Primary education teaching programs have diverse curricula that, while grounded in the field of early childhood education, cover a variety of topics that prepare graduates to enter the public school system or another academic institution of their choosing. All of the information that is covered during a four-year program will also prep graduates to take the certification exams that are required before they can begin working.
Bachelor’s Degree in Primary Education
All teachers are required by the United States to hold an bachelor’s degree. For most, this is a Bachelor of Science in Education. A teaching degree has many variations and levels, and the one that a student selects depends on their professional goals. For those who wish to work exclusively with young children, a bachelor’s in primary education, often listed as a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, is a teaching program designed to prepare them for careers as elementary school educators.
The curriculum for a primary education bachelor’s degree focuses on the core subjects that elementary school students study, i.e. basic math, science, social studies and language arts. Undergraduate students take courses in each of these areas to gain a mastery of their foundation, as well as additional courses that explore the best teaching methods depending on grade level for each subject. Popular courses included as part of an early education degree program include Foundation of Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Growth and Development, Ethics And Social Responsibility In Education and Instructional Strategies For Early Childhood Education. Students will also learn about curriculum planning,
The syllabus for a primary education teaching degree is balanced between teaching strategies and childhood psychology. Due to the fact that children are constantly experiencing new changes physically, socially and mentally as they develop, teachers are required to understand these changes and the best means to adapting curricula to them in order to yield the best results.
Master’s Degree in Primary Education
A master’s of science or art in early education is pursed by many students who either need the degree to secure a desired position or want to improve their education credentials while pursuing an area of education that they are most interested in. A master’s degree program in early childhood education can help lead to career licensure in some cases, and is even required in some states. Some master’s of early education degrees do not require a bachelor’s in education, and instead can be used as the qualifying degree for those who have completed a postsecondary program in an unrelated field and wish to become qualified to teach young children.
A master’s degree in primary education will cover many of the same subjects found in a bachelor’s of early education curriculum, such as childhood development. However, a master’s program delves further into this field and will allow students to explore the field further and gain a more profound knowledge of the subject, from multicultural diversity and needs to language and literacy. Common early childhood education master’s degree courses include Foundations in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Child Development in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Issues in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Curriculum in Early Childhood Education, Language and Literacy in Early Childhood Education and more formalized courses depending on a student’s chosen concentration.
The specializations often offered for master’s degree students enable those in pursuit of the degree to qualify themselves further for a specific position. Concentrations in constructivism, infant-toddler mental health and early childhood special education can offer those with a particular interest the opportunity to enrich their academic knowledge and job qualifications.
There are many paths to earning either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education, whether it be online or on-campus. Online master’s degrees in education are a good option for those who have already become certified teachers to consider, as it grants them the independence and schedule flexibility that they need in order to both teach and learn.
Ph.D. in Primary Education
Doctorates of primary education, or a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education, is the highest level of post-secondary education degrees that one can earn and is designed for those who have specific career ambitions in mind. A doctorate in primary education is for teachers who have already earned their master’s degree in education and wish to engage in research of the current early education theories, trends and practices.
Graduate school students learning about early childhood education will be immersed in the latest developments for childhood educators and gain a fuller understanding of how their core knowledge can be built upon and reintroduced in different ways to meet the latest demands of the classroom.
Primary Education Teaching Careers
Depending on the degree level, there are several different career paths for graduates with primary education degree. Certification and licensure is mandated by all states, along with the minimum of a four-year bachelor degree in education or an accepted alternate certificate.
Primary education careers can be anywhere from a nursery school as a Pre-K instructor to an elementary school. Classes are different depending on the age of the students, but all primary education teachers have jobs that are very hands on and require constant supervision, engagement and active participation. Playtime is a critical role in nursery school, Pre-K and Kindergarten classes, so primary education teachers who work with toddlers and very small children must be energetic and have the patience needed in order to mitigate the day-to-day classroom activities involved in an early childhood play-oriented curriculum.
Elementary school teachers assume equally active roles in students’ lives, although the execution of the curriculum is different. Elementary school teachers in the US who work in a public school tend to have 15 to 30 students per year, with some schools implementing rotation schedule for particular subjects that allow students to be introduced to the cycling that they will experience in future grade levels.
Primary school teachers are in touch with parents far more than secondary teachers, and some of the responsibilities they will have beyond instruction are conducting parent-teacher meetings, evaluating students and writing frequent progress reports, supervising field trips and clubs and collaborating with parents, school officials and fellow teachers in order to come up with lesson plans that will benefit students as much as possible.
Bachelor’s of primary education prepare students to become certified elementary school teachers. The median annual salary for a primary school instructor according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics is $56,830 (May 2014). There are an estimated 188,400 job openings for elementary school teachers to open through 2022, with 20,600 projected new Kindergarten teachers and 167,900 new elementary school instructors. States with the highest employment levels for Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are Texas, California, New York, Florida and Illinois.
Early childhood education master’s degree careers can range from administrative positions to counseling and of course, in-class instruction. Teachers who have a master’s will tend to qualify for a higher salary than those with a bachelor’s, while education administrators and school principals earn a mean annual salary of approximately $91,780 and $87,760 respectively according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The states that currently hold the highest employment levels for early education administrators are Texas, California, New York, Illinois and Idaho.
A Ph.D. in early childhood education will make a degree holder eligible to take on the uppermost level of education careers, working for the Board of Education, taking on school administrative duties. Professors of early childhood education instruct on a wide range of primary education topics such as counseling, curriculum, core competencies, instruction methods and teaching English as a second language. A postsecondary education teacher earns $65,180 each year on average according to the most recent occupational report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition to working as instructors and administrators, those who hold advanced degrees in primary education may also combine their studies with childhood psychology in order to become licensed social workers, school counselors or child psychologists. These careers differ vastly from a primary school instructor and pose their own unique set of challenges and job duties, but studying education as a minor alongside childhood psychology can add a dynamic angle to the curriculum that will assist in future work. A social worker earns about $44,200, while clinical, counseling and school psychologists have annual earnings of around $74,030 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014).