Employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected because of both declines in student–teacher ratios and increases in enrollment. However, employment growth will vary by region.
From 2010 to 2020, the student–teacher ratio is expected to decline. This ratio is the number of students for each teacher in the school. A decline in the ratio means that each teacher is responsible for fewer students, and, consequently, more teachers are needed to teach the same number of students.
In addition, the number of students in kindergarten and elementary schools is expected to increase over the coming decade, and the number of classes needed to accommodate these students will also rise. As a result, more teachers will be required to teach these additional classes of kindergarten and elementary school students.
Although overall student enrollment is expected to grow, there will be some variation by region. Enrollment is expected to grow fastest in the South and West. In the Midwest, enrollment is expected to hold steady, and the Northeast is projected to have declines. As a result, employment growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is expected to be faster in the South and West than in the Midwest and Northeast.
However, despite expected increases in enrollment, employment growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers will depend on state and local government budgets. When state and local governments experience budget deficits, they may lay off employees, including teachers. As a result, employment growth of kindergarten and elementary school teachers may be somewhat reduced by state and local government budget deficits.
A significant number of older teachers is expected to reach retirement age from 2010 to 2020. Their retirement will create job openings for new teachers. However, many areas of the country have a surplus of teachers who are trained to teach kindergarten and elementary school, making it more difficult for new teachers to find jobs.
Teachers of English as a second language (ESL) and special education teachers are in short supply. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers with education or certifications to teach these specialties should have better job opportunities. For more information about kindergarten and elementary school special education teachers, see the profile on special education teachers.
Opportunities will vary by region and school setting. Job prospects should be better in the South and West, which are expected to have rapid enrollment growth. Furthermore, opportunities will be better in urban and rural school districts than in suburban school districts.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition