Kindergarten teacher salary & career outlook
The skills and knowledge gained during the early period of a child's life are widely accepted as having a substantial impact on social and intellectual growth. Kindergarten teachers have a unique opportunity to encourage the development of academic enthusiasm and good social habits in their students, as they're among the first to introduce children to mathematics, language arts, science, social studies and other elementary subjects.
Kindergarten teacher job description
The specific duties of a kindergarten teacher tend to change quite a bit from day to day, but there are some general tasks that help define a kindergarten teacher's role in the education field:
- Teaching phonics, numbers, reading, writing and an awareness of the natural world
- Using play and hands-on teaching to help develop social and intellectual skills
- Fostering healthy social habits through mediation of student interactions
- Communicating with parents about their child's progress
- Assembling classroom materials for bulletin boards, crafts and hands-on activities
Kindergarten teachers may also be counted on to identify early signs of emotional or developmental problems in students and discuss them with school administrators, child development specialists, and parents or guardians.
Kindergarten teacher salary information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), kindergarten teachers earned a national mean annual salary of $52,840 in 2013. The lowest-paid 10 percent of earners took home $32,890 or less the same year, and the highest-paid 10 percent earned upwards of $77,140.
More than 90 percent of working kindergarten teachers were employed in elementary and secondary schools in 2013, according to the BLS, where they were paid a mean annual wage of $53,800. Here are five other industries where kindergarten teachers might find employment, along with their average annual salary figures for the same time period:
- Local government: $46,160
- Civic and social organizations: $45,240
- Religious organizations: $42,450
- Individual and family services: $41,530
- Child day care services: $34,340
Geographical location also factors into kindergarten teacher salaries, and some states offer a better ratio of income to affordability than others. Here are a few states where the 2013 mean annual salary reported by the BLS compares favorably to the 2014 cost of living ranking computed by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC):
- Kentucky: $51,630; ranks 3rd in affordability
- Indiana: $49,440; ranks 5th in affordability
- Georgia: $52,100; ranks 11th in affordability
- Wyoming: $54,150; ranks 14th in affordability
Specific metropolitan areas that paid kindergarten teachers particularly well in 2013 include Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y. ($94,730); New Haven, Conn. ($74,320); Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif. ($69,050); and Corpus Christi, Texas ($60,570).
Kindergarten teacher training online and on campus
The most common way to become a kindergarten teacher is to complete a bachelor's degree program and obtain a teaching license for early childhood grades. Requirements for licenses vary from state to state. While all public school teachers must be licensed, private schools may be exempt from state licensing requirements.
Those looking to advance into scholastic leadership roles can often find continuing education courses or advanced kindergarten teacher training online. In fact, many states require their teachers to participate in continuing education in order to keep their licenses current, and online options provide a scheduling flexibility that can make it easier for busy teachers to satisfy that requirement.
Kindergarten teacher career outlook
Kindergarten teacher employment is expected to grow by about 13 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the BLS, which should add about 20,600 new jobs to the market nationwide. Rising student enrollment and a push to decrease student-teacher ratios in some areas are cited as principal drivers of the projected growth in kindergarten teacher jobs.
According to the BLS, states that employed large numbers of kindergarten teachers in 2013 included California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois. Due to state-specific funding decisions for public schools, however, not all of these states can expect to see employment growth commensurate with their current job supply. The states projected to have the best job growth for the period between 2010 and 2020, according to Projections Central, include:
- Georgia: 32.6% projected growth
- Utah: 27.5% projected growth
- New Mexico: 26.4% projected growth
- Florida: 22.9% projected growth
- Arizona: 22.4% projected growth
Cost of Living Data Series: First Quarter 2014, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri Department of Economic Development, http://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/index.stm
Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education, O*Net OnLine: Occupational Information Network, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/25-2012.00
Occupational Employment and Wages: Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2013,
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,