Preschool Teacher Job Outlook

Anyone who loves small children and who finds satisfaction in helping children get a good start in their first exposure to early education will enjoy a career as a preschool teacher. Careers in education are attractive to many people because of the employment stability and the ability to live and work anywhere in the country. Preschool teachers often work 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and have summers off, but many daycare settings require longer hours and year-round work.

Education Requirements

If you work in a daycare setting or private preschool, you may need only a high school diploma and a certificate in early education, but most employers, including most public school systems, prefer a bachelor degree in early childhood education. Some states require a certification examination and continuing education credits to maintain a certification.

Preschool teachers help prepare 3- to 5-year-olds for kindergarten and later schooling. While their primary responsibility is socialization, preschool teachers may introduce simple explanations of topics such as reading and arithmetic. Preschool teachers also help young children discover their talents and interests, and they must find a balance between physical activity, playtime and educational pursuits that matches the abilities and attention spans of young children.

If you are thinking about working with disadvantaged children, then getting a bachelor degree in early childhood education is recommended. According the the BLS, preschool teachers in Head Start programs must have at least an associate degree. However, by 2013, at least 50 percent of preschool teachers in Head Start programs nationwide must have a bachelor degree in early childhood education or a related field.

Career Options

Preschool teachers can find work in private daycare centers, nursery schools and public school systems. You may be able to find work in a private facility with just a certificate, but most public school systems will want more academic credentials.

You might find work as a governess or nanny, educating and caring for the children of just one family. There are opportunities for self-employment if you want to open a preschool in your home or another building, although there are strict licensing requirements.

Many preschool teachers work in formal childcare centers that have preschool classrooms, according the the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Others work in public and private schools. Still others work for charitable or religious organizations that have preschool programs or Head Start programs. Head Start programs receive federal funding for disadvantaged children between the ages of 3 and 5.

What to Consider if You Pursue a Career as a Preschool Teacher

Salaries are generally low in this profession, with daycare and private facility workers earning around $23,000 per year. Experienced preschool teachers in public education systems earn a median salary under $26,000, although the top 10 percent earn more than $46,000.

Despite the low salaries, there is constant demand for preschool teachers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 25 percent through 2010.

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