Why Get an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education

An associate degree in early childhood education provides the basic degree necessary to teach preschool and kindergarten-age children. With an associate degree, education majors can earn a degree with licensure in just two years. The degree will allow them to start working in the career field of their choice in as short a time as possible.

This degree is a good choice for those who want to earn their college degree in just a few years and who picture themselves in a career that involves working with small children. It is often the first degree preschool and early elementary school teachers receive, and for some of those positions it is the only degree needed. For others, it serves as the starting point, allowing them to get an entry-level position while pursuing a bachelor degree.

Accreditation programs for associate degrees in early childhood education are growing, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. A full 173 programs have accreditation across 29 states. Another 100 programs are in self-study in 34 states. This means the programs available to students interested in this degree are plentiful. This, combined with strong employment opportunities and a high demand for qualified teachers in this field, makes it a popular degree choice.

Education Requirements

Prior to enrolling in an associate degree in early childhood education program, the student needs a high school diploma or a comparable certificate. Since the degree program contains the basic core classes, no additional college level education is required to enter the program. Students can pursue this degree through online courses, if they wish.

Licensure may be an option for those who earn this degree, provided they studied in an accredited school. State licensure requirements for early childhood teachers vary tremendously, so students should seek the advice of their local board of education. Licensure can open more job opportunities, particularly in public school programs.

Career Options: What You Can Do With an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education

Students who earn an associate degree in early childhood education are qualified to teach preschool and sometimes kindergarten students. Many graduates find jobs in schools and daycare centers. Some will use their degree to start home daycares, rather than seeking employment in a traditional classroom-based center. Teachers with this degree may also be able to work in after-school programs and summer day camps. Working as a teacher’s aide in an elementary school is yet another option to pursue with this degree.

What to Consider if You Pursue an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 25 percent growth for preschool teachers between 2010 and 2020. This is higher than the national average, which indicates people who pursue an associate degree in early childhood education will have excellent job options available to them. In 2010, preschool teachers earned an average of $25,700 per year, or $12.35 per hour.

An associate degree in early childhood education is a smart choice for the student who needs to earn a college diploma quickly and enjoys working with small children. With a number of accredited programs available, including some online coursework, students pursuing this training have many options to consider.

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