According to a study from the Annenberg Institute, there are at least 36,000 vacant teaching positions in the US, with 163,530 jobs filled with underqualified individuals. These numbers indicate how highly in-demand elementary teachers are.
There is a high demand for elementary school teachers. The states with the highest demand for elementary school teachers are Florida, with around 8,000 vacancies; Wisconsin, with 2,565 vacancies; Mississippi, with 3,036 vacancies; Illinois, with 2,139 vacancies; and California, with an estimated 100,000 vacancies.
Read on to learn more about which states are experiencing the highest teacher shortage, and each state’s licensing procedures and annual average income.
Below are the states with the highest demand for elementary school teachers. I’ve also included the average annual income and steps on how you can apply as a teacher in each state.
Florida is one of the states with the highest demands for elementary school teachers. As of August 2022, the Florida Education Association (FEA) declared that they have around 8,000 vacancies. The past year has seen a demand for 5,000 teachers, but this seemed to have only grown with the latest state education budget increase worth $250 million.
Even with the budget increase, according to Zippia.com, the median annual salary for elementary teachers in Florida stands at $43,762, which is around 16% lower than the national average yearly income of an elementary teacher in the US, which stands at $52,161.
To be an elementary teacher in Florida, the FLDOE requires you to earn your bachelor’s degree majoring in elementary education or 30 semester hours in Elementary Education related-coursework.
However, you can use a Florida Subject Area Subject Examination or a valid American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) to qualify for a temporary certificate.
Military veterans can also apply using the Military Veterans Certification Pathway even without a bachelor’s degree, provided they have a minimum of 60 college credits, a 2.5 GPA, and at least four years of military service with a medical or honorable discharge.
They should also be employed in a Florida school district (including charter schools) and have cleared background screening.
Moreover, although Florida doesn’t require Praxis testing, you’ll still have to pass the Florida Subject Area Examinations and the Florida General Knowledge Test. The same goes for military veteran applicants.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, about 2,565 preschool and K-12 teaching positions will open annually from 2018 until 2028. This shortage would result in fresh graduates pursuing different paths, even if they majored in teaching-related courses, due to higher pay and more benefits.
The average annual income for elementary school teachers in Wisconsin stands at $45,901, which is 12% lower than the national average for elementary school teachers.
To become an elementary teacher in Wisconsin, you can try four licensure pathways options. Initially, five options were available. However, as of August 2022, the License Based on Equivalency Pathway is no longer available due to policy changes.
The easiest option is the Bachelor’s Degree Pathway which you can only get if you graduate in an approved teaching preparation program at a Wisconsin university or college. The said university or college will then endorse you for a Wisconsin license upon graduation.
The second option is the Post Baccalaureate Pathway which works if you already have a bachelor’s degree. Typically, you’ll go this way if you want to pursue teaching but have an unrelated degree (or if you want an additional license).
The third option is the Alternative Route Program Pathway, which works if you have a Bachelor’s degree majoring in the license subject. This is similar to the second option but will not lead to another degree. Instead, the program works by preparing candidates with teaching backgrounds for Wisconsin licenses in shortage areas.
The fourth option is the ABCTE Licensure Program Pathway which fulfills all the requirements set by Wis. Stat. 118.197. To learn more about the American Board’s Teacher Certification Program, you can watch the video below:
California is among the top states with the highest demand for elementary school teachers. Just last September, the California School Boards Association stated in an ABC10 interview that 100,000 new teachers are needed if the state wants to provide quality education to children.
California educators also cited how low income compared to other professions was the most common reason they opted for a career change in the same interview. Additionally, they mentioned political pressures amidst the pandemic and other paradigm shifts that challenged their teaching techniques, such as the switch to an online learning platform.
On average, the annual income of an elementary teacher in California is $60,525, which is 16% higher than the national average income for elementary teachers.
To apply in California, you must first earn the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (MSTC). You can do so through different approaches. The first option is to earn it through a California university or college. You can also earn it through your university or college’s internship program.
Alternatively, you can earn your MSTC through a school district internship program or from your experience teaching in a private school. Finally, you can also undergo an Early Completion Internship Option or experience with the Peace Corps.
The video below provides a more precise explanation of how you can do this.
Mississippi is another state where you’ll be almost sure to be hired as an elementary school teacher. According to the Mississippi Department of Education, there are 3,036 teaching position vacancies as of December 2021. Nine hundred fifty-eight are for elementary school teachers, which is still a high number, considering how many school districts Mississippi has.
However, at $35,289 average annual income, Mississippi ranks the lowest among average elementary teacher salaries in the US. This is about 32% lower than the national average elementary teacher income.
There are four ways you can teach elementary students in Mississippi. The first is through their Traditional Route Licensing, which works if you have completed a Mississippi teacher education degree program.
Another option is through Non-Traditional Route Licensing. This works if you have earned a certification from any of the following: Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Teach For America (TFA), Teacher Corp (TC), American Board Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), or another Five-Year Alternative Certification Option.
You can also teach elementary students after earning an out-of-state license which you can do if you already have a teaching license granted by other states or countries.
Finally, you may earn your teaching license through Career and Technical Education Endorsements. This will work if you have completed the requirements for a CTE endorsement which will grant you a five-year license.
You can still earn a three-year license should you lack some requirements, but you’ll only have to complete what you lack before it expires.
As of October 2022, the Illinois State Board of Education records 2,139 vacancies in teaching positions.
In an Illinois Newsroom with a school superintendent, teaching position vacancies used to attract applicants in batches of hundreds, but now, they only get three or more. However, experts believe that it’s not because of teacher shortage but the low income that makes the profession not as pleasing as it was.
On average, Illinois elementary teachers earn $49,659 annually. This is 4.7% lower than the national average income for elementary teachers in the US.
Illinois offers three options to get a Professional Educator License (PEL). The first option is for those who have completed a bachelor’s degree in a teaching program and got a license out-of-state.
The second option works for those who finished a bachelor’s degree in a teaching program out-of-state but did not get a license. It has additional requirements such as teaching experience, coursework completion, and various licensure tests.
The final option is to undergo the Illinois Educator Preparation Program, which is only suitable if you’re completing an in-state educator preparation from any Illinois college or university.
North Carolina is another state with one of the highest number of teaching position vacancies in the country.
According to data collected by executive director Jack Hoke of N.C. School Superintendents’ Association, there are 3,617 teaching position vacancies, with 1,570 positions specifically for elementary school teachers.
North Carolina education experts have largely attributed these vacancies to the pandemic and the low pay associated with being a teacher.
On average, elementary school teachers from North Carolina typically earn $40,959 annually, which is 21.5% lower than the national average salary for elementary teachers.
You can choose one of the three options to apply for a North Carolina Professional Educator License. The first option is to complete a North Carolina-approved education preparation program in in-state colleges or universities. After completing the program, submit the official documents necessary.
The second option is using the two alternate routes for your PEL. The first alternate route is through residency licensure. Essentially, this allows applicants to work immediately for an institution while they obtain a clear professional educator’s license.
However, you should first be deemed qualified by an approved educator preparation program and employed by a North Carolina school.
The second alternate route is to get an Emergency License and Permit to Teach. Essentially this is a one-year, non-renewable license offered to teachers with no experience for a short time.
Finally, the third option to get your North Carolina PEL is by completing a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program.
Now that you know which states need the most elementary school teachers, let’s look at which specific subjects need additional helping hands.
In a Boston University interview with Special Education teacher Elizabeth Bettini, she recalls how emotionally draining it has been to teach children with special needs.
However, while one might think that it’s because of the challenges in handling differently-abled students, Bettini said it has more to do with the lack of preparation time and low income. These challenges resulted in low applicant rates over the years.
To remedy this, federal and state laws, such as the Illinois Educator Preparation Program, now allow underqualified people as long as they’re actively pursuing a special education certification.
According to XR Technologies (a company contracted by the Indiana Department of Education to license mathematics teachers) CEO and Founder Kevin Berkopes, the lack of mathematics teachers in the US has been due to the educational field’s difficulty in the US’ cultural setup.
He explained that this difficulty comes from a lack of incentive and the commodity-like treatment given to educators.
Mainly when teaching math, he said that future educators should make it more creative and relational such as how social science teachers present problems in their subjects. This way, teachers could attract more students to follow in their footsteps.
The Office of English Language Acquisition said in a published report that ESL learners have boomed up to one million from 2000 to 2020. However, with the increase in ESL learners, the gap between the number of teachers and their students grows wider.
In an interview with Voice of America, Waco Independent School assistant superintendent Josie Gutierrez said that states with more bilingual speakers, such as Texas, have also noted a slower growth with their district bilingual programs.
She added that income wasn’t the issue; instead, it was the naturally high demand for ESL teachers in their state.
Being a teacher is a fulfilling but highly challenging job. If you’re considering building a career in the field, you must consider several factors, such as the average annual income for the position and the area’s cost of living.
The demand for elementary school teachers in your area will also determine your chances of finding a decent-paying job. However, with current trends, all sources point to a widespread teacher shortage across the US.
The issue is exacerbated with the widening of the gender imbalance, with men making up only 19.5% of elementary school teachers.
- Annenberg Institute: Is there a national teacher shortage? A systematic examination of reports of teacher shortages in the United States
- WPTV: New laws, teacher shortages await Florida students as 2022-23 school year begins
- Zippia: Elementary School Teacher Salary
- Florida Department of Education: Military Veterans Certification Pathway
- Milwaukee Independent: Southeast Wisconsin ss Grappling With a Teacher Shortage and Covid Could Prompt Even More Demand
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: Teaching License
- YouTube: How Does American Board’s Teacher Certification Program Work?
- ABC10: How the landscape of teaching and teacher compensation has changed
- California Commission on Teacher Credentialing: Become an Elementary School Teacher in California
- YouTube: HOW TO BECOME A TEACHER IN CALIFORNIA // TEACHER TIPS // NEW TEACHER
- Mississippi Today: Teacher shortage: Mississippi lacks 3,000 certified teachers
- Mississippi Department of Education: Licensure Application Checklist
- Illinois State Board of Education: EDUCATOR LICENSURE UNFILLED POSITIONS 2022
- Illinois Newsroom: ‘Teacher shortage’ stories are everywhere. Is school staffing in Illinois actually more difficult this year?
- EducationNC: Context before crisis: Vacancies, attrition, and our teacher pipeline
- North Carolina Department of Public Instruction: Approved Programs
- North Carolina Department of Public Instruction: Apply for a NC Educator License
- North Carolina Department of Public Instruction: Residency Licensure
- BU Today: Almost Every State Needs More Special Ed Teachers. How Can They Get Them?
- WFYI: Shortage of math teachers: ‘It’s a crisis situation’
- Office of English Language Acquisition: English Learners: Demographic Trends
- VOA Learning English: ESL Programs Face Shortages, Learning Loss during Pandemic