dcsimg

Early Childhood Education Majors Guide


Table of Contents

What Does it Mean to Study Early Childhood Education?

The growing field of early childhood education includes many different job opportunities. Regardless of the position you seek, if you are considering an education degree in early childhood education, you should enjoy children and have a strong desire to help them learn and succeed.

As an early childhood education major, you might enjoy a variety of career options after you graduate. Professionals may work with children of different age groups, depending on their specialty; the age range covered usually goes from birth to age 8 or so (third grade). An early childhood education major enjoys the opportunity for employment in a field that dramatically shapes and influences the lives of children. Early childhood educators enjoy teaching and are capable of teaching skills using a variety of instructional methods. They are flexible, and enjoy an autonomous work environment. Above all, professionals in the field of early childhood education must have a true love of young people.

2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects favorable growth in the early childhood education field through 2022. As baby boomer teachers retire and school enrollment increases, the need for educators and child care workers will increase as well. In some areas, where the need for teachers is high, schools are offering bonuses and higher than average pay.

Early Childhood Education

Types of Early Childhood Education Degrees

Early childhood education courses vary depending on the degree you pursue, but you can expect to take courses in child growth and development, guidance, and theory application. Many employers require day care workers, preschool teachers, kindergarten, and elementary school teachers to hold at least a certificate or associate degree in early childhood education. A public elementary school teacher must earn a bachelor's degree or higher. Those who would like to move up to top-level job opportunities in school administration should earn a master's degree or a PhD in early childhood education.

New career opportunities open up to you at each educational level.

Online Degrees in Early Childhood Education

Many aspiring teachers and administrators now choose to earn their education degrees online while maintaining their current jobs. This is particularly useful for career-changers who can't afford an employment gap, and for teachers whose school districts require them to earn an advanced degree within a few years of being hired. Online degree programs in early childhood education are available at nearly every level, from certificate to PhD, and are offered by accredited online colleges and universities.

Browse online degree programs in early childhood education.

Certificates and Associate Degrees in Early Childhood Education

To enroll in a certificate or associate degree program in early childhood education, you must have either a high school diploma or GED equivalent. The certificate or diploma is a short course of study that teaches basic professional and industry-specific skills. An early childhood education certificate will prepare you for an entry-level career in a daycare facility or in a similar childcare setting.

An associate degree in early childhood education is a more extensive program that, upon completion, can offer a wider range of career options or career advancement. Employees with an associate degree in early childhood education are often lead teachers in daycare and preschool settings. An associate degree takes approximately two years to complete; they are available both on-campus and online. Courses include child growth and development, as well as methods for teaching young children.

Browse associate degree programs in early childhood education.

Bachelor's Degrees in Early Childhood Education

If you are interested in becoming a public school teacher, you must earn a bachelor's degree, which is a prerequisite for a teacher's license. To teach in private schools a license may not be required, but a bachelor's degree typically is. The degree generally takes four years to complete and is the most common entry-level requirement for an education career with advancement opportunities. In addition to covering general education requirements, bachelor's degree programs in early childhood education typically focus on classroom issues and pre-kindergarten through third grade instructional methods.

Browse bachelor's degree programs in early childhood education.

What can you do with an Early Childhood Education Degree?

Most positions in the field of early childhood education involve working directly with young children (even leadership positions generally require this experience). Your education level determines your eligibility for various types of job opportunities in the education field. The higher the degree you attain, the more positions you may pursue, and the higher the salary you can expect. Here are some career options for early childhood education majors at different levels:

Child Care Worker

Child care workers operate in a variety of settings, most frequently a day care center. As a child care worker, you can expect to help children learn basic concepts, primarily through play. Child care centers are typically open all year long and have opportunities for part or full time employment. There are usually few opportunities for advancement. Though requirements vary from state to state, a high school diploma or its equivalent is usually the only education necessary. For administrative positions, however, a child development certificate or associate degree is generally the minimum requirement.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers typically work with children from age two until they're ready for kindergarten. Teachers are responsible for introducing basic skills and concepts such as colors, numbers, and letters. Again, the primary method for learning is through play. Preschool teachers are usually required to have an associate degree at minimum, but a bachelor's degree will better qualify you for the many opportunities for advancement in a preschool center. You may begin as an assistant teacher and work your way up to teacher, or lead teacher.

As a preschool teacher, you can often expect to work part-time. Preschools usually follow a ten-month schedule, with two months off in the summer.

Teacher, Kindergarten or Elementary School

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers teach students skills in the areas of science, math, language, and social studies. They must be able to employ a variety of instructional methods and work with students of all different backgrounds, races, and ethnicities.

All states require that public school teachers earn a bachelor's degree and a license from the state in which they teach. An assistant teacher, however, is usually required only to have an associate degree. An assistant teacher functions as the lead teacher's helper in the classroom, often performing duties such as bus attendant and lunchroom attendant. Private school teachers are usually -- but not always -- required to have a bachelor's degree.

Education Administrator

Education administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of a preschool, child care center or school. Typically, an administrator will have a master's degree or a PhD. Administrators oversee staff and curriculum, manage budgets, and ensure that their schools meet all educational standards set forth by their governing body. School administrators typically work year round, even through summer breaks. They are often required to attend nighttime meetings and fundraisers.

Postsecondary Teacher

A postsecondary teacher instructs students pursuing education after high school. Typically, these teachers are college and university faculty. A postsecondary teacher is usually required to have at least a master's degree, as well as related work or other academic experience. In the field of early childhood education, a postsecondary teacher may teach courses for bachelor's degree candidates in early childhood education.

Postsecondary teachers must stay current on the technology and research in their field. They enjoy flexible schedules, but must occasionally teach night or weekend courses. Enrollment in colleges and universities is expected to increase over the next decade, opening more positions in postsecondary teaching.

Early Childhood Education Certification, Licensure and Associations

In order to teach in the public school system, a teacher must obtain a teaching license. This license normally specifies the subject area or age group in which the teacher specializes. Early childhood educators typically obtain a license allowing them to teach kindergarten through third grade.

The first step in getting a teacher's license is earning your bachelor's degree. You must also complete a teacher training program approved by the state in which you are seeking a license. Most bachelor's degree programs in education include the teacher training program as part of their curriculum, but some do not.

Supervised practice teaching and a competency test are the final requirements for teacher licensure. The competency test varies from state to state, but the most widely used test is the Praxis Series. The Praxis tests general pedagogy, principles of learning and teaching, as well knowledge of the subjects the candidate will teach.

In addition to a state license, teachers may also obtain a national accreditation from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. This certification is recognized by all states and often provides the teacher with special benefits, including higher salary and money for continuing education. To obtain this national recognition, the applicant must submit a portfolio demonstrating their classroom work. An exam evaluating their knowledge is also required.

It is important to remember that requirements for gaining a teacher's license vary from state to state and change often. Visit your state department of education for more information on gaining a teacher's license in your state.

Other Associations and Certifications

  • American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
  • The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
  • The International Reading Association
  • The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals (NASSP)
  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • National School Boards Association (NSBA)
  • Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK)
  • Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE)

Sources

"Preschool Teachers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm#tab-6

Pursue your Early Childhood Education Major today…

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.

Searching Searching ...

Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Experience a new way of learning through the innovative online experience at Ashford University
  • Earn the Associate's, Bachelor's, or Master's degree that fits your professional goals
  • Transfer up to 90 approved credits toward your degree
  • Accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Take classes from award-winning faculty online or from one of our three campuses
  • Scholarships are available to qualifying students, including the Presidential Scholarship, Dean’s Scholarship, Hamel Scholarship, and many more
  • Choose from 200+ undergraduate and graduate degree programs to pursue
  • Online graduate programs include: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Educational Studies (MEd), and Master of Social Work (MSW)
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Push Your Creativity To The Next Level.
  • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
  • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
  • Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to interact with our community, read about grad success, and see campus images.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
5 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
  • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
  • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
  • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
  • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked among the Best Online MBA Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
  • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
  • Online courses make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months and a master’s degree in 14-24 months.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Founded over 60 years ago on the principles of inclusion and social justice.
  • Offers credit for previous life and work experience.
  • Equipped with over 17,000 titles in their library.
  • Has 3 semesters and 6 start dates a year.
  • Located in Pasadena, CA, with instructional sites in Sacramento, Salinas, Santa Cruz, and Visalia as well as online options.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits