Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Programs
The bachelor’s level is where early childhood programs really branch out into a wide variety of topics and concentrations that you can choose.
Whether you have your associate’s in early childhood education and already know what path in the field you want your career to take, or if you are just looking into the field, your next step is talking to several school representatives about your options.
In addition to your bachelor’s degree, your state will most likely require some form of licensure that includes passing a mandated exam with a particular score, which will likely depend on the version of the test you take. Be sure you speak with each school regarding their compliance with your state’s laws and regulations before making a decision.
Why Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education?
There are many reasons why it can be a great idea to compare bachelor’s degree programs in early childhood education. The great thing about this degree program is that it is widely available to students across the US – in both campus and online learning formats.
However, there are many avenues you can take in addition to earning your bachelor’s degree. But earning this type of degree is your first milestone in meeting educational requirements in the field that can open several types of career opportunities.
What Online Bachelor’s Degrees are Available?
Because they are easier to facilitate for schools, online bachelor’s programs in childhood education have been growing. So have the number of concentrations and areas of focus you can pursue as part of your track.
You will find in your search that there are two main types of online programs. There are some which require internships, field work, on-campus test taking, and other in-person requirements. So you will have to consider location when choosing some programs, but always ask your advisor if there are any requirements to be there, if you are too far of a distance from the campus.
The good news is that many online programs can be completed 100% online. You may still be required to complete a final capstone, research-based or thesis type project. However, having the advantage of a flexible online format that fits around your professional schedule can make earning your bachelor’s degree manageable.
Online Bachelor of Science in Education
You can also find online programs that are structured as Bachelor of Science or Arts degrees with an emphasis in early childhood education. These BS Ed programs can prepare you for a wider scope of work in pre-K and elementary education. In this type of program, you can take courses that focuses on education as a whole, and give you specialized knowledge on teaching young children effectively.
Accreditation for Online Programs
Online degree programs can vary by accreditation and licensure based learning outcomes. For instance, some programs help graduates qualify for work where Head Start and pre-K teachers are expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree from schools that have aligned curriculum.
You will find that many of the same instructors who teach the campus courses videotape their lectures so online students can receive the same exact education and coursework without visiting campus.
What Courses Are Part of Bachelor’s Degree Programs?
The minds of early learners grow rapidly and require in-depth coursework that focuses on psychology, assessment, curriculum development and diversity in the classroom.
Since these are the years when students begin to tap their literacy skills, you may take courses that help you work with children of all types begin reading. You will also likely take a Philosophies and Theories course to help you understand the ‘why’ of what you will be doing in the classroom.
Not only can you take courses that help you understand how to work with special needs students, many programs offer courses on the topic of Assessment of Children with Exceptional Needs. Since bachelor’s programs are typically 120 hours worth of coursework you have an opportunity to learn about many topics that interest you, in addition to the core requirements.
If you want to be a leader in your school system, look for programs that offer courses, such as Managing Childcare Programs and Curriculum Development. Developing a strong understanding of these subjects will help position you as someone who knows how to assess and improve curriculum and manage the day to day operations of a childcare facility.
What is the Career Outlook for Bachelor’s Degree Holders?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), kindergarten teachers who have their bachelor’s degree can expect to earn a median wage of $54,550 per year from 2015 data (source).
The job outlook numbers are keeping pace with the national average. And it only makes sense that with a growing population, and a diverse one at that, school districts across the nation should always need skilled teachers of our youngest learners.
However, when enrolling in your program, be sure to ask what the employment outlook is like in your area. Hiring in the public sector is sometimes affected by local politics and state budgets, which determine what jobs will be available.
Types of Careers for Bachelor’s Degree Graduates
Students who graduate with their bachelor’s in early childhood education can work in a variety of education settings, working in several roles. Each job has its own unique challenges, and rewards for those who love working with children and shaping their growth.
Daycare worker positions are often the first places careers in early childhood education begin. These are fertile grounds for getting experience in the field as you work towards managing your own facility or potentially working in an elementary setting.
In these jobs you can work with pre-K children who are just beginning their life without mom and dad watching them all the time. In this role you can help children with all types of needs and qualities start a successful path in their education.
Kindergarten and elementary teachers
This is where your bachelor’s degree will really come in handy, as most states require one to work in these positions. In this role you will help children develop skills in peer communication, behavior in structured settings, as well as work with parents to collaborate successful outcomes for your children.
Public and private settings
You can find these roles, and similar ones, in private and publicly funded schools. If you want to teach in a religious based environment, or a charter school, you will want to discuss this before enrolling in any program. There are schools, such as Liberty University that help students understand what to expect in a religious atmosphere.
In all these roles you will be responsible for supervising behavior and enforcing classroom rules. These are not skills that come 100% naturally for any student, and why your bachelor’s education is critical to success in these positions.