Teaching Occupations

Overall employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for kindergarten and elementary teachers, but employment growth will vary by region.

The number of students enrolling in public kindergarten and elementary schools is expected to increase over the coming decade, and the number of classes needed to accommodate these students should rise. As a result, more teachers will be needed to teach public kindergarten and elementary school students.

Despite expected increases in enrollment in public schools, employment growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers will depend on state and local government budgets. If state and local governments experience budget deficits, they may lay off employees, including teachers. As a result, employment growth of public kindergarten and elementary school teachers may be somewhat reduced.

A substantial number of older teachers are expected to reach retirement age between 2016 and 2026. Their retirement will increase the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. However, many areas of the country already have a surplus of kindergarten and elementary school teachers, making it more difficult for new teachers to find jobs.

Opportunities will vary by region and school setting. There will be better opportunities in urban and rural school districts than in suburban school districts. Flexibility in job location may increase job prospects.

Pay

The median annual wage for elementary school teachers, except special education was $57,160 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,340, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,770.

The median annual wage for kindergarten teachers, except special education was $54,230 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $83,920.

Special Education Teachers

Overall employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The employment growth of special education teachers will vary by type of institution. (See table below.) However, overall demand will be driven by school enrollment and the need for special education services.

Enrollment in special education programs has increased slightly in the past couple of years. Demand for special education services and teachers should rise as children with disabilities are increasingly being identified earlier and enrolled into special education programs.  

Federal laws require free education for students with disabilities, and every state must maintain the same level of financial support for special education every year. This mandate provides special education programs with consistent funding and reduces the threat of employment layoffs due to state or federal budget constraints. However, employment growth may depend on increases in funding.

Pay

The median annual wage for special education teachers was $58,980 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $95,320.

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