How to Become a Preschool Teacher

Learning how to become a preschool teacher is the first step for students who want to devote their careers to introducing young children to the classroom experience. Pursuing a degree in early childhood education is the most critical step toward teaching preschool students.

Students will need to know their state’s regulations on becoming a preschool teacher. Depending on the state, for example, preschool teachers may not be required to attend college, as a high school diploma or certificate will suffice.

More often though, preschool teachers will have to follow a standard protocol for pursuing their future career.

Education Requirements

Preschool teachers are required to hold a high school diploma and certification, at least. However, some states require a bachelor degree in early childhood studies to ensure a firmer foundation in working with preschool children.

According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 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’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. As a result, Head Start programs may prefer to hire workers with a bachelor’s degree. Those with a degree in a related field must have experience teaching preschool-age children.

Some states and employers require preschool teachers to have a nationally recognized certification such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) offered by the Council for Professional Recognition, according to the BLS. Requirements to earn the CDA include a high school diploma, experience in the field, and coursework. For more information about the CDA, contact the Council for Professional Recognition.

Some states require preschool teachers to have some work experience in a childcare setting. The amount of experience necessary varies by state. Preschool teachers often start out as childcare workers or teacher assistants, according to the BLS.

Career Options: What Can You Do with an Early Childhood Education Degree?

For those who hold this degree, a career as a preschool teacher is an obvious choice, but it’s not the only one. Graduates may also pursue a career working in Head Start programs, many of which require employees to hold a bachelor’s degree.

An additional benefit to holding a bachelor degree is that it may enable graduates to teach from kindergarten through third grade. It may also help graduates find work as a nanny and lay the groundwork for starting a preschool.

What to Consider if You Pursue Early Childhood Studies

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, preschool teaching jobs are expected to rise by 25 percent between 2010 and 2020. The median annual wage for preschool teachers was about $25,000 in 2010, the BLS says.

The BLS adds that workers who have post-secondary education, particularly those with a bachelor’s degree, should have better job prospects than those with less education. In addition, workers with the Child Development Associate (CDA) or Child Care Professional (CCP) credential should have better prospects than those without these certifications.

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