Early childhood development is a field that generally deals with the growth and development of children from birth to age eight. Individuals who want careers where they can shape and help develop young minds and bodies often choose careers in early childhood development.
Learn more about the early childhood development degrees available and the career choices that may be possible with each degree or certificate.
Associate Degrees in Early Childhood Education
An associate degree in early childhood education can prepare students to work in daycare or early childcare centers. Combining theory with practical experiences, this two-year program has courses in safe, healthy learning environments; infant, toddler and child development; speech communication; and family dynamics & community development. Students also complete internships at approved sites at the beginning and end of the programs. A graduate of this program may find work as a preschool teacher in childcare centers.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education
The most common degree level for students looking for initial licensure and certification as early childhood teachers is the 4-year bachelor degree program. Boston University’s program focuses largely on field experiences as well as coursework. The student will do field work in an elementary school at the beginning of the program, spend a semester in a pre-school the junior year and complete an internship in a public school the final year. This type of curriculum is very common in bachelor degree teaching programs. Before graduates can obtain licensure they must complete student teaching segments. This is the case in most states.
Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education
Students completing a master degree program in early childhood education will be prepared to work with children from birth through age eight and obtain certification in early childhood education. In addition to completing major-related coursework, the student completes a portfolio that demonstrates his or her ability to determine, understand and apply knowledge to issues that may arise in in early childhood.
The student starts the portfolio in the beginning of the programs and works on it throughout the 30-37-credit program. In addition, the student spends eight weeks working with a licensed early childhood teacher to gain practical experience. Research projects are also a part of master degree programs. Course topics include block building, special education, the gifted child, and sensory learning. Master degree programs usually take about two years of study beyond the bachelor degree.
Doctorate Degrees in Early Childhood Education
Individuals who want to work in research or teach early childhood education to others often choose doctoral degree programs. Applicants, who must already have a master degree, can expect to complete about 60 credits. Unlike bachelor and master degree programs that focus largely on coursework and internships, doctoral degree programs divide the curriculum among coursework, research, specializations, and dissertation research and presentations. Doctoral degree programs may also offer fellowships and study abroad opportunities.
Online Early Childhood Education Programs
Early childhood development programs are also available online for students that can’t attend college full time or on campus. Some online programs have concentrations in infant and toddler care, which can include various courses revolving around early childhood development and education and culminates typically with a capstone project where the student takes what they learned and implements it into an educational program for young children.
Career as an Early Childhood Education Teacher
All teachers have important jobs when molding young minds, but the kindergarten teacher is the very first teacher a young child will face when entering school.
Therefore it takes an extra special person to become a teacher to teach the youngest of minds, getting them ready for 1st grade and beyond. You will need a college education – a Bachelors Degree in Education at a minimum and in many cases a Masters in Education Degree – along with a wealth of patience and creativity.
Lamar University offers numerous 100% Online Master of Education degrees within different concentration tracks, including: Special Education, Curriculum & Instruction. Educational Leadership, ESL, School Counseling, and more.
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Arkansas State University offers numerous Online M.Ed. degrees, with nationally recognized and accredited educational degrees at all levels (The College of Education & Behavioral Science is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)) – as well as bachelor completion and professional certifications.
What Do Kindergarten Teachers Do?
Kindergarten teachers help teach students individually and in group settings, teach basic skills that are integral to living (color / shape / number / letter recognition, personal hygiene, social, behavior skills), and start laying the groundwork for following rules, policies, and procedures. Below are some of the top skills found among kindergarten teachers.
Steps to Becoming a Kindergarten Teacher
1. Determine your passion for working with young children
It is a good idea to “test the waters” to figure out if you are truly passionate about teaching young children. It takes a special person to teach kindergarten. Many people volunteer as a substitute, or as part-time help with a kindergarten class or preschool. It is also helpful to know what makes a great kindergarten teacher.
2. Earn your Bachelors Degree in Education
Nearly every lead kindergarten teacher has a Bachelors Degree in Education at a minimum, and many have their master’s in education with a specialty in early childhood education. You can search for bachelor’s programs here, or find master’s in education degrees on this page. View the featured programs below or scroll down to find early childhood education programs.
3. Get real-life teaching experience
After your undergraduate studies, it is a good idea to get into the field. Some bachelor’s programs require an internship of some sort.
4. Take the Praxis and earn your teaching certification
The Praxis I, or Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), consists of three exams in reading, writing, and mathematics, and for most graduate level programs you need to have passed it in order to earn your teacher certification. The Praxis II tests are for more specific subcategories of teaching (counseling, or special needs education).
5. Find a job – OR – Earn a M.Ed
a.) Find a job as a kindergarten teacher.
Use your college’s career center to help find open teaching positions. You can also check with your local schools and utilize networks such as LinkedIn to build a network and find a job.
b.) Pursue a graduate-level teaching degree.
Rather than attempting to jump in to the field of teaching, most people decide to get their Master’s in Early Childhood Education. This provides another level of education and is another great checkpoint to add to your resume. Click here to view accredited early childhood education programs that you can get in contact with right now.
FAQ on Becoming a Kindergarten Teacher
What type of degree do I need to become a kindergarten teacher?
To teach kindergarten children, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and you’ll need to get certified after graduation. To become a certified teacher, you’ll need to pass a series of tests. Some states require that teachers of kindergartners hold a master’s degree. Your college degree should focus on Elementary Education or Early Childhood Education as a major. And, generally, a student teaching internship is required before entering the field. You’ll want to gain plenty of experience working with children as well.
What special skills should I have when teaching kindergarten children?
Required key skills of kindergarten teachers include an abundance of patience, excellent communication skills, and plenty of creativity. If you have a passion and desire to work with young minds, you more than likely already have these skills.
Most Important Skills for Kindergarten Teachers
While in school, or after graduation, you’ll want to do things with your time that will give you the experience that you’ll need to successfully engage kindergarten kids in learning. The kind of experience that will help you later on includes volunteering your time as a teacher’s assistant at any daycare or school, as well as becoming a substitute teacher. If you’re lucky enough to substitute for kindergartners, this experience is even better yet.
There are a variety of career options in the area of early childhood development just as there are various education training programs. Associate and bachelor degree programs are good for entry-level positions; master degree programs are good for supervisory, administrative or managerial positions, and doctoral degrees are for teaching in colleges or working in research. As you can see, the difference in the degree levels is not just in the time it takes to complete the program but also the types of careers possible.
In the same way that early childhood development programs vary, so do the wages of graduates of these programs. For instance, while childcare workers earned an average yearly salary of $19,730 as of May 2014, preschool teachers earned about $28,120, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers with bachelor and/or master degrees earned $53,090. Administrators of preschool and childcare centers earned $45,260 while post secondary teachers earned $59,720.