Elementary school teachers are vital. They are responsible for building their students’ literacy and for creating a foundation for children’s future education. Becoming a teacher is a noble calling and, luckily, in Connecticut, the position can also be a rewarding one. Connecticut teachers are among the best compensated, appreciated, and respected in the nation. Connecticut offers educators a competitive compensation, with the average starting salary beginning at $55,000 per year. Salaries in Connecticut are rising, too! From 2019 to 2020, teacher salaries in Connecticut grew by 5.5%. Additionally, teachers in Connecticut school districts are rewarded for pursuing higher education with tuition reimbursements. It’s not a coincidence, then, that teachers are also among the most educated! But what degrees are required of elementary school teachers in Connecticut? Read on for an exploration of Connecticut’s elementary teacher degree requirements.
Degree Requirements for Elementary Teachers in Connecticut
Connecticut requires that prospective teachers earn, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. However, it is expected that elementary teachers in Connecticut will eventually earn a master’s degree during the course of their careers.
Those who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree may want to consider a program that offers its students a combined bachelor’s degree and certification program. You’ll be required to finish at least two years of your bachelor’s degree before you’re able to enter a teacher certification program, as you’ll need to have finished a significant amount of general education credits prior. If you already have a bachelor’s degree but you’re not ready to begin a master’s degree, you can pursue a post-baccalaureate program in order to complete the education requirements expected of elementary teachers, prior to taking your certification exams.
All teachers in Connecticut are required to eventually earn their master’s degree. If you’re a first-time teacher who already has a bachelor’s degree, earning a master’s degree is the ideal step to take in order to enter the profession. A master’s degree in Elementary Education is typically completed over the course of two years and requires candidates to complete their studies on a full-time basis. Earning a master’s degree will qualify future elementary school teachers to eventually earn higher levels of certification. (Read more here to learn about certification requirements for teachers.)
Regardless of degree level, there are specific educational requirements expected of prospective, new teachers. This coursework is dependent on the grade level and/or subject area in which teachers want to specialize. For example, aspiring elementary teachers must gain extensive knowledge in a wide range of subject areas, including math, language arts, science and social studies. Specifically, teachers who specialize in Elementary Education are required to:
- Take at least 15 semester hours in Typical and Atypical Development, Psychology of Learning, and Family Studies.
- Earn a minimum of 39 semester hours in general academic courses including Natural Sciences, Social Studies, Fine Arts, English, Mathematics, and Foreign Language.
- Complete coursework in the Foundations of Education, including classes such as Philosophy of Education, Comparative Education, or History of Education.
- Take classes in curriculum building, strategizing, and developing appropriate practices for teaching subject areas to primary grade students.
Elementary Teacher Certification Requirements
Becoming a certified elementary school teacher requires that candidates pass certain certification tests. This includes the ETS Praxis II Elementary Education test. This test covers a wide variety of topics and subject areas, including Reading and Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. Prospective elementary school teachers must also pass the Foundations of Reading test. If they’re interested in teaching grades 1, 2, or 3, they are required to also pass the Connecticut Certification Examinations Early Childhood Exam.
There are three levels of Connecticut teacher certifications: Initial, Provisional, and Professional. Teachers in Connecticut must work their way through all three levels of certification over the course of their careers. However, prospective teachers must begin with their Initial Educator Certificate. Teachers are eligible for this certification after they’ve completed a state-approved degree program. This Initial Certificate is valid for three years, during which time teachers should be actively teaching in order to eventually earn the Provisional Educator Certificate. The Provisional Educator Certificate can be earned after a teacher has worked for at least 10 months in an approved Connecticut public school and has finished a TEAM Mentoring Program. This certification is valid for 8 years. The Professional Educator Certificate can be earned after the applicant has worked for at least 30 months while holding a Provisional Educator Certificate in a Connecticut public school. Applicants must also earn a graduate degree in order to qualify for this level of certification.
Becoming an elementary school teacher requires that prospective educators earn a bachelor’s degree, at minimum, before starting their career. However, teachers will find that eventually earning a master’s degree will not only be necessary, but advantageous to their career moving forward.
A master’s degree in Elementary Education prepares candidates to plan lessons and units according to state and national guidelines, pass the Praxis II exam for elementary school teachers (including the subject-specific subsections), develop curriculum for students with special needs, and pass the necessary certification exams.
If you’re interested in becoming an elementary teacher in Connecticut, you can learn more about the process by reading University of Bridgeport’s eBook, “How to Become a Teacher in Connecticut”! Download the guide, free.