First-grade teachers in public schools must have at least a bachelor's degree in elementary education, with a few exceptions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Requirements for private-school teachers vary depending on the school, but a bachelor's degree is usually preferred.
Some states mandate that their public first-grade teachers also have a major in the content area they teach, explains the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Public school teachers must be licensed or certified, although private-school teachers normally do not need to meet such a requirement. Depending on the state, a teacher may need to obtain a master's degree after becoming certified.
However, all states have programs for people who possess bachelor's degrees but who do not have a teaching background. Some programs let a person teach while he simultaneously takes the required teaching and child development classes.