindergarten teacher, you will need to get certified to teach through a university program. Alternative certification won’t be an option here, because alternative certification programs only offer licensure in teacher shortage areas — and there isn’t a serious shortage of kindergarten teachers.
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree yet, you’ll need to get one. Look for a bachelor’s degree in education that will qualify you to teach kindergarten-aged children. Typically, this will be a bachelor’s in elementary education. However, other programs could work as well. Some universities offer early childhood education degrees that include the kindergarten-age group. And there are also education degrees will get you certified to teach any students in the K-12 range.
When you see a degree program that looks like it will cover kindergarten licensure, double check to make sure that it really will lead to a kindergarten teaching certificate. Usually you can find this information the university web page for the program. But if you’re not sure, contact an admissions representative or program adviser at the school to confirm that the degree will work for you.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you have a number of options when it comes to teacher training programs. You may be able to get a second bachelor’s degree in elementary education, early childhood education, or K-12 teaching. You should be able to take some of the general education credits from your previous degree and apply them to your new degree; that way, your second bachelor’s can be completed in less than four years.
Grad school is an option too. Again, you’ll want to look for a program that will certify you to work with kindergarten-aged kids, possibly a master’s degree with a concentration in elementary, K-12, or early childhood education.
If you are considering grad school for your kindergarten teaching license, a post-baccalaureate teaching certificate is another possibility. This is not a full degree program, but a set of university classes designed to make you eligible for a state teaching certification. Post-bac programs are less common than degree programs, so if you want to take this route, you may need to relocate for school or look into online teaching certificate options.
How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher, Step 2: Apply for a state teaching certification
Once you complete your teaching degree (including your student teaching experience), you’ll need to apply for a license to teach kindergarten. This license will be granted by your state’s department of education.
To get a state certificate to teach kindergarten, you’ll need to take a few different steps. You’ll have to pass the teacher certification exams that your state requires for kindergarten teachers. In many states, this means taking the Praxis Core, a Praxis II exam for either elementary education or early childhood education, and possibly an age-appropriate Praxis PLT test. You’ll also need to submit a teaching portfolio. Additioanlly, you must submit your university transcripts to your state licensing board, to prove that you meet the minimum GPA requirements for certification.
How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher, Step 3: Apply for kindergarten teaching jobs
Once you’ve completed your university program and gotten your state license to teach kindergartners, you’re ready to get to work. As I mentioned before, there isn’t a shortage of kindergarten teachers, generally speaking. And in fact, the job market for kindergarten teachers can be fairly competitive. But if you’re open to teaching wherever the jobs are and relocating if need be, you should have no trouble finding work in your chosen field.